Health Articles

It’s Detox Time!

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Spring is here, and this is the perfect time to improve your health by doing a “spring cleaning” for your body.

Environmental toxicity is a major problem that contributes to a myriad of health problems and symptoms. We live a very “toxic” world, continuously being exposed to chemicals from our surroundings. The food that we eat, the air that we breathe, the hundreds of chemicals that we put directly on our bodies (makeup, skin care products, soaps, hair products, etc), cleaning products, house renovations, car exhaust fumes, all contribute to the thousands of chemicals that we’re exposed to. To make things worse, spring also brings us construction season, which releases thousands more chemicals into the air that we breathe.

A small study done by the Environmental Working group measured the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborns, and found up to 233 toxic chemicals in each baby. Among these were DDT, brominated fire retardants, mercury (to name a few) and 9 out of 10 had BPA (Bisphenol-A which acts as an endocrine disruptor and has been implicated in many serious health conditions).

Similar studies have been conducted in adults, showing over 200 carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals in blood and urine samples.  The people in these studies had no specific known chemical/toxic exposure, other than living in our current environmental conditions. This goes to show that chemicals in our environment are ubiquitous, and we are exposed to them whether we want to or not.

Detoxification is a normal physiological function of the body that is happening at all times. Our liver is the primary organ of detoxification, and it has a natural ability to break down and neutralize these toxins into non-toxic water-soluble substances, to be eliminated by the kidneys and colon. The problem is that we are overburdened with environmental toxins, so our liver can’t actually keep up with everything that it has to process. So instead, we tend to store those toxins in body tissues like fat and even the brain. These stored toxins can eventually re-circulate in our bloodstream, and cause symptoms and poor overall health.

In addition, poor diets are lacking in the proper nutrients that are needed for the liver to “detoxify” these substances.

The purpose of a “cleanse” or a “detox” is to support your body’s natural detoxification pathways, to clear away these stores toxins and eliminate them. This is done through proper supplementation of nutritional compounds and herbs that stimulate the liver, kidneys and intestines. During this time, the diet is altered in order to eliminate food sources of chemicals (i.e. pesticides, preservatives, processed foods, fried foods, etc) to give your body a “break” and adding a very healthy, whole foods diet, rich in phytonutrients from colorful vegetables & fruits, whole grains, etc.

Detoxing can range from a quick 12-day cleanse if you are already fairly healthy, to a longer 4-8 week process if you have had significant toxin exposure or have chronic disease.

Do you need a detox?
Top signs and symptoms that may indicate the need for a detoxification program:

• Fatigue
• Joint aches and pains
• Inability to focus or concentrate, or poor memory
• Chemical sensitivity (e.g. intolerance to perfumes or cleaners)
• Headaches
• Poor mood (e.g. irritability)
• Food sensitivities
• Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
• Congestion

While these symptoms can be related to many other causes, if you are repeatedly experiencing them on a regular basis, you may need a toxicity evaluation.

If you have been directly exposed to any major sources of toxins E.g. through home renovations, work environment, have had imaging (such as an MRI or CT scan) that required the use of a contrast agent, etc, it is absolutely important that a detoxification program be done, even if you are not exhibiting symptoms, in order to prevent long term complications.

It is increasingly becoming recognized that the following conditions are all linked to overexposure to environmental toxins, and impaired detoxification abilities:

• cancer
• cardiovascular disease
• hormone imbalances
• chronic fatigue syndrome & fibromyalgia
• neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s)
• neurobehavioral diseases (e.g. Autism, ADHD)
• autoimmune diseases
• infertility
• diabetes

Not all detoxes are equal!

As detoxing has become somewhat of a “fad” in recent years, there is also a lot of misinformation circulating around. This includes loads of ineffective and harmful detox products that are out on the market, and several un-scientific cleansing protocols such as water or juice fasting alone being recommended as a “detox” or gall-bladder cleanses to excrete gallstones. These can actually be more harmful, and often not effective. As a result, detoxing has received a lot of criticism from the mainstream medical community, being regarded as ineffective and unnecessary.

Detoxification is in fact a very necessary part of maintaining optimal health. While there are no clinical research trials that have tested detox programs and their outcomes, there is an overwhelming amount of research linking many health conditions to toxicity, and even more scientific research about the mechanisms of the body’s detoxification pathways. A science- based detoxification program supports the body’s natural functions in order to effectively and efficiently eliminate stored toxins, while supporting and optimizing your body’s physiology and metabolism.

These are just some of the benefits that I have seen in my patients after a detox program:
• More energy
• Better digestion
• Clearer skin
• Hormone balance
• Clearer thinking
• Increased fertility
• Reduced body pain
• …and much more.

With skilled supervision, effective products and some guidance along the way, a detox program can help you achieve your health goals and have you feeling re-energized and re-balanced.

If you are interested in coming in for a detox consult, contact us, or book an appointment online.

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About the Author:

Dr. Priya Prakash, MSc, ND, is a Naturopathic Doctor based in Ottawa, Canada. She blends her passion for healthy living and her skilled scientific background with effective natural healing methods. Her unique approach to primary health care involves addressing the body, mind and spirit, while incorporating current scientific research to guide her treatments.