My friend, Julie* called yesterday. We hadn't been in touch in months, so it was a fun surprise. While we were catching up, she confessed she had some concerns about a cleansing program she had started. She told me that had done this for years and had never experienced trouble before and didn't understand why she was having trouble. When she told me what she was doing a "fast", her symptoms, discomfort and concerns all made sense.
Perhaps in an ideal world without environmental challenges, stress, and processed foods, cleansing wouldn’t be necessary. But that is not the case for most of us. We’re most likely exposed to toxins and stress each and every day of our lives. Reducing the impact of those toxins on a daily basis makes sense, especially if you live in or near a big city (pollution and stress), are exposed to second-hand smoke, or eat fast food or convenience (packaged/processed) food. You are also at risk if you’re one of those people who works in a stressful occupation, or runs non-stop all day and well into the evening.
Our bodies are constantly adapting to our lifestyles and the environment. They can become depleted and unbalanced due to stress, malnutrition (a quality issue, not a necessarily a consumption issue), lack of exercise, improper breathing (lack of oxygen), environmental toxins, etc. When I asked Julie* what was going on in her life, she told me she had just been laid off (big stress), she started back to school (stressful for anyone!), and because she went back to school, the state cut off her unemployment benefits (yikes!). You can imagine how she was feeling. She was looking for an inexpensive way to make her body feel better, so she fasted. No juicing, no water, nothing.
Many factors determine how and when to build the body up and how and when to break the body down. Julie* was not in a position to fast, and her body let her know it ---big time! Safe and efficacious body detox programs range from eating detoxifying foods (previously posted), using non-invasive ionic foot baths, and implementing simple daily lifestyle changes/adjustments to colonics to guided herbal programs lasting a month's time. The more involved the cleansing program, the more the body must be properly prepared. It's always best to confer with your practitioner BEFORE starting a cleansing program -- even if you've done them before. Your needs may (probably) have changed, and you should use a program which will yield the most success and avert a 'healing crisis'.
Note: LNH does not suggest fasting programs which do not nourish the body and could put the body at risk.
* name was changed to respect privacy.
Here are some ways you can start to get yourself on track:
• Consume healthy food choices, including plenty of high quality organic, fresh, uncooked vegetables, and avoiding foods that don’t promote health – sugar, corn syrup, all sodas processed foods, artificial sweeteners, food additives, preservatives and grains
• Exercise for 30-60 minutes per day
• Drink plenty of pure water daily
• Enjoy 20 minutes of sunshine daily
• Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night
• Nourish your spirit - pray, meditate, read, commune with nature, etc.
If these changes may still might not be enough to catapult you to the level of health you desire, talk to your practitioner. It could be that you're ready to go to the next level, integrating more changes into your lifestyle which will promote more vibrant health.
When discussing your health, it's important to become familiar with how your body works. Your body is constantly working to eliminate toxins through your lungs, kidneys, digestive system, and especially, your liver.
Know Your Liver – a Critical Organ to Protect
Your liver weighs approximately four pounds, and is the second largest organ of your body (your skin is the largest), and its largest gland. It performs more than 500 separate jobs, and is critically involved in every aspect of your metabolism. It’s the central ‘chemical laboratory’ of your body, producing chemicals you need to survive, such as bile, albumin, blood clotting factors, cholesterol, and Vitamin E.
Every minute of every day, your properly functioning liver eliminates small amounts of toxins, heavy metals, bacteria and other impurities from your blood before returning it into circulation. A healthy liver utilizes complex enzymatic processes to metabolize toxins so they can be easily excreted from your body.
Perhaps its most important function is the secretion of bile. Normally, your liver secretes about a quart of bile a day. The function of bile is to carry processed non-functional, non-nutrient environmental compounds and their metabolites, as well as compounds your body normally makes such as cholesterol, to your intestine – where they’re carried out of your body. This fluid is stored in the gallbladder and released as needed for digestion. Bile is essential to break down fats into small globules, and also helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and helps assimilate calcium. It converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A. The liver also promotes intestinal peristalsis and normal bowel function.
