Hello friends and fellow health enthusiasts.
Spring time is here and inevitably we start to think about undertaking our customary spring cleaning. Even though this often means we clean out the cupboards, closets and garage many of us want to try an “spring cleaning” for our body; a detox. There are many popular options available at your local healthfood store. Another option that has recently become popular is the Hollywood “juice fast.” Since we want to be trendy, lose a few pounds and shake out the winter cobwebs we try one of may options that are readily available or hear around the water cooler. We start strong the first week, end up maybe dropping a few pounds and increasing the frequency of our bowel movements. Inevitably, despite our best efforts and intentions, we “fall off” the proverbial wagon and never end up finishing the detox we started with such high hopes. Maybe we just became to busy, maybe we didn’t feel any better and the supplement taste awful or maybe we actually felt worse.
This situation is unfortunately very common among most aspiring “detoxees.” The fact is that to effectively detox your body on every level requires some degree of determination, planning and knowledge. It’s never is a simple as using a detox kit of a few supplements for a few weeks. Most often this approach ends like the situation described above. The following is list of commonly held beliefs about detoxing and my response to each point. Hopefully they will give you a better understanding of what makes up an effective detox.
1) My doctor says there is no research supporting the benefits of detoxing. This statement is true that there are no placebo controlled trials measuring an overall detox program but there are many studies showing that the build up of toxins, such as heavy metals, can have a very detrimental effect on your health. Furthermore, the effective removal of those specific toxins does improve the way a person feels. Despite the lack of research studies there is little doubt that safe and effective detoxing can improve the function of your cells, organs and systems, which contribute to your overall health.
2) What exactly happens in the body during a detox?
The body is “detoxing” itself from toxins every second. There are natural processes built into our physiology that prevent the build up of toxins and the damage they can cause. Without these essential pathways we would be dead almost immediately. However many times these pathways and processes become overloaded because toxins from our diet, lifestyle or environment overwhelm our natural detoxification processes. When we start a detox the 2 essential goals are to limit the intake and exposure toxins and to stimulate and aid the body’s own pathways to excrete harmful substances.
3) Is detoxing safe?
The answer here is Yes, if done safely. Sometimes we feel worse when we start a detox. This is sometimes called a “detox reaction.” It simply is the toxins being moved out of areas of storage (i.e. fatty tissue) and our body reacting to them. A detox can potentially do more harm then good if a person stimulates the release of toxins without also activating pathways in the body that are responsible for eliminating them. The same idea would be to do a massive spring-cleaning in your basement, put the garbage on the curb but the collection service is on strike. Of course it will start to stink!
4) A detox will flush out toxins from my body.
This is a very simplistic way of looking at a detox. There actually is many ways your body can get rid of toxic substances. Most commercially available detox kits contain herbal supplements that are little more then a laxative. So many people have started to associate excessive bowel movements and nasty tasting herbs with detoxing. This is only one way the body can get rid of toxins. Harmful substances can be removed via sweat, urination, lymph, bile and finally feces. A good detox will stimulate all of these essential elimination pathways.
5) What can I expect from a detox?
Many people start a detox because “it’s a good thing to do” or “a friend is doing it.” These may be good incentives but the goal of a detox is to rid ourselves of substances that are hindering the cells in our body to function optimally and do their jobs. Common symptoms of poor cellular function and toxin overload are fatigue, chronic health concerns (i.e. joint pain), hormonal imbalances, headaches and many more. Ideally, after an effective detox you will feel more focused, have more energy, less bloating and less aches and pains.
In part 2 of this article we will outline what pathways and systems in our body we can activate to get an effective full body detox that will make us feel better and prevent chronic disease down the road. Plus we will discuss simple ways you can start right at home.
See you next time
Dr Paul Hrkal
Hello friends and fellow health enthusiasts,
I recently was asked by an attendee of one of my presentations about the benefits of drinking lemon water. There a lot of information on the internet and it’s sometimes difficult to sift through opinions, blogs and articles to just get the facts. Is lemon water really as good as everyone claims it is? The short answer is yes...sometimes, but let me explain. I hope the following points will help you understand some of the benefits associated with regularly drinking fresh lemon juice in water.
Alkalizing our bodies: This point seems counterintuitive since fresh lemon juice is very sour and acidic however lemons are considered a very alkaline food. Despite the acidity of the juice, once it interacts with water molecules and enters the body it actually forms alkaline molecules that contribute to a healthy and balanced pH level. One of the reasons is that lemon juice contains alkaline minerals such as magnesium and calcium. It is essential to maintain a balanced pH level in our bodies to prevent disease. It is true that our bodies tightly regulate our blood pH. However, our environment and the foods we eat often promote an acid pH outside of the bloodstream and cells. To counteract and prevent this harmful acid build up we need to eat and drink “alkaline forming” foods such as lemon water.
Stimulates the liver and digestion: A diet heavy in fat and animal based foods puts excess stress on liver function and impairs the smooth flow of bile, which is essential for optimal digestion. A glass of lemon water in the morning is a simple way to stimulate the liver and promote bile flow which in turn aids in digestion. The acidic and photochemical properties of lemon “kick start” your digestive organs so they are ready to function well all day. Interestingly enough, lemon water also sometimes helps resolve heartburn symptoms by stimulating healthy stomach function.
