Out goes the old year of broken promises to do better by our bodies. In comes the new year and another opportunity to take better care of ourselves. Before you start that diet to lose the twenty pounds from last year, plus the ten you gained over the winter holidays, consider a good detox first. Cultures around the world have had various methods of cleansing and detoxifying for centuries. The concept that toxins accumulating in the body can lead to illness is not a new one. Methods have included some combination of water fasts, saunas, enemas, colonics, hydrotherapy, and nutritional modifications. Detoxification is the process of lessoning the negative impact of not only substances foreign to your body, but hormones and waste produced by our own cells.
Unfortunately, we live in a world much more toxic than that of our ancestors. Over six billion pounds of toxins were released into the soil, water, and air in 2000. These include drugs, heavy metals, agricultural/industrial chemicals, food additives, and household pollutants. In a 2006 study, 298 out of 300 newborn infants were found to have toxins in their umbilical cord blood.
Most toxins are lipid soluble. They are stored in fat cells. Thus, the more overweight a person is, the greater the toxic load. Elimination of excess fat is crucial to removing potential storage sites for toxins. Most tissues in the body have the ability to detoxify. Think about the cells that line the nasal passages. Have you ever noticed that an unpleasant or strong odor becomes less noticeable after a while? The cells in your nose are breaking the molecules of the offending odor down. The intestines and liver are the body's major detoxifying organs. The lungs, kidneys, and skin also play a major role in detoxification.
How does one approach a detox? Determine how long you want to detoxify. Over the counter detox products last one to two weeks. A medical detox, supervised by a health care provider, may last up to four weeks. It is best not to do a detox when you are stressed, traveling, or will not have control over your diet. The goal is to give your body a break from the incessant stream of toxins you consume and breathe. Work with your health care provider on a nutritious, organic eating plan rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and phytonutrients to support your gut and liver.
The overall detoxification process is very nutrient dependent. Key nutrients are needed at each step of the process. These nutrients include, but are not limited to, zinc, B-vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, L-cysteine, L-glutamine, taurine, N-acetylcysteine, sodium sulfate, L-glutathione, and green tea catechins. Supplements are often needed to obtain adequate amounts of some nutrients. There are products available that contain these ingredients. They support your liver and promote an alkaline pH which increases the release of toxins from the kidneys. Without the proper nutrition, detoxification cannot occur properly. Molecules, more dangerous than the original toxin, may be produced. These molecules can damage your DNA and cell membranes, thus leading to premature aging, chronic diseases, and cancer. This is why water and juice fasts are not adequate to handle today's toxic load. The body weakens, loses protein, and slows metabolic activity after more than a few days on such a fast.
Drink plenty of filtered water. Get at least seven hours of sleep daily. The body repairs itself and does much of its detoxification while we sleep. Remove all known sources of toxic materials from home and office. Get an air purifier if needed. Avoid toxic people and situations.
Dry skin brushing, saunas, or hydrotherapy can facilitate release of toxins. These supplementary practices help via exfoliation and/or perspiration. Light exercise aids detoxification via perspiration and promoting regular bowel movements.
Once your detox is complete, you can start your weight loss program. Continue your supplements and vitamins. You will experience fewer side effects because you have decreased your toxic load. In most cases, you will have already lost weight as a result of changing your eating habits during this process. Keep it going and have a great year!