Your liver plays an important role in fat metabolism, and production of cholesterol, lipoproteins, and phospholipids. In a complex process catalyzed by a series of enzymes, your liver converts amino acids (proteins) and lipids into glucose.
Your liver helps regulate normal blood sugar levels, by creating glucose tolerance factor (GTF) from chromium and glutathione. Sugars not needed immediately are stored in the liver and converted back into sugar when needed for energy. Excess food is converted to fat in the liver and carried to your body’s fatty tissues for storage. When needed, it provides energy for the brain, heart and muscles.
Your Liver – Your Body’s “Detoxifier”
In addition to its important digestion and energy production functions, your liver treats 1.4 liters of blood per minute, acting as your body’s garbage disposal, or "detoxifier". It eliminates various harmful chemicals from your body, such as:
• Ammonia produced from protein digestion and bacterial fermentation of food in the intestines
• Insecticide residues
• Chlorine, alcohol, and other harmful chemicals
Your liver combines these toxic substances with less toxic ones, then excretes them via the kidneys. So for the liver to function properly, you must also have capable kidney function.
It's also important to understand the importance of the Intestinal Tract:
The Colon/Intestinal Tract - Your Body’s Second Brain
• A well-functioning intestine equals an effective immune system, enabling you to live optimally and with pep.
• Eighty percent of your immune system is in the intestines.
• It’s the nutritional uptake center of your body. Keeping it healthy will keep you healthy!
• Your intestinal nervous system contains just as many neurons as the nervous system in the spinal cord. Because it uses these to communicate with the cells in your body, some people call it your “body’s second brain”. It truly has great impact on how the rest of your body functions.
• The process of digestion involves performing 28,000 different chemical reactions – making it critically important for you to support your intestinal health and help it usher toxins out of your system.
The term probiotics comes from the Greek, “for life”. Probiotics support your best immune health by replenishing microflora in your intestine for optimal balance, supporting bowel and intestinal health, and optimizing vitamin and mineral absorption from a healthy diet.
Ways to Show Toxins the Door
• Fiber -- for two reasons:
You could be taking in more toxins than you realize – through pesticides on your foods, by eating unhealthy convenience food loaded with preservatives, drinking chlorinated water, smoking or alcohol use, auto exhaust and other environmental pollutants, skin care products, and your own metabolic wastes. Although normally present in small amounts, it’s easy to see how toxins can accumulate over a period of time (just as the pollutants in our rivers accumulated over time). Trapping and binding toxins secreted through the bile for transport from the body is crucial for effective support of your body's internal detoxification and cleansing functions. If the impurities are not bound by fiber, they become subject to re-absorption and recirculation by your body, ending up where they started, leaving you no better off. Fibers trap toxins in the gastrointestinal tract, binding them and their metabolites for transport from your body. Dietary fibers are capable of absorbing non-functional metals, environmental pollutants and even impurities your own body creates in your GI tract.
• Your detoxification program should include an exercise program that creates profuse sweat. There are only a few ways you can show toxins the door, and the skin one of four avenues of elimination. Exercise that creates a large amount of sweat is a very effective way to facilitate toxin elimination. If you’re not engaged in an exercise program that causes you to sweat on a regular basis, consider starting one today.
• Additionally, it’s the job of your liver and colon to force toxins to exit your system. Removing toxins and cleansing your intestinal tract can then set a healthy stage for reintroducing beneficial microflora, which is critical to good overall health.
Just as periodic dredging of a navigation channel in a river is done to clean it up, conscious commitment to cleaning your internal organs and digestive system on a regular schedule makes good sense. It helps you get rid of the ‘sludge’ of toxins and other non-helpful things that build up in your system over time. Those who cleanse say they have more energy to perform normal daily activities.
People note that their health was also supported in these respects:
Toxic are everywhere, even when we make sure to eat organic foods, they are still in the air we breathe and the water we bathe in. Over time, these pesticides and chemicals can build up and leave us feeling lethargic, overweight and looking less than our very best. These chemicals can also affect the immune system, so it's important to do what we can to eliminate them, we ned