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Why Detox?

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The word “detoxification” conjures up all sorts of reactions these days.  It has been interpreted to mean different things to different people.  Medically, detoxification is most often viewed as a withdrawal method for drug or alcohol dependency.  To others it might mean a spiritual ritual.  For most of us, however, detoxification  is a healing strategy– particularly if we suffer with chronic pain, fatigue, allergies, immune disorders, musculoskeletal problems, depression, brain fog, digestive complaints, headaches, cancers, arthritis and many other ailments.

Did you know that your body goes through its own natural cycles of detoxification, mostly during the night?  While you are resting, the body’s job is to repair, replenish, and replace parts so that you are ready to go in the morning. So, if you are waking up stiff and sore, or are not feeling rested, alert and ready to go in the morning, then this is a sure sign your body has not been able to do its proper job during the night.

Your body, if given the correct raw materials and not over-burdened, is an amazingly efficient waste treatment plant.  The problem  is that in our modern world we are living, breathing and eating in a toxic soup.

Never before in the history of the world have humans been exposed to such a magnitude of chemicals, toxins, and pollutants with devastating effects on our health.  In 1989 the EPA reported that 6 trillion pounds of chemical toxins from  industrial wastes were legally dumped into our groundwater, soils, and air in the U.S. in one year,alone. Since this report included only the top 100 toxic chemicals out of a possible list of 100,000, it did not include illegal chemical waste.  One can only imagine what havoc we are continuing to wreak on the planet.

Studies show that 100% of adults have synthetic and industrial chemicals like dioxins and PCB’s stored in their bodies.  There are also heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic as well as pesticides, pollutants, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and food additives and too many others to list.    These are being dumped into our rivers and streams and carried by air currents around the globe.  Polar bears are dying from eating seals who store these toxins in their fat.  A recent televised news report stated that “the tissues of the Inuit peoples of Greenland can be classified as toxic waste.”

Your body is divinely designed.  It is designed to keep surviving as long as your spirit needs to be here.  As such, it will do whatever it can within its design to handle stress and keep you surviving.  With a toxic overload, what it must do is store what it cannot get rid of or what substances will cause you harm and death if allowed to be assimilated.  So, where does the body store toxins?  In your fat cells, just like little storage sheds.  Your body is protecting you by building those fat cells around your middle that you can’t seem to get rid of.  You know — the spare tire that hangs over your belt even though you have tried every diet aid and get-slim-quick trick in the book.

Your body, in its infinite wisdom, will not dump fat cells unless you first get rid of the toxins.  In other words, if there isn’t a safe and clear exit route for those toxins, they will stay stored in your fat.  And  if the body does not have the proper tools to transform  the toxic substances to a less harmful substance so it can safely leave the body, then it will continue to store it in the fat.

Did you know that the trans fat in a single french fry stays in your body for 102 days?  Where do you think it hangs out?

So, to counteract this problem of  toxification and fat storage we need to get good nutrients into our bodies, and the toxic substances out.   Many people think that fasting is a way to detoxify.  Well, this will stop the burden train from piling up more stuff temporarily in our bodies, but it often weakens an already starved body and does not help to actually get rid of toxic burden.  You then get extremely hungry and wolf down the nearest high calorie junk food in an attempt to satisfy the craving for energy your body desperately needs.

Proper detoxification is a two step process.  First your body must release the stored toxins and send them to the liver. Secondly, these toxins are converted from fat soluble to water soluble molecules in order to be safely eliminated via the urine and bowels.  Beware of so called “cleanses” and detox programs that do not complete the second stage as you can actually re-circulate the toxins back into your blood stream and become quite ill as a result.  You should always consult an experienced health care practitioner before attempting any detoxification program.

The best way to support your body’s natural detoxification mechanisms is to first reduce the toxic burden by avoiding unnecessary exposure to harmful substances, and  secondly provide plentiful high quality raw materials to keep the liver in working order. The liver can be compared  to a car filter.  It must be kept clean and free of junk in order to function properly.

There are certain foods that help the body’s natural detoxification  mechanisms.  They are, of course, naturally grown fruits and vegetables, preferably organic since they should be relatively free of toxic chemicals and also are more nutrient dense, sometimes up to 1000 times more, than  non-organic foods.

Here are just some of the more helpful foods:  lemons, oranges, caraway and pumpkin seeds, beets, endive, and  escarole, the cruiciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, watercress etc.), spinach, tomatoes, peas, yams, dandelion, kale, radish, garlic, cilantro, grapes, and berries.  Some helpful herbs are:  yarrow, chamomile, peppermint, milk thistle burdock, yucca root, siberian ginseng, chicory, and radicchio.

Isn’t that great?  Nature has provided us with all these plants and more so that we can live healthy, happy and long lives in spite of ourselves.

What is definitely NOT on this list?  Big Macs, corn dogs, pasteurized dairy products, diet sodas, bagels, pastas, breads and cereals, low fat and fat free snacks. “healthy heart” canned and boxed products, etc.  You get the idea.  These processed products erroneously described  by some as “foods” are made with human ingenuity but are not only unnatural to our body’s metabolic requirements but actually bog down our liver and organ systems creating premature aging and illness.

Since it is impossible to live in our society and not expose our bodies to toxic burden and it is extremely difficult to consistently get all the nutrients we actually need to support the body’s own daily detox chores, it is best to schedule an effective, safe, preferably supervised detoxification program at least twice per year. If you’ve never done so I suggest you make it a top priority, especially if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned in the beginning of this article.

You would never expect your car to perform well if you didn’t check and change the oil and filter regularly.  Why treat your body with any less care?

This article was written and provided as a public service by Cathy Lidster, Health Educator/Practitioner.  She can be reached at Natural Health Improvement Center in Sandpoint.   263-3022.  cathy@smileandbethin.com

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