The Importance of Detoxification for Health

03/04/2016 04:45 pm ET Updated Mar 05, 2017

Spring is upon us, a perfect time of year for detoxification. As the seasons change, many of us are motivated to do 'spring cleaning' in our homes and gardens. The same need applies to our bodies. When the body is detoxified, it can function more efficiently and gain resilience.

Physicians have been seeing increasing symptoms of toxicity in their patients over the last few decades. Hormone imbalances, obesity, mental fog, memory loss, fatigue, lack of vitality, metabolic syndrome, sleep disturbances are all manifestations of a toxic body.

Conventional medicine does not acknowledge toxicity as an important health issue, but numerous studies have shown this to be the underlying cause of many chronic symptoms experienced today, including the rising rates of cancer over the past two decades. A November 2015 article in the NY Times discusses the major risks of every day contaminants in our bodies and a statement made by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics claims that these toxins are interfering with reproductive health.

"Emerging evidence ties endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure to two of the biggest public health threats facing society -- diabetes and obesity," the Endocrine Society said in announcing its 50-page "scientific statement." It added that "mounting evidence also ties endocrine disrupters to infertility, prostate cancer, undescended testicles, testicular cancer, breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and neurological issues. Sometimes these problems apparently occur in adults because of exposures decades earlier in fetal stages."

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals found in plastics, cosmetics, synthetic hormones injected into factory farm animals, as well as pesticides, which when consumed, mimic hormones that disrupt endocrine function in the body.

I compare these toxins to dirt in an engine. An engine cannot run well with dirt in it because its parts cannot make contact with one another. Our bodies can be likened to a biological engine. The collaboration and communication between four major systems in the body is critical to its proper function. These four systems are the endocrine or hormonal system, the immune system, the liver, and the gut. If any of these systems is compromised, the "bio-engine" will not run well. Toxins and hormone disruptors are like dirt in the engine of the body which interferes with the communication and collaboration between its major systems.

The liver is the detoxifier of the body. When it is overwhelmed with toxins, it cannot function to its full capacity - it cannot produce the anti-oxidants it is responsible for, that keep cancer at bay - nor can it detoxify fat soluble hormone disruptors easily. It cannot breakdown hormones like estrogen or insulin efficiently and their levels begin to build in the body. Furthermore, when it is busy detoxifying alcohol, it cannot perform its functions well either. It has been shown that women who drink one glass of wine per day have a ten-fold higher incidence of breast cancer than the general population. The incidence of many other cancers can also increase with alcohol consumption. This is likely because the liver becomes toxic with alcohol use which reduces its production of antioxidants. When the liver is overwhelmed, and fat soluble toxins accumulate in fat, they generate more fat. Many people in the U.S. have difficulty losing weight despite exercise and diet due to these fat soluble toxins that the body cannot easily release.

Toxin release by the body involves a process called glucuronidation, where toxins are released from the cells and made water soluble and eliminated by the kidneys. Without this process, toxins that are fat soluble remain in body fat. Although some detoxifying cleanses release these from fat, they are unable to eliminate them out of the body (as they do not engage the process of glucuronidation). This causes them to re-sequester in fat causing rebound weight gain. The most effective detoxifying cleanses engage the process of glucuronidation. They can eliminate toxins from the body for months at a time.

A diet that supports detoxification consists of plenty of organic, fresh vegetables and fruits and a moderate amount of water. Aerobic exercise is a great detoxifier as well as a good night's sleep. During sleep, the body regenerates itself. A broad spectrum probiotic, with at least 8 to 10 strains of organisms, enhances the process of nutrient absorption and is critical in decreasing inflammation in the body and stimulating serotonin production. Healthy gut flora has been shown to be critical for preventing inflammation and dementia, and can enhance healing when combined with detoxification.

Much of the information detailed above needs to become a common part of our pursuit of health. It can have a significant impact on the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in our country and the world at large.

I encourage you to detoxify your body this Spring and take this very important step forward in reclaiming your health.