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What Is Detoxification?

Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body using our organs such as our heart, liver, intestines, lungs or through our pores by sweat. Many of these toxins or poisons come from our diet, drug use, and environmental exposure, Because of the development of chemicals and the use of them in our everyday lives, people living in this century are being exposed to toxins that our ancestors never witnessed. Over the last century chemicals have crept into our environment. Toxins are in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink and inevitably accumulate in the body. This overload of toxins on our system is detrimental to internal bodily processes.

With most people now leading very busy lives they turn to food that has been highly processed. Food manufacturers are using chemicals to preserve foods longer and putting more emphasis on packaging but this process often results in the loss of nutrients in the food. The quality of the processed food many people eat has greatly declined over the past 50 years due to these factors. If the body is deprived of quality food over long periods of time, this often leads to chronic illness and diseases. Our bodies are made up of highly sophisticated organs, but if they are deprived of quality fuel, they eventually cease to function properly.

Not only should we worry about external factors, but also our bodies are also capable of producing toxins internally. Internally, fats, especially oxidized fats and cholesterol, free radicals, and other irritating molecules act as toxins. A body that is not fit leads to breaks down in its functionality and as a result this leads to poor digestion, colon sluggishness and dysfunction, reduced liver function, and poor elimination through the kidneys, respiratory tract, and skin all add to increased toxicity.

Detoxification involves dietary and lifestyle changes that reduce intake of toxins and improve elimination. Avoidance of chemicals, from food or other sources, refined food, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and many drugs helps minimize the toxin load. Buying and using organic foods will also greatly reduce the intake of toxins to the body. Drinking extra water (purified) and increasing fiber by including more fruits and vegetables in the diet are initial steps in the detoxification process.

The Detoxification Organs

There are five organs that are considered the detoxification organs. They are the lungs, kidneys, colon, liver, and our skin.

Most of the nutrients your body needs are absorbed through the walls of the colon. One of the functions of the colon is to squeeze the nutrients out and discard the waste. The colon is considered the most important organ in cleansing the body. If the colon is not functioning properly or regularly toxins remain in our body, plaque can build up on the walls of the intestine which normally leads to constipation and deterioration in the absorption of nutrients into the body. Colon cleansing is one of the most popular treatments in most Detox centers. Although it is a practice that has been done for thousands of years the procedure became increasingly popular in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Now colon cleanings is normally done with hydrotherapy which is completely natural without the use of chemicals or drugs. One treatment will greatly improve the condition of the colon; but for optimal results it is suggested that the therapy is repeated three times.

The lungs emphasize the importance of air quality in our lives. The lungs aid the body in detoxification by expelling metabolic wastes that build up in basic metabolic functions. The most widely recognized is carbon dioxide, which is removed from the blood and expelled through the breath. In addition, the lungs transform toxins into water-soluble forms that can be processed by other systems in the body. By trying to reduce the amount of toxins that our lungs are exposed to like cigarette smoke and polluted air we reduce the stress that is placed on the lungs. This is especially a conern in the major metropolitan centers of Indonesia where air pollution is at a critical stage.

Our liver, weighing over 1 kilogram, is the second biggest organ in the body after the skin and certainly one of the most important. No one can survive without a liver! The liver performs more than 500 functions. Some of the more important functions that it performs are:

  1. takes out toxins from the metabolism
  2. breaks down fats, hormones, and protein
  3. produces glucose to maintain sugar level in the blood
  4. stores protein
  5. secrets bile to aid in digestion

The liver filter, like any filter, needs to be cleansed regularly, and it is much easier and safer to do it every day. This is easily and pleasantly achieved by adopting a daily eating pattern that maintains the liver filter in a healthy clean state. One of the best things that can maintain a healthy liver is a well balanced diet. Although it is important to keep the intestines moving regularly and to sweep their walls with high fiber and living foods, it is important to remember that the bowels are really a channel of elimination and not a cleansing organ per se. In other words the bowels cannot cleanse, filter or remove toxic wastes from the blood stream.
It is only the liver that can purify the blood stream and we only have one liver.

The kidney is the organ that is responsible for the excretion of water soluable wastes from the body. What the kidneys do is similar to a water purification plant that keeps a city's water drinkable and disposes of its wastes. The kidneys filter out toxins, waste products, and excess sodium from the blood, disposing of it in urine. They also produce an enzyme that regulates blood pressure. If the body is consuming too many toxins for the kidney to process, a toxic overload occurs and the kidney has no other choice than to dispose of the toxins into the bloodstream.

