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The Health Benefits of a Body Detoxification


By Bill Kalman, Pharmacist-in-Charge, Essential Wellness Pharmacy

Many people have heard about liver and body detoxification. You may have
done one yourself or have heard of someone who has. If you are one of
those who hasn’t done one or have never heard of them, the following
information may enlighten you.

Every day people are exposed to a variety of toxins. Toxins are any
substance which have harmful effects on the body. Every day we are
exposed to environmental toxins, internal toxins, and lifestyle toxins.
In the air we breathe, there is automobile exhaust, factory fumes,
solvents—such as paint and cleaning products, herbicides, pesticides,
and outgases from plastics. Internal toxins can be viruses, bacteria,
fungal infection, and bi-products from metabolic processes—such as
carbon dioxide, ammonia, and hormone metabolites.

Some lifestyle toxins come from poor eating habits such as fast food and
fried food, diets high in processed foods and refined sugars, nicotine,
caffeine, alcohol, food additives and preservatives, cosmetics, and
skin care. The average woman is exposed to 126 different chemicals daily
through skincare products. Every year, the average person is exposed to
14 pounds of herbicides, pesticides, food additives, and preservatives.

Toxins are typically fat-soluble substances that become deposited in in
our fat tissue. When incoming toxins exceed the body’s detoxification
capacity, the body’s toxic load increases. If the toxic load becomes too
high, toxins begin to settle in the weakest organs and can lead to
disease and organ or system damage and develop symptoms different from
the underlying toxic cause.

Damage can occur to the nervous system, cardiovascular system, kidneys,
eyes, and reproduction systems just to name a few. Toxins can lead to
changes in blood sugar regulation by decreasing insulin sensitivity
leading to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. They may cause free
radical damage to blood vessels leading to high blood pressure and heart
damage. Many toxins are carcinogenic or can lead to birth defects.

Some signs that the toxic load may be too high or your detoxification
capacity might be impaired may include digestive or elimination problems
such as constipation, bloating, nausea, or diarrhea. Changes in your
blood sugar or hormonal imbalances, especially recent or sudden, may be

Other signs may include asthma, allergies, frequent flus, colds or sinus
infections and being underweight, overweight, or having difficulty
losing and maintaining the weight loss, despite a healthy lifestyle. As
the toxic load increases, additional fat is created to protect the body

With reduced exposure to toxins, detoxification is not as great a burden
on the body. The body can detox on its own. With larger exposure, the
toxins build up faster than the body can eliminate them. Detoxification
is a set or processes the body uses to remove toxins from the body. 

The major ways the body detoxes are through the liver and digestive
tract and through the skin through perspiration. The liver eliminates
toxins through a two-phase process in which the body converts the toxins
into another form that can more easily be eliminated.

Phase 1:  Toxins are changed into a more toxic intermediary
metabolite and phase 2 attaches other specific molecules to that
metabolite to make it non-toxic and water soluble so it can be excreted
through the urine or stool. For phase 1, the body needs adequate amounts
of the B vitamins, fat soluble vitamins and vitamin D, antioxidants
such as zinc, selenium, vitamins C and E, glutathione, and Co Q 10.

Phase 2: This phase requires a mix of amino acids such as
glutamine, cysteine, taurine glycine, and arginine. We need multiple
exposures to well absorbed vitamins and good protein daily to detox the
body through the liver and the kidneys. Water is essential to remove the
toxins through the sweat and urine and to maintain intestinal
regularity. A good rule of thumb is to drink one-half of your body
weight in ounces of water daily. So a 180 pound person should drink 90
ounces of water daily.

With the large toxic loads that much of the U.S. population currently
carry, our daily nutritional intake may not be enough to detox the body.
To aid with detox, many companies offer detoxification programs or
kits. These programs can vary in length from three days to seven, 10,
14, or 28 days or longer. The key to remember when choosing a detox
program is to determine if it has the necessary components to properly
detox the body.

As stated earlier, the body needs multiple vitamins and minerals,
antioxidants, and adequate protein or amino acids to complete the
two-phase detoxification process. These can be given in tablet or
capsule form or through shakes or meal replacements. Many programs may
include dietary recommendations to be done both during and after the
detox program. These generally include organic vegetables and fruits,
limited organic lean meats or fish, and no processed foods.

Be cautious of programs that do not have these components. Without the
proper nutrition during a detox, the body may not be able to eliminate
the toxins. You may experience a weight loss, but this isn’t the same as
a detox. As the body loses weight, it may not be losing the toxins. The
toxins become more concentrated in the fat tissues resulting in a toxic
overload. Since the body’s natural defense is to dilute the toxins, a
rebound effect can occur where the body creates more fat and the weight
is regained.

After finishing a detox program, the toxic load has been decreased and
it will reset the body’s toxic capacity (the amount of toxins the body
can hold). Detoxing will lower the body’s nutrient supply so it is
important to maintain or implement a healthy lifestyle.

Exercise will aid with maintaining a low toxic load by sweating out
toxins. Making the commitment to improve your health is just the first
step. Be sure to set realistic and achievable goals, both in the short
term and long term. If you have already started a healthy lifestyle and
have “gotten stuck” or stalled out, a detox program may just be the next
step you need to continue your progress to your goal of a healthy life.

Just remember, don’t let one bad day or a small set back discourage you or sabotage your efforts. Get right back on track.

If you are interested in learning more about detoxification and
implementing healthy lifestyle changes or any other health issues,
please feel free to contact Essential Wellness Pharmacy, located at 4625
N. University Street in Peoria, at 309-681-8850 to set up a personal,
one-on-one consultation with one of our pharmacists. We look forward to
serving you and assisting with all your health needs.

Photo credit: Neustockimages/iStock