Putting A Detox in Context
By Dr. Suzette Lanzarotta
The sad fact is that so much chronic illness that harms so many millions is preventable through better lifestyle choices, when possible. A commitment to “Detox” signals an awareness of the importance of everyday lifestyle choices and can be one of the steps down the road to a healthier you.
The origin of the word itself dates back to the Greek word toxikon meaning, “poison arrow”. The popular notion that detoxification means getting rid of the “poison arrow” in our bodies hits the target. When the body cannot expel toxins they are stored throughout the body and mostly in the liver, kidneys, lungs, joints, pancreas, and in fat tissue. Within this definition, should be included persistent excess emotional stress. Constant stress is a toxin to be taken seriously.
Detoxing is as regular as breathing, which is itself an important detoxification function. When we talk about a “detox program” we are really talking about supporting the body’s normal function. A beneficial detox program need not be harsh or a hardship. Detoxing is a positive experience that should make us feel better about our health and ourselves. I like to think that taking the mystique out of “Detoxing” makes the idea more accessible to many of my patients and students.
Look at The Complete Picture For Better Health
What people are looking for when they detox is simple: Better health.
Most of the time, detoxing is most effective when it viewed in its broader sense and as something more than short-term fix. However, there are situations when a short-term detox program is appropriate to address a specific health issue. This can be complementary to other treatments. Usually, when this is the situation, folks are not looking for a detox program. They come in with a specific health issue to address and a good detox is part of the treatment.
So, the place to start with a detox is with you and your goals. And by “You” I mean the “Complete” you, or as complete a picture as you can get, your current physical state and health, daily eating and exercise habits, and your emotional and spiritual state. Do you have food allergies? Are you pregnant? Are you taking any drugs? Do you smoke? What are the stresses in your life? What home cleaning supplies do you use? You get the idea.
A real and lasting detox should address that goal. It should be be more than a short-term diet change, some pills or powder, and some directions, which we can call a “program”. While a short-term “program” can help flush toxins from the body, unless one addresses the everyday issues of toxins and your health, any “program” is a short-term boost that will not address long-term health issues. If you are leading a life immersed in toxins, you are not really getting the point and are, in the long run, wasting your time.
Now you begin to get the picture. For what most people are looking for when they think about a “Detox Program”, better health and feeling better, the beginning is to address lifestyle choices in our toxic environment. We all know our environment has some very seductive sources of toxins. I happen to love a big plate of Nachos at the fast food taco drive-thru down the street, really full of toxins but SO good!
Better Health or Chronic Toxicity?
Studies have shown that scare tactics are not very good at promoting changes in lifestyle and habits, even if the changes are obviously beneficial, smoking or eating junk fast foods being obvious examples. The studies advice is to follow the hormones and ego. What if I tell you that detoxing is sexy and it will improve your sex life. Now we are talking right! I believe both are true. We look better, feel better and have more energy. The rest follows.
It is generally the view of many non-drug based therapy forms of medicine that most diseases occur through a slow developmental process initiated by an accumulation of toxins in the body. Of late, there is increasing discussion of this phenomenon in the medical journals, and we hear more and more about low level chronic infections, or inflammation, being one of the underlying causes of heart problems or cancer, or arthritis, with much more to follow I am sure. The obvious next question is what is the cause of the chronic inflammation? Lets begin with a look at chronic toxicity.
Chronic toxicity can result from two overall sources: The body normally produces toxins as a by-product of normal metabolism (breaking down the foods you eat to produce energy at the cellular level). There is also ballooning abundance of man-made toxins out there in world. We all know that the rapid development of synthetic, and usually toxic, chemicals everywhere. Add the constant stress most of us face and the body is well beyond a healthy ability to manage. (I suppose there are those who would argue this. One thinks of cigarette manufacturers during the last decade.) The simple fact is that we have no idea of the long-term health impact of all these toxins, especially when the process of toxicity from synthetic chemicals starts with the developing fetus.
