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Brenda Wollenberg BSW RHN is a specialist in natural wellness programs for children, teens and adults, has been featured on TV and podcasts, and is author of Overweight Kids in a Toothpick World, a practical manual for families dealing with childhood obesity. She recently redefined the path to both family and adult wellness by creating […]

Detox Your Way To Health

detox, detox dietDetox is something that many people do to lose weight, to flush out toxins to improve health or to jump-start a healthy eating plan. A detox can do everything from giving your immune system a boost to giving you more energy.

Detoxification, or detox for short, is the term given to the way the body cleanses and heals itself. Scientists call it detoxication or biotransformation. It is an amazing, continuous, complex, internal process that clears or neutralizes toxins.

Detox occurs mainly through the liver, kidneys and bowel although the lymphatic system, skin and lungs play a supportive role.

Toxins are substances that, if allowed to build up in the body, can injure the cell and interfere with its normal function. This can lead to poor health and even cancer.

We are bombarded with toxins on a daily basis. You can’t truly escape toxins on a regular basis, but you can shield your body from them and give it a chance to recover and fight back.

Toxins can come from within the body or from outside.

Normal metabolic processes in our bodies produce toxins or waste products. These substances have to be broken down and disposed of. Even stress, our emotions, and thoughts can increase internal toxicity.

Internal Toxins are produced from:

  • Fermentation – a common problem in the digestive system
  • Putrefaction & rancidity from undigested foods
  • Toxic thoughts and emotions.
  • Normal metabolic processes produce lactic acid, pyruvic acid and urea amongst others that have to be detoxified.
  • The detox process itself produces free radicals that are damaging to our bodies if left unchecked.

Externally toxins come from:

  • Inhalation – smoking, air pollution, dental amalgam fillings, sick buildings
  • Ingestion – chemical residues on food, chemicals in water, drugs
  • Injection – vaccinations, flu shots, tattoos
  • Absorption – chemicals from personal care products, synthetic fabrics, paints, plastics, pesticides and chemical fertilizers sprayed on lawns
  • Irradiation – medical x-rays, nuclear power plants, bomb testing, uranium mine tailings, cell phones and towers, computer monitors and televisions, microwave ovens, and power grid and radio and satellite transmissions.

If our detoxification processes are working efficiently and the load of toxins is not too high then our health continues. If they are less than optimal and we are exposed to a high level of toxins then our detox system can become overwhelmed.

Why Detoxify?

The idea of a detox diet, body cleansing and detox products has been ridiculed in the media recently by doctors and others. They say that the body detoxifies itself continuously so the detox diets and products on the market are worthless. Well, this is only partially true.

All the cells in the body have the ability to detoxify themselves on a daily basis only if they are able to function well. The function of each cell depends on it having the right nutrients, the right conditions and good genes.

We know that the food many people eat today is lacking in the nutrients that it contained 50 years ago. There has been an alarming decline in the mineral levels in fruit and vegetables.

Processing and farming methods using chemical pesticides and fertilizers have caused deterioration in the quality of our food. Even though the typical Western diet is more varied now than ever before, nutrient deficiencies are common and human health is declining as a result.

Everything about our environment has changed radically in the last 70 years. We have been exposed to more pollutants and toxins than any previous generation in recorded history. We are now living in a sea of chemicals and exposed daily to a wide variety of new substances that are well absorbed through food, water, your skin and by inhalation.

It’s been said that we are the subject of an uncontrolled global experiment. Ever thought of that?

Air pollution in major cities is well known but did you know that your own home can be more toxic? Much of it is generated from furnishings, carpets, synthetic building materials, paints and solvents. These toxins get into your body from the air you breathe.

Many medical studies have highlighted the fact that we accumulate chemical poisons in our bodies.  They have been found in the blood and tissues of people from all over the world.  I spite of this I still read articles that say that there is no evidence that we accumulate toxins in our bodies. These chemicals are stored in our fat layers and persist for years. Most of these chemicals are known toxins which cause cancer, birth defects, damage nerves and the immune system.

If our detoxification systems worked that well these toxins would not accumulate in our tissues. Specific centers and clinics that have been set up to provide facilities to help people detox have proved beyond a doubt that toxins can be reduced and health can be improved.

Dr Rashid Buttar, medical director of a clinic specializing in treating cancer, heart disease and other chronic conditions, states “I can now very comfortably state to you that in my opinion, based on the evidence, every single chronic insidious disease process is related to one word: toxicity.

