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Full Body Cleanse: The Basics
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jan 07, 2010
If you do a Google search for full body cleanse, your web browser will bring up more than 2 million Web sites that offer information on how to experience a full body cleanse. If cleansing and detoxifying for health purposes wasn't a mainstream topic before, it certainly is now with the recent launch of Oprah's 21-Day Cleanse.
Here are some of the most common questions that I receive on a weekly basis from people seeking guidance on how to cleanse and detoxify their bodies:
What's the best way to detoxify my body?
How do I prepare for a cleanse?
How do I return to my everyday routine after a cleanse?
Is it okay to detox while I take my meds?
How do I cleanse my liver?
If you're not quite sure what to make of the whole cleansing and detoxing craze, I hope that this three-part series on cleansing gives you a solid understanding of this important health topic.
What Exactly is Detoxification?
Detoxification refers to the process of eliminating toxins from your body.
There are two major types of toxins that your body accumulates over time:
Environmental Toxins: Sometimes called exogenous (made outside your body) toxins, environmental toxins include all the chemicals and pollutants that you're exposed to through air, water, and food.
Common environmental toxins include pesticides, herbicides, prescription and over-the-counter medications, carbon monoxide, triclosan, bisphenol A, phthalates, and volatile organic compounds.
Metabolic Toxins: Sometimes called endogenous (made inside your body) toxins, metabolic toxins are produced by each of your cells as they go about their everyday metabolic processes. Metabolic toxins can also be produced by microorganisms that act on incompletely digested food in your digestive tract.
It's normal for your cells to contain some toxins at all times. After all, your cells need to manufacture energy on an ongoing basis, and the manufacturing process results in waste (toxin) production.
Toxins only present a challenge to your health when they accumulate to a point where they interfere with cellular function - we call this state toxicosis.
The first effect of toxicosis is disruption of cellular function. If a group of cells experience significant toxicosis, specific health challenges develop, examples being thyroiditis, hepatitis, prostatitis, unexplained chronic fatigue, and problems with vision. If toxicosis persists, it's possible for the DNA in your cells to become damaged, which may lead to abnormal cellular growth of the affected cells.
While the majority of chronic health challenges are caused by more than one factor, I hope that it's clear that allowing your body to accumulate toxins over the long haul can result in you developing any one of the chronic diseases that are plaguing people in industrialized countries. To be clear, toxicosis can contribute to coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes mellitus, respiratory illness, kidney disease, liver dysfunction, autoimmune illness, hormonal imbalances, skin conditions, and most types of cancer.
Your Body is Constantly Detoxifying and Cleansing
The good news is that your body is designed to constantly gather up and remove toxins from your cells. Most of the toxins that are stirred up from your cells are broken down in your liver, and then eliminated from your body via your kidneys, colon, skin, lungs, and mucus linings in your nose and ears.
Put another way, every time that you urinate, defecate, exhale, cough, sneeze, and experience an inside-out reaction with your skin, your body eliminates toxins from your system.
If your exposure to toxins rises, your body increases its output through the eliminative channels mentioned above. If your eliminative mechanisms cannot keep up with the number of toxins that are coming in and being generated in your cells, in an effort to preserve your health, your body attempts to store some of the toxins in your fat tissues. Even if you are lean for your body type, your body can store toxins in fat tissues that can be found interspersed between your muscle fibers and surrounding your organs.
The bottom line is this: Your body is committed to eliminating harmful toxins from your system at all times. Toxins can become problematic to your health if you accumulate enough of them to experience cellular dysfunction.
Full Body Cleanse
I hope that it's clear that your body is experiencing a full body cleanse at all times. Put another way, your body is constantly at work to keep every cell in your body as healthy as possible.
Any effective full body cleanse or any other type of cleansing program that you go through should be designed to accelerate the detoxifying process that your body is already engaged in.
There's not a lot that you have to do to encourage your body to rid itself of toxins.
You can accelerate cleansing and detox by reducing the number of exogenous and endogenous toxins that you are exposed to, and by giving your body the rest that it needs to devote its resources to its cleansing and detoxifying mechanisms.
Put another way, to experience a truly effective period of intense cleansing, you don't need to give your body much by way of nutrients. Actually, all you need to give your body are physical and emotional rest, fresh air, water, and enough fuel to sustain your most basic metabolic processes. And as people who understand water fasting know, the fuel that you need for intense cleansing can actually come from reserves found in your liver, muscles, and fat.
But this isn't an article about water fasting. This is an article about how to experience accelerated full body cleansing while going about most of your everyday routine.
Before we get into a specific protocol for intense cleansing, let's address one final point: your body cleanses and detoxifies itself evenly. What I mean by this is that there's no way for your body to cleanse your kidneys first, and then your liver, and then your eyes, and so on and so forth. Your body detoxifies all of its cells at about the same pace.
This doesn't mean that every part of your body will feel healthier at the same pace, as each of your body parts has its own history and genetic predisposition. Let's say, for example, that you have a long history of acne. If you begin a period of intense cleansing, it may be days or weeks or months after your internal organs have become significantly cleaner and healthier when you observe improvement in the health of your skin. And if other factors are contributing to your acne (such as an imbalance in your endocrine system), you may need years of healthful living to experience lasting improvement in skin health and tone.
Please don't forget this fact: many chronic health challenges take years to develop, so it's unrealistic to expect such challenges to fully heal within months, even if you fully support your cleansing mechanisms.
This last point is one that you probably won't find on most of the more than 2 million Web sites that discuss how to experience a full body cleanse.
Although it may be disheartening to know, the truth is that lasting improvement in your health may take many months or years to manifest itself. You may feel better within days, but I hope that what you're really shooting for is to build a foundation of health that will serve you for decades.
Also, please remember that the positive effects of an intense period of cleansing will last only as long as your dietary and lifestyle choices support your health after your cleanse. Your body is working its tail off to detoxify itself as you are reading these words, and it will continue to do so during an intense cleanse, and after an intense cleanse. Full body cleansing never stops - it is always happening at the pace that your daily choices allow. If you want to experience your best health, your job is to support your body's self-cleansing mechanisms every day.
How to Experience an Intense, Full Body Cleanse
As mentioned earlier, here are the most basic requirements for an intense, fully body cleanse:
Expose yourself to as much fresh air as possible.
Get as much physical and emotional rest as possible.
Stay hydrated with water-rich foods and liquids.
Minimize your exposure to exogenous and endogenous toxins
Ready to get started? Click part two of this series below.
Full Body Cleanse Series:
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