Digestive Health: Toxins & You

Digestive Health: Detoxification: Caroline Farquhar

No one will look out for your health better than you. What can we learn today to prevent ourselves from visiting the doctor’s office in the future? It’s all about education and finding out what’s right for you. Education leads to a lifestyle based on prevention. Look at your sources of information; who wrote it and why, what statistics were used, and how are they credible? Ask lots of questions and educate yourself from trusted sources.

Speaking of trusted sources, I read a newspaper article the other day that made me pause. It was exploring if detoxification, specifically crash cleansing diets, was safe. Since I work in the cleansing field, I was interested in what the article had to say. One comment said “detox diets play into the myth that harmful substances in our food build up in our body and cause negative health effects like obesity, fatigue, headaches, and more.” A dietician referenced in the article said: “The truth is that the primary organs in our body are well equipped to remove wastes. The liver, kidneys and large intestine are the best detoxification systems. The claims for detox diets are baseless, and no scientific studies support them.”1

Crash detox diets are not the best or safest technique for cleansing, however, harmful substances in our food do cause negative side effects. And while the kidneys, liver and large intestine are indeed excellent detoxification systems, they simply are not able to handle the amount of toxins we are exposed to. Overexposure to toxins will slow down or even damage our body’s systems, including its capacity to detoxify on its own. Today we are bombarded with increasingly excessive amounts of chemicals.

Consider, for example, your daily morning routine; look at the toothpaste, mouthwash, body wash, deodorant, perfume or cologne, make up, gel, and hair spray you use. That’s a hefty dose of chemicals before you’ve even left the bathroom! In my research I found a great website to refer to when it comes to harmful chemicals in cosmetics. It’s Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database at: cosmeticsdatabase.com. It’s an excellent site to help you choose products that are less harmful to you and your environment. After all, when we pollute ourselves we are, in turn, contaminating the air, water and soil around us.

Cosmetics aside, look at the array of chemicals, dyes and additives in food that we should not have in our bodies. The Detox Strategy by Brenda Watson makes an interesting observation; in 1930 a baker named James Dewar invented the Twinkie. He used real ingredients – flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs, and cream. Today’s Twinkie has 37 additional ingredients! Ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, beef fat, polysorbate 60 (which is derived from corn, palm oil and petroleum), cellulose gum, artificial dyes, etc. How is it that the simple Twinkie has morphed into something barely edible? Three words: cost & shelf life. The Franken-Twinkie now costs less to make and “stays fresh” for much longer on the grocer’s shelf. Yum!

Look at the ingredients in foods you eat, if you buy things with labels. It is best to shop the outside aisles of the grocery store where you find real foods like fresh produce, meats, and bakery items which don’t have labels or contain a lot of chemicals and preservatives. My Nutrition teacher’s mantra was: “If you can’t pronounce it, it shouldn’t be in your body!” Now it’s mine. Eat whole foods from trusted sources as much as possible. Organic is best, granted, but not always feasible. Remember the point about education I made? It applies to food as well. Do your homework to learn what food sources to trust.

We’ve looked briefly at toxins in cosmetics and food, but what about other sources of toxins like the air, soil, and water around us? From the clothes we wear to the couch we sit on, we are exposed to chemicals on a daily basis. This even includes heavy metals like mercury, lead and cadmium. With more than 80,000 chemicals in use today, and over 1000 more introduced each year, we cannot deny we live in a toxic world. So what can you do about it? There are a few things that can be done. Brenda Watson who wrote the book Detox Strategy, uses the acronym “RENEW”. Reduce your exposure by cleaning up your air, water, food and household environment. Eliminate toxins in your system by detoxification! (Go to your local health food store to discuss if a cleansing kit might be right for you.) Nourish your body by eating good wholesome foods to build your immune system. Energize your body by exercising. And practice Wellness which ties everything together to develop a lifestyle that focuses on prevention, including minimizing exposure to toxins.

You put yourself on a path to wellness when you follow this advice. I am living proof that it works. I was constantly sick, tired, cranky, bloated, and headachy. I blamed my poor health on lack of sleep, PMS, stress, or the latest virus going around. Once I educated myself, however, and cleaned the toxic buildup out of my body, I felt fabulous. All my symptoms went away and I have more energy today, at 40, than I did at 25. Try it, commit to it, and you won’t regret it!

Reference: Filar, M. (2008). Is Detox Safe? Ottawa Sun. Retrieved at http://www.ottawasun.com/Lifestyle/Health/2008/09/15/6766536-sun.html.

By Caroline Farquhar| November 25, 2008
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Caroline Farquhar

Caroline Farquhar

Caroline Farquhar is Naturally Savvy’s Digestive Care Specialist. Caroline is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Energy Medicine Practitioner, and Reiki Practitioner.

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