[WELLBEING] Chemical Detox | Clean your body, safely and effectively By Mark Ellingson

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Detoxification is a buzz word these days. It seems as though everywhere you turn someone is purporting the benefits of this cleanse or that fast.

Although many of these protocols have benefits, there are a few underlying principles that are worthwhile to understand so that whatever program you decide to follow is safe and effective.

Why would a person need to detoxify?

In our chemically advanced world, humans are being exposed to thousands of harmful or potentially harmful compounds, including pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, petrochemicals, solvents and plastics. Most of these compounds are fat-soluble and can therefore exist in our bodies’ adipose (fat) tissue indefinitely.

In our world it is difficult, if not impossible, to evade exposure to these toxic substances. In 1982, the EPA released a report that a total of 20 toxic compounds were found in 76 to 100 percent of fatty tissue samples from cadavers and elective surgical patients from all regions of the US. Given this alarming statistic, imagine what our toxic exposure is today, 30 years later.

How does detoxification work?

Our bodies are equipped with detoxification mechanisms that rid our cells of undesirable chemicals through a variety of complex enzymatic processes. Many of these enzymes are located in the liver. Fat-soluble chemicals that were previously stored in the adipose tissue travel through three phases of detoxification before harmful metabolites are converted to water-soluble compounds and are released in the urine, bile and stool. The key organs that assist in removing toxins are the skin, kidney, liver, lungs and intestines.

What are the most effective ways to detoxify?

An effective detoxification protocol should be in the range of two to three weeks. The main hallmarks of a detox protocol are adequate exercise, eating cleanly and supporting the detoxification pathways in the liver.

Exercising for 15 to 60 minutes is a critical component of detoxification as it induces the break down of fat and releases the fat-stored toxins from the adipose tissue. Exercise can be followed up with Far-infrared sauna for 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the baseline health of the individual. Similar to exercise, Far-infrared also induces the break down of fat and will help to excrete toxins via sweating. Hot and cold showers during the sauna is also helpful as will stimulate the lymphatics and promote drainage and the release of toxins.

Diet is critical during detoxification. A high fibre diet full of organic vegetables and fruits and high quality sources of protein is key. Fibre is important to ensure bowel regularity and elimination and protein is crucial to support enzymatic liver detoxification mechanisms.

Supplementation can aid in quenching free radicals produced by the release of toxins and to support the detoxification pathways. At a minimum, an appropriate supplement should include: vitamin C, N-acetyl cysteine, taurine, selenium and milk thistle.

This is not an exhaustive list of treatments, but merely a starting point. Work with your health care provider to tailor your detox program to your unique needs.

 

Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Mark Ellingson, BSc, ND

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Mark is a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor practicing at Balance, a Toronto boutique fitness centre. His practice focuses on sports medicine, pain management, and men’s and women’s health. Mark is a former professional and national team volleyball player and high performance coach and is a member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and the Ontario Association of Naturopathic  Doctors. balancefit.com

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