Spring is here! And with it comes a deep desire to clean off all of the winter grime as we move into this season of renewal. Along with the spring cleaning of our homes and yards, this is a great time to do a spring cleaning of our bodies. After the comfort foods of winter we will soon be seeing fresh produce appear and this offers a wonderful opportunity to use these deliciously healing foods to give our bodies an opportunity to repair.
There is much criticism in the medical world about the concept of detoxification. Since the body‘s detoxification machinery is always working, many feel that there is no need to worry about this facet of our physiology. It is true, we all have hundreds of detoxification molecules which work around the clock to help us eliminate waste and they do this without any conscious effort. But these enzymes can become overwhelmed from too much waste coming in, or dysfunctional from a lack of nutrients to support their operation. Let’s take a brief look at these two sides of the equation.
Our detoxification enzymes are brilliantly positioned to remove a wide variety of waste products from our bodies. This waste can arise from toxins that we bring in through eating, drinking, breathing and touching our environment. It can also come from toxins which we generate as part of our normal metabolic processes. By toxin I mean any molecule within us which isn’t needed for healthy functioning. Some such molecules may disrupt normal function but others are not so sinister, they are simply molecules in our bodies which don’t serve us. One objective of any detoxification program is to minimize the amount of toxins coming in to the body. There are many ways to do this, including being attentive to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the thoughts that we think (yes, negative thoughts are toxic!). This objective can be met by cleaning our homes, purifying our air, drinking filtered or purified water, eating unprocessed organic foods and starting a gratitude practice.
It is impossible, however, to live fully without exposure to some toxins. The good news is that our bodies are well designed to cope with the myriad of molecules we see but don’t need. We have hundreds of different enzymes concentrated in our livers and kidneys as well as most of our other cells. These enzymes are constantly housekeeping and this helps to keep our physiology running smoothly. While these processes run behind the scenes all day, every day there are some things we can do to help them run more smoothly. Just as an avid housekeeper will still benefit from a good deep cleaning every now and then, our bodies can also benefit from a periodic deep clean and this is what occurs during a well-planned detoxification program.
The basics of any quality detoxification program will be similar:
- Eat a whole, fresh, organic diet which is high in fiber
- Stay well hydrated with clean, fresh water
- Minimize exposure to environmental toxins
- Get adequate sleep
- Focus on removing negativity from your thought patterns
Programs begin to differ, however, with regards to supplemental support. Supplements may be designed to support the liver or kidneys. They may up-regulate your body’s capacity to clear heavy metals or encourage you to release more bile or urinate more frequently. Supplements should always be an ADDITION to the above lifestyle factors and should be taken with caution. Obviously, it would be counterproductive to purchase low quality supplements which may contain contaminants or may not contain the ingredients they list. It is also important to recognize that the process of detoxification is both complex and energy intensive. So, before jumping in to a detox program, be sure to assess your current health status, assess your goals for the detox and proceed wisely into your spring cleaning!
Robyn Jacobs, MD