By Dr. Catthie Lippman, MD
What does it mean to detoxify? Detoxification is the way that our bodies get rid of toxins that can harm us or even kill us. What are toxins? They can be chemicals; they can be microorganisms; they can even be heavy metals. Our bodies are set up to detoxify via our lungs, our liver, and our kidneys so that we manage to get rid of these toxins through our breath, through our skin via sweat, through our urine, and through our stools. Well, why is this so important? Detoxification is important because we’re exposed to toxins every day through the air we breathe, through the water we drink, and through the food we eat.
Where do we get exposed to these toxins? The tap water we drink and bathe in is a major source. The chlorine and fluoride added to it convert into chemicals that are toxic for our bodies. There’s industrial run-off and agricultural run-off. There are pesticides, and there are even prescription drugs that we flush down the toilet. The food that we eat, if it’s not organic, has pesticides and herbicides and fungicides on it. In addition, much of the processed food has additives and preservatives, flavorings and colorings that also can be toxic for us. Lastly, there are heavy metals in our environment, like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury that are not healthy for our bodies.
Okay. So if our body is detoxifying, what’s the problem? Here’s the problem: Our environment has become much more toxic for us over the last 100 years. Since World War II, for example, industry has created 80,000 new chemicals, only one or two of which have been actually tested for their effects on humans. So if we take in more toxins than we can eliminate, that’s the problem. What is the body going to do with them? The body has to stick them someplace. The body will put them in joints, for example, where we get joint pain. Or maybe it sticks it under the skin and we end up with rashes. Or maybe it puts it in the organs so that we end up feeling tired or have high blood pressure or other problems. I think you’re starting to understand what I’m talking about.
Let me ask you this: Have you ever had a toilet overflow? Isn’t that a yucky thought? Imagine that happening in your body. That’s why detoxification is so important. Well, what is a person to do then? There are two things in particular where you can start right away. The first is to clean up your diet. Get rid of processed foods, fried fats, sodas, processed sugar, artificial sweeteners and all that junk food.
Instead of eating that, eat wholesome food. Lots of vegetables; as many vegetables as you can, preferably pesticide-free. If you eat meat, eat pasture-raised organic meat. Chicken should be free range; fish should be wild-caught. If you’re a vegetarian, it’s important to be sure that you get enough protein, iron, and vitamin B12 either in your diet or a supplementation.
Vegetables — eat lots of vegetables, as much variety and color and textures as you possibly can, preferably organic. I’ve never had a patient come in who was eating too many vegetables. If you have a sweet tooth, eat fruit. Don’t eat the processed cane sugar or sweetened processed bakery goods. They really don’t help you when you’re trying to detoxify.
For grains and dairy, it is essential that they be organically produced and use whole grains. Drink lots of filtered water that will help you to flush out your system. Remember, you don’t want to have tap water. We already spoke about what you find in that. So it’s important to have a good filter at home or to buy good filtered water from a store.
Exercise is very important for building up our energy levels and for getting toxins out of the body via the lymph system. The lymph system is like our trash collector, and we need to have bodily movement and muscle contraction, which exercise provides in order to push the lymph along. That’s why regular exercise is so valuable for us.
It’s important not to let yourself be constipated. Remember, through our bowels is one way we get rid of toxins. If this is a problem for you, I suggest taking extra vitamin C and/or extra magnesium. Be sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night at least. Sleep is when we heal, so sleep is really important for effective detoxification.
Well, what about fasting programs? Many people take a one or two-day fast in order to speed up the detoxification process. That’s fine for the average healthy person. If you have a medical condition, however, I recommend you consult your health practitioner before undertaking a fast.
There are some additional supports for you to consider for detoxification. One is skin brushing. The skin is one way we get rid of toxins, and the brushing of the skin gently facilitates that process. Massage, besides being comfortable, helps to move the lymph along and get rid of toxins through the lymph system. Colon hydrotherapy involves inserting water into the colon to facilitate getting the toxins out of the colon. It’s very different from an enema and must be done by a certified technician.
There are supplements you can take that also support the detoxification process. There are teas like detox tea and horsetail tea, algae like chlorella, and even extra vitamin C and extra essential fatty acids like fish oil or flax oil can be helpful.
If you suspect you have heavy metal toxicity, that kind of detoxification, which is called chelation therapy, should be done under the supervision of a health practitioner trained in that process. These include medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths, and acupuncturists.
In conclusion, people who follow a detoxification program commonly find they feel better. Their energy is better; their skin looks better; they lose weight; they’ve had friends come to them and say, “What did you do to yourself? You’re looking so good.” Consider a detoxification program.
If you want more information about this and other wellness issues, please consult my handbook “Staying Healthy In a Challenging World.”
Visit Dr. Cathie Lippman, MD for more information.