Dating back as far as the Egyptians and used for centuries by cultures around the world, such as the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems — detoxification is all about resting, cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside. By removing and eliminating toxins, then feeding your body with healthy nutrients, detoxifying can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to maintain optimum health through a range of methods including diet, yoga, meditation and more.
The History Of Detox
Before we take a look at the different methods and the intricacies of detoxing itself, it's important to take a brief look at a bit of the history to help better understand where today's interpretation of the practice comes from.
When looking at the history of detoxifying the body, it's important to understand that cleansing and purifying the body can be approached in many different ways - including everything from acupressure and acupuncture to yoga and fasting during Ramadan. As such, there isn't really a single or linear history to detoxing.
Almost every culture and traditional medical system around the world includes some form of detoxing or another, with each approaching it differently.
One of the oldest forms of medicine in the world is that of Ayurveda in India. Detoxification was (and is) a key component of its methods, reminding us again that toxins have been a known problem from the very beginning of medicine and healing.
Ancient Biblical regulations for life and for temple activity include dietary restrictions, physical cleansing, and aromatic cleansing.
Native American traditions include many of the same concepts, combining aromatic rituals with food and herb intake to help clear the body.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, also an ancient system of healing, have used acupuncture as well as herbal tea remedies for thousands of years to help remove toxins are a disturbance in the body.
Ancient Greece and Rome used baths while saunas stem from the ancient Nordics. These hot environments help promote blood circulation as well encourage the body to sweat to help the body eliminate toxin accumulation.
While the traditional practices differ in application, there are some unifying concepts that are used today through a range of traditional medicine systems. Here are the main points:
- Removing the sources of toxin exposure.
- Resting and cleansing the internal organs through fasting.
- Stimulating the liver to drive toxins from the body.
- Promoting toxin release through the intestines, kidneys, and skin.
- Stimulating the body’s natural detoxification pathways by improving blood circulation.
- Refueling the body with healthy nutrients.
What Are Toxins
Now that we understand how detoxing has evolved and the different practices that help promote it, let's take a quick look at understanding what toxins are and how they enter our body.
Put quite simply, toxins are any external substance that can be poisonous or cause negative health effects. While that may sound fairly braod, in a modern day lifestyle this simply refers to metals, chemicals, pollutants, artificial food ingredients, pesticides, herbicides and poisons that cause the body harm.
In today's world, unfortunately we are all exposed to harmful chemicals and pollutants everyday. Even our everyday tap water is full of artificial compounds, particularly if your town uses a desalination plant. Everything from the food we eat to the air we breathe is artificially modified to some degree.
Food is perhaps the biggest and often the most overlooked source of toxins, particularly fresh produce. Many supermarkets use GMO fruits and vegetables where the DNA of the plant is altered to protect it against herbicides and pesticides. The idea here being that farmers can liberally spray crops with chemicals to protect against bugs and weeds without killing actual crop itself. Ultimately, this comes down profit margin as the farmers can produce better harvesting yields. Even if you eat 'organic', most modern day fresh foods have been cultivated over centuries to ensure visual and financial consistency. The modern day tomato for example looks nothing like a what the average tomato looked like 300 years ago.
How Detoxification Works
Now that we have an understanding of toxins and the history of detoxing, lets very breifly look at how detoxification works to purify the body.
Unfortunately, depending on your lifestyle and diet, toxins will build up in the body over years or even months. Put very simply, detoxification means cleansing the blood. The body performs this process naturally by removing impurities from the blood via the liver where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also removes toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, and skin. However, when these systems are compromised, impurities aren't properly filtered and the body is adversely affected.
This is where detoxing comes in, the goal is to stimulate and help your body's natural processes. While we can make certain lifestyle changes to help minimize our intake of some toxins and pollutants it's important to cleanse regularly to give your body the boost it needs.
Signs Your Body Needs To Detox
Most naturopaths suggest that everyone should detox at least once a year. However, there are cases where detoxing can be detrimental such nursing mothers, children, and patients with chronic diseases. Always consult a healthcare professional if you have questions about whether detoxing is right for you. With that being said, here are some common signs your body is in need of a cleanse:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Irritated skin or rashes
- Unexpected or continuous allergies
- Low-grade infection
- Puffy eyes or bags under the eyes
- Menstrual problems
- Lack of mental clarity
Preparing The Body Before Detoxing
Before you start a detox of any kind, it's important to understand that your body needs to be amply prepared, particularly if it's your first time or you're going on a juice cleanse. Preparing the body before a detox will not only ensure better results, but will also ensure you get there safely.
The first thing you should look at is minimizing your toxin intake. You should completely eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugars, and saturated fats, all of which act as toxins in the body. Substitute all your chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products with natural alternatives.
Another major contributer to toxin load is stress. While stress is your body's natural reaction to help overcome adversity, in large amounts it will slow down detoxification enzymes in the liver. Yoga, meditation and sleep are all simple and effective ways to relieve stress.
If you're going on a juice, smoothie or water cleanse, it's important to build up your body's nutritional reserves before you start. This ensures you don't damage your body through a lack of nutrition or calorie deficit. Make sure you eat a healthy diet and cut down on meat the week before you start. A good trick is to start supplementing your diet with products rich in antioxidants and key minerals the week before. Nourishing Berries is an excellent antioxidant booster ideal for both post and pre detoxing.
Types Of Detox Programs
There are many detoxification diets, programs and recipes, it can seem a bit daunting if it's your first time. Having said that, there are some basic more popular detox dieting programs to choose from to help you get started. Depending on your level of experience, you may want to start off with something simple such as a fruit and veggie detox and then slowly work your way up to something more advanced such as a juice or fasting cleanse.
Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
- Smoothie Cleanse
- Fruit and Veggie Detox
- Sugar Detox
- Fat Detox
- Hypoallergenic Detox
- Juice Cleanse
- Water Cleanse (fasting)
Supplements And Post Cleansing
Whatever detox program you do decide on, it's important to give your body a generous amount of nutrients and trace minerals both before, during and after your detox. While fresh is best, supplements are an excellent way of delivering a measurable amount of key nutrients and foods we may otherwise miss out on due to both our lifestyles and tastebuds.
Cleansing Greens is an excellent all-in-one daily greens supplement, ideal for detoxing and juice cleansing. It's 100% organic and contains 10 antioxidant rich super greens such as wheatgrass powder, kale powder, spinach powder, spirulina powder and chlorella powder.
Vitamin C is also imoportant as helps the body produce glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins. Nourishing Berries is an excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants with many amazon superfoods like camu camu, maca root, lucuma and acai.