What is whole body detoxification and why do we need it?
Detoxification is a process of removing toxins from the body. Toxins are substances that are detrimental to the health and well-being of the body. How do these substances get into our system?
- Ingestion: Some by-products of the foods we eat become toxic if they are not eliminated promptly through the normal channels of elimination. Sometimes we directly ingest toxic substances.
- Inhalation: We can also inhale noxious substances from the air. These substances get absorbed through the lungs and filter into our bloodstream.
- Absorption: We can also absorb toxic substances from the environment through our skin. Products we put on our skin can also contain toxins.
Examples of some of the noxious substances that can get into our system include food additives that are added to enhance flavor, preservatives, food coloring, pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals.
Other examples include environmental toxins that come from industries that release the by-products of their manufacturing processes into the air. Even the water we drink has some microorganisms and chemicals in them that are resistant to the purification and filtration systems of the city water supply. In an effort to reduce the microbial count, we have introduced chemicals such as chlorine and chloramines that can also be harmful.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) 4th National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, showed that 212 chemicals were detected in individuals that participated in the survey. This highlights the toxic burden in the general population and the need for whole body detoxification.
What is the normal detoxification system of the body?
- The gastrointestinal tract: Waste products of foods we eat are processed and eliminated through the rectum as stool.
- The liver: The liver is a major detoxification organ in the body. The foods that are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract pass through the liver for further processing and detoxification before they enter the systemic circulation or bloodstream. Drugs and small molecular weight substances that are ingested are absorbed and pass through the liver before they get into the systemic circulation or after they get into the systemic circulation.
- The kidney: The kidney filters the blood and reabsorbs any nutrients or substances that are still beneficial to the body and eliminates the final byproducts of the nutrients we absorb from the food we eat or other compounds that get into our system.
- The lungs: We can also exhale some toxic substances from our lungs.
- The skin: The skin is the largest organ in our body and we can eliminate many toxins through the skin in the form of sweat.
What happens if any of these systems are not working optimally?
The toxins stay in the system and accumulate over time in our organs and may lead to symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty sleeping, indigestion, food cravings, weight gain, low libido, reduced mental clarity, skin dullness or breakouts, and may ultimately lead to disease.
When people are constipated, it means that the waste products are not eliminated promptly and cause damage to the GI tract and may also pass through into the bloodstream. The liver can be overloaded with a lot of chemicals that pass through and may not have adequate amounts of the enzymes, minerals, and co-factors needed to neutralize and detoxify the toxins. The toxins can cause liver damage and may pass into the blood circulation without being neutralized by the proper liver processes. If the kidney is not functioning well, these toxins can damage the kidney and also prevent the kidney from effectively filtering or eliminating waste products. These are reabsorbed in the system, accumulate, and cause disease. Sometimes skin breakouts occur because the body is looking for avenues to eliminate waste or toxins when the normal channels are clogged or inefficient.
What can we do to support our body’s detoxification process?
- Pay attention to what we ingest and reduce the number of potential toxins in our food.
- Use filters in our homes or where we spend the majority of our time to eliminate potential toxins in the air we breathe. People that work in industries that produce a lot of noxious gases and chemicals should wear a mask at work.
- Water filtration systems should be able to remove chlorine and chloramines, as well as bacterial and fungal spores that remain in the water. If possible, fluorides should be eliminated as well.
- Periodically cleanse or intermittent fasting.
- Metabolic detoxification: Metabolic detoxification is more than a cleanse. It is designed in phases to eliminate certain problematic foods from your diet for a short amount of time. At the same time, you are given a list of whole foods to eat, supplements, and nutritional shakes that have nutrients that are known to nourish the major organs of elimination. It is advisable to do a metabolic detoxification program one to four times a year. There are 10-day, 21-day, and 28-day detoxification programs. Your healthcare practitioner will help you determine which is best for you.
There are several nutritional supplement companies that have a structured detoxification program that are beneficial. The ones I use and recommend are the Metagenics Clear Change 10-day or 28-day program and the Standard Process 21-day purification program.