You cannot address the issues of aging unless you address detoxification. The more success we have had the clearer it has become: all chronic disease is toxicity. You get rid of toxicity and you put out the fire. You may need to rebuild afterwards but you must put the fire out. Conventional medicine is just covering your eyes so you don’t see the fire.”

Do I need to detox?

The simple answer is yes.

We are being increasingly exposed to a whole range of new chemicals that are now ubiquitously present in the environment. They are well absorbed through food, water, by inhalation and through our skins.

The United Nations Environmental Program estimates that approximately 70,000 chemicals are in common use across the world with 1,000 new chemicals being introduced every year.

Studies done by the World Wildlife Fund and others show that we all carry a surprising number of chemicals that persist in our fat layers for many years and their effects are unpredictable. Even new-born babies carry toxins that they have inherited from their mother.

Most of these chemicals are known toxins. They cause damage to nerves, the immune system, the liver and bone marrow. They cause cancer and birth defects. Some even mimic our own hormones and disrupt our delicate hormonal balance, contributing to weight problems.

Much of degenerative disease can be traced back to over-use and build-up of chemicals and toxins. Many cancers can be traced back to chemical over-load. So, if you value your health, detox can help prevent aging as well as disease.

Some symptoms associated with under-functioning detox process.

  • Easy weight gain, difficulty losing weight
  • Premature aging
  • Fatigue, CFS, fibromyalgia,
  • Allergies
  • Brain fog, poor memory and concentration, migraine, headaches
  • High blood pressure, palpitations
  • Digestive symptoms – indigestion, bad breath, bloating, yeast overgrowth, constipation, diarrhea , pale stools
  • Poor tolerance of alcohol
  • Gall stones, inflamed gallbladder
  • Rheumatism and arthritis
  • Rhinitis, hay fever asthma
  • Acne, eczema, hives, dermatitis
  • Mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, panic attacks
  • Erratic blood sugar control

Does Detox Work?

Research has shown that we all have unique detox systems as unique as our fingerprints which are influenced by our diets, our exposure to toxic chemicals and our genes.

The study of genetics has revealed that some people have genetic differences in their liver detox pathways that prevent them from clearing environmental chemicals from their bodies.

Having a genetic variation, and it’s been estimated that up to 50% of people do, can mean that you have a reduced ability to inactivate and eliminate a wide variety of toxins such as pesticides, toxic metals, antibiotics, hormones and even alcohol.

So what about the evidence that a detox diet and detox supplements will make any difference? Research has shown that certain nutrients and other substances are needed for the detox enzymes to work efficiently so if you are deficient in any of them then your detox system will not work as well as it should.

By supplying the nutrients through food and supplements the system can be “revved” up and toxins can be eliminated. Studies have shown that symptoms of study participants could be improved when they followed a detox diet that supplied these nutrients and took certain nutrients.

We are far from understanding the impact that impaired detox can have on health but so far it has been shown that detox does work when done properly.  It involves eating the right food and does not involve any gimmicky starvation diets.

There are a wide selection of detox diet plans that you can do.  If you have never followed a detox diet plan before it may be a good idea to start with a one , two  or three day detox over a weekend or at a time when you can take some time for yourself. Short detoxes won’t get rid of many toxins if any but they can help pave the way to a better diet or lead to  a 7 day detox or 14 day detox when you can prepare for it and put your mind to it.

Many people lose weight while on a detox diet even though you don’t have to starve or go hungry but the main purpose of a weight loss detox is to get rid of the chemicals that interfere with the weight control hormonal system.

If your regular diet includes a lot of sugar you may prefer to begin with a sugar detox. You can’t really detox sugar but it’s a term given to a healthy eating plan that excludes all forms of sugar.

When you detox and cleanse it’s important that your bowels are working well so you can eliminate the toxins as quickly as possible. If you have a slow bowel you might like to do  colon cleanse to start with. If you have a liver problem or have been drinking a lot of alcohol then a liver detox might be the place to start. 

A juice detox or a raw food detox is probably best done once you have had a bit of experience with detoxing.  A heavy metal detox is good to do if you know you have heavy metal toxicity. If you have a lot of mercury amalgam fillings then it’s likely you will have some mercury toxicity in your body.

So, selecting the best detox for you may take some research and then some diligence in sticking to it, but, it will be worth it in the end when you look and feel so much better.


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