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Doing a Detox

This first of a two-part series provides an insight into detoxification, so that you do it right.

THE concept of detoxification has always intrigued people, and various detoxification methods have been practised since ancient times. Although detoxification is considered an alternative therapy in today’s age of modern medicine, it is more accurately described as a preventive measure to avoid more severe medical conditions resulting from a long-term accumulation of toxins.

Most people assume that toxins are the result of external pollution, such as from polluted air, water, pesticides, alcohol and food additives. The truth is that our body itself produces toxins as a by-product of its metabolic processes. As such, everyone will need some form of detoxification in order to achieve optimal health. The trick is to getting the correct detox.

The Detox dilemma

The most common mistake people make is to try every or any form of detoxification they hear or read about on the Internet. Some attempt detoxification techniques recommended by friends, relatives, colleagues or neighbours. This can be risky because what works for someone else may not be suitable for you, especially if you have underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart problems or other disorders.

With an overload of detox methods in the market, it is also easy to be deluded into trying something that promises to be a cure-all. As they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is! Another danger is over-doing it. In the same way the body accumulates toxins naturally over time, detoxification should also be a regular, but structured process over time. There are no short cuts, and being overly conscientious with a detox programme may be counter-productive, if not harmful for your body.

A good detox programme does not only focus on diet alone, but also includes emotional and mental cleansing. Stress is a major contributor for the formation of free radicals in the body, and a holistic detox programme should be a combination of both internal and external cleansing.

Before you begin a detox programme, it helps to ask your doctor for advice, especially if you are on medication or other forms of therapy. Even if you’re doing it just to gain a better sense of wellness, your doctor will be able to advise you whether your detox choice is advisable, or suggest an alternative that suits you better. Also, remember that detoxification is not for everyone. You are advised not to detox if you are elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding, underweight, or have high or low blood pressure.

Elimination organs

The basics to detoxification is knowing the elimination organs. The body is naturally equipped to eliminate toxins produced in the body through the lymphatic and circulatory systems. The main organs responsible for toxin removal are the liver and intestines. Toxins are also removed from the body through the kidneys, skin and lungs.

In people with poor dietary habits, stress, sedentary lifestyles, illness, or unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking alcohol, the elimination systems are unable to get rid of the toxins quickly and efficiently enough. At the same time, the body is exposed to external toxins or unnatural molecules every day. When the body is already overwhelmed with its own toxins, it is no longer able to handle the external ones.

These substances can affect the hormones, chromosomes and immune system in the body, creating imbalances in the body system. The toxin build-up leads to a condition called toxaemia, which is the cause of most chronic diseases.

Do I need to detox?

As mentioned earlier, it helps to seek medical advice before beginning any detox programme. Some common signs that you probably need to detox include constant fatigue, skin infections or irritations, constipation, heartburn, flatulence and frequent infections. These signs may also indicate that you have certain undiagnosed diseases, so your doctor will address those conditions, while looking at ways to manage your general health better.

Apart from looking at clinical symptoms, one telling sign that your body needs an overhaul is your lifestyle habits. If your diet consists mainly of processed or fast foods, or you smoke or frequently consume alcohol, a detox programme can help your body to recover its balance before chronic disease strikes.

Detox programmes come in many forms, so it’s not just about downing a sachet of detox powder or drinking fruit juices for a week. A complete programme will include abstaining from inflammation-forming foods, boosting the body’s natural system with essential nutrients, nourishing your mind and rejuvenating the body.

After a detox, you may feel a little weakened and the symptoms may sometimes worsen, but the effects are temporary. In the long-term, regular detoxification will rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit, giving you a better sense of wellbeing and happiness!

The Star Newspaper, NOVEMBER 9, 2013
Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar

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