By Jelena Deruka for CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine).
Do our bodies really need help with the natural process of ‘detoxification’? The health food and beauty markets are flooded with various detoxifying and cleansing products. Are they a necessity or a marketing ploy? Surely our bodies have an innate ability to detoxify, and our main cleansing organs, the liver, kidneys and intestines, are working on it as we speak? Indeed they are, but those frequent headaches, skin outbreaks or a lack of energy could be just a few of the many signs that your body may need a little help with detoxifying.
Over the past hundred years we have seen a sharp increase in the amount of industrial pesticides and herbicides, additives, processed foods and heavy metals being taken in by our bodies through our food, cosmetics and the air we breathe. Our main detoxifying organs can become overloaded as a result, and our insides could well benefit from an occasional deep cleanse! A guided, individualised detoxification programme is one of the tools that has traditionally been used by Naturopaths for clients who exhibit signs of poor detoxification. If detoxification is incorrectly done it could potentially cause more harm than good, as the toxins get released into the bloodstream faster than the liver can eliminate them.
What are toxins?
So what are toxins and how do we minimise our toxic load? Toxins are potentially harmful compounds that are capable of inducing disease in the human body. In our industrialised environment these toxic compounds can be found in air, water, processed foods, medications and so on, as well as in cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, for example. In addition, many people‘s diets are lacking the vital nutrients needed to assist in efficient detoxification. Don’t despair, however; there are a number of small changes that we can make which, over time, will lead to major improvements in health and wellbeing.
The sensible place to start is by not introducing more toxins into our bodies in the first place! Switch to an organic diet where possible or at the very least, stay away from the “Dirty Dozen” vegetables and fruits listed as having a higher pesticide load, (see PAN UK), and consider switching to organic versions of these. Switching to natural skincare is also very important, as there are many additives in cosmetics and skincare which are known health hazards. Why not reduce your consumption of cosmetics, and try natural oils, as a moisturiser? Replace processed foods with as many wholefoods and fresh vegetables as possible. Drinking adequate amounts of pure water (six to eight glasses a day) is also crucial step in eliminating toxins.
There are a number of simple steps we can take to help cleansing take place in our bodies, outside and inside: gentle skin brushing; starting the day with lemon juice in warm water; and eating more leafy, green vegetables. Some gentle exercise, a sauna session once a week, or taking Epsom salt baths can support the process. Even spending more time in the fresh air can help.
Before you start on any detox programme, it’s important to ensure that your bowel movement is regular (at least once a day), so that toxins are not being reabsorbed into the blood stream and putting yet more strain on the liver. A detox programme, handled correctly, can be a useful staging post on your journey to better health, but looking at your diet and lifestyle in greater detail and introducing basic changes is the only sustainable way to support your health goals.
Jelena Deruka is a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist who graduated from CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine). To find out about CNM training in a range of natural therapies visit www.naturopathy-uk.com