The fall is a popular time to do a detox to clean your body and enhance your elimination however do we really to do this? Many skeptics deny the merits of enhancing detoxification beyond the normal physiologic limits. In a perfect world without any genetic weaknesses and minimal toxin exposure this approach may be adequate but the evidence is showing we are under an increasing toxic burden. We live in an environment when every second of every day the body is exposed to substances, chemicals and forces that intoxicate the normal ability to function at the cellular level. For example the Center of Disease Control published data that showed every person sampled had some level of persistent organic pollutants in their body. While each of these chemicals have been proven to be harmful the frightening prospect is that the interaction and accumulation of multiple chemicals have never been studied and most likely have an amplified toxicity.1 Figure 1 shows a number of toxic exposures that require enhanced detoxification.
Many Naturopathic doctors and integrative practitioners will tell you the vast majority of chronic disease have a component of poor detoxification and/or toxic accumulation. There are advanced tests that can be done to assess your toxic burden of various substances but there is enough evidence to show most people have some degree of toxicity. To achieve and maintain optimal health there is a very real need to reduce the exposure to toxic substances and continually support healthy elimination and detoxification.
While the body constantly is producing wastes from normal functions there is a clear need for enhanced detoxification due to the overwhelming toxic burden in the environment and food supply. A multi-system approach with a primary focus on healthy intestinal and liver function is required to achieve a full body detox.
A good way to think about detoxification is the aquarium analogy. The goal is to have clean and pure water in the aquarium for the fish to thrive but the diet and the environment constantly are dripping “dirty” or toxic water into tank. The “fish” (our cells) also contribute to the dirt with normal waste production every day. The first priority is to stop or minimize the dirty water. A good diet is like pouring fresh, clean water into the bucket but this alone won’t totally clean the water but just dilutes the dirt. The liver is like a filter and the intestines are like the drain. Both must be functioning well to clean the water. If the “drain” is clogged (i.e. constipation) or slow then the filter becomes backed up, slows and may shut down. This analogy illustrates how important all the pathways of elimination are in detoxification and achieving optimal health.
1) Kristin S. Schafer, Margaret Reeves, Skip Spitzer, Susan E. Kegley. Chemical Trespass: Pesticides in Our Bodies and Corporate Accountability. Pesticide Action Network North America, May
2) Orban JE, Stanley JS, Schwemberger JG, Remmers JC. Dioxins and dibenzofurans in adipose tissue of the general US population and selected subpopulations. Am J Public Health1994;84(3):439-45.
3) Singh S, Li SS. Epigenetic effects of environmental chemicals bisphenol a and phthalates. Int J Mol Sci. 2012;13(8):10143-53.
4) Patterson et al. Levels in the U.S. population of those persistent organic pollutants (2003-2004) included in the Stockholm Convention or in other long range
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