Detoxification is what our body does naturally to neutralize, transform or get rid of unwanted materials and toxins.
It is a primary function of the body, constantly working and interacting with all other functions of the body. Our body manufactures enormous amount of molecules on a daily basis in support of the detoxification process. Our body requires hundreds of enzymes, vitamins and other molecules to help rid the body of unwanted waste products and toxins. Although the bulk of the work is done by the liver and the intestinal tract, the kidneys, lungs, lymphatic system and skin are all involved in this complex detoxification system.
Most of the time, our body goes quietly about its detoxification process. When toxins build up over time, our body resorts to more extreme measures to force those impurities out of the cells and organs in an effort to remain healthy. At those times, we may feel uncomfortable symptoms of an illness, like a fever, cold, rash, the flu — even emotional releases of anger, sadness and fear. Many people mistake these symptoms with actual illness and resort to medicines or antibiotics to suppress them. Unfortunately, stopping the natural cleansing process actually suppresses our immune system and drive toxins further into our body.
Years of toxic overload and suppression of the body’s own natural cleansing cycle, our major organs will simply give up the struggle and become “diseased”, resulting in devastating illnesses such as cancer, chronic fatigue or acute candidiasis.
Remember, the human body is a self-healing, self-renewing, self-cleansing organism. When the right conditions are created, we enable our body to heal, regenerate and even rejuvenate itself.
The Most Common Toxins
Toxic substances are everywhere. The body is not only exposed to toxic chemicals in the environment, but also some toxins are produced in the body through normal body chemical reactions. Our body faces an onslaught of toxins daily, from the air we breath, the water we drink, the food we eat, drugs, tobacco, household and personal care products, as well as stress and negative emotions. Worst yet, many of the toxins in our body were inherited from toxins that were stored in the cells of our parents. These toxins lodge in our cells, tissues and muscles until our body is completely overwhelmed.
In a 2005 study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood of babies born in 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of these babies, including pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage. Of the 287 chemicals, 180 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied.
Toxic parents have toxic children, and the pattern continues until we make the choice to stop it.
Here are just a few examples of the toxins in our world today:
- Air pollution
- Drinking water – chlorine, heavy metals, chloroform, etc.
- Pesticides in fruits and vegetables
- Additives and preservatives in processed foods
- Refined oils
- Prescription, recreational and over-the-counter drugs
- Non-stick chemicals – non-stick cookware, stain resistant fabrics
- Xenoestrogens – insecticides, lubricants, adhesives, paints, personal care products, weed killer, sunscreen lotion
- Human growth hormones fed to cows to increase milk production
- Plastics – containers, water bottles, baggies
- Personal care products – anti-bacterial soap, perfumes, creams, shampoos, lotions and other similar products have a range of toxins like artificial fragrance, Benzaldehyde, benzalkonium chloride and sodium laureth sulfate
- Amalgam dental fillings (source of mercury) and dental sealants
- Household cleaners
- Dry cleaned clothing
Our Body Detoxification System
The organ systems involved in combating and eliminating toxins from our body include the skin, the lungs, the digestive tract, and most importantly, the liver, the kidneys and the lymphatic system.
The Skin – Your First Line of Defense
The skin is our largest organ of protection and defense. It is a sensory organ that helps our nervous system understand its environment. It also plays an important role in the elimination of toxins and can assist other detox organs in their work. The skin is very powerful at stopping harmful compounds from entering our body, but it also initiates a series of hormonal and chemical responses due to the intrusion.
The Respiratory Tract – Your Built-in Air Filters
Your respiratory tract consists of the lungs and bronchi or airway tubes. These organs help to evacuate toxins in the form of carbonic gas. There is also the production of phlegm that binds these compounds and can be expelled. The lungs may also act as an emergency exit for toxins that the liver, kidneys and the intestinal tract did not succeed in eliminating.
The Kidneys – Your Built-in Blood & Water Filters
The kidneys purify your blood from toxic substances including alcohol, medications, artificial coloring, and many other man-made harmful substances. The primary form of excretion is via the urinary tract. proper hydration of the body is crucial for the kidneys to sufficiently filter the blood.
The Intestinal Tract – Your Personal Food Processor
The intestinal tract is really just one long tube that connects from the mouth to the colon and anus. This organ not only has the task of digestion, but also elimination of toxins. As soon as the different phases of digestion are completed, the nutrients, such as the amino acids, sugars, fats, minerals, vitamins, etc., penetrate through the intestinal mucous membranes into the venous capillaries that transport them to the liver. After detoxification, the liver redistributes the nutrients into the blood stream. The various chemicals, toxins, drugs, heavy metals and excess sex hormones that were extracted, are dumped by the liver into the bile. Neutralized by the bile, these compounds pass into the small intestine and continue through the intestinal tract to exit the body in the stool.
The final phase of the transformation of toxins through the intestinal tract takes place in the colon. Whatever can still be used by the body, such as fiber, is broken down with the help of the intestinal micro flora, and is transported to the liver for detoxification. The insufficiently digested, large molecules and toxic residues remain in the intestines to be excreted with the fecal matter.
Constant irritation of the intestinal passage by toxins can damage the intestinal mucosa and render it porous. Toxins may then enter your body’s internal environment. Eventually, this onslaught of foreign invasion impairs the immune system and serves as a deeper cause for many diseases, especially chronic degenerative diseases and cancer.
The Liver – Your Very Own Chemical factory & Refinery
Weighing in at just over 1.5 kilograms, the liver is a complex chemical factory that works 24 hours a day. It processes virtually everything you eat, drink, breathe in or rub on your skin and that’s just some of its over 500 different functions vital to life. It holds about 13% of the body’s blood supply at any given moment and filters over 1 liter of blood each minute! It is involved in the production of over 13,000 different chemicals and maintenance of over 2,000 internal enzyme systems. It regulates the supply of body fuel (producing, storing, and supplying glucose and producing, storing, and exporting fat), manufactures many essential body proteins, regulates the balance of many hormones, regulates body cholesterol, regulates the supply of essential vitamins and minerals such as iron and copper, produces bile which eliminates toxic substances from the body, aids digestion, just to name a few of its functions.
By far, the liver’s main job is inactivating and removing toxins (alcohol, drugs, chemical, and other poisonous substances) from the blood and transforming them into substances that can be safely excreted by the intestines or kidneys either by urine or bowel movements. It also provides a defense mechanism which filters and destroys foreign invaders such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and even cancerous cells.
The Lymph – Your Self-Regulating Plumbing system
Aside from the circulatory system, the lymphatic system with its vessel network is the most important transport system in the human body. Approximately two liters of lymph fluid circulate the lymphatic vessels that cover our body literally from head to toe. These two liters are formed continually from the fluid that surrounds each one of our body cells.
Lymph fluid transports nutrients and oxygen for the cells as well as immune cells while picking up many of the body’s waste products and carbon dioxide. The tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus are all part of the lymphatic system. These lymphatic glands are our body’s “Police Stations” where infectious agents are filtered and lymphocytes (white blood cells, “the police”) are produced.
It plays a major role in detoxification of the body. If the production of lymphocytes is insufficient, the filtering, the degradation, and the transport of the waste products will be impeded and the bodily environment will be more and more overwhelmed with toxic metabolites and toxins.
To learn more about how to support your detoxification system, visit How to Keep Your Liver Happy, How to Keep Your Lymphatic System Going, Your Gut – The Epicenter of Your Mental and Physical Wellbeing, and How Your Gut Influences Your Brain, Mood, Behavior, and More blogs.