Common Sense Health: Flushing out Toxins

We have come a long way in our awareness of the 87,000 chemicals (created during the last 100 years, mostly untested and unregulated) and the roles they play in numerous conditions, from Infertility, Autism, Cancer, to Obesity. Understanding just how detrimental many of these substances are to our health, savvy individuals have switched to ‘green’ cleaning products, natural deodorants (without aluminum), less toxic skin care and makeup without parabens, phthalates and mineral oil, and we are eating more organic food, free of pesticides and genetically engineered organisms.

jiuceBut what about toxins from earlier that our bodies have stored? If you haven’t made a conscious effort to get rid of them, they may be preventing you from functioning at optimal levels. More specifically, those toxins may be a major block to losing weight. Did you know that fat cells form around toxins to protect our vital organs? Subsequently, as we begin to lose weight, toxins are liberated. If we do not take specific actions to pull the toxic substances out of the body, then after weight loss, the body (in its innate wisdom) will again form fat cells around the toxins.

Detoxifying, or internal cleansing, has been used for centuries as a means of restoring vibrancy and health. Numerous cultures, including the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Native Americans, and the practice of Ayurveda in India, have used botanicals with other forms of cleansing. In addition to purging the body of toxins created by our own metabolism, we now live in a time with thousands of relatively new chemicals in our air, water and food – including the 2.2 billion pounds of chemicals sprayed on crops each year. Almost ¾ of these new substances are small enough molecules to cross cell membranes. (1)

The most recent CDC report found the average American’s body had 116 of the 148 synthetic compounds tested for, including the infamous dioxin, polycyclic hydrocarbons, and organochloride pesticides. (2) Studies by The Environmental Working Group revealed these same substances in human milk, placenta, and umbilical cord blood, and in the blood and body fat of newborns! Another report showed that out of 287 chemicals detected in umbilical cord blood, 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animals. (3)

New research indicates these same chemicals are contributing to the growing number of chronic illnesses now affecting 54% of our kids and 60% of adults. Conditions such as abnormal fetal development, diminished intelligence, behavior problems, asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, autism, obesity, dementia, and reproductive system abnormalities (precocious puberty or infertility) are all associated with these chemicals.

Sources of Toxins

Here are but a few: processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, chemicals used in dry cleaning and household cleaning products, pharmaceuticals, flame retardants, building materials, plastic containing BPA, perfumes, scented shampoos, skin lotions made with mineral oil (a derivative of petroleum), heavy metals (dental amalgams are 50% mercury), vaccines (which contain aluminum, formaldehyde, polysorbate 80, ethylene glycol, phenol, MSG, propylene glycol), plus chemicals our body naturally creates during metabolic functions, such as when we’re fighting infections or under stress.

Liver to the Rescue: The liver is a complex three-pound organ with over 500 functions. It is located under the upper right area of the ribcage. Due to the onslaught of toxic chemicals it attempts to neutralize, it is the most overworked and underappreciate organ in the body! In addition to producing needed cholesterol, breaking down estrogens, regulating blood sugar, and manufacturing bile, it detoxifies harmful substances by making them into water soluble molecules that can be eliminated in the urine, stool, and sweat.

When the liver becomes overtaxed, symptoms such as low energy, poor digestion, skin eruptions and an inability to lose weight often develop. When the body begins to eliminate the internal pollution it relieves enormous stress, immune function is enhanced, energy improves, and symptoms such as headaches, joint stiffness, and GI conditions improve.

Tips for a Cleanse:

1. First and foremost, start by eating a ‘clean (organic only) diet.’ If you begin a deep cleanse with herbs, for instance, without first eliminating caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, potentially allergenic foods (dairy, soy, gluten, etc.), sugar and processed food, you may experience severe detox symptoms such as headache, fatigue and nausea. However, if before you add the detoxifying herbs, you eliminate potentially offending foods and give yourself a week or two of just eating clean before adding in active cleansers, uncomfortable symptoms will be greatly minimized. For a full list of foods to avoid and those to include (fermented vegetables, soaked grains, etc.), contact me at [email protected].

2. Water: To assist in the flushing out of toxins, drink at least half your body weight in ounces of filtered water each day. Use glass water bottles only. Also drink a Detox tea upon rising and before bed. The main ingredient should be Milk Thistle (an herb that helps the liver tremendously in it’s detox function).

