We now live in a world where one third of all people are starving, one third are well fed, one third are over fed and every day 25,000 children die from malnutrition related diseases while 75,000 people die from the results of over consumption of sugar, fat, salt, alcohol and tobacco. In addition to voluntary consumption of toxic substances, we are being involuntarily exposed to a toxic cocktail of industrial chemicals, which are found in our food, air, water, soil, breast milk, and homes.
The National health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted by the center for disease control in the US, found chemicals (exotoxins) such as PBDEs and PBA in nearly all participants tested.
What is a Toxin?
A Toxin is anything that interferes with normal physiology and negatively impacts bodily function. Exotoxins or xenobiotics are man made toxins.
Endotoxins are waste products from the normal activity of cells for example, uric acid, ammonia, lactic acid, and homocysteine.
Toxins are stored in your body fat and in your mucus. This is why it is important to have a low mucus forming diet and to keep your body fat percentage in a healthy range through diet and exercise. The less body fat you have, the less places you have to store toxins. A very high toxin diet may be another reason for your body to store fat to protect you from those toxins and to create a barrier around those toxins.
I am a great believer in detoxification and cleansing, however there is a lot of false information out there. A lot of detox products are promoted by telling you what you will be eliminating is debris of years of meat and other food that has been stuck in your intestines. They will also provide you with gruesome pictures if you dare to look. This concept is false, what you are seeing is called Mucoid Plaque. Mucoid Plaque is mucous that’s being dumped out of the cells and tissues, back into the blood circulation and through the intestinal walls into the lumen of the intestine. This is something you may or may not see during a cleanse and is nothing to be worried about. You may also think cleansing is something you do when you go on a retreat and can only be achieved by consuming nothing but liquids for 21 days, this is one way of doing it but you can also achieve the same result with other detox programs like “Clean” by Dr Junger. I have personally completed this three-week program along with other types of programs and I can recommend it. It is very simple and medically sound.
How Detoxification Occurs In The Body?
There are three main systems of the body that play a crucial role in the elimination of wastes: circulatory, digestive and lymph. The circulatory system pumps blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen to and carrying waste products away from cells. The digestive system processes the food we eat, separating nutrients from waste and eliminating anything the body doesn’t need. And the lymphatic system collects intracellular fluid from throughout the body and transports it to the lymph nodes where anything harmful (such as bacteria or other contaminants) can be removed before the lymphatic fluid is returned to the bloodstream.
It’s an amazing system that works well on its own. But in order to help your body keep up with the heavy demands of our stressful lives and nutrient poor modern diet, place on these systems, you need to assist your body so it can perform its natural detoxing function.
How often do you need to cleanse?
This depends on your diet and life style. For me it ends up being about twice a year. I initiate my cleanse when I feel my body needs it, the key indicator for me is; when I am not experiencing optimum energy. It is important to remember if your body is toxic you can’t function at full capacity, maintain a positive outlook or lose weight. Knowing the benefits of cleansing allows me to initiate and complete a cleanse while enjoying the experience. I find people put off cleansing not because they don’t want to do it, because they feel, they always have something coming up that will cause them to break their cleanse. This is not the case you can still go to a function, you can still cook gourmet meals for your family you can still make your partner a coffee in the morning, just enjoy that fantastic aroma and tell yourself after one more week or how ever long you have left to go you will be enjoying your coffee again. Even if someone opens your favorite bottle of wine at the dinner table just remind yourself how good you will feel and you can have it all once your done. I have experienced all of this and more while cleansing, but the benefits far outweigh these small indulgences.
It is important to remind yourself when you finish your cleanse, it’s ok to enjoy some chocolate, sweets and wine now and then but these things are just that an INDULGENCE, it is fine to have them as long as you treat them in this way.
Before the holidays is a great time to detox. It can stave off weight gain and put you in a healthy mindset to help you resist temptation. And detoxing after the holiday retox, is as easy as setting your mind to it and unrolling your mat.
How Yoga Facilitates Cleansing?
Most forms of vigorous exercise stimulate all three systems of elimination to some extent, thereby helping the body in its quest to cleanse and detox. But yoga, with its focus on systematically stretching and compressing every part of the body, keeps the waste removal departments of the body functioning well which facilitates the removal of waste products like carbon dioxide, lactic acid and lymphatic fluid from the deep tissues and extremities of the body that a jog or a bike ride just don’t reach. Here are three poses that are particularly suited to aiding detoxification or to help you kick off a natural body cleanse.
Marichiyasana 3 (Squeezes the abdominal organs and stimulates digestion and elimination)
- Sit up tall with your legs straight. Bend your right knee and bring the sole of your right foot to the floor just in front of your right sitting bone.
- Rest your right hand on the floor behind your back for support.
- Reach your left hand up so strongly that your ribcage lifts up. Rotate your torso to the right and bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
- Stay for 5 deep breaths, gradually and gently using the sensation of your left elbow pressing into to your right leg to encourage your torso to twist further to the right.
- Either look behind you, over your right shoulder or straight ahead, depending on what feels best for your neck. Repeat on the other side.
Downward Dog (Gets the heart higher than the head, which reverses the pull of gravity and aids in the circulation of blood and lymph. Also gently tones the abdomen, which stimulates digestion)
- Start on your hands and knees with the entire surface of your palms pressing into the floor and your toes tucked under.
- Slowly lift the knees and straighten the legs. Press equally into the hands and feet and lift your sitting bones up as you move the thighs back.
- Allow the head to hang. Stay for 5–10 deep breaths.
Legs Up the Wall (Encourages circulation of blood and lymph from the feet and legs. Bathes the abdomen in fresh blood and stimulates the digestive organs. Soothes the nervous system, allowing your body to shift its attention from warding off stress to daily bodily functions, including detox)
- Sit in front of a wall with your right hip and shoulder touching the wall.
- Bend your knees and roll onto your left side, so your feet and seat are touching the wall.
- Roll onto your back and extend your legs so that they rest on the wall
- Rest your arms on the floor, palms up. Stay for at least 10 deep breaths.
Don’t forget the mental detox, Clear Mind, Clear Body! It is not just your eating habits that drain your energy, incessant thought can also leave you feeling fatigued. Buddha himself taught this theory (The Buddhist Wheel of life). A meditation practice throughout your cleanse will help you enter into the quiet that is already there, something that has unfortunately been lost in this digital age (The Paradox of Our Age). This will help you to eliminate those thoughts that could otherwise keep you from feeling your best.