Detoxification: Choosing a Program Right for you
- Friday, 20 November 2009
Do you experience symptoms such as headaches, back and joint pain, gastrointestinal problems, sexual dysfunction, depression, fatigue, inability to lose weight, frequent colds and flu, food and stimulant cravings and respiratory weakness?
If you answered yes to even one of those, your body is likely suffering from excess toxicity. Even the healthiest of individuals report problems like those listed above, and more and more are looking to detoxification for help.
Toxins are any substance foreign to our bodies that create irritating and/or harmful effects, undermining our health and stressing our biochemical or organ function. We become toxic when we ingest more than we can utilize and eliminate naturally. This imbalance creates a need for removal of toxins and rebalancing of the body. The only known way to cleanse is to avoid certain foods, environments and substances.
As Western society continues to value progress and industry over the health and well-being of human beings, our bodies and environment are being bombarded by toxic threats like air pollution, chemicals, radiation, medications and refined foods, we therefore find our bodies become off-balance and congested. Diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease are byproducts of your body’s inability to deal with the amount of toxins they’re confronted with on a daily basis.
The best time to detoxify is when you feel congested from too much food, people or activities. Seasonal changes as well as before or after holidays are also a great time to detox because there tends to be a lot of external stress and an excess of food and drinks around those times. You can also take advantage of the fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and incorporate them into your cleansing program.
Detoxifying cleanses our bodies of those unwanted materials that cause disease, and improves our overall health by increasing our vitality, clearing symptoms and most importantly preventing future health problems from occurring. The popularity of detox-diets, fasts, juice cleanses and alkaline-based foods are on the rise and it is important to know how these techniques differ from one another and to educate ourselves on the major benefits of regular cleansing.
Some vital benefits of cleansing include clearer skin, a reduced appearance of aging, improved flexibility, greater fertility and sexual function, enhanced senses, prevention of disease, improved digestion, and weight loss.
Introducing alkaline type foods into your diet and eliminating acid-producing foods is of key importance to someone undergoing a detox. The Acid-Alkaline balance also known as our pH, refers to our body’s homeostasis or natural state. The pH level is measured on a scale of 0-14, zero being most acidic and 14 being most alkaline. The ideal pH for the body would be one of 7-7.4, the midpoint and neutral state. The slightest change in pH may throw off your body’s entire balance and proper functioning. In a prolonged overly acidic/alkaline state, our bodily tissues become chronically congested, inflamed and allergic and our cells weaken because nutrients and energy are not being received properly. If the state persists our whole body starts to degenerate, diseases may form and our tissues and cells will begin to malfunction.
Foods that are considered to be acidic in their chemical makeup are animal products, refined foods (sugars and flours), nuts and seeds. These foods contain higher amounts of iodine, sulfur and chlorine. Foods that are considered to be more alkaline in nature are generally foods that have high water content such as fruits, vegetables, some grains and almonds which all contain magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium.
There are many levels of cleansing. There is a basic cleanse where no breads, baked goods, animal and dairy products, alcohol, caffeine or nuts are used and the diet consists primarily of fresh fruits and vegetables (raw or cooked), certain grains and lots of water and herbal teas. This diet is great for a beginner cleanser and may only take one to two days to adjust from their regular diet. It contains enough fiber and water to help the colon to detoxify and rest.
A deeper level of detoxification is the raw food diet where only fruits and vegetables are eaten raw or juiced, and complemented by sprouted greens from seeds, grains and beans. This diet provides people with high nutrient value and concentration of vitamins, minerals and important enzymes. Green vegetables should be the main focus in this diet because of the high nutrient value and chlorophyll stores used for purification of the gastrointestinal tract.
A liquid cleanse or fast goes even deeper into the detoxification process. A juice cleanse may involve a period of time where just liquids are consumed. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices, vegetable broths, miso soup and herbal teas may be used to purify the system and stimulate the colon.
Water fasting is the most extreme form of detoxing and usually results in low energy levels and sickness. During the water fast, you may include diluted juices from various fruits and vegetables to provide the body with required nutrients and it is advised that you seek attention from a registered Nutritionist, experienced in detoxification and be monitored regularly.
How do you know what detox diet is right for you? You need to tailor the diet keeping in mind your general health, energy levels, physiological balance and your lifestyle. A detox can go on for a day, or a month—it all depends how congested you feel and what you are willing to commit to. It is advised that you seek help from a registered health professional before cleansing. Any of the aforementioned diets (excluding the water fast) are quite safe and will provide amazing benefits if done properly. No matter how mild your detox diet, it should leave you feeling refreshed, energized and ready to take on life with a new healthy perspective.
1. Dreher, Christine. The Cleanse Cookbook: The Cleanse Resource Guide for the New Millennium. San Diego, CA: Christine’s Cleanse Corner, Inc. 2002.
2. Haas, Elson M., MD. The Detox Diet. Berkley, CA: Celestial Arts. 2004.