Here in Florida, it is difficult to know when Spring arrives. Is it April already? The weather is blissfully cool for a few months and then Summer hits. But Spring really is here so it is time to think about semi-annual cleaning. Clean your house thoroughly: closets, cupboards, under the couch and behind the dressers.
Your body needs cleaning too. Your body has its own detoxification pathways, of course. If it didn’t, you would be in big trouble because you are constantly exposed to toxins. I understand that there is no place on earth that is pollution-free, even here in beautiful SW Florida. (As a matter of fact, our area is one of the most polluted places in the US but that is grist for another mill.) Your liver has to deal with contamination and sometimes it simply cannot keep up. For example, members of my networking group recently regaled us with tales of social drinking that put them way over the sociability standard. (I plan to discuss liver detox programs with them at our next meeting.)
There are many ways to approach body cleansing. I never recommend harsh methods such as prolonged fasting, the use of powerful herbal stimulants like cascara sagrada or senna, or eliminating important food groups. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of body cleansing programs offered on the Internet and while some may be well-balanced, most simply attempt to sell you a product. Do not be beguiled because poorly formulated products really can put your health in danger.
One of the most important factors in body cleansing is balancing phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 detoxification. It is a little complicated to explain in this short column, but I refer to specific endogenous pathways that the body uses to naturally eliminate toxins. Some people are born with defective or inefficient detox pathways; there are tests that determine how effective our own pathways are. Phase 1 prepares the toxin for removal, phase 2 furthers this process, and phase 3 escorts the conjugated/methylated toxin out of the body. If your phase 1 and phase 2 pathways are imbalanced, particularly with lessened phase 2 activity, the “unfinished” toxin is actually more toxic than the original molecule. If you complete phase 1 and phase 2 adequately but you are constipated (lowered phase 3 capacity), toxins recirculate, kicking up symptoms from the prolonged exposure.
Some simple tips for body cleansing are #1. drink plenty of water, #2. eat 35+ grams of soluble and insoluble fiber per day, #3. consume plenty of protein but greatly reduce the intake of animal protein, and #4. take digestive enzymes. Then if you want to use a body cleansing product, choose one that balances those phases in your favor.
Carol is a certified lifestyle educator at the offices of Dr. Alan Gruning in Fort Myers. She owns the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel. She can be reached at 472-4499.