3. Necessary Nutrients: Make sure you have proper nutrient support during the cleanse. The liver’s function to detoxify is a very nutrient-dependent process and needs an array of amino acids from protein, minerals, and vitamins. In addition to eating pure sources of protein and vegetables, many people provide extra nutrients to assist the liver, such as freshly made, organic green-based juices. At the least, it’s advisable to take a high quality, comprehensive multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. Cleanses that eliminate all food or other source sources of nutrients will not provide the liver with what it needs to detoxify efficiently and effectively.

4. Bowels: It is essential during any cleanse to have one or two bowel movements per day. If drinking half your weight in ounces of pure water and adding sources of soluble and insoluble sources of fiber are not enough to produce this result, then taking additional herbs (such as those found in Smooth Move tea) to assist the colon may be necessary.

5. Cleansing Herbs: After two weeks of following steps 1-4, you may begin taking specific herbal combinations that target a deeper release of toxins. Combinations may include: Buckthorn, Senna, Licorice root, Nettles, Astragalus, Slippery Elm, etc.

6. Exercise to sweat: Remember, the skin is the biggest eliminative organ. Exercising at least five times per week with the intention of sweating is important for flushing out toxins.

7. Dry Brushing: Try dry brushing prior to bathing, which stimulates the lymphatic system (the body’s waste management system).

8. Epsom Salt: Take baths at night with one or two cups Epsom salt. It not only contains Magnesium (a mineral needed for over 300 bodily functions that helps with anxiety, panic, eye twitches, tense muscles, heart palpitations, etc.), but also contains Sulphur. Sulfur forms an enzyme (PST) that assists the liver in detoxing. Soaking in Epsom salts is both relaxing and supports detoxification.

9. Sleep: The liver does the bulk of its work while we sleep. So during a cleanse, try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

10. Skin Care: Your skin is a semi-permeable organ. Traces of whatever you put on it can be found in many organs within 26 seconds. Since the average woman applies over 120 different ingredients to her skin each day (many of which have never been evaluated for safety), and she absorbs five pounds of lotions and makeup per year, be sure to use makeup, hair and skin care products that do not contain formaldehyde, hormone disrupting chemicals or mineral oil (which prevents the skin from releasing toxins).

Ending A Cleanse:

1. Please don’t make the mistake (which I’ve been tempted to do) of ordering a large pepperoni pizza and a beer on day 31! Trust me, you won’t feel good! Additionally, some individuals pay hundreds of dollars to doctors or specialty labs to determine the foods they shouldn’t eat with an IgG food profile. However, by eliminating the prime suspects (gluten, dairy, soy, corn, etc.) for 30 days as you do on this cleanse, if you reintroduce them one at a time (leaving 2-3 days between each new food) your body will tell you what you are sensitive to and you just saved yourself hundreds of dollars!

2. Now that you have 30 days under your belt and are likely feeling more vitality, with less bloating, and thinking more clearly with better energy than you’ve had in years, don’t go back! Sure, have that piece of organic dark chocolate or a glass of wine once in a while, but be conscious, listen to your body, limit your exposure to toxic chemicals, drink lots of filtered water and sweat regularly!

3. As far as your maintenance diet goes, try to eat non-GMO, organic most of the time, include healthy fats and if you do eat meat, choose locally raised grass-fed beef. Supplements may include a high quality comprehensive multi-vitamin, a probiotic that contains at least 10 billion CFUs per cap (as it helps absorb toxins from your colon), a mercury-free form of fish oil as a source of Omega-3 to fight inflammation, and once you have your level of Vitamin D tested, take 2000IU to 5000IU of this important nutrient per day.

4. Once you do an effective cleanse, your body, mind and spirit will thank you for pressing the ‘reset’ button and you won’t need anyone to remind you to consider cleansing a couple of times per year. After periodically flushing out toxins, going back to the old way of eating and feeling just won’t be an option!

As a holistic, nutritionally oriented Registered Nurse for more than 30 years, Maureen assists people nationally in regaining their health and vitality by coaching them on a “30 days to Healthy Living Plan.” This program focuses on weight loss and flushing out toxins. Maureen is the Health Editor of WNC Woman Magazine, the cofounder of Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet, and an Executive Area Manager with Arbonne International. For additional information or support, contact her at [email protected].

1. Statistic from official FDA government site.
3. Environmental Working Group, July 14, 2005
4. Documentary: Our Chemical Lives

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