The importance of body detoxification is a topic of powerful debate between those who believe in its health benefits and those who believe it is unnecessary. Some detox sceptics argue that the body has developed and evolved to neutralise the toxins with which it comes in contact. They contend that, if the body lacked the sufficient resources to fight off toxins, we would all have died soon after birth due to the large number of toxins in the environment.
Other detox sceptics admit that the body probably lacks sufficient resources to neutralise the enormous number of toxins in the environment, but maintain that there are no effective detox techniques we can employ to help the body neutralise them.
Both these groups, therefore, believe that detoxing is unnecessary, but for different reasons.
There are strong reasons to believe that both groups are wrong.
Our bodies have never had to deal with as many toxins as in the 21st century. 300 years ago there were no harmful greenhouse gases from factories and vehicles, 200 years ago there were no artificial chemicals in our food, 100 years ago there were fewer artificial drugs available for every imagined ailment, and 50 years ago there was no genetically modified food, electromagnetic fields from wireless networks, and routine unnecessary medical implants.
At this stage we are surrounded by almost one-hundred thousand modern toxins, the vast majority of which has never been tested for safety. The human body simply does not evolve fast enough to incorporate so many new toxins into its defences in such a short period. The argument that the body is capable of neutralising toxins is, thus, completely implausible.
The argument that we cannot detox to help the body fight toxins is not one that any scientist genuinely believes. After all, on the same page as they argue that detoxing is ineffective, they also argue that a diet rich in whole grains and vegetables helps our detoxification organs function better. For example, there is a scientific consensus that a diet low in salt is healthier for our kidneys, which are responsible for filtering out a lot of toxins to be excreted in urine. There is also a consensus that the excessive intake of alcohol and synthetic medicine harms the liver, which is another vital detoxification organ.
Scientists believe that fibre and water are necessary for regular bowel movements, which is the primary way the body rids itself of toxins contained in our food. They also believe that we should brush our teeth to prevent harmful bacteria from entering our blood streams. In other words, scientists believe that detoxification techniques can be valuable, otherwise they would not have recommended all these healthy habits.
So why is detoxification so important?
- Almost all ailments can be traced back to a toxin. Toxins are poisons produced by plants, animals, or any organic substance. These include viruses, bacteria, fungi and mould, yeast, poisonous leaves and fruit, animal venom, and so on. A more liberal definition of a toxin also includes synthetic man-made substances like carbon dioxide, methane, food preservatives and other additives, chemicals in cleaning products and cosmetics, and so forth. It is clear that toxins are ever-present in our lives, which highlights the importance of detoxification.
- Many scientists describe the number of potentially harmful toxins in our bodies either as a "chemical load" or as a "body burden". This concept refers to the number of toxins that our bodies contain at any given moment. Each of us carries at least 700 toxins, which are all potentially harmful. Bodies overloaded with chemicals must work very hard to neutralise them, which over-works the liver, kidneys, and immune system. Bodies with fewer toxins have an easier job. You should aim to keep your body burden low by following a regular detoxification program.
- Thousands of toxins have been directly linked to specific disorders. For example, common food preservatives like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) cause stomach cancer. Many people have learnt the hard way that monosodium glutamate (MSG) can cause muscle tightness, numbness, tingling, and general weakness. The fructose corn syrup in your soft drinks can cause diabetes and high blood pressure. The mould in your house has been associated with skin rashes and asthma. The tar in your cigarettes causes lung cancer. The cadmium in your shellfish, liver, kidney meats, and cigarette smoke, which is typically stored in your body for 15 years, causes renal dysfunction. In fact, Columbia University's School of Public Health has found that 95 per cent of cancer is caused by toxins in our diet and environment.
- Even where toxins have not been linked with specific diseases, they can destroy cells with which they come into contact. For example, oxidation is the process whereby toxins steal electrons away from cells, rendering them incapable to perform the tasks for which they exist. This can cause unpleasant symptoms like headaches, fatigue, indigestion, and almost any mild symptom which will continue until your body has replaced the damaged cells. Another example is some bacteria that multiply so rapidly that they crowd out your body's host tissue, deprive it of oxygen and blood, and disrupt its normal operations. Further, some toxins give rise to such a strong immune system response that your own immune system itself becomes toxic by, for example, raising your body temperature too high, expelling too much food through vomiting, or destroying healthy body tissue along with the toxins it tries to destroy.
Detoxification is important, but remember that a detox program does not necessarily have to include a water fast, with which the concept of detox has become almost synonymous. In fact, a long water fast is not especially healthy, because it deprives the body of required electrolytes. There are many techniques to help your body with detoxification, including an occasional 24 to 48 hour vegetable juice diet, a regular healthy whole grain and vegetable diet, the regular consumption of detox supplements or super green powders, regular exercise, occasional sessions in a sauna, and so forth. The truth is that any help you can give your body is beneficial, so choose a detox program that works for you, doesn’t make you feel ill and keep it up to achieve the long term benefits.