Your body is built to naturally detoxify itself. However, detoxification techniques assist your body to cleanse itself, according to Brenda Watson, author of “The Detox Strategy.” Some of these methods have been even before Hippocrates gave his patients cleansing herbs in 400 BCE, notes Watson. Despite the ancient wisdom of Hippocrates and others, conventional medicine claims that detoxification is unnecessary and more studies are needed to verify its usefulness. Consult your doctor for more advice.
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Weight Loss and Toxins
“The more toxic your body becomes, the more difficulty you’ll have losing weight,” says Ann Louise Gittleman, author of “The Fast Track One-Day Detox Diet.” Pollutants and synthetic chemicals and hormones overwhelm the liver, which is essential for both detoxification and metabolism, explains Gittleman. Furthermore, chemicals in food disrupt hormones in the body, which can also lead to weight gain.
In the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the concentration of six persistent organic pollutants in the participants’ blood was significantly related to weight, according to researchers from Kyungpook National University in Daegu, Korea.
Americans consume, on average, 14g of fiber daily, which falls far short of the 14g of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed recommended by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Gittleman says that fiber — from sources such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits — is necessary to neutralize toxins and sweep them out of your body. Also, juices with vitamin C such as cranberry and enhance liver function so it can better metabolize fats. Fasting, which may include consuming very few nutrients or nothing at all, is another dietary detoxification method.
The practice of using herbs for cleansing that Hippocrates used centuries ago lives on today. The two primary classes of herbs used for detoxification include “housekeeping” herbs such as dandelion and buchu, which speed up the elimination of toxins through urine, sweat and bile, says Peter Bennett, a naturopathic doctor and author of “The Purification Plan.” The second class are “adaptogens,” such as Ashwagnandha and ginger which boost your body’s resistance to toxins and stress.
Medicinal baths, exfoliation, exercise and yoga are examples of detoxifying holistic practices you can do at home. They stimulate blood circulation and take advantage of your body’s largest detoxifying organ — your skin. According to Bennett, sweat glands eliminate waste, particularly urea and ammonia, in sweat.
Katherine Zeratsky, a nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic, points out that there is not enough scientific evidence to suggest that detox diets are beneficial. Also, in some cases they may be harmful, causing symptoms such as dehydration, fatigue and nausea. However, if you’re overweight and have been swayed by the ample anecdotal evidence, consult a naturopath or family doctor familiar with detoxification.