Most of us spend a great deal of time keeping things around us clean. We bathe, wash dishes, vacuum our carpets, sweep our floors, take our vehicles to the car wash, and launder our clothes. However, very few of us ever think about “internal cleanliness”. It isn’t just the outside of the body and the environment that needs to be cleaned – we must also clean the “inside” of our bodies.
As we consume foods and beverages throughout the day and burn them for energy, waste products are generated during the digestive process. Eliminating the by-products of metabolism is so critically important to the body it has many different systems that break down toxins to eliminate them. Were it not for the incredible efficiency of the lymphatic system, the liver, the kidneys, the sweat glands and oil ducts in our skin, our colon, and the mucus membranes of our sinuses and lungs, our body would actually suffocate in its own waste within a couple of days. Just because we are not dead, however, does not mean our elimination organs are working at peak efficiency. When a furnace, automobile, or any other mechanical device starts to get dirty, its efficiency diminishes. The same is true for the body. If the efficiency of one or more elimination channels drops by even ten-twenty percent, while it won’t kill us, it certainly has a gradual and very cumulative effect on our energy level, overall health and weakens the body allowing disease to sneak in.
That’s why traditional naturopathy, herbalism, Ayurvedic Medicine and many other natural healing therapies have always placed a heavy emphasis not only on external hygiene, but internal hygiene as well. Therapies dedicated to opening up and strengthening digestive and elimination channels have been collectively known as “cleansing”. Cleansing is especially important in our modern society. While public sanitation and attention to external cleanliness have helped ensure we don’t have plagues or get diarrhea from contaminated water, we have a new problem on our hands—environmental pollution.
Modern Chemical Exposure
Each and every moment we are exposed to hundreds (if not thousands) of chemicals, many of which did not even exist 100 years ago. These chemicals are present in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the products we put on our skin. We have air pollutants from automobiles and industry. We have water pollutants from agricultural runoff, industrial contamination, and even from the water treatment delivery systems that bring treated water into our homes.
The foods we eat also contain various chemicals. There are traces of agricultural chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that are used on crops. Not to mention GMO produce. Processed foods are laced with additives—preservatives, artificial flavorings and colorings, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents, texture enhancers, MSG in its many forms, and so forth. By purchasing foods in as natural a state as possible, and using organically foods whenever possible, additives can be avoided.
There are chemicals in our cleaning products, cosmetics, fabrics, furniture, and building materials. So many, in fact, that people who move into a new home often experience headaches, aches and pains, lethargy and other symptoms of environmental illness. This happens because of the out-gassing of formaldehyde, solvents and other chemicals found in carpets, paints, glues, wood and other materials used to build the homes. As an example, some individuals may start getting migraines after moving into a new trailer home, buying a new mattress, maybe sealing a hardwood floor. After all the windows are opened and the space is aired out for a couple of weeks, and by filling the area with plants to purify the air, the headaches usually stop.
Of course, we are assured that these chemicals are safe because they have all been tested—right? Well, laying aside the fact that some of these chemicals haven’t been properly tested, there is still a problem with the research that has been done. These chemicals are typically tested one at a time to determine safe levels. They are not tested in combination. It’s true that the body can handle small amounts of toxins. It does so all the time. But not a massive assault.
Natural foods do have small amounts of toxic materials and that’s why the body is equipped with detoxification systems. These detoxification processes are part of our immune system. The problem occurs when we’re getting small amounts of many different toxins, which is what is happening in our modern society. Then when you add in the problem of nutritional deficiencies caused by poor nutrition, the problem compounds. Often the detoxification processes in our immune system are simply overwhelmed and the nutrients simply are not there to handle the toxin load.
So, the more we can minimize our exposure to toxins, the less stress we place on our immune system. We don’t need to be paranoid about toxins. The simple fact is that we just need to use common sense and avoid environmental toxins and chemicals as much as we can. In addition, we should also provide nutrients that will enhance the function of the immune system to help us deal with the toxins we can’t avoid.
A Healthy Body Detoxifies Naturally
When the body has proper nutrition, it has the capacity to ramp up its efforts to flush toxins when it feels overwhelmed. We all have experienced the body’s ability to get rid of toxins when we have thrown up after eating tainted food. Perhaps you also remember a time when your sinuses started to run after you inhaled some smoke or irritating chemicals. Other examples of these defensive mechanisms at work include skin rashes after exposure to an irritating substance. All of these defense mechanisms—vomiting, diarrhea, sinus drainage (including sneezing and coughing), and skin eruptions—are all the immune system’s attempts to throw off irritating substances. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand this. They think that the vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, sinus drainage or skin eruptions are caused by the disease. So, they go to the doctor or drugstore for medication which will probably block or halt the efforts of the body to flush irritants. The drugs themselves are also chemicals and add a further burden to the already weakened immune and detoxification systems of the body, sending the body on a downward spiral. As the body is unable to eliminate the backlog of toxins, they irritate, inflame and damage various tissues and organs.
Inflammation can be thought of as the “mother” of all diseases. Nearly all chronic and degenerative diseases begin with an inflammatory process, including heart disease and cancer. These diseases are the end result of damage to the body from toxins that were not eliminated and nutritional deficiencies.
If the body cannot flush toxins, it tries to find other ways to store or neutralize them to protect the body tissues from further inflammation or damage. Fat deposits, cysts, growths, weakened tissues and organs can all wind up as toxic waste storage facilities. The fact that fats sequester toxins also helps explain why more than 60% of us are overweight. In the end, the weakened organs and tissues where the toxins often wind up so diseased that they have to be surgically removed. (This, when one thinks about it, could be thought of as a really extreme method of detoxification.)
Protecting the Body from Toxins
When you consider all the above information, it is easy to see why it’s so important to do all we can to protect our body against toxins. As mentioned above, the body must have nutrients to detoxify. Avoid refined and processed foods in favor of nutritionally dense foods like fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organically grown), whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and animal foods (natural as possible and preferably free range or grass-fed). Get OFF OF SUGAR!!! Because modern foods still tend to be nutritionally deficient, we may still need to supplement our diets with extra vitamins and minerals, fiber and herbs that enhance our body’s ability to detoxify efficiently.
Don’t let your body systems get dirty inside – avoid the “gunk” – avoid disease.