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The Truth about Detoxing and Cleansing — What you really need to know!

by Lisa on July 20, 2012

Detoxing and Cleansing have become hot topics for our society in the last few years—even though detoxing and cleansing have been going on since ancient times. I think we can blame marketing and sales motivations for most of the current misconceptions about detoxing (I’ll use detoxing and cleansing interchangeably), and although it’s unfortunate, I think the good thing is that it’s brought about an opportunity to learn the true information and benefits.

Think of your cells as little machines—they work efficiently and effectively by default. Your mitochondria and all their accompanying cell-parts are truly amazing at making us healthy and keeping us that way. Over the decades, however, our “toxic load” has increased, which puts more pressure on our cells—they have more “gunk” to deal with and process and remove before they can do their jobs (whatever any given cell’s job may be).

What is “toxic load?”

  • Food made through technology –It looks like food, smells like food….but it’s made with technology (or it’s even sprayed with things developed via technology). When you eat this stuff, your body (not having evolved as quickly as technology has developed) has no idea what it is—the first task is to attack it in an immune response (surround it with mucous and trigger inflammation—both protective effects against foreign objects/attackers in the body). The second task is to try and get some nutrients out of it (not easy when the nutrient content comes from synthetic man made (unrecognizable) ingredients, and when so much of our food today is just plain low in vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds).
  • Things we inhale — When we breathe in, we inhale whatever is in the air and our alveoli are charged with the job to get the good stuff out of the air and filter out the bad stuff. Again, foreign particles are surrounded in mucous and inflammation occurs at the contact points in the lungs (and further into the body if the particles are absorbed).
  • Environmental toxins that touch our skin — Our skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs what it contacts. Our cosmetics, lotions, body washes, make up, and anything we put there on purpose is just as much a culprit of this as the things that come in contact with our skin unintentionally.
  • Medications — We ingest a lot of pharmaceuticals on purpose and even through our water supply. Sometimes medications are helpful, but they’re often overused.
  • High stress levels — when you are “stressed out,” your body releases stress hormones and these create an extra workload for your cells.

If you were able to measure and quantify your toxic load, you’d make a list of all the things that your body comes in contact with that is not natural and pure, and you could find the magnitude of stress on your cells (the amount of work your cells have to do just to protect themselves—-before they can do their health-promoting, metabolism-boosting, cell-maintenance jobs).

It’s a wonderful thing that the body is so efficient and effective at dealing with toxins, but at the same time, this makes the concept of detoxing confusing. We are being “toxified” as soon as (and before) we are born.  A long time ago, the level of toxins were lower, and our bodies were used to eating whole unprocessed, non-technologically impacted foods. We didn’t consume pharmaceuticals at the levels we do now, our air had less junk in it, and our cosmetics were made more naturally. Today, the toxic load is higher, the stress on our bodies is cumulative, and  the detrimental effects of this exposure is happening behind the scenes, way before we’re aware of a problem.

When I talk to a client who is having symptoms, I explain that they are lucky—symptoms are clues and motivators for us to investigate, cleanse, and promote healing (if we choose that approach—we can also choose the pharmaceutical bandaid-symptom path). Symptoms are messages to us that we can dig several layers deeper and address real health issues, even without knowing what the real health issues are.

Detoxing and Cleansing are ways to do this.

The first thing to do is to identify the goal you have for detoxing.

Do you have symptoms? (This can be anything—headaches, joint pain, skin rash, hormonal imbalances, etc.)

Do you want/need more energy?

Are you overweight?

Are you depressed?

Do you have digestive issues?

 

If you have any symptom at all, you can benefit from a real detox/cleanse. Cleansing your cells allows your body (including your immune system) to do its jobs better, and the healthier and “cleaner” you are, the better able the body is to heal itself.

In fact, if you are living on planet Earth, you can benefit from doing a detox/cleanse—because you have a “toxic load” whether you know it or not. If you don’t have symptoms, you are below the symptom threshold, but you still have toxins in your body. You can do a detox or cleanse, and reduce your load to improve your body’s functioning and prevent future health issues.

The problem with the gimmicky aspect of today’s cleanses is that they (1) cost a lot, (2) may not be legitimate, and (3) give many misleading claims (like “Lose 10lbs in 4 days!”).

