Cleansing is an ongoing process – we all need to periodically ‘clean-house’ as our bodies and diets change throughout the year. Just as we wash the outsides of our bodies, internal cleansing is an integral part of achieving and maintaining health. Shedding accumulated toxins seasonally is in harmony with the cycles of the season and our bodies’ needs. This idea of cleansing appears in traditional healing systems throughout the world and in a variety of forms, including Naturopathy, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Euro-American herbalism. According to these systems of holistic healing, the need for cleansing is indicated whenever any of the following signals are present: constipation, sluggish appetite with low energy, skin eruptions, digestive disturbances, chronic mucous accumulations and sometimes depression and poor resistance.
In natural traditions of healing, the eliminative organs are thought to innately let go of their toxins most easily in certain seasons. As such, each quarter we will include a segment on the organs of elimination that are most easily cleansed for the upcoming season. Of course, if cleansing of another system is warranted, it can be performed at anytime, but there is a natural progression, once we obtain a vibrant state of health, to the ongoing cleansing process.
Spring Cleaning = Liver Health
‘Spring cleaning’ is often associated with liver health. The liver is the largest internal organ, weighing in between 2.5 to 3 pounds. It has the unique ability to regenerate itself; in fact, it has been shown that up to 75% of the liver can be lost due to injury or surgery and the remaining portion can grow back and be restored to normal size and function within several months. And it is a good thing, as the liver is one of the most important organs of the body.
The liver receives blood directly from the digestive organs, spleen, pancreas and gallbladder and filters out nutrients and toxins for processing. It helps convert the foods we eat into substances that our bodies can use for energy and restoration and it breaks down old blood cells and recycles the iron.
The liver also makes bile, a yellowish-green alkaline liquid that is stored in the gallbladder and secreted into the small intestine to help break down fats. When the bile ducts are obstructed it is the bile pigments that can cause the body to turn jaundice or yellow.
The liver is also integral in the production and deconstruction of many different hormones and proteins that affect the way the body grows, heals and functions. In addition, many vitamins and other nutrients, like iron, are stored in the liver and released when needed. Last, but certainly not least, poisons, such as alcohol and drugs are detoxified and/or excreted by the liver.
Low-level, long-term exposure to toxins such as heavy metals (e.g., lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium), pesticides, industrial compounds, and pollutant is associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), fibromyalgia (FM), neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease and atherosclerosis as well as many types of cancers. Common signs and symptoms of environmental toxicity include:
|Aches and Pains||Fertility Problems||Decreased Immune System|
Toxins may remain in the body for many years, therefore we are exposed to much higher toxin doses than present environmental concentrations suggest. Research suggests that we all maintain toxin contamination within our bodies on a regular basis due to this lifetime of exposure
How does the body remove toxic substances?
An individual’s ability to remove or detoxify toxins is a primary factor in susceptibility to toxin-related conditions. In order to remove (excrete) the multitude of divers toxins, the body has a complex system that converts them into non-toxic substances for removal. This complex system occurs in two phases – Phase I and Phase II, which convert a toxic molecule into a non-toxic molecule that can be easily excreted. The majority of detoxification occurs in the liver, however all tissues have some ability to detoxify, including the intestines, skin and lungs.
In Phase I, a (functional) group is added to the toxic molecule, producing an intermediate that needs to be further transformed. Phase II detoxification involves a process called conjugation in which various enzymes in the liver attach protective compounds to the intermediate from Phase I, making it less harmful and more readily excretable. Because the product of Phase I can be highly reactive and more harmful than the original compound, achieving and maintaining a balance between Phase I and Phase II processes is critical.
Furthermore, a significant side effect of all this metabolic activity is the production of free radicals as the toxins are transformed, resulting in free-radical damage (called oxidative stress). Nutrients that help protect us from oxidative stress include vitamins C and E, selenium and copper.
Achieving Balanced Detoxification
Optimal detoxification requires that both Phase I and Phase II pathways function correctly and in balance with each other. This minimizes damage by reactive intermediates and free radicals. Fruits and vegetables contain many phytonutrients to support balanced detoxification, which is one reason these foods are associated with reduced susceptibilities to cancer and degenerative diseases.
Nutritional Support for Detoxification
Detoxification is an energy-requiring process that puts a metabolic burden on the body. Therefore, water or juice fasts are not beneficial because they deplete the body of the essential nutrients required for healthy detoxification. These fasts have many adverse side effects, including decreased energy production, breakdown of lean tissue instead of fat, increased oxidative stress, and unbalanced detoxification.
Rather than decreasing nutrient support, a focused, high-impact, low allergy potential source of micro and macronutrients should be provided. For most people The Core Restore (7-day program) or Clear Change 10-day Program will provide all the nutrients needed in a simple easy-to-do package.
Following the seasons is as natural as passing time. Our ancestors knew instinctively to do this, as they modified their diet and lifestyle with the changing seasons. We can dramatically improve our health by learning from them and listening to the natural cycles that all life follows. The liver has a staggering array of duties in the body – it is the energy company, a building supply manufacturer and warehouse, a housekeeper, a recycle station, a poison control center and much, much more. The liver does much to maintain this marvelous chapel which is our body. Periodic cleansing gives the liver the support it needs to carry out it’s duties to allow you to reach optimal health.