Detoxification – The Missing Link

Detoxification is the missing link in South Africa’s nutrition and Western medical care. People with chronic disease and toxicity problems can experience long-term benefits from appropriate detoxification programs. Detoxification is fundamental to healing and disease prevention. Body purification has been a part of mankind’s rituals for health and well being for over twenty thousand years. Cleansing is a rich tradition that has helped humans through all ages and cultures. It is at the foundation of every great healing philosophy.

What is detoxification?

Our bodies naturally do it every day. Detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph and skin. In fact, internal detoxification is one of our body’s most basic automatic functions. Just as our hearts beat non-stop and our lungs breathe continuously, so our metabolic processes continuously dispose of accumulated toxic matter. But in our world today, body systems and organs that were once capable of cleaning out unwanted substances are now completely overloaded; thus many unwanted substances stay in our tissues.

Today, we are exposed to synthetic, often toxic chemicals on an unprecedented scale. Industrial chemicals and their pollutants run-off into our water, pesticides and additives into our foods, and heavy metals, anaesthetics, residues from drugs, and environmental hormones are trapped within the human body in greater concentrations than at any other point in history. Every system of the body is affected, from tissue damage to sensory deterioration. Many chemicals are so widespread that we are unaware of them. This doesn’t even include the second-hand smoke, caffeine and alcohol overload, or daily stress that is an increasing part of our lives.

These chemicals and toxins have worked their way into our bodies faster than they can be eliminated, and are causing allergies and addictions in record numbers. Our bodies try to protect us from dangerous material by setting it aside, surrounding it with mucous or fat so it won’t cause imbalance or trigger an immune reaction. Some people carry with them up to 7 extra kilogram of mucous that harbours this waste (wondered where that “beer-boep” came from)! Your body also stores foreign substances in its fatty tissue – a good reason to keep your diet and body fat low.

Ideally, we should live in a pollution-free environment, eat untainted foods and drink pure water. But, since humans are born with a “self-cleaning system,” we know this has probably never been possible. Today, it isn’t even practical, so the next best thing is to keep pollutants to a minimum and to periodically get rid of them through a detoxification or cleansing program (the terms are used interchangeably).

A detoxification program aims to remove the cause of disease before it makes us ill. It’s a time-honoured way to keep immune response high, elimination regular, circulation sound, and stress under control, so our body can handle the toxicity it encounters. In the past, detoxification was used either clinically for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, or individually, as a once-a-year mild “spring cleaning” for general health maintenance. Today, a regular detoxification program two or three times a year makes a big difference not only for health, but also for the quality of our lives.

The best start to a detoxification program is to change your diet to a more natural, balanced and nutrient-dense diet. You could either gradually change your diet, or kick-start your health regime with a cleansing program. Exercise, fresh air and sunshine, enough sleep, plenty of water and a positive mind-set all form a vital part of a detoxification program.

Healing Crisis

When we begin to eliminate old material, we have reached what is called a “healing crisis”. Any positive change in your diet will result in some short-term symptoms (also known as die-off symptoms if you experience gut dysbiosis), but with long-term benefits. Unlike a “disease crisis”, in which symptoms show that a toxic acid condition is developing in the body and the body is coping with the development of a disease, a healing crisis shows that old toxins are leaving, never to return if a person continues living right. Yet, it resembles in every way a disease crisis, except that it lasts only a short period of time. The healing crisis is the return of a symptom from the past. Old symptoms return and may be singly or in combination. You know your body is detoxifying if you experience a short period of headaches, fatigue, body odour, bad breath, diarrhoea or mouth sores that commonly accompany accelerated elimination. However, digestion usually improves right away, as do many gland and nerve functions. Cleansing also helps release hormone secretions that stimulate immune response and encourages a disease-preventing environment. This is nature’s way of cleansing and healing.

