Current research can now explain why the exposures we confront in our daily lives along with deficient diets can interfere with metabolism and overload our bodies’ detoxification systems.
Some of the common health problems now associated with environmental exposures include immune dysfunction and autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalances, obesity, asthma, inflammatory conditions, neurological problems and changes in cognitive function.
This can explain many of our nagging symptoms, including weight gain, foggy thinking, digestive disorders, asthma, headaches, fatigue, mood changes, allergies, and aches and pains.
Of all the common pollutants we are exposed to, the most harmful are those potent substances known as hormone disruptors, estrogen mimickers, or xenoestrogens. These pervasive chemicals, common in our daily lives and contained in most of our personal care products, household cleaners, pesticides, and plastics, have the potential to disrupt our hormonal and endocrine balance and cause chaos to many of the above systems, including the immune system, increasing the risk of cancer and other diseases.
We are constantly detoxifying as we are constantly exposed to chemicals in our environment; in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and the unknown chemicals in our homes, workplace and community. Inside our homes, household cleaners, solvents, cigarette smoke, and air fresheners, and personal care products all contribute to a toxic environment. Outside the home, we find automobile exhaust fumes, smoggy air, industrial fumes, pesticides, and other agricultural chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently recognizes some four million toxins.
Toxins are also created by the body through the metabolic processes, and in response to unbalanced conditions. Emotional stress, an unbalanced diet, and consuming too much food can all contribute to toxic intake and body burden.
An Acupuncturist colleague recently explained that Detoxification in Chinese Medicine terms means the removing of “devil toxins,” which included heat, cold, parasite, damp, fire and food toxins². He went on to describe that in Chinese medicine there are a number of different toxic patterns; phlegm, damp liver, qi stagnation or blood stagnation. In Western thinking, on a cellular level, our body is more likely to store toxins in the winter season and spring becomes the perfect time to release them through increased activity, lighter eating, or a detoxification program.
Elson Haas, M.D., in his book Staying Healthy with the Seasons, defines a toxin as “any substance that creates irritating and/or harmful effects in the body, undermining our health or stressing our biochemical or organ functions.” Clinical ecology is rapidly becoming a new specialty to deal exclusively with how toxins in the environment affect our health.
The body does have an efficient system in place to detoxify harmful toxins. The most important cleansing organ is the liver. Other eliminative channels are the bowels (the digestive system), kidneys, skin, lungs, and lymphatic system.
When the body is doing it’s job and is not overburdened with toxins, the blood carries toxins to the liver, which uses enzymes to detoxify the harmful substances, rendering them harmless by converting them into a water-soluble form, which is then eliminated via the urine or feces. Unfortunately, this system can handle only so many toxins and was built for ³natural² toxins, not the man-made ones we have to deal with in these modern times. If detoxification pathways in the liver are impaired, the breakdown of toxins can form intermediary metabolites that are more toxic than the original.
Our body may not know how to handle the multitude of toxins in our lives, and they can accumulate in harmful quantities or be converted to odd, unknown substances that can interfere with metabolism. According to the textbook Nutrition, Concepts and Controversies, this can result in conditions of inflammation, cancers, and neurological problems to name a few.
We are pleased to bring you some detoxification tips from Elson Hass MD, internationally known as the “Detox Doc”, to get you going on your personal program. 10 Tips for Spring Cleaning* by Elson M. Haas, MD (an Earthrose Institute Board of Advisor) (Used with permission from ” www.elsonhaas.com)
Hello. Welcome to Spring. It’s a great time to look at habits and do a little, or a big, clean up, as the case and need may be. This is Nature’s beginning and a time for renewal…..
Here are 10 Tips to help you get started and bring energy and vitality alive NOW!
- Become Current in your Life in this inspiring Spring season. Embrace yourself honestly as you look at all of your habits and areas of your own life. Even with all the worldly concerns, care for yourself and your loved ones. Assess the various aspects of your life to see where stresses or weaknesses exist your diet, exercise program, work or relationships as examples‹and focus on the ones that need improvement.
- Look at your Personal Relationships and see how they affect you and how you affect them. Include your significant other, friends, or relatives to go along with you in a Spring Cleansing diet for their own good and for mutual support. For my cleanse groups, I find that personal support is extremely valuable for many people to achieve the success they want.
- Choose Three Habits that inhabit you and likely undermine your health and life. How and when did they begin, and are you done with any? Which ones are most important for you to change or incorporate to create a healthier you? Do you need help or can you do this on your own? Mine include: Eat more lightly at night so that I can digest more fully to be less full for sleep. – Take more time for stretching and yoga. – Create with some other experts a nutritional plan to reverse some plaque I have and to help clear my coronary artery
It’s easier to give habits up if you start something new, like breathing and relaxing more, walking, dancing, romancing, and overall, making more time for health.
