X is for detox. Detoxification is a basic principle of natural health. Any program of restoring the health and balance of the body includes getting toxins out of the body.
You may wonder why detoxification is so important. A few toxins here and there are not the issue. It is the accumulation of them over time because they tend to store in our fatty tissue because the body cannot eliminate them without some help. The fatty tissue we are talking about is not just that roll around the middle – it also a form of fat known as phospholipids that are found in significant quantities in our brain and nerves. This accumulation of toxins over time can cause serious degenerative problems.
How can you tell if you need to detoxify? I think if you are living in this day and age and eat conventional American food, you need to detoxify. The symptoms and signs of toxicity include fatigue, lack of energy, headaches, high blood pressure, allergies and sensitivities, excessive mucus production, sinus problems, and bronchitis. They can also include mood changes, joint aches, arthritis, autoimmune issues, skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis, forgetfulness and foggy thinking along with just not feeling good. If you have any of these symptoms, it may be time to clean up.
Many people ask where the toxins come from. They are everywhere – not to be paranoid or anything, but think about it. Much of our food is conventionally grown, meaning that they use chemical pesticides and fertilizers. To top that off, if they are processed in any way, they are treated with chemical additives to preserve texture, taste and shelf life. Our animals are also raised on conventionally grown crops and are fed hormones and sometimes highly processed food that is completely unnatural to their systems. These animals have the same trouble we do in eliminating unnatural chemicals – they store them in fatty tissues. The toxins you get from conventional meat may be the same ones that end up in your brain, prostate and breasts.
Transfats are another major source of toxins in the body. Transfats are unnaturally saturated fats that include shortening and margarine and are found in baked goods, snack foods, and fried foods. These transfats are used by the body for any kind of fatty tissue. Now again, we are not talking about the roll around the middle. There is a cellular membrane for each cell in the body that is made up of fat. If transfats are all that is available, then that is what the body uses. Cell membranes made from transfats are brittle and stiff and basically cause deterioration of the body at a cellular level – this is not good – it is a major source of problems associated with aging. It is also a huge issue with skin conditions. Most skin cancers have some relation to these transfats.
Other ways toxins enter our bodies are through our lungs, and through our skin. Breathing any kind of chemical fumes allows toxins into the body. One commonly overlooked source of inhalant toxins is our cleaning products and air fresheners. We also forget about the absorbability of our skin. Whatever we put on our skin goes into our bloodstream without being processed by our liver first. Many of our cosmetics and lotions have horrible chemicals in them and we don’t even think twice about the toxicity of them.
Detoxifation is a way to help the body process out these stored chemicals and it helps lead to health and balance in the long run.
Margaret Durst is a naturopathic doctor who owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.