It seems there is a lot of controversy out there with so many detox diets, cleanses, and supplements so I decided to do a deep dive so you can get the facts and decide for yourself.
First of all, I think the term “detox” is confusing for many people, especially if you’ve ever found yourself wondering why one might detox who does not have a drug or alcohol problem. Detoxing used to refer to withdrawing from alcohol or drug abuse but not anymore. However, it is the same process that happens in the body whether detoxing from alcohol or sugar, for example. A daily burden of chemical exposures such as alcohol (chemical compound ETOH) or other potentially addictive substances requires complex detoxification pathways in the liver and other organs to metabolize these compounds so that they can be eliminated from the body.
Considering the fact that we have 5 organs involved in detoxification (liver, lungs, kidneys, skin, and colon), one might think that as long as we don’t “over do it”, everything should work correctly and get the job done. This is all fine and good but what we don’t realize, is there are very specific things that are hindering these processes, leaving us vulnerable to chronic diseases caused by or made worse from over exposure combined with under functioning elimination pathways.
The evidence is clear, we are toxic! In 2005, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a study that found on average, 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. This is alarming because it shows that these chemicals cross the placenta which means our children are exposed during extremely important stages of brain, nervous system, immune system, and reproductive organ development.
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) performed a large-scale study called the National Human Adipose Tissue Survey that was reported in 1990 which found volatile chemical compounds present in 100% of tissue samples from fat cells in children and adults.
An article published by the scientific journal, “Environmental Health Perspectives” in 2012 which can be found on the government website, the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI) here, linked obesity to environmental toxin exposure and coined the phrase “obesogens”, chemical compounds that cause obesity.
Since these reports have come out, research has continued regarding the endocrine-disrupting effects of environmental toxins we are exposed to every day. In fact, we are exposed to over 70 toxins daily according to Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, founder of Bastyr University and author of “The Textbook of Natural Medicine” and more recently, “The Toxin Solution. How hidden poisons in the air, water, food and products we use are destroying our health – and what we can do to fix it.” Dr. Pizzorno, along with leading environmental medicine expert, Dr. Walter Crinnion (author of “Clean, Lean, and Green. Get Rid of the Toxins That Make You Fat.”) have spearheaded research being presented internationally on the effect of environmental toxins on health. The data reveals overwhelming correlation of environmental toxins with chronic diseases including obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and others.
The documentary, “Our Chemical Lives” explains the full story of the toxic environment we live in and exactly how vulnerable we are and can be viewed here.
So evidence shows that the fact is, 100% of us are toxic! Now to the question of whether we are able to eliminate these toxins from our bodies. Without going into a lot of chemistry, the short answer is some, but not all, of the toxins we are exposed to we can get rid of, theoretically. Chemicals that are not in our normal pathways of elimination don’t actually have a way out. You can read an article here on Wikipedia describing the modern term “Bioaccumulation”, meaning the accumulation of chemical substances in an organism. We have these fabulous built-in systems for elimination but foreign substances that the body has no mechanism for can’t be dealt with and they accumulate. Other compounds that are fat-soluble we are unable to eliminate for the most part as well. Fat-soluble toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, preservatives, food additives, pollutants, plastics and other environmental chemicals must become water-soluble for the body to eliminate them fully. This process requires the liver and digestive system to be functioning optimally which can’t happen if a high burden is present such as from prescription medication, processed food, excess coffee, sugar, alcohol and other lifestyle excesses.
Genetics as well as poor diet and lifestyle poses a threat of nutritional deficiencies, a major cause of the inefficient elimination of toxins. For example with the detoxifying and anti-inflammatory methylation pathways in the body, the MTHFR gene defect is potentially present in up to 60% of the population. The good news is this type of defect can be bypassed with specific nutritional supplements.
One of the biggest deficiencies found that is important for detoxification is magnesium. These deficiencies are common and go undiscovered in the vast majority of people and leads to many deficiency related symptoms but also significantly decreases the body’s ability to perform the complex process of detoxification.
You can see that we are toxic and that our systems are burdened with our imperfect diet and lifestyle choices on top of genetic issues that may be making an already bad situation worse. You might be asking what can we do about it? Can we enhance the natural detoxification processes within us? Well if we can decrease the ability with poor diet, etc. we then must allow the opposite to be true. We can improve the pathways of detoxification in the body.
Of course there are some dubious ways of doing this out there so not all detox diets or cleanses or programs are created equal. The goal of any good program should be:
- To decrease the toxins that are coming in as much as possible.
- To enhance the organs of detoxification using nutrients that act as cofactors in the detoxification pathways and other specific things.
- To decrease the work the body has to do to repair the damage of poor diet and lifestyle choices, namely inflammation, so that it can use the energy required to properly eliminate.
Detox diets and programs do not need to include severe juice fasts, fancy, expensive supplements, or pristine, Gwyneth Paltrow-esque living. Every body is unique and you have your very own genetic, lifestyle, and health history. Taking a simple approach is best, especially if you are “detoxing” for the first time. You have taken the first step today by equipping yourself with knowledge, and you know what they say about knowledge.
If you would like to learn more about how toxic you are and get more guidance with how to detoxify your body using a simple 30-day process that doesn’t involve starvation fasts or fancy supplements, contact us today!