Toxins is certainly a buzzword, but is it purely an invention of marketers to coax us into spending money on dubious products?
Well, probably not.
Why else do we get food cravings, difficult-to-budge fat, joint pain, sleeping difficulties, fatigue, headaches, dark circles, heartburn, bad breath, farting, anxiety, sinus congestion, water retention, eczema and cold sores?
Its logical that these and other charming bodily offerings are warning signals. And that our bodies accumulate toxins, and we need to routinely ‘take the trash out’ to avoid being a walking, talking heap of junk.
So reader, it seems we’re both full of crap. But how to get rid of it?
The answer is detoxification.
Detoxing in the spotlight
Doctors and health experts are slowly beginning to recognize the value of some of the elements of detoxing. Fasting, specifically intermittent fasting is getting recognition as a fat loss tool and longevity booster.
Another element (see below) of detoxing, colon therapy, has yet to gain much traction as a thing, but I predict it won’t be long, especially if sexy health goddesses like Donna Gates continue to promote its benefits.
Always one to embrace anything potentially health boosting, I first tried a detox program – based around Dr Jenson’s approach to detoxification – three years ago. The process was hugely beneficial, giving me access to whole new layer of health (see more below). Since then I have been doing yearly detoxes at a number of retreats around the world offering similar programs.
The mixture is designed to absorb toxins from your colon, as well as fill you up so you don’t get hungry. You also take juices and supplements containing intestinal cleansers and herbal nutrition throughout the day. This is the ‘fasting’ element.
The second part of the equation involves daily colonics (usually administered yourself using a Coloma board) to remove the toxins that the drinks have helped to loosen from your intestines. You are also provided with ‘gut flora grow’ tablets to help manage levels of microbes in the gut, which are disturbed by the colonics.
There are usually other things on offer that assist with the process of detoxification, including herbal steaming, abdominal massage, meditation and yoga.
Why I keep detoxing
Here are some of the reasons I go on a detox each year. Afterwards:
• I have a few hours extra energy a day
• I have this feeling of being a ‘clean running engine’ – so I am like a Ferrari, compared to a gas guzzling Chevy Vega
• I lose fat and it stays off
• I lose food cravings
• My blood sugar levels stabilize
• The quality and tone of my skin improves
• I need less sleep
• When I do sleep, it is restful
• I don’t feel like I need coffee or any other kind of pick-me-up
• I drink more water
• I naturally choose foods with a higher nutrient density most of the time
• I eat with greater mindfulness of the digestion process – I chew more slowly
• My taste buds are more sensitive (food tastes better)
• I have a beautiful clean feeling in my mouth
• My bowel movements are more complete (my poos are better)
• I wake up refreshed and clear headed
• I have more mental energy and clarity
• I am more aware of life areas that I want to change and develop
• I feel calmer and less stressed
• I eat out of genuine hunger rather than boredom/other reasons
• I get a good physical rest
• My feelings of resilience and self sufficiency are improved
• I am more creative and easily able to ‘think outside the box’
• I feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement
I feel the full effect of those benefits for at least three months after a detox. After that time, they start to reduce.
But do we need to detoxify?
The short answer is – probably, but not conclusively. Long term fasting and detoxification processes like the one I described above haven’t been tested by research yet. (When they are, they might actually be taken seriously as a cure for diabetes and other health maladies).
Many doctors and physicians have spoken out about our ability to accumulate toxins. The simple reason is that our bodies, as awesome as they are, cannot break down some of the unnatural and manufactured rubbish we feed them.
Doctor and author, Joel Fuhrman MD, says: “You see a buildup of waste products in the cells – AGE, advanced glycation end products – that build up in cellular tissues and lead to atherosclerosis, aging, diabetes, nerve damage, and the deterioration of organs. This is basic science and physiology every doctor learns in medical school.”
