Every person’s health and well-being is dependent on how their body removes and purges toxins from the body.
With environmental pollution, toxic body care products and processed foods, most people need a detox.
Internal cleansing and detoxification have been around for thousands of years. Toxic substances are everywhere – in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink ... even the bacteria in our intestines produce toxic substances. Stress, poor diet and overmedication are common contributors to liver congestion.
Once the detoxification system becomes overloaded, toxic products of metabolism accumulate, and we become progressively more sensitive to other chemicals, some of which are not normally toxic.
These are signs that your body can benefit from detoxification support:
Frequent, unexplained headaches, back, neck and joint pain or arthritis.Chronic respiratory problems, sinus or asthma.Abnormal body odor, bad breath or coated tongue.Food allergies, poor digestion, chronic constipation with intestinal bloating or gas. Brittle nails and hair, psoriasis, adult acne or unexplained weight gain.Unusually poor memory, chronic insomnia, depressed mood, irritability.Chronic fatigue, slow starter in the morning.Seasonal allergies.Environmental sensitivities, especially to odors like perfume.Intolerance to alcohol.One way the body rids itself of toxins is through the liver. It works to detoxify our blood, produce the bile needed to digest fat, break down hormones and store essential vitamins, minerals and iron.
We have four main avenues through which we can detoxify our bodies: our skin, lungs, bowels and kidneys. It is important to open up each of these pathways every day so the body can be assisted in cleaning out.
Your kidneys play an important part in getting rid of toxic waste. An overload of toxins can cause irritation and can create urinary tract infections, water retention, kidney stones and mineral deficiencies. Drinking filtered or spring water and herbal teas helps the kidneys do their job more efficiently. Trace minerals are crucial for kidney function and can be found in a variety of seaweeds and sea salts.
Breathing has a critical role because it comes in contact with airborne toxins, chemicals, viruses, bacteria and allergens. For an effective cleansing of our lungs, we must learn to breathe into the diaphragm. Take long, deep breaths and allow the air to flow into the diaphragm, where your belly will puff up slightly. Hold for 30 seconds before releasing the air out.
Our skin reflects our diet and lifestyle choices; it’s the mirror of internal health. Our skin is exposed to a variety of toxins from the environment and also from the products we expose it to. Cleaning out the cabinet of all toxic makeup, creams, lotions, shampoos, soaps and perfumes and replacing them with natural products will help support the detoxification process. Ask your local health food store personnel which products you can eat – and only use those.
Lymphatic function supports every system in the body, including the immune, digestive, detoxification and nervous system. Some believe that poor lymph health underlies conditions from cellulite to cancer. Because the lymphatic system does not have a pump, we must stimulate the flow through dry skin brushing, exercise and lymphatic drainage massage.
The blood is also responsible for removing wastes from the tissues and organs. Hot water baths and saunas increases blood and capillary action near the surface of skin, causing faster release of toxins. The heat also increases sweating and opens pores, allowing toxin-containing perspiration to be excreted more readily. Burdock root and hibiscus help cleanse the blood, while cayenne, ginger and garlic help improve circulation.
Sulfur-containing foods help the liver detoxify a range of prescription medications, pesticides and other types of environmental toxins. Foods in this category include onions, garlic and organic eggs. There are some unique sulfur compounds in cruciferous vegetables that may be especially beneficial in liver detoxification processes. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale and Brussels sprouts are especially good at detoxifying the estrogen pathways.
Research suggests some culinary spices can play a role in liver support, including turmeric, cinnamon and licorice. Other dietary additions include lemon or lime water, chlorophyll and beets. Adding more fiber to your diet is always important as it acts like a broom for the intestines, sweeping out excess toxins, hormones and waste.
It can often be helpful to have a guide during a cleansing process – there are lots of resources available locally and online. It’s a great way to shed extra pounds, increase energy, balance mood and just feel better!
Nicola Dehlinger is a naturopathic doctor at Pura Vida Natural Healthcare in Durango. She can be reached at 426-1684 or www.puravidahealthcare.com.