Detox your Whole Body!
When we talk about ‘detoxing’ our lives and bodies, we tend to turn our minds to what we have been eating and drinking that might not have been wise choices for our health. We think about eating more fruit and vegetables, drinking more water and cutting out alcohol for a while. We might even think about ‘health farms’ and other such occasional retreats.
But it is a fact that our modern world has led to a big increase in toxins regularly going into our bodies and these are going into us largely un-noticed. These toxins are hidden in the air, in our food, in things that we drink and in things that we put on our skin. Even stress and negativity can have a toxic effect on our bodies. The link between increases in toxins and disease is becoming more widely recognised, and the older we get, the less able we become in effectively eliminating toxins and overcoming the damage they cause.
When toxic stresses increase and our bodies struggle to eliminate them, they accumulate and start to cause health problems such as fatigue, aches and pains, mild illness and intestinal complaints. It’s easy to see how these issues can have the potential to develop into more serious conditions. We have many inbuilt systems to help us deal with the ingestion of toxins and when our bodies naturally detox this happens via our digestive tracts, our lymphatic system, our liver and gallbladder, kidneys, lungs and skin.
But to thrive in our modern world our bodies need extra help, and if we focus on the areas where we naturally detox, there are many ways in which we can give our bodies this additional help. Ideally, detoxing – in the form of regulating and minimising the toxins that we expose our bodies too – should become a way of life rather than just an occasional ‘health kick’.
The Digestive Tract carries everything that we eat and drink through our bodies. The best way to help our digestive system is to avoid processed and packaged food, high-fat foods, products containing added sugar, and alcohol. A diet that consists of lean meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy, healthy fibre and plenty of water is what our bodies need, and by focusing additionally on organic products, we can further help to limit the levels of toxins we ingest.
The primary function of the lymphatic system is to carry infection-fighting white blood cells through the body, and so we need it to be fully functioning in order to maintain good health and fight serious disease such as cancer. Regular physical activity is significant in ensuring that the lymphatic system keeps moving because it has no ‘pump’ of its own – so we have to do all the work ourselves!
Any type of physical activity can be of benefit, including housework and gardening. Deep breathing also helps the lymphatic system, so after finishing the gardening, you have a great excuse to sit down, relax and focus on getting some great deep breaths through your body. Meditation, along with massage, may seem like pass-times for the more affluent and time-rich, but they are proven methods of effective detoxification.
Watching our alcohol intake is what we associate with being kind to our livers. However, ALL chemicals that we ingest pass through the liver – including those from packaged food, medicines, and residues from unwashed fruit and vegetables – so minimising these where we can be of great benefit. Sugar and refined grains are also not so good for liver health. A healthy diet – focusing on foods which offer anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties (leafy greens, probiotics, green tea, fresh herbs) washed down with plenty of water – is the easiest way to keep the liver in good condition.
The liver makes bile to digest the fat that we consume. Eating a high-fat diet increases the amount of bile that our bodies produce, and if we also have a diet high in cholesterol, then this can cause the bile to harden – which in turn can lead to the formation of gallstones and inflammation of the gallbladder. Choosing healthy fats (avocados, salmon, nuts and seeds, olives, dark chocolate) over less healthy, high cholesterol ones such as red meat, hard cheese, butter, coconut oil, and eggs, and eating a diet high in fruit, vegetables and healthy grains will help to maintain healthy gallbladder function.
Our blood is regulated by our kidneys as they work to eliminate waste from the body, so as organs they are vital in keeping our bodies in a state of ‘detox’. High blood pressure and diabetes are the biggest risks to kidney disease and excess weight. Alcohol and sugar coupled with lack of exercise and hydration are key causes of both of these risks. Diabetes is the fastest growing health threat of our times, so minimising the risk should be an essential part of our health management.
Whatever our bodies breathe in our lungs have to process, so it’s not just smoking that can cause lung damage, it is also air pollution from things such as exhaust fumes, industrial and chemical fumes and second-hand smoke. Air fresheners and scented candles have even come under recent scrutiny for chemical pollution within the home.
Allergens in the air from pollens, dust, and bacteria can also be harmful to our lungs. We can all help to reduce our individual exposure to substances which can harm our lung-health, and by considering a home air-purifier, we can further aid the detoxification of the air that we regularly breathe.
Keeping our skin healthy is not something that many of us pay attention to in the same way as keeping our ‘insides’ healthy. We recognise that a healthy diet helps to maintain healthy skin and we understand the dangers of sun damage – but less so the damage that chemicals and toxins can do to us. When the body is subjected to a toxin overload that can’t be taken care of by the other organs that we have talked about above, these toxins try to escape through the skin pores – a process which is assisted by sweating.
Short bursts of high-intensity exercise and even taking a sauna are great ways in which we can help our skin to eliminate toxins – which when trapped can result in poor complexion or even premature ageing. Being aware of what chemicals we are putting on our bodies as well as what we put inside them is part of the wider detox process.
Ideally, it would be most beneficial to aim for a situation where detoxing becomes part of your everyday life, rather than just an occasional health-drive. If you are not yet ready to make all of the rigorous changes covered above, simply opting for a healthier diet and making better choices in terms of what you eat and drink can limit your exposure to toxins AND create a pattern of healthier eating that encourages the natural detoxification process.