01 Oct Fall/Spring Detoxification
The air we breathe and the foods we eat (whether plant-based, or animal) are often laden with chemicals. These chemical pollutants are largely fat-soluble and often very stable. They are known to accumulate in our tissues and can contribute to a variety of symptoms. Even if you consider yourself a generally healthy person, detoxification can help to rejuvenate and cleanse you; body and soul.
In this month’s newsletter, we talk about common toxins and the process of ridding them from our bodies (and minds).
The foods we eat:
Since humans are at the top of the food chain, we consume meats and fish that have often accumulated large amounts of pollutants (from their environments, and from animals and plants which they eat). We may also be exposed to antibiotics and hormones in our meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as pesticides and chemical fertilizers in our fruits and vegetables. In addition, Western consumers also ingest large amounts of preservatives, additives, colorings, flavorings, and emulsifiers which are present in our food supply.
On a daily basis, we are exposed to radiation and electromagnetic fields. We inhale fumes from cars, cleaning products, and second-hand smoke. We may also be exposed to heavy metals, such as lead and mercury. Many Americans take antibiotics, painkillers, birth control pills, laxatives, and other pharmaceuticals. In addition, some of us indulge in caffeinated beverages, alcohol, cigarettes, and recreational drugs.
Our internal environment:
Our bodies also naturally produce toxins. These are called “endogenous toxins” and are often the waste-products of cellular functioning. These include substances such as urea (a by-product of protein breakdown) and hormones. Endogenous toxins can also accumulate in the body if elimination routes are overwhelmed or dysfunctional.
So, what’s the big deal?:
Our bodies have a highly intelligent mechanism for ridding themselves of such toxins. Organs of detoxification include the skin, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, lungs, and, most importantly, the liver. However, if the body’s ability to neutralize these chemicals is overwhelmed by the volume of toxins we are exposed to over a given time span, these toxins will be stored in the fatty tissue of the liver and then, later, in adipose tissue throughout the body as well as in nerves, joints, breasts, and brain tissue.
These accumulated toxins can cause symptoms such as generalized anxiety, decreased concentration ability, depressed mood and irritability, fatigue, impaired immunity, digestive complaints, muscle and joint aches, skin eruptions, and PMS symptoms.
So, what can I do about all this?:
Spring and Fall are ideal times for detoxification. Gentle cleansing to rid the body of accumulated toxins requires two steps. Firstly, one must reduce one’s toxic load. This usually involves a “hypoallergenic diet” (often incorporating organic foods and purified water). Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, refined and processed foods, and allergenic or sensitizing foods are eliminated. Secondly, the body’s ability to eliminate stored toxins is enhanced through supporting and enhancing the functioning of the organs of detoxification. This is achieved through a variety of methods including drinking plenty of water, increasing fiber intake, promoting sweating (through exercise and, sometimes, sauna use), skin brushing, contrast showers, deep breathing, and through the use of fortifying foods, vitamin and mineral supplements, drainage remedies, and herbs.
Along with an internal cleanse, you should also clear your environment as much as possible. This may involve decreasing dust in your home and office; replacing harsh chemical cleaners with non-toxic alternatives; replacing air filters in your home; and adding live plants to each room in your living and working environment.
According to Chinese Medicine, an important part of healthy liver function is the emotional/spiritual aspect of our lives. Besides for cleansing your body, a Spring or Fall detoxification can be a good time to clear your mind. It is important that you get a good night’s sleep. You can use techniques such as journaling, meditation, relaxation exercises, yoga, and counseling to help you achieve emotional well-being.
Some people also use the detox process as an opportunity to create a more peaceful, serene work and home space by clearing their home and office of clutter.
Who should not detox?:
Pregnant and nursing women, and people who are underweight or anemic should not detox. Those suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular, liver, or kidney problems may need close medical supervision.
Ask your naturopath:
Consult with your naturopath to design a specific protocol based on your unique needs. You will require information about a hypoallergenic elimination diet, hydrotherapy techniques, and any supplements, herbs, and homeopathic remedies that may be helpful to you in your cleansing process.
Here’s to a cleaner, healthier you!
Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment. You are free to use the information in this newsletter or pass it on to others, but please keep it intact and credit it to Dr. Leat Kuzniar, ND.