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June 10, 2005 04:14 PM
Clean Living by Phyllis D. Light, RH Energy Times, December 3, 2003
Just as you wouldn't clean a closet by merely closing the closet door, you can't clean your body by closing your eyes to the toxins that assault our bodies every day. The modern world is filled with natural and manmade chemicals that can accumulate within and cause long-term health problems. So, in between bouts of housecleaning, an internal cleansing can keep your bodily systems feeling as clean as your sparkling household.
While modern life would be impossible without the chemicals that go into the gadgets and machines on which society thrives, these materials have a dark side: Each day we are exposed to hundreds of substances that have infiltrated our food, water and air. They lurk in our cleaning products, fabrics, personal care products, automobiles and even the building materials in our homes and offices.
"While our [bodies have] systems of detoxification to deal with and eliminate chemicals to which we are exposed, the sheer volume of these chemicals can overwhelm these detoxification mechanisms, causing these non-lifegiving substances to stay in our bodies where they can damage our health," says Steven Horne, AHG, herbalist and natural health consultant in St. George, Utah.
Added to this chemical mix, indulgences in alcoholic drinks, cigarette smoke, caffeine and over-the-counter drugs can further challenge your body's cleansing systems.
Water, Water Everywhere and How Your Health Can Shrink
Substances in the beverages you consume every day may contribute to the collection of toxins in your body.
A growing water problem, for instance, flows from the medications excreted into sewer systems and groundwater.
These drugs have already affected the environment: Estrogen from contraceptives have contaminated lakes and rivers, and caused deformities in fish while impairing the fertility of water animals and the birds who feed upon them. A study released by scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that the fertility rate of adult male fish exposed to synthetic estrogen from contraceptive pills dropped by 50% (Envir Tox & Chem 6/03). Scientists believe these defective animals are like the proverbial canaries in coal mines, reflecting health problems that may also be harming human health in ways we don't yet understand.
And clean machines can cause unclean bodies: When scientists from Queen's University (Drug Metab Dispos 2003; 31:306) examined the seminal fluid of infertile men, they found extra amounts of the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE), a degreasing agent used in the automotive and metal industries. TCE is also found in adhesives, lubricants, paints, varnishes, paint stRIPPERs, pesticides, spot removers and rug cleaning fluids, and it has entered the drinking water in many places.
Detox for Metabolic Balance
"Detoxification is the missing link in Western nutrition and an important but unexplored medical therapy," says Elson M. Haas, MD, author of The Detox Diet (Celestial Arts). Dr. Haas believes that when the body accumulates wastes that are not properly eliminated, disease often results: "The key to maintaining metabolic balance is to maximize nutrition and eliminate toxins." Dr. Haas has seen improvement in cholesterol levels, blood pressure readings and pain levels after his patients have detoxed.
When your body accumulates toxins, cells can stagnate and suffocate. To offset these problems, the body uses its built-in system of detoxification to remove toxins and cellular waste products.
In protecting itself against toxins, the body can quickly eliminate water-soluble compounds before they cause harm, excreting them in the stool, sweat and urine. Fat-soluble compounds, which make up most of the chemical toxins we are exposed to every day, are not so easily dealt with. The body uses enzymes in the intestines and liver to chemically break down these toxins and convert them into a form that can be pushed out of the body.
Your body inherits its ability to cope with toxins. But you can help the body in its detox tasks by providing nutrients that aid cleansing.
Colorful Eating Boosts Detox
Many experts believe that alkaline foods (fruits and vegetables) help the body detoxify, while meats and acidic processed foods slow the process.
"The right balance of acid and alkaline foods for each of us is, of course, the key," notes Dr. Haas. Animal products, sugar, white flour, and alcoholic beverages are thought to leave acid residues in the body.
"Brightly colored foods contain powerful antioxidants that help the liver with the detoxification process," says Brenda Watson, CT, in her book Renew Your Life (Renew Life Press). "...[raw] fruits and vegetables...contain enzymes... [that are] destroyed by cooking."
These enzymes can help the body detoxify and eliminate undesirable substances. However, Watson cautions, "If the digestive system is weak...too much raw food [can] cause upset, so raw foods should be added to the diet at a pace the body can tolerate. Taking digestive plant enzymes with meals can also aid digestion."
While those foods in a normal diet can help control toxins, if you have moved toward "toxic overload," or if you want to eliminate candida-a yeast that can cause health problems-Watson recommends a detox diet:
Foods that are allowed include:
When preparing dishes in this diet, use plenty of garlic and green foods. "Other anti-candida agents which may be used liberally include ginger, cinnamon, thyme and rosemary."
According to Watson, following this diet is a first step toward detoxing. If you experience serious difficulties linked to environmental toxins, consult a health practitioner.
In a world filled with chemicals whose effects are unknown, attention must be paid to the toxins around us. As our machines grow more complex and widespread, our health difficulties linked to these mechanisms may also grow.