Maybe you are like me who only came across the concept of detoxification last year and have not fully integrated it into your health routine yet. Or you probably haven’t even heard the term before. Or maybe you have heard the term but only in passing; you are yet to fully understand what it means or how it affects you. Now is as good a time as any, to both learn more about detoxification and know why you should incorporate it into your routine.
In this post I will be talking about the origin of detoxification, what toxins are, why we should do a regular detox, the organs involved in detoxification, the various types of detox diets, a popular detox programme you most likely have been using without your knowledge, and useful supplements you can use to detoxify your body system.
Definition of Toxins and their types
A toxin is defined according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism, and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues and typically capable of inducing antibody formation”. To state it in simply, a toxin is a substance that is capable of causing harm or disease when introduced into the human body.
There are basically two types of toxins; these are the exogenous and endogenous toxins.
Exogenous toxins are those harmful substances that are found outside the human body, that is, they are poisonous substances present in our environment; the food and drinks we consume; the many products we use in our personal care routine. They also include environmental pollutants like vehicle exhaust fumes, industrial fumes, and other substances like alcohol, cigarettes, pesticides, Lead, ChloroFluoroCarbons (CFCs), Benzene, Mercury, etc. Stress and anxiety also act as exogenous toxins.
Endogenous Toxins: from the word “endo”, we can easily deduce that these are toxins that arise from the inside of an organism. They occur as a result of the many metabolic activities that goes on in the body which are usually carried by different body organs or by the activities of the body’s normal flora. If you don’t know what normal flora is read this
To a large extent our bodies have a natural system in place to battle/combat most of the ills that we encounter in the course of living, and in terms of toxins this is no different. As toxins get into the body, there is a continuous process of getting rid of these toxins, so that they cannot cause untold damage to the body. This process is what is known as detoxification.
Simply put, detoxification is the removal or elimination of toxins from the body. There are a number of organs responsible for carrying out this elimination of toxins, with each organ eliminating a form of toxin through its own specialised process.
Organs of Detoxification
There are five major organs responsible for the removal of toxins from the body. They are the liver, kidneys, colon (large intestine), lungs, and skin.
The liver rids the body of toxins gotten mainly from foods ingested, and from the by-products of metabolic activities. Sweating is the preferred method of toxin removal used by the skin. The lungs eliminate toxins from harmful gases and chemicals. Constant blood filtering to remove toxins is carried out by the kidneys. The colon acts on food and drinks consumed, to separate the nutrients for absorption, and process the waste products for ejestion out of the body.
Since detoxification is a natural process already put in place in our body, why then is there a need to consciously detoxify, and why are there so many detox diets, supplements, and much noise about detoxification? The answer is not far-fetched really. It is a well established fact that apart from the function of detoxification, the above listed organs also carry out a host of other functions. Also due to whatever habits or conditions we as humans subject our bodies to, our exposure to toxins vary on a day to day basis.
What this means is that our bodies natural abilities to get rid of toxins will not remain the same, also these organs at times become overwhelmed and cannot carry out their duties as efficiently as they should. The resultant effect of this is an accumulation of toxins in our bodies which then causes a number of diseases or ill-health generally. The solution to this then is a conscious decision to facilitate detoxification by following some special diets or using detox supplements. It is this man-influenced effort to rid our bodies of toxins that is popularly touted as detoxification in today’s parlance and its history can be traced.
History of Detoxification
While there is no specific date to be stated as the date detoxification was established or the first time someone carried out a detox, history shows that humans started using one form of detox or the other around 3500BC. Early detoxification procedures include fasting, colonic irrigation, dry skin brushing, meditation, use of saunas, and exercise.
10 signs you need a detox
There are a number of signs that our body give to tell us it is under a toxic overload and it needs a detox. Typical ones include:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Restriction in nutrient and vitamin absorption
- Sudden onset of body/mouth odour
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Insomnia/poor sleeping habits
Benefits of Detoxification
The benefits of including a regular detox as part of our routine cannot be overemphasized but major ones are listed below:
- It rids the body of toxins. This has a huge effect in that it helps speed up the body’s metabolism.
