Imagine, if you can, that you have just fallen into a vat of industrial waste.
Solvents, heavy metals, hydrocarbons – a thoroughly nasty soup. So what do you do?
Of course, you get out of the vat as quickly as possible, and then clean yourself up with a shower and plenty of soap. A no-brainer.
But what if the nasty soup is not in a vat but in the environment, in soil, water, air, medications, even food? And what if traces of those pollutants are inside the body?
What do we do? Typically, nothing. We may change our habits or our diet, but few of us ever do anything to purge the contaminants that already burden our bodies. That we leave to the bodily systems that are supposed to take care of such things. And they do – to a point.
But nowadays, our kidneys, liver, bowels and other cleansing organs are reaching the breaking point. They are overloaded, and the consequences are dramatic increases in environmentally-engendered diseases: cancer, arthritis, autoimmune conditions, colitis, allergies, diabetes and Parkinson’s, among others.
Perhaps you caught the stunning report by cancer survivor, Wendy Mesley, on CBC-TV’s Marketplace a month ago. She began by reading a lab analysis identifying more than 40 carcinogenic toxins in her body. Her point was that there is nothing unusual about this; most of us carry as many or more.
As toxins accumulate in fat, joints, the brain, and other tissues, the natural chemical reactions of the body become slower and of poorer quality. Our detoxifying mechanisms perform sluggishly. Like any hard-working servant, they need an occasional break, and the best holiday we can give them is a good cleaning out.
Internal cleansing is at least as old as the classical Greeks and comes in many forms. Sweats, for example, either passively in a sauna or actively through exercise, are very effective in releasing toxins directly through the skin.
Cleanses can be equally beneficial. Water fasts, juice fasts, whole grain cleanses, among others, relieve the body of the enormous energy demand of digesting and metabolizing large quantities of food. The resulting energy surplus gives a boost to the immune system and stabilizes the nervous system, especially in times of stress.
Simple changes in the diet can be just as helpful. Eliminating, even temporarily, saturated fats, artificial sweeteners, food additives and sugars promotes detoxification, as does increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables, certain fruits and whole grains. Drinking copious quantities of purified water during a cleanse helps flush toxins through the kidneys.
Vitamins, minerals and certain accessory nutrients can make a big difference to how well your body cleanses. The liver, our most important detoxifying organ, benefits from garlic, onions, brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel spouts, cabbage, kale, bok choy) and carotenoids (orange and yellow fruits and vegetables that promote the production of vitamin A.)
Cleaning up our world will be a long and difficult task, but detoxifying our bodies periodically is something anyone can do. Consult a health professional – there is a right and wrong way to go about it – and get started. What better time to begin than in the season of traditional spring cleaning!
©Dr. Ashely Gordon, 2006.