Health expert, Donna Gates, identifies three reasons why everyone can benefit from colon cleansing:
- The average person has between 7 – 10 pounds of old fecal matter in their colon, even with daily poo
- The build-up of waste on the walls of your colon creates the perfect breeding ground for parasites, yeast, bad bacteria and viruses
- For too many people today, detoxification pathways are essentially blocked. Over time, toxins build up. It is estimated that the average person is exposed to over 123 toxic chemicals each day from food, water, air, stress and personal care products
Dr Bernard Jensen says that blocked detoxification pathways can result in autointoxication, which “produces undesirable consequences in the body and is the root cause of many of today’s diseases and illnesses”.
Where do toxins come from?
We absorb toxins from all over the place – and we generate them too. Most common toxins are caused by emotional or psychological factors (stress and anger), our environment (pollution), parabens in plastic, beauty products, food, water (parabens or the other nasties in tap water), drugs, heavy metals and mercury.
Aren’t our natural detox channels good enough?
These require the effective functioning of our respiratory systems, digestive systems, kidneys and livers, and lymphatic systems. We know that, for some of us, the health of these systems becomes compromised over time.
This probably happens because we are subject to more a more toxins than ever in our daily lives, and also because of the way we eat now.
Isn’t detoxing bad for you?
A closer look at the studies on which the reports have been based show that they have been narrow in scope, looking at a particular aspect of a fasting/colon cleansing. No high quality studies have been carried out on the effects of a long term fast/detoxification.
Naysayers say fasting is damaging for muscles and immunity and won’t help weight loss. Controversy around colon cleansing has mostly related to where it has been administered by the unskilled and poorly trained.
As this is an area in which science is ignorant, you have to take your own view on things – which is an excellent habit to be in anyway when it comes to preventative health. If you are afflicted with a certain health condition, then even more care needs to be taken and you should take on board the advice of a trusted doctor.
Is detoxing for you?
If the process of detoxification seems too unpalatable or if you have a particular health condition – then don’t do it.
If you are otherwise healthy and interested in giving your body a boost by removing potentially harmful toxins from your body that are keeping you tired, fat and/or sick, then doing it is a no brainer.
For me and for thousands of others, detoxifying has a real edge over other types of health holiday. My experience is that fasting has the capacity to be more transformative, because the effects are holistic – offering something for mind and body/spirit.
Also, tell you a secret – detoxing isn’t that hard. If you do your cleanse somewhere decent, you will be provided with juices and other fluids and supplements that help to fill your belly and sustain you, and you’ll enjoy the feelings of lightness and of doing something profoundly beneficial for yourself.
The colonics aren’t a picnic, but you do learn a new way to take care of your body, which is never a bad thing. Some people even enjoy the process of watching the waste and other potentially harmful toxins leave their systems.
One thing you get very present to whilst fasting is how attached to food we all are. In this way, fasting has the potential to be very healing for those with discipline issues around food. I have found it to have a powerful effect in general on self-esteem and resilience levels too.
Can you do it at home?
You don’t need to pay for your detox. I do because I enjoy the opportunity to travel and meet interesting people, and also the luxury of having someone prepare my juices and drinks, so I can completely relax and blob about.
Once you have read up on the process, it should be relatively straightforward to source online the ingredients that make up the detox drink and also the supplements. You can also purchase home enema kits.
How to help yourself detoxify naturally
It’s what you do day-to-day that is going to make the biggest difference to your overall level of toxicity.
Here are some guidelines for living in a way that minimizes your toxic load:
- Drink lots of good clean water
- Reduce the toxins in your environment
- Purchase house plants that help to clean the air
- Switch your personal care items over to natural based ones
- Mange your stress and anger levels
- Include chia seeds and broccoli in your diet – they contain the kind of fiber that keeps your colon healthy
- Eat organic food, especially those on the dirty dozen list
- Bounce around on a rebounder
- Get your mercury fillings removed
- Reduce alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid synthetic supplements
- Move to a less polluted city
- Sweat – exercise and use the saunas and steam rooms at your gym
- Breathe properly
- Use a tongue scraper
- Oil Pull every day
- Practice yoga, especially these three poses
- Take a daily probiotic and eat fermented foods
- For quick detoxification (for e.g. if you have food poisoning), make use of activated charcoal
- Take colloidal silver
Here are some other suggestions.
What other strategies do you use to detoxify naturally? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions in the comments below!