Detoxifying your body
Last week we looked in detail at how to cleanse the body from the inside. We ended by focusing on three factors that can affect your ability to detoxify. One factor was body burden, the second was genes and the third was diet.
To continue with the diet factor, too much sugar can hamper detoxification. Studies have shown that eating a lot of carbohydrates can reduce the body’s ability to clear drugs from the system. In one trial, volunteers achieved greater chemical clearance with a diet that is high in proteins but low in carbohydrates, compared with a low-protein/high-carbohydrate diet.
A lack of vitamins and minerals has an adverse effect on cleansing the body too. These include vitamins B, C and E, magnesium and selenium.
Many studies about cleansing our body have focused on alcohol and drugs, but as we saw last week, the environment, our jobs and lifestyle can all contribute to how much toxic overload we absorb. Some studies show how detoxification can improve health, which seems obvious if we rid our bodies of huge amounts of toxins.
In a study of 9/11 World Trade Centre rescue workers who had developed a range of health symptoms after being exposed to multiple toxic chemicals, a programme, developed by the founder of Scientology, Ron Hubbard, significantly reduced their body burden of PCBs, PCFs and PCDDs – all toxins absorbed during the tragedy (Chemosphere, 2007).
The programme was originally designed by Hubbard to help in the removal of recreationally abused drugs from the bodies of members of the Scientology group. The method is now being used to reduce the levels of environmental fat-stored compounds such as pesticides and industrial chemicals.
To embark upon a serious detoxification programme, you will require the help of a qualified practitioner who can assess your individual factors based on your job, your past medical history and lifestyle.
In the meantime, here is a list of support systems you can put in place in your life:
Exercise is a great support for cleansing the body. It makes you sweat, so just one session on the treadmill, or on an exercise bike, or even out running/jogging can double your levels of detox enzymes (Life Sci., 1990).
One month of sustained aerobic exercise can lead to improved caffeine breakdown by the body. The advice is to carry out 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (enough to leave you slightly breathless) three to five times each week, followed by a shower to prevent any re-absorption of the excreted chemicals.
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and watercress are all members of the cruciferous family of vegetables. They are rich sources of compounds that trigger the Phase 2 detox enzymes and boost antioxidant activity.
It is interesting that these are the family of vegetables that are also claimed to protect against cancer, so this ability to detox is once again shown to be health-supporting.
Studies (Adv. Exp. Med. Biol., 1996) show that smokers eating two ounces of watercress at each meal, for three days, significantly in-creased the detoxification of a cancer-causing substance in nicotine. Aim to include a mix of organic cruciferous vegetables in your daily diet.
It may seem obvious, but is worth pointing out that sauna and steam baths rid our bodies of some harmful toxins through sweating. Heavy metals, pesticides and drugs can all be sweated out. Hence the visits to a sauna by those who have over-indulged in alcohol.
Health club saunas and steam rooms can work, but detox expert Shideh Pouria, medical director of the Burghwood Clinic in Surrey, UK, recommends far-infrared saunas, which emit infrared radiant heat that is absorbed directly into the human body.
Around three to five minutes every other day should benefit most people. However, it must be remembered that with this form of detoxing, enough fluid to replace the lost fluid that is sweated out should be consumed during and after the session.
Minimising your exposure to toxic chemicals is a key part of any detox programme. Try to become a label detective and be on the lookout for more natural versions of any products you use in your home, garden or at work, including toiletries and cleaning materials. Organic food is always beneficial, as it will always be grown with less pesticides and toxins.
Finally, fibre does aid detoxification, as it is thought to enhance the excretion of various environmental carcinogens. This is according to studies carried out with rice bran, seaweed and spinach, which were laboratory tested (J. Nutrl. Biochem., 2005).
We all have a unique detox system, depending on our lifestyle, past illnesses and genes. We are only just beginning to understand the benefits of detoxification, despite this process taking place in the Western world for thousands of years.
There is no doubt that it has an effect on our health, and it seems that the inner cleanse will be a valuable therapy, treatment or even preventative for many chronic diseases that are causing difficulty for modern medicine.