Detoxification or detox, as it is commonly called, involves ridding your body of toxic compounds that cause the body harm. These toxic compounds accelerate the aging process and cause inflammation, which can lead to serious, chronic inflammatory conditions that are long-term and difficult to treat.
INFLAMMATION: THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE WHY!
Inflammation is a complex process, but generally involves redness, swelling and heat. Due to a complex interaction of many inflammatory compounds, the affected areas are swollen, red, and warmer than normal. The whole idea is to bring more blood and immune cells to the site of damage to fix it. But when toxic compounds linger in our bodies, inflammation goes from being short term and beneficial to being long term and harmful. Short term inflammation heals, long term inflammation destroys.
Consider a small cut on the finger vs. emphysema or chronic bronchitis: a cut becomes swollen, red and warm to the touch. This brings in immune cells to prevent infection and to start the healing process (including the coagulation of blood that prevents further bleeding). In the case of emphysema or chronic bronchitis, there is ongoing, long-term inflammation in the lungs due to exposure to the toxins found in cigarette smoke. With the cut, the inflammation is beneficial because it heals the wound. In the lungs, the inflammation is harmful; it causes progressive damage to the lungs, eventually leading to a collapse of lung function if not properly treated (including quitting smoking).
There are thousands of other examples where toxins from the environment and/or poor diet and lack of exercise contribute to the development of chronic inflammatory diseases. Some common examples are diabetes, liver problems, heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems, digestive issues, skin conditions and bowel issues including pain, diarrhea and constipation.
Many environmental toxins are carcinogens. This means that they have the potential to cause genetic mutations that may lead to cancer. Some common examples are animal fats in beef and pork, trans fats from fried food products, many pesticides, fungicides, preservatives, food additives, alcohol (believe it or not), and the over 2000 toxins found in tobacco smoke. There are also many cancer-causing pollutants found in car exhaust fumes, industrial fumes, synthetic household products, plastics, and industrial toxins that infiltrate our waters and permeate the soil in which we grow food.
As a result, we are constantly bombarded by toxins that cause cellular damage, accelerate aging and cause cancer. No wonder almost 80,000 people die of cancer in Canada every year, not to mention the hundreds of thousands that develop chronic inflammatory conditions. The cost of all this to the health care system is staggering. We could have expensive high speed trains all over Canada as they do in Europe if people became more aware of their health and adhered to the three fundamental principles of health: detox, good diet and regular exercise.
So what are the fundamentals of detox? Firstly, we must stay away from obvious sources of toxins like alcohol, tobacco, heavy street drugs like cocaine, heroin, prescription opioids (Vicodin, etc.) and other prescription drugs that are taken for recreational purposes. Smoked (but not vaporized or ingested) marijuana also introduces toxins into the body in the form of tar. Other obvious examples are workplace-related toxins (paint and welding fumes, etc.) and toxins from synthetic household products. And if you live/work in an industrial part of the city near factories or congested traffic, it is a good idea to have an air filter both at home and work to decrease your exposure to industrial fumes.
I am not saying that a nice glass of wine or scotch or a good cigar is always out of the question. Just keep it under control and allow your body to fully recover and detoxify to prevent damage.
With regards to diet, I have told this simple story again and again: fatty foods, fried foods, fast foods, processed foods and high sugar foods and drinks are bad for you because they introduce toxins. Lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, berries, olive oil, coconut oil, hempseed oil, flax oil, most herbs, egg whites and garlic are good for you because they provide healthy nutrition and are not harmful.
Here comes the most important part: supplementation. Essentially, you want to support the digestive tract (where most toxins start wreaking their havoc), support the liver (the primary detoxifying organ in the body) and support the kidneys (the primary expelling organ of toxins in the urine).
- Natural laxatives: They prevent constipation, which increases the absorption of toxins.
- Probiotics: They maintain proper intestine health and help prevent inflammation.
- Fiber: It prevents inflammation, contributes to proper stool passage and lowers cholesterol
- Natural anti-inflammatory agents, e.g., fish oils containing Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, turmeric, ginger, garlic, vitamin C, resveratrol and green leafy vegetables.
For Liver Support:
- Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (one grapefruit a day): It stimulates the synthesis of toxin-neutralizing enzymes in the liver.
- Garlic and garlic supplements
- Milk Thistle (whose active ingredient is Silymarin)
- S-Adenosyl methionine
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- Burdock root
- Stinging nettle
For Kidney Support:
- Lots of fluids daily (primarily water and more than 2 litres per day)
- Baking soda (Please see my Radical Remedies post on this topic)
- Avoidance of over-the-counter anti-pain NSAID medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.
Remember, with today’s hectic and industrialized world chock full of toxins and pollutants, it’s not enough to simply maintain a healthy diet and avoid the obvious sources of toxins. If we want to stay fully protected, we must rely on the above supplements. That is all for this topic today. It’s a long one, but definitely one of the most important posts I have written. Stay healthy, my friends.
Dr. Karol M.D