Health Matters – Time for a Detox

It’s mid-January. Christmas is over, and so are the holidays. And although many of us are back at the work-and-school slog, our minds feel refreshed from our break time. But do our bodies feel the same?

What are we missing?

Traditional First Nations societies strongly believed in taking time to rejuvenate the body several times a year. They would carefully eat only foods whose medicinal properties offered a promise of rejuvenation, and drink health-promoting liquids. This reinvigoration process was actually a detoxification process, or detox, during which elimination of bodily toxins was optimal. And the results? Positive for health!

Why a detox?

Waste material is a normal by-product of our bodies? minute-to-minute cellular functioning. Usually It’s eliminated, and life goes on. However, in addition to the waste material generated by our own bodily processes, the majority of us have a daily brush with external toxins.

Take that polluted air you breathed while in transit on the way home. Or that litany of unpronounceable ingredients boldly printed on the packages of those microwave dinners you just heated. Air, water, food?these are just a few sources of potential toxins entering our bodies.

And this is precisely where a detox comes in: to counter-attack those toxins besieging our bodies.

How does it work?

The basic principle behind any detoxification strategy is that the liver is one of the body’s major organs of detoxification. In fact, on a daily basis, the liver is hard at it?filtering, separating, removing, and generally detoxing on a small scale.

The liver has two phases, or strategies for detoxification. In Phase 1, toxic substances are broken down into a more manageable form. Sometimes this means that the partially broken-down toxin is re-created into an even more toxic substance, and sometimes it means the opposite. It depends on the chemical. However, Phase 2 doesn’t discriminate: toxic or nontoxic, it wipes them all out of the liver and en route for satisfactory elimination!

Problems arise, though, when the toxins entering our bodies exceed the liver’s ability to process them. We end up with a toxin overload, but there’s a solution: an external detox.

Who shouldn’t?

As always, there are some who should exercise caution when considering speeding up detoxification through an external means. Pregnant and nursing women should wait; and individuals with genetic diseases or autoimmune diseases should not attempt a detox unless under the guidance of a licensed health practitioner.

How do I . . . ?

If You’re hoping to kick-start your body’s detoxification process right away, here are some options. Remember, when beginning your detox, It’s not necessary to start with a huge bang! You can start out gently, using some of the simplest options listed below, and gradually ease into a stronger detoxification protocol.

? Lemons: Squeezing half a lemon into a glass of warm water every morning is a simple, yet refreshing, way of greeting your liver and gallbladder ?good morning.? If You’re hoping to start your detox gently, this one’s a good beginning step.
? Foods: Certain foods increase the liver’s activity and help it dump those toxins faster. Try incorporating one to two servings of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or beets into your daily diet. Eat them raw for maximum benefit.
? Kits: Most health food stores offer a selection of ?detox kits,? which are essentially several herbal or homeopathic formulas combined in an easy-to-use kit. The results are powerful, but if you’ve never done a detox before, you should use one of the gentler methods to start out.

Beyond the body

A good detoxification process needn’t stop at the physical, either. In fact, it shouldn’t; holistically, human health is a product of physical, mental, and spiritual health. If one component is lacking, we can’t be truly healthy.

What better time to clear our mental-emotional self than when we’re already concentrating on the internal processes of our bodies? Detox that small aggravation: just let go! Detox that bitterness: dig it up, and journal it on paper to release it. Detox that unforgiveness: meditate, sit quietly, or write a letter.

This month, let’s aim for total, deep-down-inside health to start off 2011: let’s strive to be healthy physically, healthy mentally, and healthy emotionally. Start your all-body detox, and good luck!

Katie D?Souza is an AU graduate and a licensed naturopathic doctor. She currently lives in Ontario.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for personal interest only; it is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Readers are always encouraged to seek the professional advice of a licensed physician or qualified health care practitioner for personal health or medical conditions.