What is body detoxification?
Broadly speaking, the aim of any detox programme is to eliminate toxins from the body that have accumulated over time, resulting in a healthier and more energised you.
There are countless ways to bring about the detoxification of the body and, as such, there are a wide variety of detox programmes out there to choose from.
Why do I need to detox?
Unfortunately, in this modern age, much of our food and water contains chemicals that are foreign (and often highly toxic) to our bodies. We are also exposed to an ever-increasing level of environmental toxins on a daily basis – even the air we breathe contains such compounds.
The liver is the body’s main detox organ. Every toxin taken in (whether eaten, drunk, inhaled or absorbed into the skin) will end up at the liver. However, the liver is part of a group of detoxification systems within the body and its role is to convert toxins into forms more easily excreted by the other organs comprising:
- the digestive system – the natural health industry and most practitioners place great emphasis on the state of the intestines and bowels in terms of the health of our liver, lymphatic system and immune system;
- the urinary system – the kidneys receive toxins that have been broken down and made water soluble by the liver, such as the end products of medications, organic chemicals, yeast and hormones;
- the lymphatic system – this system filters the bloodstream of toxins and waste. Lymph nodes contain large amounts of white blood cells that attack bad bacteria and other pathogens;
- the respiratory system – gas exchange is the main function of the lungs; inhaled oxygen is supplied to the blood and carbon dioxide is exhaled. The respiratory system has a number of mechanisms to reduce the amount of toxins entering the body. For example, the hairs in our nose trap dust and pollutants, which are expelled when we blow our nose;
- the skin – the skin is our largest organ of elimination and, if working optimally, we can excrete a significant amount of water soluble toxins this way. Sweat has a similar composition to urine and is an important detoxification fluid, which is just one of the reasons why exercise is so important for good health.
Therefore, for the most part, our bodies have the ability to deal with the toxins to which they are regularly exposed. However, we can encounter difficulties if nutritional requirements are not being met and/or the level of toxins becomes too high.
For example, skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis are often treated by conventional medicine as conditions of the skin itself, when in reality, they are more often simply external manifestations of internal toxicity. Similarly, chronic constipation and IBS-type symptoms are virtually considered “the norm” because they are so common, when such symptoms are indicative of an underlying problem, most likely rooted in poor diet and toxin overload.
In such circumstances, a body cleanse and detox programme may be beneficial, along with dietary adjustments and supporting supplementation.
How does a body cleanse and detox work?
The human body is best able to make use of natural substances, which include fruit and vegetables and other natural foods, herbs and phyto-chemicals from plants. Any foreign, synthetic substances introduced into the body will induce some form of response from the immune system.
While there are many detoxification programmes available, they can differ quite significantly in their process and outcomes. Some focus on one particular system of the body, such as the digestive system (and the bowels in particular). Others may purify the liver, or the blood or seek to improve the function of the kidney or skin. A full body cleanse and detox programme, on the other hand, involves combining all of these detox regimes, which can then help to restore the body’s organs to their optimum levels.
Although different, many types of detoxification programmes will be beneficial, subject to your desired outcome and your particular health needs and goals. Most detoxification regimes that advocate lifestyle changes will have some beneficial effect. However, there are of course other factors to be considered, such as a sensible diet, taking regular exercise, drinking pure water etc.
How body cleanse and detox programmes work will depend on the type of programme being followed. For example, those focused on the digestive system will generally recommend a higher intake of natural, unprocessed plants (such as living or raw foods, high in digestive enzymes). These foods will contain the quality dietary fibre necessary for stimulating good bowel elimination. These foods will also usually contain the required levels of vitamins and trace minerals to nourish the eliminative organs mentioned above.
Of course, changing dietary and lifestyle habits for the long-term can be a significant challenge, particularly with the pressures and time constraints of modern-day living. Whether undertaking a short-term body cleanse and detox, or seeking to introduce major lifestyle changes to address a serious health issue or simply improve upon your health, it can be helpful to include food supplements in the programme to offer additional support and promote better outcomes.
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