Every Day is Detox Day

Detoxing is simply the body’s way of removing toxins and excess waste, the result of which is less lethargy, more energy and ultimately better health. Every day we are exposed to a variety of toxins in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes we wear and of course radiation from electrical gadgets and background radiation as well. When the intake of toxins is greater than those removed the result is toxic overload which, if left unattended can result in a weakened immune system, which leads to illness which in turn can lead to death. Many advocates of detoxing propose a week long detox or a twelve day detox or even an annual detox, but with the amount of toxins that our bodies have to cope with these days detoxing should be a daily activity with possibly a deeper detox once a year.

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There are three ways our bodies handle toxins. Neutralising them, transforming them or eliminating them. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. The liver transforms toxic substances into harmless agents and blood carries waste to the kidneys or liver eliminating them through the intestines or bladder. Elimination also takes place through the skin and nostrils. When all your systems are working well the result is good health but you have to give your body some help along the way, especially in these modern times with toxins everywhere.
During the process of detoxing your body will eliminate dead, dying or diseased cells, eliminate trans fatty acids, remove toxic waste matter in the lymphatic system and blood stream, remove the hardened coating of mucus on the intestinal walls, remove toxins in the liver, spleen and kidneys, remove excess cholesterol and remove mucus from the lungs and sinuses, the result of which will be safe weight loss without flabbiness, a balanced nervous system, an increase in energy, revitalized organs, better breathing, an improved digestive system, glowing skin and greater mental clarity. The main agents of detoxification are the liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, lymphatic system and the intestines/digestive system although this latter is generally not regarded to be in the same category as the others.

The Liver

liver-detox-diet-300x225The liver is the main organ when it comes to detoxing. It can be described as a processing plant and a storage organ. It is the largest internal organ and it not only converts food into energy but cleans the blood of alcohol, food toxins and poisons and produces bile which is necessary for digestion. It needs to be cleansed regularly in order to function optimally and it is much easier and safer to do it every day rather than yearly as some practitioners advocate. After all your body is under attack every day so why detox once a year or half year. Here are some tips for keeping the liver well maintained. Start the day with a cup of green tea with half a lemon or lime juice and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Eat some garlic, onion and coriander/cilantro (the green leaves). Incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your diet. Eat fermented food with your meals (probiotics, sauerkraut), exercise. Eat fibre rich foods like lentils, okra, sweet potato, green bananas, aubergine and plantain.

The Kidneys

The kidneys are the last stop for filtration and detoxification. They clean the blood of toxins and urine which, in turn, cleans the bladder. If the kidneys are not functioning properly, then any type of detox or cleanse will not be totally effective and although there are several signs of the kidneys being congested and not working effectively, cleansing them is quite easy. Signs of congested or inefficient kidneys are foggy head, oedema/edema (swelling ), low energy, bladder issues, kidney stones, low sex drive and ringing in the ears. Dehydration is the most common cause of kidney stress and kidney stones so drink plenty of clean WATER and eat fruits like limes, lemon, grapes, bananas, kiwi, prunes and apricots. You can also soak barley grains overnight and drink the water in the morning. This cleanses the kidneys and repairs any damage done from the build- up of toxins. You should also eat less protein to reduce the amount of the by-product creatinine which is harmful to the kidneys.

The Skin

The skin is sometimes referred to as the “third kidney”. A lot of toxins come out through perspiration and in dead skin cells that flake off. Alternatively, a lot of toxins leach into the body through the skin, mainly through the use of toiletries, and cosmetics and of course, the environment. There are a few very good ways to help the body eliminate toxins through the skin and perhaps the most effective is by having the occasional sauna which encourages sweating. You can also alternate hot and cold showers which will also help or have a soak in a hot bath with Epsom salts or bicarbonate of soda added to the water. These not only promote sound sleep but are very alkalizing and leach into the body through the pores which have been opened up due to the heat of the water.

The Lungs 

Your two lungs are some of the most important organs in your body because without them you would only live for a few minutes through lack of oxygen and the build- up of carbon dioxide in your body. With the environment in which we are living becoming more and more polluted and toxic, your lungs are being subjected to more disease causing chemicals and pollutants. Since you have very little control over the air you breathe you can help your lungs perform better by detoxing them. There are several ways this can be done. Special breathing exercises, having regular saunas, eating spicy foods and taking hot showers are just a few. From a dietary perspective there are many more ways to detox your lungs. Drinking sage tea is good for coughs and sore throats while ginger tea with lemon improves breathing and helps remove toxins from the respiratory tract. Peppermint contains menthol which is known to relax the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract and promotes free breathing. The herb oregano is not only an anti-inflammatory herb but also a decongestant and anti-histamine which can be added to your daily diet. You can also steam treat with eucalyptus by inhaling the fumes and it has even been suggested that boiling the leaves of the banana or plantain tree or even boiling green plantains or bananas and drinking the water will improve the functioning of the lungs.