- Clean and Organize your Home- tis the season of Nature’s New Year in clearing out the old and bringing in the new. I love this feeling of looking at my desk, my closet, and every nook and cranny around my house and office, and wanting to freshen it all. And it’s a good way to stay out of the kitchen (which also gets cleaner along with my frig) and look at other areas of my life. Of course, after all my years of accumulating and with all the communication and medical/health journals I receive, it’s harder to handle everything in my existence as it was in my earlier years of cleansing. Yet, I do what I can and sometimes have my support team keep moving things forward and recycling what we can. Then, my life feels and looks cleaner and lighter at the end of my Spring Cleaning, and has space for the new to land
- Get Outdoors and Exercise‹move your Body! Stay Fit and Stay Healthy. Friluftsliv is a Norwegian term for healing and de-stressing by going outdoors and exercising in the free and fresh air. Hike and explore your neighborhood and extended community or find a place you’ve heard about and want to visit. I love the lightness and easiness I feel when I am cleansing, and my body feels more flexible and able to do my aerobic exercise. A yoga class is a good experience to expand our flexibility. Breathe and relax as well. Play flute, dance, and make time for romance. Remember, it’s Spring!
- Look at your Dietary Choices. What do you choose to put in that mouth of yours? And what do you fuel your other “mouths” with – those areas of energy intake, like your eyes, ears, skin, and heart? Write down a few days of your typical diet, then assess it and write a new plan based on your knowledge of what’s right for your body. You may also wish to take a break from the TV, news, violent movies, and stressful people while you are purifying your life. It’s good to have a reference by taking a break, even with substances like caffeine and sugar (as in my book, The New Detox Diet), to see how you feel and what level your dependence is on your favorite substances. I can assure you that it feels good to release yourself from those habits. Remember, Better Choices create Better Health!
- Next look at your Emotional and Spiritual aspects. How do you feel usually? Are you low or depressed? Or more positive and energetic? Ideally, we can feel a wide range of emotions based on our daily life experience and not dwell on one particular emotion, which is the real problem. Embrace the whys of moods and energy levels with greater honesty of your true feelings‹that’s the beginning of healing feelings. And I can tell you that many factors ranging from your diet and digestive health to your early childhood learned behavior patterns influence your mood, energy level, and emotions, and thus your Spiritual Well-Being.
- Do some Cleansing or Detox Program for 1-3 weeks this Spring. This could include juice cleansing, the Detox Diet, or a period off sugar, chocolate, sodas, milk products, wheat, or whatever you believe undermines your health. To do this successfully, it helps to write out a plan and focus on what you will do and will eat, and not what you are leaving out. Make a list of your good foods, shop for them, and have them available whenever you are hungry. And drink lots of good water. At minimum, take a Break from the Big Five: Sugar – Caffeine – Alcohol – Wheat Products – Dairy Products
- Now let’s look at your Nutritional Supplements. What’s the best ones to use during a detoxification diet? I suggest, with a food-based Detox Program, a simple age- and gender-appropriate multivitamin/mineral along with additional antioxidants that include Vitamins C and E (mixed natural tocopherols), and selenium as the basic supplement plan. Also helpful for most people are herbs that stimulate bowel function, and blue green algae (like Chlorella or Spirulina) for energy and Detox support. I also suggest drinking plenty of water and herbal teas. Calcium and magnesium before bed can help with relaxation and sleep or a buffered vitamin C formula with those minerals (plus potassium) help to alkalinize and cleanse the body.
- Make your Overall Plan and Commitments. Begin by looking at the key areas of life=Health and personal habits, Love and relationships, and Career or work. And if LOVE moves into all those areas, that’s all the better as you’ll care for yourself and your life, plus your relationships in a positive way. Human love is temporal for many, yet love in the Spirit is everlasting. We are all blessed to share this garden, this Earth, which needs our Love and Protection. We must take the time to Nurture Nature, in order to be Nourished and Flourish. Stay Healthy, Dr. Elson Dr. Elson M. Haas is a practicing physician of Integrated Medicine for 35 years, and Medical Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin in San Rafael. He is the author of the classic preventive medicine text Staying Healthy With the Seasons (1981, 2003 ) and Staying Healthy With Nutrition (1992, 2006), his recipe book, A Cookbook For All Seasons (2000), The New Detox Diet (2004) and The Staying Healthy Shopper’s Guide.. Other popular books are Vitamins for Dummies (1999) and The False Fat Diet (2000, Ballantine).
Spring Cleaning Tips
- Drink Filtered Water -Water flushes toxins and waste on a cellular level from the body and transports nutrients to where they are needed.
- Infrared Sauna
- Dry Loofa scrub to enhance circulation of skin, the largest organ of elimination to release toxins.
- Consume fresh, organic whole or raw foods to ensure that you receive the enzymes necessary to adequately digest your food and maintain healthy digestive function.
- Increase greens Leafy and dark green vegetables including dandelion, mustard, kale, and beet tops. Bitter greens stimulate the production of bile, increasing your digestive and detoxifying ability Include juicing and green smoothies daily.
- Avoid chemicals in the environment and food chain: including additives and pesticides
- Eat lightly, it is a time to release and clear out all that we stored through winter
- Eat seasonally; the young greens and sprouts of the season are highly cleansing and nutrient dense.
- Eat foods that are high in fiber to stimulate elimination systems
- Increase Exercise, deep breathing and yoga.
Start your Day
Morning lemon drink with warm lemon water stimulates your liver to detoxify your body – your skin will look better, you’ll feel great, and you might even lose some weight! It is one of the easiest things you can do to increase your overall well-being. Just squeeze half a lemon into a glass, and fill with warm filtered water. Rinse mouth after so it’s not too acidic for your teeth. So, enjoy Spring, a Season of new growth.