The unpleasant symptoms are only the temporary result of going on a cleansing program. Do not let any temporary discomfort persuade you to abandon your new eating habits or cleansing program. The more toxic the body is, the more severe the symptoms that could be expected. When you begin a cleansing program, the initial feeling of reduced energy is due to the redeployment of your forces and energy for the rebuilding of vital organs. Headaches are due to the body’s rejection of toxins e.g. caffeine and theobromine (a poisonous alkaloid in chocolate), which are removed from the tissues and transported through the bloodstream to the elimination organs. When the blood circulates through the brain during its many bodily rounds before the noxious agents reach their final destination, these irritants register in our consciousness as pain – in other words – a headache. Another sign of body detoxification is lower back pain, due to the concentration of toxic materials in the kidneys and lower back. The symptoms usually vanish within 3 days and you’ll feel stronger, due to the recuperation that follows. People who struggled with recurring skin rashes or eruptions in the past will tend to eliminate poisons and harmful drugs through the skin. Some people may develop colds, which they haven’t had for a long time, or even fevers. You should not stop the symptoms with medication or massive doses of vitamins. Medication only suppresses symptoms. These symptoms are evidence of a remedial process – house cleaning. Cleaning house was never a pleasant job!
In summary, some of the symptoms you might experience during a cleansing program:

  • Headaches and nausea may manifest at the beginning of the cleansing program;
  • Fever, colds, skin rashes and mouth ulcers;
  • A short interval of bowel sluggishness, occasional diarrhoea, and frequent urination;
  • Feelings of tiredness or weakness;
  • Disinclination to exercise, and
  • Nervousness, irritability, negativity, or depression may occur later on.

The more you drink purified water, rest and sleep when these symptoms occur, the milder they become and the quicker they subside. Be happy that you are experiencing these symptoms. Your body still has vitality. It is rejuvenating by reacting to toxins every day, throwing off more and more waste, which eventually would have brought pain, disease and much suffering.
Remember – you are not going to stop experiencing uncomfortable symptoms in the future even though you really feel better each day. The body is cyclic in nature and health returns in a series of gradual, diminishing cycles; you progress from one healing crisis to the next, but they become less frequent and less severe, until the body, mind and soul reach perfect harmony. Never judge results prematurely. Although it takes 7 years to completely replace every cell in the body, you are still going to feel better in the long term.

Colon Health

Constipation is difficulty in passing stools or the infrequent passage of hard, dry stools as a result of food moving slowly through the large intestines. As much as seventy percent of our Western population is chronically constipated. However, it could be prevented and the symptoms relieved by simple lifestyle changes and better eating habits. The three main nutritional causes of constipation:

  • Too little water. If we drink too little water, our body drags the water it needs out of our intestinal tract. Our stools then become drier, harder, and more compact. The obvious solution is to drink more liquids e.g. filtered or distilled water, vegetable juices and herbal teas.
  • Too little fibre. Fibre, which absorbs water and provides bulk to our stools, can prevent and reverse constipation. Complex carbohydrates e.g. whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet, will add the necessary fibre to prevent constipation.
  • Too much protein – too little oil. High-protein diets tend to constipate. Oils soften protein-hardened stools. Hard-to-digest protein foods (such as cooked meat and other enzyme-deficient foods) over time exhaust the digestive organs to the point where they can no longer do an efficient job. This results in the accumulation of partially digested food in the bowel. By middle age many people have as much as 7 kilogram of undigested, putrefactive food in their colon. Toxins produced from this putrefactive build-up are absorbed back into the bloodstream creating “autointoxication” or self-poisoning – also known as bowel toxaemia.

The liver detoxifies toxins produced in the gut. However, if the liver is not functioning optimally, or if the amount of toxin production overwhelms its metabolic capabilities, the toxins can enter the systemic circulation and cause numerous health problems by causing tissue aggravation and change, or by irritating a pre-existing condition. Bowel toxaemia results in a dramatically weakened immune system and can lead to serious debilitating health problems including colon cancer.

Furthermore, bowel toxaemia is the result of abnormal bowel flora, or dysbiosis. For example, a poor diet, high in animal protein and fatty foods will over time lead to the predominance of bowel flora that are more responsible for toxin production. The same diet increases constipation, which furthers toxin production by allowing the food to sit in the colon long enough for the bacteria there to act upon it. Diets high in complex carbohydrates and low in protein and fats favour the development of a colon rich in non-putrefying bacteria.

Your body is made of more bacteria than actual human cells! You have approximately 1013 cells in the body and something like 1014 bacteria are associated with them. There are 400 – 500 species of flora (microscopic beneficial organisms living in the gut) present in the adult gastro-intestinal tract. Dysbiosis means a disruption in the delicate balance in the populations of bacteria and fungi constituting the gut flora. Usually a result of antibiotic use and poor diet, dysbiosis results in the over-proliferation of the harmful organisms, which are normally kept in check by the other species. Uncorrected dysbiosis also invites putrefaction leading to colon cancer, and provides circumstances in which parasites thrive. Dysbiosis often requires removal of the offending microbe and restoration of gut ecology.