The list of synthetic toxics in our environment is huge and ever growing. There are tens of thousands of synthetic chemical listed with the EPA, and thousands are added every year. Only a small number of these have been tested, whether adequately or not, for safety. Chemicals thought to be harmful, especially to children, are released into the atmosphere by the billions of pounds every year. A 2005 reports of a new study by Columbia University that shows air pollution may result in measurable genetic changes in utero. Any such change can become a disposition for cancer or other serious illness.
Of course, there is also what we put directly and consciously into our bodies when we eat: over-processed, non-nutritious and harmful foods and beverages (Chips, cookies, excess alcohol), non-foods and beverages (Sodas, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners), lack of natural fiber in foods, a host of chemicals in our foods and beverages, poor profiles of fatty acids (which come from salad dressings, cooking oils, and margarine because they are almost always rancid.), and on and on.
When we think of our health and the health of our children it is the most reasonable thing in the world to acknowledge that the skyrocketing growth in chronic diseases and development problems in children is related to the deluge of toxins in our food, water and air. At our own risk, we believe blindly that “they” are looking out for us. There I go with the scare tactics.
Our Own Toxic Landfills?
This, of course, all leads to a general toxic overload of the body. Is anyone really surprised at that bit of information? This occurs as the body just cannot expel toxins well, or fast enough, and toxins build up from the normal metabolism of the body and other sources. Graphically put, our bodies become toxic landfills.
Studies done to test the toxicity in the body have found that, of those for which we can test, there are over 160 synthetic toxins that tend to take up resident in our bodies. All of us probably carry over 80 from these stored in our bodies. In one recent chilling study, children who ate organic foods were compared to children who ate non-organic foods. The kids ranged in age from 9 to 12 years old. Those that ate non-organic were found to have 9 times, again — 9 times, more stored pesticides in residence. What will the long-term impact on health be, we simply do not know. But I do know as a parent which group I would want my kids in. This has little to do with science; it is just basic common sense. Again, when the body cannot expel toxins they are stored mostly in the liver, kidneys, lungs, joints, pancreas, and in fat tissue. One cause of gradual weight gain so many experience over the years is that the body may manufacture fat for the storage of synthetic toxins it cannot process.
Take Action With the Fight Back Daily Detox Program!
That we live in a toxic environment impacting our health is not new information. The question is whether we bury ourselves in denial, or take responsibility for doing what we can for our health and the health of our children. This gets us back to the beginning of any detox. A short-term fix just does not sweep clean enough in today’s world. Yes, change can seem difficult for us in our culture of excess that leads us “by jingle by jolly” to accept poor habits and a toxic environment as normal way of life. So, I say to you, just imagine what simple healthy and detoxing lifestyle choices will do for your sex appeal and your sex life!
To start your detox program, take a look at where you can reduce or eliminate toxins every day. What I call your “Fight Back Daily Detox Program”. We cannot eliminate toxins entirely but we can make a huge difference with some simple common sense choices. The list below gives you a few easy rules to get you going. All of this is especially important if you are pregnant, considering, or breastfeeding.
- Invest in good habits the return is well worth it.
- Persistent stress is a serious toxin. Develop healthy avenues for reducing stress.
- Drink adequate amounts of clear and clean filtered water (This is NOT liquids. It is water.)
- Eat smart and balanced. We all pretty much know the rules now
- Eat lots of natural fiber in your foods.
- Reduce or avoid bad fats and foods, which may contain them. This includes ALL trans fats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils)
- Use only ‘good’ oils. (Olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil, cold pressed is best.)
- Go whole grain. Reduce or avoid the over processed foods in your diet. (That muffin or white flour bagel in the morning.)
- Eat organic or “natural” avoiding hormones and chemical feeds in foods when you can.
- Read the labels and avoid the chemical of the week food additives
- Reduce or avoid the in-house and yard use of toxic chemicals and pesticides. (And that includes air “fresheners”)
- Reduce or avoid chemicals in your soaps, makeup, and body products. (They are loaded.)
- Consume lots of healthful, friendly bacteria to promote good bowel habits. (yogurts, probiotics)
- Finally, relax and work into it. It really is not that hard. Today, the alternatives are out there if we look.