It’s that time of year when we are bombarded with detoxes and cleanses aimed toward pulling on the heartstrings of our newly formed resolutions and reprimanding our overindulging during the holidays. And, right behind the reprimand train are the articles shouting -- “There is no need to DETOX, it is a HOAX, our bodies detox every (damn) day so don’t fall into these nutritional trappings!”
Jeesh! You only wanted to do what’s best for you, maybe lose a few pounds, or MAYBE you really feel like crap and you want to make a big change so you hop on the Cleanse Craze -- but what gives? Is it really all hype or is there a real meaning to the madness?
Often, we can break down the conflicting information by addressing the two sides of the medical community - allopathic V functional/integrated. The former, being adamantly against any form of self imposed detox and the latter recommending everything from water fasting to lemon water with cayenne to juicing to powders and shakes to supplements to whole foods continual cleansing -- this last one being the one I subscribe to 98% of the time.
SO let’s dig in.
Do Our Bodies Need Help with Detoxification?
It is true, our bodies were designed to cleanse, to take out the trash, pee, poop, sweat and regenerate. A major player in the process is our liver of course, but also our kidneys, lungs, skin, lymphatic system and our brain too -- Did you know that when we sleep our brain washes itself of the plaque proteins as a protective mechanism against disease like dementia? Well it does, and it’s an amazing process, that works correctly, every night ...in people with really good sleep habits. That’s not everyone though, unfortunately.
While our bodies create their own chemical waste products, like plaque proteins, and excess hormones, they are simultaneously absorbing chemicals and toxins, including endocrine disruptors, via our lungs and skin and mouth (food). The liver, especially, deserves so much love for doing what it was designed to do all day every day to package up and process out toxins (or to stash them in our fat reserves. Ouch!)
This process works, for every single one of all of us...until it just doesn’t. Our livers are overburdened and, against what some of the medical establishment try to convince you, our livers DO need our help. We just weren’t designed to defend against all of these toxins on a constant basis.
“But what about,” you say, “if we are clean eaters and buy organic?”
First, good for you and high five! -- this helps, it truly does.
But did you know that babies are born today with over 200 chemicals in their umbilical cords? (Scientific American) BABIES! And that chemicals in the US are largely untested for safety in humans? And the chemicals that are deemed safe aren’t tested for safety in children or the elderly? And that tests of farmed and even wild salmon (such as those caught newar Puget Sound) found that these normally wonderfully fatty and typically healthy-choice fish have trace amounts of a large number of chemicals in them -- stored right in their good-for-us fat -- including and not limited to antidepressants, pain relief meds, and fire retardants...WHAT THE HECK...right?
These chemicals are in the air, are tracked indoors on our shoes, are in our furniture and painted walls and cleaning supplies.
We track in lead, for instance, from the outdoors which infiltrates our indoor air. So, remove your shoes as often as possible indoors (I gettit, when you wear heels to a house party, no, we don’t want to remove them for health reasons -- ok, ok! -- then please wipe them on the entrance rug at least 15 times before you step inside. Hey, I SAID you may keep the fashion statement but respect my health and yours too!) Additionally, let’s think about where many people spend 8-12 hours a day -- at work, where removing shoes would just not be practical -- so, lead is carried in from the streets and we breathe the offset.
As for water -- say no to plastic bottles, invest in a filtering system, and drink from glass containers at home. Easy fix.
So...what’s up with cleansing anyway? Are we doomed? Am I telling you to jump on the detox and cleansing wagon then? Or am I telling you food doesn’t matter? Not so fast -- it ALL matters , it also depends on your individual needs, and let’s just make sure you do it the right way.
How? Well, if you’re going to follow a program this is what you need to know:
Three Phases of Detoxification