It seems everywhere you turn, people are buzzing about detox. The market has responded with a barrage of foot patches, specialty teas, herbs, pills, colon cleansings and countless diet plans, all claiming to purify your system. This has lead to confusion and certainly the risk for potential harm. What is the purpose of cleansing or detoxing and who needs it? Several questions surround this growing segment of the health and supplement industry.
The body has been given many mechanisms to cleanse itself and is constantly eliminating waste. As the body makes energy, by-products of the energy process need to be eliminated. Think of a log burning in a fireplace. As the wood burns, heat energy is given off. Ashes are left over as remnants of the process. The body has several organs that detoxify the "ashes" of metabolism, namely the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin. For the body to feel its best, these organs need to be functioning well all the time. As the health of any of the detoxifying organs declines, the health of the entire body slips as well.
The liver is considered the primary detoxifying organ. It is constantly eliminating chemicals from the body’s day-to-day functions, as well as medications, alcohol or other toxins. Once the liver has processed a given chemical or toxin, it is then moved to the bowels to be eliminated through your stool. There are things you can do to support this process.
Perhaps most important, the body needs plenty of vegetables (at least 3 servings a day). Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts and other veggies help the liver as it moves chemicals and toxins through the normal detoxification process. This also promotes hormone balance and cancer prevention. Avoiding constipation is just as important. If the bowels are constipated, toxins that would normally be eliminated are left in the stagnant colon. Toxins that sit in the colon too long can be reabsorbed, causing the liver to repeat detoxification, expelling much of the organ’s energy. Extra fiber from fruits and vegetables is actually part of the body’s detox plan because it helps to bind excess toxins and pull them out of the bowels.
The lungs and kidneys are also major players in detoxification. The kidneys constantly filter the blood, with a portion of what they filter becoming urine. The body is nearly 75 percent water. Hydration is important for cells in the body to communicate, but also to help clear out waste the body no longer needs. The kidneys can become damaged through chronically high blood pressure, toxin exposure or other issues. For the kidneys, liver and lungs, it's best to avoid direct exposure to toxins like pesticides, herbicides and strong cleaners. Chemicals with strong fumes should not be dealt with in small, poorly ventilated areas. Strong toxins can be easily inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Cigarette smoke is an example of a collection of many toxins that can chronically burden the lungs. In fact, cigarette smoke actually paralyzes the cilium, or filtration system of the lungs, decreasing their overall function.
Ready to clear out these toxins? Learn how to detox your organs on the next page.