The other problem with the way we’ve been trained (recently in the US) in regards to detoxes is that the underlying tone of why people do detoxes is for weight loss. It’s true that having a high toxic load inhibits weight loss, so doing a detox can actually promote weight loss. In fact, when you unload the cells from their toxins, they are better able to burn fat and complete metabolic processes that lead to a reduction in body fat. But, it’s important to think of “weight” as a symptom here, not as the health issue.

Detoxing can be extreme or mild. It can take place over a short period of time, or you can even live in a state of detoxing.

And now I’ve run out of time, so I’ll write a Part 2 to explain some of the different options for how to detox (quickly and slowly)!

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  • Jtones

    I can’t wait for part 2! Well written and explained, and now I really want to get the toxins out of my body.  Is their  a way to do this while breastfeeding or best to wait?

  • http://spabettie.com/ Kristina

    phenomenal giving of information, Lisa B! I love this. 

    I have never done a detox with the main reason of losing weight – that is always a benefit, of course, but not a lot. Its when I find I’ve been eating too many processed foods, drinking too much wine, and over time feel tired, low energy, not as bright! and when I do a “cleanse” it is real food, mostly juicing supplemented with raw foods. amazing.

    I look forward to your part two of this!

  • http://www.thefitnessdish.com/ Laury

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love all of this information!!! I am sharing it everywhere!!!

    I often think about all of the toxins I have encountered through my life. Especially growing up. My entire family smokes, in the house for one. We ate so much McDonalds and treats with artificial colors. And although my mom always tried to put out a diner with veg, starch and meat each night…we still had so much boxed food! And the environment, etc.  I have never done a true detox, for health purposes. I always felt it may be triggering to me with my past with ED, but I have grown so much since then. I eat to live now, and love food and just want to be healthy and nourished. I am trying so hard with Ella with her food and her skin products, toothpaste, etc. I just fear how hard it’s going to get as she gets older….I just want to protect her, but at the same time, not be this crazy health-nut mom ;-)

    Can’t wait for part 2!

  • http://www.1970kikiproject.wordpress.com/ cathy@1970kikiproject

    it really is amazing when you think about what we ask our bodies to do, and the forces our bodies have to battle against in today’s society.
    looking forward to part 2, lisa!
    oh – and i hope you’re having a blast in cali!

  • http://alexiaku.wordpress.com/ Alexia

    great explanation of detox and how to see weight loss as a symptom and not as the main issue! Its incredible how many detox programs there are out there and what we are meant to believe about them. 

  • Gina (Candid RD)

    Very interesting post.
    I’m thinking about my skin right now, and how I’ve been using the Neutrogena spray tan….probably something my body wants to throw out!!
    Can’t wait to read more :)

  • Priya Sreeram

    very informative post

  • claybaboons

    Looking forward to the next one!  I could probably use a good detox…

  • https://merigoesround.com/ meri

    I’m most interested in the “digestive issues” motive for detox- decreasing inflammation. Can’t wait for part 2!

  • http://blissfulbritt.com/ Brittany

    Love this and LOVE you!! Great post!! I never thought about the other toxins I might be getting from the air and from stress (even though I talk about stress being so bad for others!) I eat great, that I know, but I would love to detox and see if my energy goes up..or maybe I need to stop working at 4 in the morning. Either way, I can’t wait for part two! 

  • http://www.pickyeatingrd.com/ Allie

    Very true and very interesting. I get the detox=weight  loss assumption from clients all the time. Just yesterday I was talking to my friends about detoxing from our New Orleans trip and they assumed the same thing! No weight loss goal here rather restoring my body back to working at its best!

  • http://www.findyourbalancehealth.com/ Michelle Pfennighaus, CHC

    This is exactly the type of info I give to my detoxing clients. I never promise weight loss, but many do lose 6 or 7 pounds in 3 weeks, I’ve noticed. More often it’s mental clarity, better moods and better sleep that people report.

  • http://anediblemosaic.com/ Faith

    I can’t wait for part 2!  I’ve been a little stressed over the past year or so (mostly for good reasons, but stress is still  stress) and I’ve been thinking of cleansing.  I really can’t wait to read everything you have to say on the topic!  Thanks for putting this together and sharing!

  • http://dishesanddishes.wordpress.com/ hannah @ dishesanddishes

    Thanks for writing on this topic.  I’ve considered doing cleanses before but have sometimes worried that they could cause more harm than good.  I can’t wait to see what you have for us in part 2!

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