Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine, often starts patients out with a change in diet. Because Americans tend to have diets that lead to constipation, a change in diet can accomplish the same thing as many herbal detoxification products that are really just laxatives.
People are ideally supposed to have one or two bowel movements a day, but many people go two or three days between eliminations. The normal pathway for toxins to move out of the body is through the liver, which converts harmful chemicals into water-soluble molecules that can be flushed out in the urine or feces. If there's a delay in elimination, however, those toxins remain in your system longer.
Tamara MacDonald, a naturopathic physician, uses detox techniques because some people aren't able to detoxify chemicals naturally -- their systems aren't working well for one reason or another. But MacDonald is wary of poorly researched techniques like foot baths and colonics, and thinks that people should steer clear of fasting techniques like the "Master Cleanse," a 10-day detox plan that consists of nothing but lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper.
"One of the worst things that you can do for your body in terms of detoxification is doing a fast," she says. "That was the idea about 20 or 30 years ago, but we know now that your body actually needs specific nutrients to be able to perform its job of detoxification."
As Dr. Edwards states in the article above, the old idea for detoxing was to fast, but your body needs nutrients to perform optimally under any condition, and that includes performing the tasks of detoxification.
Your environment has profound impact on your health. Everything from the quality of the air you breathe to what you put into, and onto your body makes a difference. Mercury alone can mimic or cause any illness currently known, or at least contribute to it. Detoxing and cleansing your body of toxins periodically can definitely help counteract some of this onslaught of damage.
But what is the best way to rid your system of toxins?
The Top Ten Priorities for Detoxification
Late last year, I participated in a three day think-tank outside of Los Angeles with some of the top experts in autism detoxification. We explored some of the major modalities that are available. I will be presenting this information in Chicago this weekend at the Chicago Autism One Conference.
The group came up with the following consensus and priority for achieving optimal health:
- Healthy Living
- Avoiding Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)
- Clean Water
- Healthy Food
- Healthy Movement
- Emotions & Relationships
- Organ Support
- Detox Tools
As you can see detoxification is an important tool, but it is not at the top of the priority list -- especially if you are sick. Unfortunately, a lot of people first consider detoxing when they’re not feeling well.
It’s important to realize that if you fail to follow an orderly process and begin detoxification processes prematurely, it can deteriorate your health even further, making you very sick.
Why is Your Diet so Important When it Comes to Detoxing?
The Weston A. Price diet recommendations -- which were written in 1920 and still, like all truths, hold true today -- includes these timeless guidelines:
- Eat foods that are natural, unprocessed, and organic (and contain no sugar except for the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup).
- Eat foods that grow in your native environment. In other words, eat locally grown, seasonal foods.
- Eat unpasteurized dairy products (such as raw milk) and fermented foods.
- Eat at least one-third of your food raw.
- Make sure you eat enough healthy fats, including those from animal sources like omega-3 fat, and reduce your intake of omega-6 from vegetable oils.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that if you’re deficient in essential metals, your body will actually use toxic heavy metals as “stand-ins” instead.
- Calcium is replaced by lead, which deposits primarily in bone, and disrupts the formation of red blood cells. Lead contributes to poor bone health such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.
- Zinc is replaced by cadmium, which tends to accumulate heavily in your kidneys. Cadmium overload is associated with peripheral neuropathy.
- Magnesium is replaced by aluminum, which, among other things, induces neurochemical changes and has been identified as a contributing factor to developing Alzheimer’s.
- Manganese is replaced by nickel, which is carcinogenic.
So not only do you need to make sure you’re getting vital nutrients in order to avoid this toxic metal replacement process, you also need nutrients to aid your body’s natural detoxification process.
Toxins are naturally eliminated from your body through your liver. It converts many (but not all) of the harmful chemicals you ingest or absorb into water-soluble molecules that are flushed out in your urine or feces.
Remember, Your Skin Eliminates Toxins Too
One beneficial detox method is using an infra-red sauna, particularly for slow metabolizers. It heats your tissues several inches deep, which can enhance your natural metabolic processes. It also enhances circulation and helps oxygenate your tissues.
Your skin is another major organ of elimination, but many people do not sweat on a regular basis. This may be due to wearing synthetic or tight clothing that does not breathe. Sedentary living and sun damage also inactivate your skin. Repeated use of the sauna slowly restores skin elimination, which can help reduce your toxic load quite significantly. Steam baths, sweat lodges, vigorous exercise and hot tubs are other options, but not as effective.
Your results will be best when saunas are part of an integrated program as described above. You may want to add some natural, unprocessed salt to your diet to replace minerals lost through sweating.
Please remember that you should avoid starting any detox regimen when you are sick.
You need to establish a healthy lifestyle and dietary habits FIRST, so you have a reserve that your body can draw on to allow your liver to do its job properly.
If you fail to do this you can easily overwhelm your liver's ability to process the toxic substances that are being eliminated and you will become very sick, wishing you had never done the detox in the first place. I have seen this happen many times, so please use caution and evaluate your current state of health before embarking on any kind of detoxification program.