While the festive season can be a time of abundant nourishment and gratitude, it can also be rife with sugar-laden treats, alcohol and rich foods. The sophisticated way in which our liver detoxifies all manner of substances is only possible because of the nutrients, amino acids and antioxidants that we intake. When we drink more alcohol and eat more sugar, we will end up using extra nutrient reserves to process those liquids and foods. This means certain nutrients are not as available for other important roles in the body such as healthy energy, mood and immunity but also to process other chemicals we ingest from everyday life such as pesticides in foods.
What are toxins?
Toxins are a natural by-product of the bodies everyday functions and as a result detoxification, at a cellular level, is happening everyday minute of every day, urging the body to rid itself of these unwanted molecules before they cause damage. This system works very well until it goes out of kilter. When more toxins are introduced into the body via the diet or lifestyle at a faster rate than it can process, damage occurs and we can begin to feel quite unwell. Fatigue, bloating, skin breakouts, constipation, headaches, weight gain, and irritability are just of a few of the unpleasant side effects of toxin build up, an unfortunate and common symptom of our fast living, modern lifestyles.
How can I reduce my toxic load?
The purpose of a cleanse programme should be to cleanse and repair the major detoxification organs through nutrition and setting up positive eating habits; to re-dress the essential balance of toxins in = toxins out and teach, or re-teach, the body how to heal itself in a way that will set you up for a lifetime of health. It involves a slow but deliberate change in what you chose to eat and how you chose to eat it.
During the first few days, you may experience typical ‘detoxification’ symptoms of lethargy, headache and irritability. This is because the body is clearing away the toxins and the body is working hard to ‘mop’ these up quickly and efficiently to minimise the effects and maximise the outcome.
What is the role of my gut when cleansing?
Constipation, bloating, indigestion, cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, acne, body odour, candida…Your gut is your first line of defence. This is where the food is digested, absorbed and where the blood is cleansed. In fact, 60-70% of the immune system is held in the digestive tract. Through unwelcome habits in your diet, the digestive tract can easily become damaged without us even knowing. If this damage becomes chronic the gut can become:
A toxic compost
This is where decaying food is not eliminated properly and sits in the gut causing toxicity. This is then re-absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, confusion, coated tongue, insomnia.
An imbalance in gut flora
There are about 500 different bacteria in the gut. Some good and some bad. The bad are usually kept in check by the good. The good synthesise vitamins A, B, K and help to break down lactose, produce natural antibiotics and break down toxic waste and protect against some toxins such as heavy metals as well as harmful bacteria. The main thing that affects this is stress, alcohol, sugar, antibiotics, junk food, painkillers and drugs (recreational and medicinal OTC or prescription).
This is the result of toxic waste failing to clear from the gut. Toxins are then re-absorbed and re-deposited in other areas like the fatty deposits, muscles and tissues such as the liver, kidneys, skin and arteries. When this happens chronic disease can set in such as fibromyalgia, sub-fertility, migraines and arthritis.
Malnutrition & pre-mature ageing
Nutrients are not efficiently delivered to the cellular level resulting in sub-functioning cells and the appearance of premature ageing.
Emotional changes. At the final stages of auto-intoxication, the mind can become physiologically altered with reduced cognitive function including poor memory, ‘foggy’ thinking, mild depression, low libido, loss of motivation and irritability.
What toxins should I be conscious of?
Alcohol, Coffee, Tea, Tobacco. It is important to try very hard to reduce your intake of these as it will reduce the benefits of the diet. You can replace your caffeine intake with green tea or oolong tea and a slice of lemon. Green tea is full of antioxidants, essential nutrients for detoxing, and contains a small amount of caffeine to reduce the feelings of withdrawal.
Emotional upset, worry or anxiety. Believe it or not, these conditions cause toxins to be released by the body as well as using up important nutrients at a rate of knots. Take time to relax with whatever suits you such as yoga, reading, warm baths, listening to gentle music.
Pesticides and other unwanted chemicals are present in the majority of commercial foods and our water supply. They have a cumulative effect so that even if you change to more ecological cleaning fluids, filter your water or drink only mineral water. Banish sodas or fizzy drinks.
Many common foods we eat contain natural toxins such as glycoalkaloids in green parts of potatoes or aflatoxins in peanuts. Keeping a varied diet & not eating the same foods daily is important. Apart from natural toxins, there are man-made food additives. Meat & dairy can be contaminated with antibiotics whilst tap water can contain up to 800 chemicals. Eat organic wherever possible.
Toxins produced by the body
Constipation, antibiotic use & poor diet all contribute to the natural load of toxins produced by the body on a daily basis. Gut toxins can produce symptoms such as IBS and other digestive disorders such as Colitis or Crohns, hormonal imbalances, poor immunity & allergies. Following a cleansing regime will encourage your digestive system to ‘cleanse’ itself to remove any unwanted toxins.