The Lymphatic System

This is your body’s biggest drain. It removes waste from the blood and every cell and regulates the immune system. It delivers nutrients, oxygen and hormones and removes fluid toxins, cancer cells and pathogens. There are a few simple but beneficial steps you can take to detox your lymphatic system. Eat red foods for optimal lymph function (beet, cherries, radish, dark green vegetables, ginger, sea kelp, citrus fruits, and garlic. Herbs, such as parsley, dandelion root and nettles also help cleanse the lymphatic system. Even a sauna will help as it helps get toxins out through the skin and also through exhalation. The liver produces most of the lymph fluid so when the liver is congested the lymph system is also congested. You should avoid processed foods like white bread, processed meats, fast foods, canned foods, cereals, baked goods and packaged dinners. Your lymphatic system can also be helped by exercise.

The Intestines

detox-sqA healthy colon removes toxins but an unhealthy one produces its own toxins. The first step towards a healthy, detoxed colon is to change your diet to one that has plenty of fibre. So moving away from processed foods and embracing natural high fibre vegetables is essential, as this, together with drinking adequate amounts of clean water will speed up the passage of food through the intestines. This makes for regular elimination, a lower risk of re-toxing, a reduction of cholesterol and of course nourishment for the good bacteria in the gut. Colon cleansing involves regular bowel movements and of course if you are eating three meals a day you should be eliminating three times a day. This is contingent upon the nature of the food you are eating and will only happen if the food is high fibre and you have drunk plenty of water. If, on the other hand you are constipated and not eliminating, then toxins are sitting in your colon fermenting and putrefying and just waiting to be reabsorbed which ultimately gives rise to disease, including cancer of the colon.

Avocado

In addition to its many other health benefits avocado can help protect and repair your liver, the main organ of detoxification. Avocados contain very high amounts of compounds which help the body produce glutathione, perhaps the most powerful antioxidant there is. Research has shown that eating one or two small avocados every week for 30 days can make a significant difference in the health of your liver.

Ginger

Ginger speeds up the movement of food through the intestines. And also slows the growth of colorectal and ovarian cancer cells. It has also been associated with protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Ginger stimulates digestion, circulation and sweating and helps cleanse the colon, liver and other organs of waste and toxins. It is also a blood thinner.

Garlic

Garlic contains compounds called allyl sulphides which give garlic its very pungent smell. Allicin, a compound which is produced when garlic is crushed is said to help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and is also associated with the removal of heavy metals from the body. Garlic belongs to the allium family of herbs which also include onions, spring onions, shallots, chives and leeks. Onions are also associated with the removal of heavy metals from the body and for best effect should be combined with garlic and coriander.

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Beet

Beet has been shown to help cleanse the blood and the colon and strengthen the liver and gall bladder, all of which are associated with detoxification. Beet is high in iron which helps to regenerate the red blood cells and supply fresh oxygen to the body. It can very easily be integrated into your everyday diet to help keep the liver working properly. In addition to the direct benefit to the liver beet also functions as an antioxidant and is associated with a reduction in the risk of contracting cancer of the liver, skin, spleen and colon.

Kale

Kale, spinach, Brussel sprouts, kolrabi, cabbage and broccoli all belong to the brassica family and are generally referred to as cruciferous vegetables. They are rich in folate and chlorophyll and a phytochemical called sulforaphane, which stimulates enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens (cancer causing compounds). They also contain another compound called glucosinolates which help with the removal of toxins from the body. You should eat these vegetables raw or lightly cooked. Kale is considered to be the best of all the cruciferous vegetables.

Pectin

Pectin is found in the skin of many vegetables and fruits and is normally used in the making of jams and jellies. It has the ability to remove heavy metals and contaminants from the blood stream through a process known as chelation. The heavy metals and contaminants are then passed out of the body through urination. Sources of pectin are bananas, apples (especially green ones), cabbage, okra, beet, carrots, grapes and citrus fruits. With citrus fruits the pectin is the white part between the skin and the flesh known as the pith.