Gut ecology could be restored with the introduction of probiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial flora, which keep the other organisms in check. They also demonstrate a host of other benefits i.e. cholesterol-lowering properties, maintain a clean and healthy colon, aid in digestion, produce certain vitamins including vitamin A, B, K and immune-enhancing compounds. They also produce natural antibiotic compounds called bacteriocins, which help to decrease the numbers of non-beneficial bacteria, yeasts and viruses and prevent pathogens from attaching by physically crowding out and covering attachment sites. Probiotics form a protective barrier that helps prevent absorption of noxious compounds. Examples of probiotics would be Lactobacillus acidophilus, bulgaris and salivarius, Bifidobacteria – a combination of different strains of flora is the best option in choosing a probiotic. Anyone suffering from gastro-intestinal disorders, could benefit by introducing a probiotic and prebiotic (food factors benefiting the probiotic) supplement, ideally after a cleansing program.

Colonic irrigation together with a tissue cleansing program is the best way to eliminate the tremendous amount of waste most people carry around with them for years. Constipation can have many causes, and can lead to many other ailments. It takes time and determination to develop new eating and living habits, but for the sake of our health, it is worthwhile.

Dietary guidelines to alleviate constipation:

-Therapeutic drink for constipation: 3 fresh or sun-dried figs, 1 ripe banana, 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses and 1 cup water – blend together in blender until smooth.

- Vegetable juice: any combination of fresh raw spinach, carrot, beetroot, other green vegetables and herbs, fresh ginger root – juice and drink 3 times per day 20 minutes before meals.


- Other beneficial foods for constipation: papaya and their seeds, chlorella, prunes, figs, spinach, sun-dried olives, celery, beet greens and raw grated beetroot, watercress, squash, raw apples, ripe bananas, raw almonds, psyllium husks and cooked short grain brown rice.

-For breakfast mix together: 2 tbsp freshly ground linseeds; 2 tbsp oat bran or psyllium husks; 2 tbsp rolled oats; some chopped figs, prunes or raisins – soak the mixture in about a cup of boiled water overnight and serve hot or cold with rice or oat milk and molasses (ideally blackstrap molasses).

Juicing

Fresh juices are mineral, vitamin and enzyme-rich and require very little energy to be digested. Our cells can therefore use energy, not needed for digestive functions, for healing and house-cleaning our body.
Vegetable and fruit juices are alkalising, so they neutralize uric acid and other inorganic acids, better than water, and increase the healing effects.

Include a vegetable juice into your diet at least three times per week to maintain health. Anyone experiencing illness or on a cleansing program, should juice up to three times per day. Leading nutritionists and detoxification experts agree that fresh vegetable and fruit juice cleansing is superior to water fasting. Indeed, juice cleansing is an evolution in detoxification methods. Fresh juice, broths and herb teas help deeply cleanse the body, rejuvenate the tissues and guide you to a faster recovery from health problems than water fasting.

See the recipe book Naturally Nutritious for exciting juicing combinations

Cleansing program

Detoxification through special cleansing diets may be the missing link to disease prevention, especially for immune-compromised diseases like cancer, arthritis, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and candidiasis. Our chemicalized-food diet, with too much animal protein, too much fat, too much caffeine and alcohol radically alters our internal ecosystems. Even if your diet is good, a cleanse can restore body vitality against environmental toxins that pave the way for disease-bearing bacteria, viruses and parasites.
This diet should initially be followed for 3, 5 or 7 days as a cleansing program, where after it should be followed once every month for 3 days at a time. Drink plenty of liquid while on the cleansing diet: drink your 6 – 8 glasses of filtered/distilled water per day, additional to the fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Start your day by drinking a glass of lemon water – a slice of lemon covered with cold water, and topped up with hot water. This is detoxifying and good for the peristaltic action of the colon. Add crushed root ginger too.

For some meals the brown rice could be replaced with millet, other than that, only fresh fruit and vegetables should be consumed. Short-grain brown rice is the best, but other varieties of brown rice will also do. During a cleansing program it is best to avoid vegetables from the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, aubergine and peppers) and to limit cruciferous vegetables e.g. broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. No citrus fruit other than lemons should be consumed during the program.

