Henrietta Norton tells why you need to cleanse your system for optimum health
Toxins are a natural by-product of the body’s everyday functions and, as a result, detoxification, at a cellular level, is happening every minute of every day, urging the body to rid itself of these unwanted molecules before they cause damage. This system works very well until it goes out of kilter. When more toxins are introduced into the body via the diet or lifestyle at a faster rate than it can process, damage occurs and we can begin to feel quite unwell. Fatigue, bloating, skin breakouts, constipation, headaches, weight gain, and irritability are just a few of the unpleasant side effects of toxin build-up; a common symptom of our fast living, modern lifestyles.
The purpose of a cleansing programme is to cleanse and repair the major detoxification organs through nutrition and setting up positive eating habits; to re-dress the essential balance of toxins in and toxins out and teach, or re-teach, the body how to heal itself in a way that will set you up for a lifetime of health. It involves a slow, but deliberate change in what and how you choose to eat.
During the first few days you may experience typical ‘detoxification’ symptoms of lethargy, headaches and irritability. This is because the body is clearing away the toxins body is working hard to ‘mop’ these up quickly and efficiently to minimise the effects and maximise the outcome.
Constipation, bloating, indigestion, cramps, nausea, acne, body odour, candida: believe it or not, the first step to feeling healthy is a happy gut. This is where the food is digested, absorbed and where the blood is cleansed; 60-70 percent of the immune system is held in the digestive tract. Through unwelcome habits in your diet the digestive tract can easily become damaged without us even knowing. If this damage becomes chronic the gut can become:
• A toxic compost where decaying food is not eliminated properly and sits in the gut causing toxicity. This is then re-absorbed into the blood stream and can cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, confusion, coated tongue, and insomnia.
• An imbalance in gut flora. There are about 500 different bacteria in the gut. Some good and some bad. The bad are usually kept in check by the good. The good synthesise vitamins A, B, K and help to break down lactose, produce natural antibiotics and breakdown toxic waste and protect against some toxins such as heavy metals as well as harmful bacteria. The main thing that affects this is stress, alcohol, sugar, antibiotics, junk food, painkillers and drugs (recreational and medicinal OTC or prescription).
• Auto-intoxication happens if the toxic waste is not cleared from the gut. This is then re-absorbed and re-stored in other areas like the fatty deposits, muscles and tissues such as the liver, kidneys, skin and arteries. When this happens, chronic disease can set in, such as fibromyalgia, sub-fertility, migraines and arthritis.
• Malnutrition and premature ageing: nutrients aren’t efficiently delivered at the cellular level, which results in subfunctioning cells and the appearance of premature ageing.
• Emotional changes. At the final stages of auto-intoxication the mind can become physiologically altered with reduced cognitive function including poor memory, ‘foggy’ thinking, mild depression, low libido, loss of motivation and irritability.
1. Stimulants; Alcohol, coffee, tea and tobacco. Try to reduce your intake of these as it will reduce the benefits of the diet. You can replace your caffeine intake with green tea or oolong tea and a slice of lemon.
2. Stress; emotional upset, worry or anxiety. Believe it or not these conditions cause toxins to be released by the body as well as using up important nutrients at a rate of knots. Take time to relax with whatever suits you such as yoga, reading, warm baths, and listening to gentle music.
3. Environmental toxins; pesticides and other unwanted chemicals are present in the majority of commercial foods and our water supply. They have a cumulative effect so that even if you change to more ecological cleaning fluids, you should filter your water or drink mineral water. Banish sodas or fizzy drinks.
4.Toxins produced by the body; constipation, antibiotic use and poor diet all contribute to the natural load of toxins produced by the body on a daily basis. Following a cleansing regime will encourage your digestive system to ‘detox’ itself to remove any unwanted toxins.
Henrietta Norton is a nutritional therapist, author and co-founder of Wild Nutrition (wildnutrition.com). She has clinics at Grace Belgravia and SP & Co in London.
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