JOSEPH MERCOLA Detoxification is growing increasingly popular. The basic premise is that your body accumulates more toxins in the modern world than its natural detoxification system (your liver, kidneys and lungs) can get rid of Proponents say that chemicals from pesticides, chlorine, bleach and ammonia, and carbon monoxide build up over time and cause disease. Your environment has profound impact on your health. Everything from the quality of the air you breathe to what you put into, and onto your body makes a difference. Mercury alone can mimic or cause any illness currently known, or at least contribute to it. Detoxing and cleansing your body of toxins periodically can definitely help counteract some of this damage. Dr. Tanya Edwards, Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, suggests starting out with a change in diet because it’s our diets that lead to constipation. A change in diet can accomplish the same thing as many herbal detoxification products that are really just laxatives. People are ideally supposed to have one or two bowel movements a day, but many people go two or three days between eliminations. The normal pathway for toxins to move out of the body is through the liver, which converts harmful chemicals into water-soluble molecules that can be flushed out in the urine or feces. If there’s a delay in elimination, however, those toxins remain in your system longer. Dr. Tamara MacDonald, a naturopathic physician, uses detox techniques because some people aren’t able to detoxify chemicals naturally—their systems aren’t working well for one reason or another. But MacDonald is wary of poorly researched techniques like foot baths and colonics, and thinks that people should steer clear of fasting techniques like the “Master Cleanse,” a 10- day detox plan that consists of drinking lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. “One of the worst things in terms of detoxification is doing a fast,” she says. “That was the idea about 20 or 30 years ago, but we know now that your body actually needs specific nutrients to be able to perform its job of detoxification.” Top Ten Priorities for Detoxification What is the best way to rid your system of toxins? The top experts in autism detoxification came up with the following consensus and priority for achieving optimal health: Healthy Living Avoiding Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Clean Water Healthy Food Healthy Movement Emotions & Relationships Tests Organ Support Supplements Detox Tools As you can see detoxification is an important tool, but it is not at the top of the priority list—especially if you are sick. Unfortunately, a lot of people first consider detoxing when they’re not feeling well. It’s important to realize that if you fail to follow an orderly process and begin detoxification processes prematurely; it can deteriorate your health even further, making you very sick. Why Diet is so Important to Detoxing In addition to avoiding or limiting your exposure to toxins, you need to focus on eating a healthy diet, preferably based on your nutritional type to reap maximum overall health benefits. The Weston A. Price diet recommendations—which were written in 1920 and still, like all truths, hold true today—includes these timeless guidelines: Eat foods that are natural, unprocessed, and organic (and contain no sugar except for the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup). Eat foods that grow in your native environment. In other words, eat locally grown, seasonal foods. Eat unpasteurized dairy products (such as raw milk) and fermented foods. Eat at least one-third of your food raw. Make sure you eat enough healthy fats, including those from animal sources like omega-3 fat, and reduce your intake of omega-6 from vegetable oils. Additionally, it’s important to understand that if you’re deficient in essential metals, your body will actually use toxic heavy metals as “stand-ins” instead. For example: } Calcium is replaced by lead, which deposits primarily in bone, and disrupts the formation of red blood cells. Lead contributes to poor bone health such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. } Zinc is replaced by cadmium, which tends to accumulate heavily in your kidneys. Cadmium overload is associated with peripheral neuropathy. } Magnesium is replaced by aluminum, which, among other things, induces neurochemical changes and has been linked as a contributing to developing Alzheimer’s. } Manganese is replaced by nickel, a carcinogenic. So not only do you need to make sure you’re getting vital nutrients in order to avoid this toxic metal replacement process, you also need nutrients to aid your body’s natural detoxification process. Toxins are naturally eliminated from your body through your liver. It converts many of the harmful chemicals you ingest or absorb into water-soluble molecules that are flushed out in your urine or feces. Your Skin Eliminates Toxins Too One beneficial detox method is using an infra-red sauna, particularly for slow metabolizers. It heats your tissues several inches deep, which can enhance your natural metabolic processes. It also enhances circulation and helps oxygenate your tissues. Your skin is another major organ of elimination, but many people do not sweat on a regular basis. This may be due to wearing synthetic or tight clothing that does not breathe. Sedentary living and sun damage also inactivate your skin. Repeated use of the sauna slowly restores skin elimination, which can help reduce your toxic load quite significantly. Steam baths, sweat lodges, vigorous exercise and hot tubs are other options, but not as effective. Cautionary Notes Please remember that you should avoid starting any detox regimen when you are sick. You need to establish a healthy lifestyle and dietary habits first, so you have a reserve that your body can draw on to allow your liver to do its job properly.