I’ve used this blog to explore my own experience with detox diets — the good, the bad, the cravings for pizza — and even post some recipes you can use on a detox diet, but I haven’t really delved into the why and how of detoxing. The practice of detoxing is becoming increasingly popular, especially now that we have started new year and many people are focused on improving their health.
The whole idea of detoxing is shrouded in mystery and confusion. Search online, and you’ll find as many arguments against detoxing as for it. Some medical professionals maintain that the idea of detox is unnecessary; that our bodies are well equipped to process and eliminate the toxins that we encounter in our daily lives. But a growing number of holistic and integrative healthcare professionals know that in our increasingly toxic world, our bodies’ natural defenses are often inadequate. Though some of the detox diets and programs that are advertised do exploit peoples’ desires to improve their health, detox plans that are executed safely can be extremely beneficial.
We are exposed to more damaging toxins than ever — they’re in our foods, in the very air we breathe, and even our homes. The Gerson Therapy lists 49 different everyday factors that contribute to chronic disease, including preservatives and other additives in our foods; environmental pollution; prescription drug residue in our water systems, and chemicals found in common household items, cleaning products, and even our personal care products. Though the FDA and other agencies may tell us that these chemicals and additives are safe, the truth is, it’s impossible to know for sure, because nothing exists in a vacuum. Meaning, small doses of a chemical may not seem to cause harm in a short-term laboratory test, but continued exposure to the substance, combined with exposure to other toxins over time, can lead to unforeseen and often severe health consequences.
My favorite analogy for toxic overload comes from Dr. Alejandro Junger’s book Clean. He explains how our natural defense system encapsulates or buffers toxins from our foods and other sources, with the intent of removing them from the body later. However, the body’s detoxification process doesn’t begin until the digestive process is complete. Most of us eat too much, eat too often, and consume foods that are difficult to digest, leaving the body constantly in defense mode, never able to move into detox mode. It’s as if all the garbage handlers in the city are busy bagging up trash, he says, and no one is left to actually carry it to the dump.
Engaging in a periodic detox focus gives our digestive systems a chance to rest and actually “take out the trash” so that we can find relief from some of our nagging health problems and reset our systems … so that our natural detoxification processes can function the way they should.
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