Integrative Medicine Blog
To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?
There are natural ways for your body to cleanse.
What is the purpose of cleansing?
In general, a “cleanse” may be considered as the removal of unhealthy foods and chemicals from the diet. It is usually performed over a short period of time - typically about a week - but they can last as long as 3-4 weeks.
- Unhealthy foods may include foods with added sugar, highly-processed foods, fried foods, foods high in animal/saturated fat, and foods with additives, or preservatives
- Chemicals may include coffee, alcohol, tobacco, unnecessary or overuse of over-the counter-medications, and non-ingested items such as shampoos, soaps, lotions, and make-up
Detoxing is the body’s natural process of converting and eliminating toxic substances out of the body. The liver is the body’s main detoxifying organ and it does this in three phases.
- The first phase uses cytochrome enzymes to detoxify substances
- The second phase metabolizes the intermediates from the first phase by using glucaronic acid, sulfur, gutathione, and methyl groups
- The third phase involves transporting the transformed toxins to be excreted through bile and urine
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract also takes part in processing and eliminating toxins. Mechanisms exist in GI cells that recognize and discard toxins so that they do not get absorbed into the body. Bacteria, especially good bacteria or probiotics, can process and metabolize toxins and potential carcinogens.
All these processes occur on a regular basis, but do require certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to occur at an optimal level. For example n-acetyl cystiene is used to supply sulfur and replenish glutathione stores. Supplementation with specific nutrients can greatly assist in the the body’s natural detoxification process.
Avoidance of toxins and chemicals is the best way to start the cleanse process. One way to start is by eating whole, organic food, and drinking plenty of purified water. Light to moderate exercise gets the circulatory system and lymphatic system flowing faster to deliver nutrients to the system and remove toxins and waste. The benefits of a cleanse may include increased energy, less fatigue or brain fog, lessened muscle or joint pain, and improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, and acid reflux.