Several days ago I posted a snarky comment on Facebook about cleansing in response to a cynical article posted by Cosmopolitan. Since then, I have gone about my way, like others, to renew my commitment to clean eating and general “healthiness,” it being a new year and all. As if the Gods had read that post, they have conspired to prove to me that cleansing and detoxing are very real occurrences in the human body! I have not engaged in any one prescribed program. No lemon/maple syrup/cayenne concoction for me. I am simply eating a whole, clean diet composed primarily of fruits, vegetables, and small amounts of lean protein. I am guzzling water and have declared the month “Juice Free January” in reference to my abstinence from alcohol. It’s been seven days. To date, I have experienced headaches, bloating, gas, runny noses, bloody noses, seemingly never-ending trips to the bathroom and incredibly itchy skin. Relenting to the concept, a quick Google search revealed that these are all symptoms of detoxifying your body. Apparently my return to a normal diet has thrown me into a full blown cleanse!
So how did that happen? Turns out that our bodies are built to cleanse all by themselves. Aided or burdened by the foods we put in, our major organs execute an intricate process to clean our blood, absorb nutrients, and purge toxins…every second of every single day.
Among a host of other internal organs, the single biggest “cleanser” in our bodies is our liver. The liver cleans our blood, detoxifies toxins, produces internal chemicals necessary for human life, creates cholesterol and bile, and stockpiles vitamins and minerals for future use. Keeping our livers happy is vital to our good health.
Also of note are our kidneys. Our kidneys further remove toxic waste from the blood and work to expel them in our urine. Kidneys also perform the vital task of maintaining blood concentrations and volume by dumping excessive water and other solutes. As if that weren’t enough, the kidneys further work to regulate the body’s acid/base balance. This is why doctors look to our urine for clues when searching for the cause of a physical problem. They want to know what concentration levels are present, what the pH is, and what toxins the kidney’s have discarded.
To me, the most surprising component of detoxification in our bodies is our single largest organ, the skin. The skin maintains our body’s “clean” state by acting as a barrier to environmental toxins such as free radicals, viruses and diseases. If you don’t keep this physical barrier in shape, you can expose your body to a world of pathogens that will work their way from the outside in.
Bottom line: you don’t need an $11 bottle of juice to initiate a cleanse of your system. Your body is keenly aware of your cleansing needs and constantly working to perform them! The best things you can do to support your body are to feed it unprocessed, nutritious foods and to not overburden it with junk food, alcohol, and unnecessary medications.
The question for me now becomes “what the hell am I purging?” What’s making my head ache every day and my skin itch so badly? How long is this going to last? What, if anything, can I do to speed it up? Who can fill me in on the process of detoxing? What on earth is going to happen when I down a glass of wine on February first?
I’ll share my findings as I progress.