It has been the hype for a decade and where some people swear to it, others believe it’s a fad. Fact is that ‘detox’ is still everywhere, but finding the true answer to whether or not it’s good for you, is tough. This is of course not helped by the many health shops, juice bars and supermarkets, who are selling these ready-made cleansers, accompanied by big promises. But, is the elimination of toxins through fasting and juicing really necessary and does it really work?
Why do we detox?
Perhaps we should start off by looking at why people become inspired to detoxing in the first place. In my opinion, we are very much controlled by our fears and what damage chemicals can do to our health. We are aware that it surrounds us, even in our own home: the chemicals in food, the wall paint, toys, cosmetics, bottles and packaging. But also outside with the pollution in the air, toxins in the water, fertilisers in soil, heavy metals in fish. It’s all a little too hard to get away from, even our unborn children are threatened, as examination of cord blood has shown that dangerous toxins roam in a pregnant women’s blood and get into the babies circulation.
But surely the body is well equipped to get rid of all these killer substances? Yes, it is. Nature has made provisions as was it a chemical plant, and our liver accomplishes masterstrokes to knock unwanted loads out of the body every day. Other busy helpers are kidney and gut, but also skin and respiratory tract. Hand in hand, these organs keep our bodies clean.
So we’re all good right?
Sadly not. Evolution never intended for such an overload of toxins. Liver and friends are powerful, yes, but the daily load of chemicals overwhelms them quickly. The result: What can’t be flushed out is deposited in different parts of the body, such as deep tissue, skin, organs and nervous system included. Once stuck in there, toxins settle and disturb or block important metabolic pathways. This interfere with enzymes, produce aggressive molecules which damage cell structures and membranes, and oust minerals and trace elements from their sites. So this is where a detox is in fact, helpful.
What to do?
The first and most fundamental step of a detox must be to shift the pH in the tissues to an alkaline condition and to refill depleted depots of minerals. People who permanently live on the acid side of life tend not to excrete heavy metals and other environmental toxins very well. To “alkalise”, one should therefore reduce the consumption of acidic foods, such as meats and carbs and shift more towards a plant based diet.
Green leafy vegetables will kill two birds with one stone: They alkalise the body and support our detox master liver at the same time. The algae, Spirulina has been found to be quite helpful as well, as it provides trace elements, minerals and vitamins plus valuable protein which carries all the amino acids essential for our body. And for people who like it sour: a good glass of hot or warm lemon water in the morning before breakfast is an amazing tool to ensure the right body-pH.
Secondly it is important to arrange for plenty of antioxidants during the detox process. Again mother nature helps out here with colourful fruits and vegetables. And last but not least: Never forget to drink enough water!
Using your ingredients such as leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and colourful fruits, combined with sulphur rich foods such as garlic or onion is already half the job done, in order to boost the body’s detoxification process. However, supplements such as cysteine, taurine, phosphatidylcholine, alpha-lipoic acid or MSM (an organic sulfur formulation), can intensify the process. Also, another great addition, is a blend of herbs to kick off kidney, liver and friends to do their job better.
However, if you plan to use supplements, make sure to seek a healthcare professional, in order to make sure you are doing everything right.
Also, in serious cases when severe symptoms on skin, respiratory tract or the nervous system are shown, you should talk to your doctor or naturopath to sort you out.
So. back to our question: is detox really necessary?
Yes, from a naturopathic perspective, it does makes sense. However, there isn’t just one path that proves to be successful for everybody. Especially if you are trying to get rid of a toxin-triggered disease, the procedure should be tailor-made and patience required, as some toxins can be quite stubborn and won’t leave the body lightly.
In general, I advise everybody to give their hard-working excretory organs a break with a detox at least once a year and focus on including the greens as well as the red, yellow and orange fruits. Your organs will thank you and you’ll see the result in your skin and your well-being.
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