This diet serves only as a guideline:

Monday
  • Breakfast:
    Carrot and apple juice

    Cooked millet with halve a grated apple and cinnamon 

  • Lunch:
Brown rice with raw grated beetroot, carrot and cucumber. Served with extra-virgin olive oil or cold-pressed flaxseed oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt.
  • Mid-afternoon:
    Fresh vegetable juice 
  • Supper:
    Steamed vegetables plus brown rice – served with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt.
Tuesday
  • Breakfast:
    Fresh fruit juice

    Cooked brown rice with soaked/boiled prunes with their juice. 

  • Lunch:

    Brown rice flavoured with fresh garlic, onion and root ginger plus vegetables e.g. spinach, courgettes and carrots. Served with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt. 

  • Mid-afternoon:

    Fresh vegetable juice

  • Supper:
    Millet with grated raw beetroot, butternut, cucumber and fresh herbs – served with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt.
Wednesday
  • Breakfast:
    Fresh carrot and apple juice

    Fruit salad 

  • Lunch:

    Brown rice salad with sunflower/pumpkin seeds and vegetables e.g. diced carrot, celery, cucumber and radishes – served with extra-virgin olive oil or any cold-pressed oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt. 

  • Mid-afternoon:

    Fresh vegetable juice 

  • Supper:
    Stir-fried vegetables plus flavoured brown rice, grated raw beetroot and cucumber on side – served with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt.
Thursday
  • Breakfast:
    Fresh fruit juice

    Cooked millet with halve a grated apple and cinnamon 

  • Lunch:

    Steamed / roasted vegetables plus brown rice or millet – served with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt. 

  • Mid-afternoon:

    Fresh vegetable juice 

  • Supper:
    Brown rice with grated raw beetroot, carrot, celery and cucumber – served with extra-virgin olive oil or cold-pressed flaxseed oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt.
Friday
  • Breakfast:
    Fresh carrot and apple juice

    Cooked brown rice with soaked/boiled prunes and their juice 

  • Lunch:

    Millet flavoured with fresh garlic, onion and root ginger plus sunflower seeds and vegetables e.g. peas, butternut and baby corn – served with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt. 

  • Mid-afternoon:

    Fresh vegetable juice 

  • Supper:
    Brown rice with grated raw beetroot, carrot and celery – served with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt.
Saturday
  • Breakfast:
    Fresh carrot and apple juice

    Fruit salad 

  • Lunch:

    Brown rice with grated raw butternut, cucumber and beetroot. Served with extra-virgin olive oil and cold-pressed flaxseed oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt. 

  • Mid-afternoon:

    Fresh vegetable juice 

  • Supper:
    Steamed vegetables plus brown rice – served with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt.
Sunday
  • Breakfast:
    Fresh fruit juice

    Cooked millet with halve a grated apple and cinnamon 

  • Lunch:

    Brown rice with rosemary roasted vegetables 

  • Mid-afternoon:

    Fresh vegetable juice 

  • Supper:
    Brown rice with grated raw beetroot, carrot and cucumber and fresh herbs – served with extra-virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and herbal salt.

Breaking the fast – slowly!

When you are coming off the diet, it is very important to gradually introduce a bigger variety of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds into your diet. You have to re-introduce animal protein very slowly:
  • 1st day after diet: You may add an avocado plus a little bit of cottage cheese or lentils.
  • 2nd day after diet: The same as for the 1st day or some live natural yoghurt
  • 3rd day after diet: Add one organic or free-range egg if you’ve tolerated the protein of the previous days well.
  • 4th – 7th day: Small portions of fish and chicken should be fine!
After a week: Organic red meat should only be re-introduced a week after the diet ended.NB: the longer you’ve stayed on the diet, the slower you should re-introduce protein back into your diet. Meat protein needs a lot of digestive juices to be digested and might cause tremendous stomach cramping if introduced back into the diet too soon.
  • Continue to drink fresh vegetable juice and/or herbal teas between meals.
  • Drink 6 – 8 glasses of filtered water every day!
  • Eat slowly and chew food well!
Gradually resume a regular diet avoiding refined carbohydrates, fried foods, processed food and sugar as much as possible.
Good luck!

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