Aim for HealthTM
Very simply, toxins undermine our health and removing them from the body is one way to maintain digestive health as well as good overall health.
Elson Haas, M.D.,
in his book Staying Healthy with Nutrition,
defines a toxin as “any substance that creates irritating and/or harmful
effects in the body, undermining our health or stressing our biochemical
or organ functions.”
a body overloaded with toxins can result in a number of symptoms. These
include constipation, stomach bloat, poor digestion, gas, fatigue, weight
gain, excessive mucus, poor concentration, headaches, poor skin, poor
memory, depression, body odor, and bad breath.
practitioners relate toxins to specific diseases such as chronic fatigue
syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, and fibromyalgia (muscle and
joint pain). Indeed, there is a new medical category, clinical ecology,
which deals exclusively with how toxins in the environment affect our
The body does have
a system in place to detoxify these harmful toxins. The most important
cleansing organ is the liver. Eliminative channels include the bowels (the
digestive system), kidneys, skin, lungs, and lymphatic system.
When the body is
doing its job and is not overburdened with toxins, the blood carries
toxins to the liver, which uses enzymes to detoxify the harmful
substances, rendering them harmless or converting them into a
water-soluble form, which is then eliminated via the urine or feces.
system can handle only so many toxins and was built for “natural”
toxins, not the man-made ones we have to deal with today. For example,
protection against an age-old toxin—alcohol—is built into our genes.
One gene, expressed in the liver, codes for an enzyme that converts
alcohol into substances the body can use or excrete.
Our body does not,
however, always know how to handle the new toxins in our lives. It cannot
understand how to excrete them, and they may then accumulate to harmful
quantities or be converted to odd, unknown substances that can interfere
with metabolism. According to the textbook Nutrition, Concepts and
Controversies, this can result in cancers
or birth defects.
Helping your body detoxify
When our bodies are
bombarded with unfamiliar toxins, are producing too many toxins, or are
not eliminating toxins effectively, the toxins build up and can cause
health problems. Then it is time for a detoxification program—supporting
the body’s natural elimination process and preventing the day-to-day
buildup of toxicity.
The key to
detoxification is knowledge: understanding the link between feeling subpar
and toxicity, understanding where toxins come from, and understanding what
you can do to help yourself:
is instrumental in detoxification. Water flushes toxins and waste from the
body and transports nutrients to where they are needed. Try to drink eight
to ten glasses of pure water a day.
Water is also
useful externally: baths and saunas can help detoxification. Hot water
increases blood flow and capillary action near the surface of the skin,
causing faster release of toxins. The heat also increases sweating and
opens up pores. Be sure to bathe in pure water and be mindful that hot
water and the detoxification effect can cause dizziness. Also, there are a
number of substances you can add to your bath to help the detoxification
Eating a healthy
diet ensures that you get
proper nutrition and also helps the cleansing process. Fresh, raw foods
and grains ensure that you get the enzymes necessary to adequately digest
your food. Avoid foods that contain additives or are nutritionally
bankrupt. Avoid sugar, salt, saturated fats, caffeine, nicotine, and
alcohol. Avoid meat, as animal protein puts a tremendous strain on the
digestive system. You should also eat yogurt, as this helps maintain a
proper bacterial balance.
stress management is important
because stress affects us physically. It weakens the immune system and
robs the body of important nutrients. Stress hinders digestion and the
fiber, and supplements can be
very important to a cleansing program. Many herbs facilitate the cleansing
program and contribute important vitamins and minerals. Fiber
"sweeps" the digestive tract clean and quickens the transit time
of waste elimination. It absorbs toxins and escorts them out of the body.
A probiotic supplement helps balance the good and bad bacteria in the
been used for centuries to cleanse the body. However, fasting can be
harmful and should only be done under the supervision of a health
Using enemas and
colonic irrigation helps flush
toxins out of the colon. Enemas can be self-administered, but colonics
should be done under the supervision of a health practitioner.
toxins from building up in the
future should be ongoing. This is easily done by drinking pure water,
eating a plant-based diet, exercising, and practicing stress management.
Avoid environmental toxins as much as you can. Wear protective clothing or
a mask when working with household or workplace toxins.
A number of heath
professionals have developed detoxification programs. These programs
usually combine the previous factors in a set schedule, and prescribe
specific foods and herbal and fiber supplements.
If you follow a
program, or simply take the previous factors to heart, you initially may
notice that your overall health appears to worsen. You may experience
acne, fatigue, headaches, coated tongue, cold extremities, intestinal and
digestive stresses, and mood swings during detoxification. These are
positive signs that mean the elimination process in the liver and other
organs is occurring.
This is a modified reprint of an article that first appeared in the May 1997 issue of Partners.
This article is reproduced with the permission of AIM International © 2000 by the AIM Companies
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