Anti-microbial: Lemon Juice as has been traditionally used as a home remedy for a sore throat or cold. There is some merit to this use since lemons have anti-microbial properties. A cup of warm water and lemon juice is a cheap and easy way to combat a sore throat.
Despite its many benefits, lemon juice is sometimes touted as stimulating weight loss, building bone and combating heartburn. It can definitely indirectly contribute to general health but it has not been proven to substantially impact weight loss or bone health. It will improve digestion and hydration which can indirectly promote better energy production but it won’t shed the pounds for you. In some cases it can also irritate the stomach lining if a gastric ulcer is present. Additionally, prolonged exposure of lemon juice to dental enamel can promote erosion so it is recommended to rinse out your mouth with plain water after drinking lemon water. Please exercise caution if you experience stomach upset after taking lemon water.
An ideal time to drink lemon juice in a day is the morning. There are a number of benefits to this approach:
a) As mentioned above, it stimulates optimal digestion, something you want right at the start of the day.
b) You get the added benefit of water plus lemon juice. Water is its own right should be taken in the morning to also promote digestion, flush out toxins and hydrate our cells.
c) Adding lemon makes the water taste a little better therefore we tend to drink more. Generally, most people don’t drink enough water throughout the day so any little incentive helps.
d) The morning lemon water habit can offset other morning habits such as drinking coffee that don’t have the same health benefits.
A good dose is the juice of half a lemon mixed with 500mL of lukewarm water. Drink it on waking, 30 minutes before eating any food. An easy tip is to mix up the glass in the evening before bed so you don’t have to think about it in the morning. Room temperature or lukewarm water is best because even though we are more refreshed by cold water it can hamper blood flow to your stomach and thus impair digestion.
I hope you learned more about this easy, cheap and effective strategy to further improve your health. Some many common household foods and items can be turned into powerful health tools. Try a big glass of lemon water in the morning for a month and discover for yourself the power of simplicity.
Welcome friends and fellow health enthusiasts! I wanted to personally welcome you to my website and blog. I look forward to posting and interacting with you regularly on many health and wellness related topics. I will be posting thought provoking articles that will hopefully inspire and help you make small and manageable steps to achieving your optimal health! I encourage your feedback, comments and suggestions. Stay tuned to my twitter and facebook for updates on my latest postings.
Hello friends and fellow health enthusiasts,
In the spirit of community and relationship, I wanted to share a little bit more about myself and my clinical practice as a Naturopathic doctor. For those of you I have not met in person (yet), I hope this will allow you to get to know me a little bit better.
I was born in Toronto area spending my childhood years in the Caledon area north of the city. I graduated from McMaster University with a degree in Kinesiology and then went on to complete my medical studies at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in North York.
During my university years, I was member of the McMaster varsity volleyball team. I had the privilege and opportunity to compete at the national level, traveling throughout North America to play against to play the top teams from the both Canada and the United states. I have a strong background sports medicine and work with athletes to allow them to quickly recover from injuries and optimize their performance.
In addition to my physical and sports medicine background, I actively have an interest in a number of clinical areas. These include, but are not limited to pain management, cancer, men’s health and neurological health. Despite my interest areas, I maintain a broad practice base, applying Naturopathic principles and tools to numerous conditions.
One of the most exciting areas in natural medicine are the cutting edge technologies that are now being used by Naturopathic doctors. The beauty of naturopathic medicine is that the wisdom of ancient and proven therapies such as acupuncture and botanical medicine are complemented with the latest approaches such as intravenous therapies, biopuncture and energetic assessment techniques. Powerful and safe results can be the achieved through the synergy of the traditional and modern approaches. Stay tuned for more postings about the latest cutting edge techniques I am using with my patients.
I pride myself in taking an active role in the community. One of the key principles of Naturopathic medicine is the doctor as teacher. In fact, the word doctor actually comes from the latin word docere, which means ‘to teach’. I work with a number of organisations in the GTA area and am an active public speaker, educating patients on the science and application of natural medicine. For my latest public event and speaking event please visit the lectures and events page or stay tuned to my facebook and twitter feeds.
I am very excited to be practicing at the pureBalance Wellness centre in Port Credit. It is a integrative clinic that features naturopathic and chiropractic medicine, massage therapy and other healing arts. The clinic has a great reputation in the community for changing the lives of each patent that walks through the doors. To learn more about how to book an appointment please visit contact us part of the website.
What excites me the most is seeing the power of patient-centred medicine at work. So many factors and stresses impact us on a daily basis, pushing us into a state of disharmony which ultimately leads to illness and dysfunction in multiple bodily systems. The strength of naturopathic medicine is to get to the root cause of our disease and restore our health at every level. Naturopathic medicine is strategically positioned to use tools and strategies to bring about not only symptom relief but disease resolution and a higher state of health. I hope you join me to promote optimal wellness and spread the word on how naturopathic medicine can change your life; I know it has changed mine.
Welcome To My Blog
My goal is to post thought-provoking and informative articles so you can learn and apply the latest news from the world of natural health. Feel free to post comments and start a conversation. Stay tuned to my twitter and facebook feeds for the latest posts.