- It gives the skin a fresher, more appealing, glowing look.
- It leads to better digestion as the colon can now focus better on absorption of nutrients from foods consumed.
- It leads to increased energy.
- Generally has an overall effect on the body by enhancing overall health.
METHODS/FOODS THAT DETOX
Now I will mention typical ways of detoxification and foods that enhance detoxification, including a very ancient method that you probably didn’t know was a detox method.
- Fasting: I’m sure you are surprised to see fasting here but it is one of the very first methods of detoxification that has been used for ages now. While there is a bit of controversy about whether or not fasting actually helps eliminate toxins, proponents of this method say that it allows the different detox organs an opportunity to rest, especially the liver and the colon. This rest from constant digestion then allows these organs get rid of toxins that had stored up in the body.
- Cut out Sugar: I know for some of us this may be difficult, but the health benefits in the long run pays more. This includes both brown and white sugar.
- Water and Lemon: Drinking lots of water is a very important step of getting rid of toxins from the body. Especially that all important glass of water taken first thing in the morning. It is even better if juice from a half slice of lemon is added to warm water and taken first thing in the morning. Maintaining hydration level by taking at least 8 glasses of water daily is a routine we should adopt.
- Exercise: getting at least thirty minutes of exercise three days a week is also a good way of eliminating toxins. Exercise helps to stimulate digestion, combat tension, and strengthen the body.
- Swap Coffee for Tea: Tea is known to contain lots of antioxidants which help in combating the effects of free radicals (toxins). Green tea and Hibiscus tea (zobo) are very good for detox.
- Exfoliation and dry skin brushing: we already established that the skin helps in detox. So to ensure it is not hindered regular exfoliation and dry skin brushing is important. This opens up the pores so that they are not clogged with sweat crystals.
- Get rid of bad habits: Case in point, smoking, alcohol consumption, and skipping meals.
- Include more fibre in your diet
- Vegetable and Fruit diet: there are a number of fruits and vegetables that have been discovered to have a huge effect in detoxification. Some of the fruits include: grapefruit, avocados, carrots, apples, artichokes, bananas, kiwi, blackberries, walnuts, raw tomatoes, lemons, oranges, limes, etc. Vegetables that help in detox include spinach, cabbage, green, onions, garlic, ginger, mung beans, broccoli, asparagus, beets, turmeric, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, etc. As much as possible these fruits and vegetables should be eaten in their raw state, with little or no heat. This is because heating them denatures or alters the state of the essential nutrients they contain, which makes them less effective and useful to the body. There are supplements that contain some of these vegetables and they could be taken if for a reason we can’t stand to eat them raw.
- Include omega 3 rich oils in diet: Oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, hemp oil are also useful in elimination of toxins from the body. Some fish such as Cod, Salmon also contain omega 3 and they could be taken instead. There are also omega 3 supplements that can be used instead.
- Sleep well and reduce stress: I know this can be difficult as professionals, but to ensure that we do not make ourselves unnecessary prone to diseases/infections we must adopt a practice of getting regular sleep, and also manage our stress levels.
- Eat organic as much as you can
- Use cleansing supplements: In addition to all of these rich foods, usage of detox supplements is also recommended. There are a number of detox supplements in the market with each claiming to be the best. I have however used the Forever Living Aloe Vera Gel and I recommend it in case you are looking in that direction
- Do a full body cleanse: it is recommended that we do a full body cleanse on a quarterly basis or at least twice yearly. This usually goes on for a number of days,- 3, 7, 9, etc, and it involves fasting and adhering to a special diet. For a full cleanse I recommend Forever Living’s C9 Detox Programme
In conclusion, we have discussed toxins, types of toxins, detoxification, organs that carry out detoxification, why detoxification, history of detoxification, signs you need to detoxify, benefits of detoxification, and various methods and diets of detoxification.
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