Kidney overload occurs when we start to consume too much salt in our diet. With men currently consuming 10g of salt a day and women 8g on average, we are eating 4g and 2g more respectively than the recommended intakes. Drinking too little fluid concentrates the urine, increasing the risk of mineral salts forming stones and interrupting the filtering mechanisms.

Our skin is the biggest organ on our bodies. Our skin functions as a barrier to infections and physical harm. It controls the temperature of the body and produces vitamin D from the rays of the sun. Our skin also helps to dispose of approximately 10% of the toxins from the body as toxins are released through the skin along with sweat. The skin also has the ability to transform toxins from liquid-soluble or oil-based compounds, into water-soluble forms, which can then be removed by the kidneys.

Do you need to detox?

If you answer “yes” to three of more of these questions you could benefit from a detoxification treatment:

  1. Are you overweight or do you overeat?
  2. Do you suffer from constipation or have other digestive problems?
  3. Do you often feel tired and feel you often need to rest?
  4. Do your often suffer from headaches or other illnesses?
  5. Do you have food or environmental allergies?
  6. Do you often eat instant foods, fast foods or fried foods?
  7. Do you often take prescription or non-prescription drugs?

Detoxing Therapies

One of the detoxification therapies, fasting, is one of the oldest detox treatments known. Fasting, or the abstention from food, has been practiced for centuries in connection with religious ceremonies and is a completely natural process. In many cases, it is advised that people should listen to their inner guidance regarding fasting, as animals do. We may apply this process to many illnesses and states of health and life.

Many authorities claim the detox process helps clear wastes and old or dead cells and revitalizes the body’s natural functions and healing capacities. Most people that have used cleansing programs, such as fasting, have experienced positive and incredible results. Some experts believe that fasting/cleansing/detoxification is the missing link in Western nutrition, and if we used this process more in our daily lives and our medical system, we could heal and prevent a great deal of disease. Often mini fasting is combined with juice cleansing for best results.

Sauna is one of the best methods for detoxifying heavy metals. However, if you're suffering from exposure to heavy metals, you must work with a health practitioner trained in this system of detoxification. Persons with high blood pressure should check with their doctors before using sauna therapy and women who are pregnant should not take saunas.

These are common ways in which we can reduce the strain on our kidneys:

  • Reduce salt. Choose salt-reduced bread; porridge and shredded wheat; cook meat, fish and poultry minus sauces and with minimal salt; opt for fresh or frozen vegetables or those canned in water. Use a non-salt seasoning mix of herbs and spices to flavor dishes.
  • Drink two liters of water daily, plus an extra liter for every hour of exercise, and cranberry juice to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
  • Reduce foods likely to stimulate kidney stones, such as red meats, seafood, spinach, rhubarb, and chocolate.
  • Eat naturally diuretic foods such as asparagus, celery, and watermelon.
  • Take ginkgo balboa, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It also improves blood flow to the kidneys.

Adopting an organic diet is crucial in reducing or eliminating toxics from entering our bodies. Organic products contain 50% more vitamins minerals and enzymes than conventional foods. Organic foods often have more flavor than conventional foods. People that stick to an organic diet have a far reduced risk of developing cancer, respiratory disease, and other illnesses.

Why Detoxify?

Detoxing or cleansing can be done for many reasons, mainly for good health, vitality, and rejuvenation--to clear symptoms, treat disease, and prevent further problems. A cleansing program is ideal for helping to reevaluate our lives, to make changes and to clear abuses or addictions. We can't replace our eliminative organs; the best we can do is give them a good cleansing.

Detoxification helps to clear up symptoms, as well as treat and prevent disease. Detoxification is a continual and ongoing process, 24 hours a day, day after day. The accumulated environmental and undigested food toxins which are not eliminated through the normal channels overwork and place a burden on the kidneys, colon, liver, skin, and lungs. These toxins are then stored and accumulated in the fatty tissues of the body, decreasing our energy levels and immune system, allowing us to become more vulnerable to many illnesses.

Who is a good candidate for detoxification? Everyone needs to detoxify, cleanse and, at times, rest their body functions. Our body has a daily elimination cycle, generally carried out at night and the early morning. Detoxing can rest our overloaded organs of digestion and our liver, gallbladder, and kidneys and allow them to catch up on past work. Most often our energy is increased and steadier. When we eat a congesting diet high in fats, meats, dairy products, refined foods and chemicals, with low intake of fiber detoxification becomes more crucial. When you detoxify, you are treating your body to a fresh start.

Sincere thanks to Riani Susanto, ND CT for her infomation that contributed to this article.