Teas

Some of the herbs and spices mentioned in this article can also be taken as teas, which may be more convenient for some people. Most of us are familiar with ginger tea and green tea but even garlic, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and coriander can be taken as teas. Some may have a taste that takes some getting used to but can be blended with other herbs to reduce their acrid taste.

Turmeric

Turmeric is the number one spice in the world due to its many health giving properties and plays a vital role in any detox programme. It stimulates the gall bladder to produce more bile and the liver uses bile to eliminate toxins. Bile also rejuvenates liver cells that breakdown harmful compounds. When mixed with castor oil turmeric is an even more powerful toxin remover, especially from the skin. Women should apply this mixture to the breasts and under the arm because it will pull harmful toxins from the lymph nodes and fat cells of the breasts reducing the risk of breast cancer.

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Coriander

Cilantro/Coriander or Chinese parsley is one of the few herbs that are used for the detoxification of heavy metals like lead, aluminium, mercury and cadmium from the body. It works even better when combined with garlic, onions and pectin.

Exercise

Exercise not only builds muscle but reduces fat and improves your mood. It also helps detox the body which is essential for good health. Exercise stimulates the body, increases circulation of the blood and lymph, a clear fluid that flows through our bodies. Exercise also causes us to us to sweat more which cleanses the skin through perspiration and during exercise when you drink water you help your kidneys do their job in filtering toxins more easily. Another effect of exercise is to improve digestion which naturally leads to less indigestion, gas, constipation and a better elimination of waste. Remember that exercise is not always a question of going to the gym and pumping weights or running on the treadmill. You should find a form of exercise that fits in with your daily routine, physical health and age and make that a part of daily habits. Swimming, brisk walking, dancing, yoga, tai chi or any form of physical movement carried out on a regular basis is good and helps your body detox.

Water

When you are exercising you are inclined to drink water as a result of losing body fluid through perspiration. Water, like exercise is a vital part of any detox programme. It not only keeps you hydrated but helps your kidneys flush out toxins, the main one being blood urea nitrogen. Water also carries nutrients to the cells to energize them, aids digestion, lubricates and cushions the joints and regulates our body temperature and metabolism.

Fasting

Sleep is indeed a mini fast and it is during this period that the body briefly carries out a short cleanse, the evidence of which is “morning breath”, a coated tongue or a mild experience of fogginess on awakening. This quick act of cleansing during sleep is in fact a short detox. During a longer “fast,” toxins enter the blood stream at a rapid rate and as a result the symptoms will be more pronounced than fogginess or morning breath. You should not go from eating a regular diet to fasting. There should be a transitional period during which you should eat only fruits and vegetables for a few weeks and then go onto a water fast.

Sleep

Normally, when we think of detoxing, we very rarely think of sleep as part of that process. The paradox here is that most of us know that “the body repairs itself when we are asleep”, but we somehow do not make the connection between the body repairing itself and detoxing. Recent research has shown that a particular mechanism that removes waste products from the brain is mainly active during sleep.
A statement from the University of Rochester Medical Centre where the research was carried out stated that “This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake. In fact, the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of the neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness”.images Black woman asleep
In 2012 Dr Maiken Netergaard co-director of the University of Rochester Medical Centre reported that they had discovered a previously unrecognised system that drains waste from the brain. They called it the “glymphatic system” because it acts like the body’s lymphatic system but is managed by the brain cells known glial cells. Apparently, the glymphatic system clears away toxins or waste products that could be responsible for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Tests have shown that the “glymphatic system” , the clean- up system, is ten times more active during sleep and that a sleeping brain removes significantly more amounts of one toxic protein called amyloid beta which is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. They also found that during sleep the brain undergoes physical changes that allow the system to work faster. Apparently, the cells of the brain shrink by about sixty per cent, which increases the space between them so that the toxins can be flushed away more effectively.
Since sleep plays such a crucial role in the maintenance of good health, it is vitally important that any detox programme includes foods and herbs that encourage sound sleep. Some such foods are sesame seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, cocoa, dark green vegetables, black strap molasses, lemon balm, sage, barley and chamomile and the mineral magnesium.

Avoid Re-toxing

Of course, after having introduced the new regime to your everyday detox programme you may find that for the first few weeks your body may rebel. Avoid sugars, fast foods, additives, monosodium glutamate wheat, trans-fats and simple carbohydrates as these are anti-detox agents.