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Why Detoxify?

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.”

More specifically, 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.

Some health 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 health. 

Detoxification

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.

Unfortunately, this 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:

Drinking water 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 process.

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.

Exercising stimulates body systems so that metabolic efficiency is stepped up. This, of course, includes the systems that are integral to cleansing, such as the digestive system. It also strengthens the body and the mind.

Practicing 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 cleansing process.

Using herbs, 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 digestive tract.

Fasting has been used for centuries to cleanse the body. However, fasting can be harmful and should only be done under the supervision of a health practitioner.

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. 

Preventing 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.

Detoxification programs

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. 

The toxins in your body have been building up, maybe for years! It can take much more than a few days, or even a few weeks, to flush out the toxins and begin to feel better. Most people experience a cycle; at first they feel somewhat worse, and then better. As they continue the detoxification program, toxins buried deeper come out, and symptoms reappear, only to disappear as they are eliminated. With each cycle the feeling of being healthy is longer, and feeling worse is shorter. Eventually, you feel better all-around.

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

AIM products for detoxification

AIM Herbal Fiberblend™

AIM Herbal Fiberblend™ is considered the ideal all-around detoxification product by many AIM Members. Combining the soluble fiber psyllium with a variety of cleansing herbs, AIM Herbal Fiberblend™ provides an easy way to perform your own detox program and to maintain your newfound health after the program.

AIM Corbicula™

AIM Corbicula™ is produced from the Japanese corbicula clam, which is know in Japan as “food for the liver.” This is the ideal product for those who want to detoxify with special attention to the liver.

AIM Para 90™

AIM Para 90™ brings you 16 herbs targeted to an unknown but common problem: parasites. Parasites can produce toxins and lead to a more toxic body.

AIM FloraFood™

AIM FloraFood™ helps your body establish important “friendly bacteria” colonies. These bacteria prevent toxin-producing “bad bacteria” from dominating your intestines and help ensure that your digestive tract is in balance. Friendly bacteria also clean the intestinal tract and purify the colon.

AIM PrepZymes™

AIM PrepZymes™ is a combination of digestive enzymes that will make sure your food is well-digested. This ensures that you will not have food putrefying in your digestive system, leading to toxicity.

 


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