Straight, No Chaser: Natural Methods of Detoxification
It seems that at least once a week I get asked to comment on colonics, detox diets, juice fasts, etc. It seems to me that these are all rather extreme places to start. How about we just talk about the threats that exist, how to avoid them, how to understand the natural detoxification process and how to optimize it?
On some level, our body is at constant war with our surroundings. We are finely tuned machines (until we’re not). We are well designed and equipped to filter the air we breathe and the food we eat, and to repel external poisons from penetrating our bodies. That’s a very good thing, because toxins are everywhere. We eat and drink them. We inhale, absorb and ingest them. Usually we do these things unwittingly, but for various reasons, a good number of us do these things intentionally. By definition, toxins have harmful effects on our bodies. Buildups of these substances can cause damage and eventually death.
In the first part of this five-part review of toxins and how they affect us, I want to point out how the body is equipped to combat and eliminate toxins – until and unless we poison it. In the second part, I’ll offer Quick Tips to enhance your ability to naturally detoxify. In the third part, I’ll discuss what and where the toxins are that we must combat. In the fourth and fifth parts, I’ll discuss some of the exotic (or should that be esoteric?) methods promoted to detoxify the body.
Let’s start not by talking about toxins, but by discussing how the body protects you. There are four areas in particular to review: the skin, the lungs, the kidneys and the gastrointestinal tract (particularly your liver and intestines).
Skin: The skin is actually the body’s largest organ, and it’s the largest organ of elimination. It is in constant contact with the environment and is our primary barrier against disease, keeping out microorganisms, dusts, pollens and other substances with no good intentions. The constant battle leaves your skin’s pores clogged, subject to infection, lacerations, and premature aging.
Lungs: The lungs are the vessels of life, bringing oxygen into the body to supply the needs of all your organs and systems. However, have you looked at the atmosphere lately? Smog’s everywhere, not to mention allergens and cigarette and cigar smoke. If the air you’re breathing is poisoning the lungs themselves, your ability to keep poisons out of you and exhale away carbon dioxide incrementally become diminished to disastrous effect.
Kidneys: Your kidneys are one of the two primary ways you visibly eliminate waste. Consider them the blood’s strainer. You really should learn to watch your urine. It tells a story about your health. If your urine is not clear to light yellow, something’s going on. If you come to me with cloudy, straw-colored, bloody, pink, or brown urine, those all tell me about different medical conditions you could be experiencing.
Your liver and intestines: Now we’re looking at your stools. Consider that if you were ideally healthy, you’d have a bowel movement with the same frequency with which you ate. At the other end of the spectrum (no pun intended), you could be constipated, or your bowels could be obstructed. You have bacteria that live in your intestines that also help naturally detoxify wastes, but that only works as intended if you continue to have stools. The more contact time your body’s intended waste has with your intestinal tract, the more of it that will be absorbed. Fortunately, the intestines have additional barriers in its membranes that fight against toxins reentering the body. Your liver serves a vital function in detoxifying many directly poisonous substances. It uses its natural chemicals to facilitate excretion of toxins by the kidneys.
Most everything you think you know about extrinsic supplemental ways to detoxify are poor substitutes for what a healthy body will achieve. If you focused on your health and fitness, you could rest assured that your body would protect you, and you could also save a ton of money avoiding all those fad diets and other ‘previously secret’ methods of detoxification.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.
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