Detox and cleansing is thrown around a lot at this time of the year, in relation to clean living and eating so should you cleanse, is it healthy and do they work? Cleansing has been part of cultural rituals in some areas of the world for thousands of years. All cultures have the same concepts, the aim is to stimulate the body’s natural detoxification pathways as well as ‘cleansing the soul’.
Traditionally a detox period comes with the change of the seasons and the promise of a new you, a new beginning and perhaps a new journey. It can aid with weight loss, glowing skin, renewed energy and a renewed zest for life. It does depends on the detox or cleanse but there is truth in this promise.
In biochemical terms Detoxification, defines the process by which harmful compounds, such as drugs or poisons, are converted to less toxic compounds in the body so they can excreted. If you are thinking – why on earth would our body need to detoxify, what and where do these poisons come from. Here’s a brief list:
- Skin care and personal care items
- Pesticides on our food
- All medications including pain relief and oral contraceptive pill
- Tap water
- Heavy metals in our environment
- Home fragrances
- Exhaust fumes
- Paint fumes, nail art, DIY material, toys, cleaning products
If you stop for a minute and list all of the chemicals that you come into contact with on a daily basis, the truth can be quite shocking.
The Environmental Working Group conducted a survey and concluded that on average women have an average exposure of up to 168 ingredients and that is just from the personal care products they use before they leave the house – face creams, soap, shampoo, perfumes, make-up etc and this is only the tip of the sword, the exposure continues via cleaning products around the home, fragrances, exhaust fumes, burnt and overcooked food, pesticides, plastic wrap and so it goes on. You can see how this list could easily slide up into the 100s and 1000s.
Considering all of these we are still functioning and this is because we have a very complex and fine-tuned system of detoxifying these poisons from our body – this is for the most part the role of the liver, but other organs such as skin, kidney, spleen and intestines are involved.
Our liver has a phenomenal capacity to convert the fat loving molecules into more water soluble metabolites which can be efficiently eliminated from the body. We refer to this as phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 detoxification. The catch is that the liver needs specific nutrients to help it to do this and to carry out these thousands of processes. Some are provided through our food and some the body can manufacture itself. Therefore, you always need to make sure that a detox or cleanse supports all three phases of detoxification and that you are eating real whole food along with your cleanse, otherwise you may end up more toxic than when you started.
Picture this you are living in an urban area, you have a stressful job and possibly a long commute, your food is less than ideal as you buy a pre-packaged ‘healthy’ options from the grocery store and wash it down with a glass of wine or two, if you are eating processed and packaged foods you are further increasing or decreasing certain enzyme activity which results in less effective detoxification, so as you can see your toxic load is already brimming, so where are all those essential nutrients going to come from so that your liver can clean up and get rid of the toxins? Our liver adapts and learns to cut corners (it finds the way which requires the least amount of energy) and it will use up any reserves that you have left. Add on years and possibly decades of the same and hopefully you will start to see how despite our liver’s ability to continuing doing its job, some support and nurturing would not go amiss!
Here are some signs and symptoms of a sluggish and/or struggling liver:
- Poor and ‘foggy’ memory
- Abdominal bloating
- Hives, Itchy rashes, dermatitis and other skin conditions
- Body odour
- Bad breath Intolerance to alcohol
- Intolerance to coffee
- Difficulty losing weight or easy to gain weight
- Fat around the middle
- Chemical sensitivities
- Poor elimination e.g. constipation
- Fatty stools and indigestion
- Dark urine and stools
- Loss of appetite
- Low energy levels
The good news is, that the liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself if you give it the right support.
My main advice is:
- Reduce stress : lifestyle and environmental as much as possible
- Reduce your ‘toxic load’ through diet and lifestyle choices
- Eat local and organic food where possible
- Drink plenty of filtered water
- Choose a clean, whole food organic diet
- Remove refined and processed foods and added sugars
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet with plenty of fresh organic vegetables and the best quality meat and fish you can afford.
- Practice mindfulness and Meditation and have a positive outlook
If you would like to take this a step further and join our next 21 Day Purify Programme which starts on 26th February then email us to join, this 21 Day Programme supports your digestion and detoxification pathways and boosts your metabolism, we will also send you information on our skincare which is a unique blend of natural plant extracts, antioxidants, enzymes and advanced probiotic technology work to protect the skin and program it to look and act healthier – your skin is your second detox organ so it is just as important to protect and support your skin.