‘Tis the season!
Oh, you thought it was over?
In January and February every year our clinic feels somewhat like a confessional.
“Forgive me Father for I have sinned. I haven’t eaten right in 30 days. I cannot believe how much I went off the wagon over the festive season.”
The post Christmas season is one of the most common times of the year for people to want to detox. It may be to lose a few pounds; to get back on their old health program; or just because they feel bloated and more stuffed than the turkey. A detox is a great way to make a fresh start on the New Year and to aid in a few of those resolutions.
Detoxification or cleanses are one of the basic foundations of natural healing. A good detox program cleanses the intestinal tract, the urinary tract, the liver, gallbladder, the blood and lymphatic system. It should include a wholesome diet focused on alkaline forming foods. It must also include lots of pure water and moderate exercise.
A detox programs which includes a cleansing diet is different than doing a fast and it is usually much more effective. In our clinic, we use detoxification diet programs on about a 1000:1 ratio to fasting, as they are both safer and more thorough. Typically fasting means a liquid diet. No solid food is consumed. Fasting is certainly not recommended during the cold Canadian winters. Fasting should only be done in warm weather.
The advantage of a detox diet or cleansing program is: You can eat like royalty. You can eat as much as you like, as long as you stick to an alkaline diet. All foods can be classified as acid forming, neutral or alkaline-forming. Since many health problems result when our bodies are overly acidic, a good detoxification program addresses the acid-alkaline balance of the blood. This means a number of dietary restrictions. A detox program does not include any flour products: cakes, cookies, breads, pasta etc.; or any dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, butter is OK). Tropical fruits, dried fruits sweets, processed food or preservatives are not allowed. A complete dietary list should accompany any detox program that you purchase.
The liver, kidney and intestinal tract are the primary organs of detoxification. The skin and lungs will also participate in the elimination of toxins to some degree. The liver plays several roles in detoxification: it filters the blood to remove large toxins; it synthesizes and secretes bile, which is full of cholesterol and fat-soluble toxins; and it has an enzyme system that disassembles unwanted chemicals. This enzyme disassembly is done in two phases. Phase I either directly neutralizes a toxin such as caffeine, or it modifies the toxic chemical to form an intermediate compound which can be neutralized in phase II.
Some of the built up toxins will be neutralized in this way and excreted in urine and feces. Other toxins are stored in fat and bone tissue. The detox should contain supplements meant to actively cleanse the blood, intestinal tract, kidneys, liver and lymphatic system. These supplements along with the diet will encourage the body to release waste materials and toxins that have accumulated in the system since the last cleanse. A full body cleanse should help to eliminate heavy metals, chemical toxins, microbial compounds and the breakdown products of protein metabolism.
This detoxification process is especially important to prevent several types of cancer. About 90% of environmental carcinogens can be handled and eliminated by a sound operational liver detoxification system. If toxins overwhelm the liver or the kidneys, they cannot function properly and do their job. There have been many studies showing that regular detoxes can reduce the body’s toxic load, thus keeping the natural detoxification mechanisms in good working order.
One important enzyme for phase I detoxification is cytochrome 450. People who have compromised cytochrome 450 have been shown to be more susceptible to environmental carcinogens. By following a detoxification program 2 to 4 times a year you can reduce the burden of toxins in the body and reduce your vulnerability to environmental pollutants. Detoxification diets are preferable to fasts because they don’t overload these fragile processes. Eliminating too many toxins too quickly can overburden the system . A good detox diet will provide nourishment for the whole body to function well and also provide the key nutrients to bind toxins, and the bulk fiber that will help move them through the system.
There are many detox plans available in the health food market. Each program comes with its own directions. We often suggest the addition of digestive enzymes: 1 to 3 capsules per meal, (depending on the size of meal) to ensure complete digestion. And we may follow the detox with a more specific program for weight loss, Candida or liver rejuvenation if desirable.
Detoxification programs are safe and can be done 2 to 4 times per year by almost anyone. Detoxification is not recommended for pregnant or breast feeding mothers.