Do You Need to Detoxify?
In this era of healthcare, conventional medicine is continually being challenged by chronic disease, autoimmune diseases, and health concerns within all age groups and ranging from neurological symptoms to digestive problems. We are all exposed to toxins in our air, food, and water 24 hours each day; some we can control, some we cannot control. While it is true that we cannot control all things in life, we can minimize exposure by way of our choices, understanding our genetics, and purposefully and scientifically detoxing on a regular basis. Because toxins damage virtually every physiological function, detoxification is much more than just a good bowel movement!
Many types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease and even infertility have been linked to environmental toxicity and heavy metal toxicity. We wear clothing covered in fire retardants and sleep on sheets and mattresses with fire retardants. Pizza boxes, milk cartons and popcorn bags are all lined with plastics. Cosmetics are not regulated for parabens and phthalates. So we are exposed daily to PCBs, PBDEs, OCPs, VOCs, EMFs, and PFCs and that doesn’t even include arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead. The human organism was never quite ready for all these consumer, agricultural, and industrial toxins that most often exceed our innate capacity to detoxify.
One such common example is that of BPA (bisphenol A) contained in many food cans and packaging. When you eat soup from a can or soy milk from a carton, you increase BPA levels more than tenfold. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor and having a level in your urine > 5 ug/L (micrograms per liter) doubles your risk of diabetes. Why? Because BPA (toxin) blocks the receptor sites on the cells that insulin activates to allow sugar in. You can double your risk of diabetes by having a mere two servings per week. 18% of the U.S. population have known levels above this amount. Think twice when you buy that case of water bottles and hand those over to your kids. Could this possibly account, at least in part, for the increase in obesity and diabetes we see worldwide? And that is just one toxin! These toxins damage our genes, create liver problems, and reduce our DNA’s ability to repair and recover. Hence, inflammation, digestive problems, low energy or fatigue, immune issues, hormonal disruption tend to ensue.
So, what is detoxification? It is the process whereby the body eliminates substances that are endogenous (made by the body) such as hormones and exogenous (medications, pollutants, metals, and other chemical substances). It involves 3 phases:
Phase I- This is the phase where toxins are broken down by the enzymes of cytochrome P450 cycle. Here is where drugs are broken down into their active compounds.
Phase II- Involves the conjugation of toxins, creating larger, inactive, water-soluble molecules.
Phase III- Involves the process of transport and elimination of toxic substances through cellular membranes. This phase involves processes dependent upon a healthy liver and healthy kidney.
The kidneys, liver and intestines are the primary tissues by which the highest levels of detoxification occur. Having a healthy mucous lining in the intestines is critical for effective detoxification.
In the process of detoxification it is necessary to start with the gut. We must start with killing the bad or pathogenic bacteria in the gut, binding the toxins released by the bacteria as they die off (cytotoxins), replacing with good bacteria, repairing the gut lining and lastly, to maintain appropriate habits to prevent future damage. During this phase and all phases, adequate fiber is critical to binding toxins and moving them out through the body. The time frame involved is typically 4 weeks.
This is followed by 2 weeks of focusing on the liver. Here is where any damage to the liver needs to be addressed. Herbs, and nutritional support for the liver’s detox enzymes is critical at this time. Phase I and II of liver detox need to be assessed. Here is where knowing your genetics regarding detoxification is highly beneficial.
And lastly, the Kidney Phase should be completed. This stage involves providing the kidneys with the nutrients they need to handle their massive job of filtering. This phase also has a crucial element which is to limit ingestion of substances that challenge the kidney and/or reduce their function(s).
A grand finale to detoxification would be to utilize a sauna appropriately every other day for a few weeks, schedule 2-3 massages over a two week period, drink green drinks daily for 2 weeks and restrict your calories for 2 weeks.
This process should ideally be done 3x per year. However, in daily life, minimizing exposure, continuing to decrease the toxic load on our organs and enhancing our physiology for a healthy life free of chronic disease or illness should be the goal. I always recommend eating organically grown foods, avoiding additives and preservatives in processed foods, stay away from foods packaged in plastic, don’t cook with Teflon and aluminum cookware, limit alcohol consumption, check the quality of your water, use a HEPA filter, use natural cleansers and hygiene products. Check your home for mold, use clothing made with natural fibers, and continue to eat the foods that assist in the natural physiological process of detoxification.
If you have health concerns and are concerned about toxicity, contact us for an assessment and we can address this. Better sooner than later… when it’s too late.