- Overweight and overfed?
- Suffering from constipation or bad breath?
- Smoking or drinking too much?
- Craving chocolates and sweets all the time?
- Taking a lot of prescribed conventional medicines?
- Worried about acne and oily skin?
- Tired of aches and pains in your joints?
- Keen to feel cleaner and leaner?
If you answered yes to any these questions, you are most probably suffering from a build-up of toxins and are in need of a detox!
Detox, is a wonderful, genuinely naturopathic term, but it has become an overused “buzz word”, the darling of the glossy magazines and the icon of a new form of preventive medicine. It is a word most often used with no understanding of the real healing it offers. I want to give you a clear picture of what it means to be toxic and then show you how to clean up your act with pure foods.
And if you just want to get started with cleaning up your diet, here’s my Weekend Detox Plan.
The importance of detox
Naturopaths are clear that the elimination of toxins through detoxing is the key to good health. What goes into the body in the form of food, air and water, must be used by the body to promote health and vitality – otherwise the body must eliminate it. Anything that the body does not eliminate, accumulates. You then become toxic. Fact. From a naturopathic perspective this is one of the main causes of disease. If your food, air and water are polluted by chemicals, the need to eliminate effectively becomes a major priority in the maintenance of health. If we add to this the fact that your own body produces toxins as a by-product of metabolism, stress and exercise, you have a good case for needing a strong system of elimination.
How are we exposed to toxins?
We all live in a polluted world. Each day we take in a nasty array of chemicals with our food and drink and the air we breathe. The list is long and really quite scary: exhaust fumes; insecticides and pesticides; food preservatives, colourings, flavourings, thickeners and enhancers; and chemical pollution and industrial pollution are all major culprits. However, for millions of years, as our bodies developed, we were exposed to a fairly narrow range of natural chemicals. Our bodies knew how to deal with these and so very few of the natural chemicals actually accumulated in our tissues and caused damage to our health. The situation now is altogether different.
Most modern farm chemicals have side-effects and are a good example of the toxins we have to deal with in today’s world. For example, pesticides, such as organophosphates and organochlorines, can cause a whole range of side-effects including headaches, dizziness, weakness, shaking, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, sweating, rashes, loss of appetite, weight loss, disorientation, nervousness and a general feeling of illness. Another good example is instant coffee – most brands contain more than 1,000 chemicals, some of which scientists have shown to cause cancer in mice. If these damaging chemical toxins are not eliminated effectively from our bodies, we become toxic and suffer a greater chance of falling ill by one means or another.
The warning signs that it’s time to detox
If your body is toxic, you will experience a range of problems. These often present warning signs showing you that it’s time to detox.
TOXINS AND PUTTING ON WEIGHT The body stores uneliminated toxins in body fat, because the fat depot tends to be stable and so does not often break down and release its toxic load into the blood and other tissues (unless we lose a lot of weight). Our wonderful, clever bodies also hold on to excess water to dilute the toxins, creating water retention. So, the more toxic you are, the more weight you gain – and retain!
TOXINS AND HORMONE IMBALANCES Some insecticides and pesticides mimic the action of our own hormones, which are important natural body chemicals and include estrogen, progesterone and adrenaline (epinephrine). Hormones run essential functions, such as reproduction, energy production and mblood-sugar management. Farm chemicals are so close to our natural hormones in structure that they create hormone imbalances in us, leading to problems with the management of many of our essential body processes.
TOXINS AND DAMAGE TO YOUR BODY’S CELLS The most significant damage happens at an atomic level. The basic components of all matter are known as atoms and they consist of a nucleus of protons and neutrons surrounded by electrons. An atom that has lost an electron is known as a free radical. And a free radical will stop at nothing in its quest to steal an electron and complete itself. In the process it degrades natural body chemicals, disrupts internal biochemistry and creates disease. Scientists have directly linked free radicals with diseases ranging from cancer to arthritis and tell us that they are created by common factors such as stress, but also by toxins, such as environmental pollution and poor food. Heated oils, rancid oils and too much alcohol all create free radicals. The only protection you have against these little horrors is a group of natural chemicals found in abundance in pure foods – the free-radical killing antioxidants, such as vitamin C and the mineral selenium.
What are the obstacles to a detox?
Your lungs may be overloaded with cigarette smoke, air-borne pollution and a general lack of fresh air and exercise. Your liver may have to deal with fatty diets, manmade chemicals, high alcohol consumption and a vast array of prescription and recreational drugs. Your bowels are often constipated and thus accumulate waste instead of eliminating it. Your poor kidneys are often starved of water to flush out toxins and your skin does not see cleansing sunshine or regular exfoliation. Another major problem is what naturopaths call “enervation”, or low nervous energy. Simply put, your nervous system governs and controls the systems and organs of elimination and in many people it is tired and just not up to the job. Stress, busy schedules, late nights and myriad other commitments modern living throws at you have exhausted your poor nervous system. A tired you is a toxic you.
Detoxing is all about giving your body a rest from the strain that life puts on it – and that begins by cleaning up your diet. The idea is that by reducing the amount of sifting your body has to do before it begins the process of assimilating and digesting nutrients, you will have more energy for getting the most out of your food, which in turn means that your overall energy levels and your health improve. If you are overweight, you will also begin to lose weight.
So, if you think you need a detox, try Max’s Weekend Detox Plan – you’re just 3 steps and 48 hours away from feeling great!