We all know at least one person who has sworn after an alcohol-fuelled night out that they’ll never drink again, that their liver feels ‘pickled’ and that their new detox regime will definitely begin on Monday morning! Or maybe you’re somebody who really feels that your body could do with a good detox, and have tried or considered trying a detox from certain foods, such as refined sugar..
The word ‘detox’ pops up an awful lot, and there seems to be some degree of confusion about what it really means or what exactly it entails, although the concepts of detox and cleansing internally have been floating about for a long time.
An individual’s level of health is very much determined by their ability to detoxify. Unfortunately, we live in an increasingly toxic world, exposed to unhealthy compounds in our water, air, processed foods, pesticides and factory-farmed animal and fish produce, which makes it even more essential for your body to be able to detoxify to the best of its ability. Toxins are even produced by the bacteria and yeasts in your intestines, which can be absorbed into the bloodstream and create internal problems.
What is a toxin and why do they affect your health?
A toxin is “any compound that has a detrimental effect on cell function or structure.” These can include heavy metals, toxic compounds to the liver, bacteria and the acidic by-products from protein digestion.
Over time, they may begin to visibly age your body and skin, and affect your digestion and how well you feel. There are a number of different ways to diagnose high levels of toxins in the body, which include analysing your hair minerals, blood, fat and liver function in a laboratory.
But high toxicity is also more likely if you’re significantly overweight, have psoriasis, diabetes or gallstones, are a present or past heavy alcohol drinker or have a high exposure to chemicals or drugs.
Damage to the body by toxins can be a gradual process, occurring over a number of years, until your detoxification system starts to get overloaded, toxic by-products of metabolism build up and you can become more and more sensitive to chemical exposure. As a result, your normal cycles of metabolism can be seriously affected.
The Liver for Detoxification
The liver is the most important organ for detoxification and its many roles include cleaning and filtering your blood.
Toxins travelling throughout the body via the blood can problems in one or all of your systems, and the liver can become overwhelmed. An overwhelmed liver may be evident externally as acne, psoriasis, inflammation and chronic fatigues and headaches, amongst many other health complaints.
Your primary detoxification organs are the liver, intestines and kidneys, which remove toxins through the faeces, lungs, skin as sweat, or by simply neutralising them. However, toxins that we’re just not able to get rid of by the usual means, end up stored away from your vital organs in fat cells and make weight loss even more difficult as the body resists releasing those toxins into the bloodstream and vital organs.
However, once the body does go into detox mode, the mucus and toxic compounds released must be quickly neutralised and expelled via the urine, because of the damage they can do to cells as they circulate in the bloodstream.
Toxins also contain free radicals, which cause faster ageing to your skin and body. Many of the toxins that find their way into our body, are fat-loving, and may target the high level of fat in the brain to lodge in. Therefore, a build-up of toxicity might lead to neurological problems.
The most important organ for making the toxins safe for excretion from the body is the liver, which needs a constant supply of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from the food you eat to complete phases 1 and 2 of detoxification. Without these vital nutrients, detox doesn’t happen correctly and toxins return to the blood and lymph circulation, where they damage tissues and cells. This is why fasting can do damage to the body, as detox happens too quickly and there are no nutrients going into the body to support the liver in its huge job.
Green smoothies are a great way to support your detox organs and encourage the liver to neutralise damaging toxins, which is why I drink my Green Goddess Smoothie or a fresh green juice every morning 🙂