Detoxification is the physiological or medicinal removal of toxic substances from a living organism, including the human body, which is mainly carried out by the liver.
Most toxins or poisons, as well as some drugs reach our blood stream when we swallow or inhale them; few pass through our skin, while others are released by dying cells or invading bacteria. Many of these drugs and toxins pass through the liver – the body’s “waste-purification plant” – where they are broken down and removed from the blood before they can do their dirty or good work.
Anyone who is keen on living a healthy life should pay detailed attention to detoxification. The following categories of people on particular need to be concerned about regular detoxification: Individuals that are heavy drinkers or that take drugs or medication that are hepatoxic (that can harm the liver) such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (diclofenac, ibuprofen), antihypertensive (methyldopa), antidiabetic agent (metformin, glicazide), lipid lowering agent (simvastatin, atorvastatin), psychotropic drugs (chlorpromazine); those who have a history of exposure to hazardous substances such as heavy metals, organochlorine and polyclorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and those who have liver problems, such as hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, hemochromatosis and cirrhosis.
Process of detoxification
To truly detoxify your body, you must be intentional in doing it. First, lighten up your toxin load. Eliminate alcohol, cigarettes, refined sugars, saturated fats and coffee, which act as toxins in the body. In addition, reduce drastically the use of cleansers, shampoos, deodorants and toothpastes made chiefly from chemicals and substitute them with natural alternatives. Avoid living close to a dump site, industrial area, and regular exposure to toxic substances.
You can help the body systematically rid itself of toxins by drinking plenty of pure water, having regular bowel movement, breathing clean air deeply, and sweating. The latter is quite effective in detoxification.
I encourage you to sit in a steam bath as you can, making sure you drink enough water when you do. Also drink enough of water as you exercise, for constant rehydration.
Strategies for detoxification
Here are some recommendations to help your body detoxify
– Fasting. Fasting, for me, is a powerful form of detoxifying the body. Every year, for close to 20 years now, I’ve regularly engaged in a 29 days or 30 days fasting to detoxify my system. While fasting has immense spiritual benefits, its positive impact on our physical, mental and spiritual health is truly amazing. So, for me, every Monday, I do my once-in-a-week detoxification programme through fasting. I always make sure I eat light, feed on vegetables and fruits and drink a lot of water within the 24-hour period.
– Eat plenty of fibre, including brown rice, and organically-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Beets, radishes, artichokes, seaweed, cabbage, spirulina and broccoli are excellent detoxifying foods.
– Cleanse and protect the liver by taking herbs such as milk thistle (Silybum marianum), and dandelion root and green tea. (Remember, the type of tea do you drink matters. See the May 2016 edition of this column). Laboratory studies by Bharat B. Aggarwal, a Professor of Cancer Medicine and his colleagues also suggest that silymarin, an extract of milk thistle, acts on biochemical pathways to aid in detoxification. “In the laboratory, silymarin is quite protective against liver damage. It is approved in Europe for liver damage, especially induced by alcohol, and seems to have no adverse effect,” he said.
– Take at least 200 mg of vitamin C daily, preferably from natural sources; it helps the body produce glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins.
– Drink at least seven cups, or three to four bottles of water a day. It is a good detoxifier and liver cleanser.
– Breathe deeply through your rib cage and not your chest, in order to allow oxygen to circulate more completely through your system.
– Transform stress by emphasising positive emotions.
– Sweat in a sauna or steam bath so your body can eliminate wastes through perspiration.
– Regular exercise is a good way to detoxify. It helps your body to eliminate wastes.
Remember: the best present you can give your liver is to detoxify it on a regular basis.
ACTION PLAN: Set a particular day of the week for detoxification. Eat light. Feed on vegetables, fruits and liquid throughout the 24-hour period.
AFFIRMATION: Detoxifying my liver is a must, and not an option. I commit to a healthy lifestyle.