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Is detoxification hokum?

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Given all that we’re exposed to in today’s world, it’s no wonder our bodies need help detoxifying.

Environmental health reports continue to warn us of the harmful effects of repeat exposure to pollutants like pesticides, heavy metals and other industrial byproducts, chemicals found in processed foods and common household items, and numerous other “everyday toxins.”

Nevertheless, a number of medical experts and researchers assert that detoxification is not a valid approach to protecting our health. The belief is that our bodies do a fine job of detoxifying on their own, and that there is no way to boost this process or help rid the body of harmful pollutants.

However, published clinical data shows this simply isn’t the case

Increased exposure to toxins such as heavy metals often leads to an elevated body burden, demonstrated in lab analysis. Even more importantly, published clinical research shows that certain natural ingredients effectively bind and remove these toxins, without side effects.

For optimal results, this process is best performed as part of a total-body detoxification program that includes a detox diet, regular exercise, proper hydration and in some cases, additional herbs and nutrients to support the process.

The real dangers of toxins

Critics of detox programs are correct in asserting that the body has its own detox systems.

However, they simply weren’t made to withstand the constant barrage of chemicals and pollutants we face today.  Specifically, toxins that aren’t metabolized and removed by our organs of elimination ultimately find a place to hide out in the body. They can concentrate anywhere: organs, joints, tissues, brain and blood.

A wide array of scientific studies have linked toxin exposure and body burden with allergies, digestive issues, immune problems, mental and emotional imbalances, hormone disruption,  and even just everyday aches and pains.

There can also be more serious consequences. For example, pesticide exposure has been linked to Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, along with other conditions like cancer.

Toxins can directly affect cellular functions, but they can also generate oxidation and inflammation, causing more indirect consequences. Oxidation can be caused by free radicals: rogue molecules that attack cells, even damaging DNA. Inflammation is a natural process that can have serious consequences when it becomes chronic. Long term inflammation is linked to organ fibrosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease and many other conditions.

You simply need to get these processes under control, and taking the right actions to gently remove toxins is an important step.

The food solution

Food may be the most important medicine we have. The right foods can detoxify and heal our bodies, increase vitality and add years to our life. The wrong foods are more like illicit drugs: highly addictive and dangerous.

How do we make the right choices? The first step is to choose well. Identifying food allergies is an important first step in any comprehensive detox and health program. Even someone who eats a healthy, nutritious diet may be increasing inflammation and oxidation unknowingly, by eating foods that their bodies recognize as “toxic.” A specialist in food allergies can test you for common sensitivities to foods like dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, and more.

Another way to test is to follow an elimination diet for two weeks, where you cut out common allergy-producing foods, and then add each one back every few days, monitoring your symptoms.

Excluding foods that cause sensitive reactions will do a lot to improve digestive health and support the body’s detoxification systems. From there, we can form a foundation of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods and anti-inflammatory items, like sprouted grains, nuts and legumes, low sugar vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Be sure to drink lots of water. Avoid alcohol, sugars, trans fats, excessive caffeine and processed foods.

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables can be particularly good for us. Pigments make foods visually interesting, but they serve another important purpose, often indicating high nutrition. The same phytonutrient compounds that produce such vivid colors promote good health and support detoxification through their numerous beneficial actions.

Let’s start with berries, which contain powerful antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins. This brings us back to the free radicals we were discussing above. Antioxidants “scavenge” these free radicals like a sponge sopping up a spill, preventing further damage. There are many tasty ways to get our anthocyanins: cherries, red grapes, blueberries, raspberries and currants are just a few options.

The same color rules apply to vegetables. Beets are a top choice. They’re high in fiber – a must to eliminate toxins – as well as vitamins and minerals, including immunity-supporting zinc. Beets also help the liver, the body’s primary detoxifier.

Cruciferous vegetables are also excellent choices: cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and more support hormone metabolism, as well as detoxification. Broccoli, and in particular broccoli sprouts, provide excellent detox support. A recent study found that people who drank a beverage made with broccoli sprouts were more successful at removing the toxic compound benzene from their bodies. Other green leafy vegetables – chard, dandelion greens, watercress – are also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and provide excellent detox and overall health support. Don’t shy away from the bitter taste often found in greens – this bitterness stimulates digestive enzyme function and helps rev up our inherent detoxification systems.

I also recommend alkalizing foods, such as avocado, cucumber and sweet potatoes, which can help neutralize acidity caused by inflammation, oxidation and toxic body burden.

Lemon is excellent for both liver and gall bladder. Since these are organs that help us detoxify, we want to support them as best we can. I recommend an olive oil and lemon mixture, made by blending an organic lemon, cut into pieces, 1¼ cups spring water and a tablespoon of olive oil. Partially strain the mixture, leaving some pulp.

I also recommend cultured and fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchee. Fermentation increases the availability of nutrients for the body to absorb, and boosts immunity and detoxification. These foods are rich in probiotic bacteria, enzymes and nutrients that support digestive health, immunity, nutrition, inflammation responses and even mental health.

Whichever items you may choose to incorporate into your detox diet, I strongly recommend choosing organic to help keep toxins out of the body. Even the best washing might not remove all pesticides from a non-organic berry. If we’re going to eliminate toxins, it’s important that we not add any as well.

Researched detox supplements

One of the added health benefits of the lemon beverage I recommended earlier is that it contains citrus pectin, which has long been known to support digestion as a form of fiber. However, because of its large molecules, pectin can’t absorb into the body. One way to overcome this limitation is with modified citrus pectin (MCP), which has smaller molecules that are bioavailable.

MCP easily enters the blood stream and provides numerous important benefits. First, it gently chelates heavy metals, such as lead, mercury and arsenic. MCP also has an affinity for galectin-3, an inflammatory protein associated with cancer, heart disease, fibrosis and other conditions. By removing galectin-3, MCP helps ease our inflammatory load. It’s also been shown to support the immune system.  To get more information about this important ingredient, I recommend the new book by health author Karolyn Gazella called, “New Twist on Health: Modified Citrus Pectin for Cancer, Heart Disease and More.” Visit www.newtwistonhealth.com.

For help removing heavy metals, pesticides and even radioactive isotopes, MCP combined with alginates from sea vegetables is beneficial. This formula helps cleanse the digestion and circulation of such toxic compounds and prevents their reabsorption. Both ingredients have been shown in clinical and preclinical studies to help safely remove heavy metals, pesticides and radioactive compounds, without affecting essential minerals.

Detoxifying should not be a chore, but rather a life-affirming experience. By gently cleansing our bodies on an ongoing basis starting with diet and targeted supplements, we can remove years and even decades of accumulated waste, and begin to reboot our vitality. From there, incorporate more physical activity, healthy stress relief and other practices like mind-body exercises that can help support gentle detox. You’ll also be supporting life-long health in the process.

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