I hear so many people talking about detoxing these days.  It’s become a “cool” thing to do. But what are these people actually talking about?  Do you know what it means to “detox”? Do the people doing it even know what they are talking about?

I hear people tell me that their personal trainer put them on a detox program.  What do personal trainers know about detoxing? What are they detoxing from? What are they trying to accomplish?

What is Detoxing anyway? 

Here’s the Wikipedia definition:

Detoxification or detoxication (detox for short) is the physiological or medicinal removal of toxic substances from a living organism, including the human body, which is mainly carried out by the liver.  Additionally, it can refer to the period of withdrawal during which an organism returns to homeostasis after long-term use of an addictive substance. In medicine, detoxification can be achieved by decontamination of poison ingestion and the use of antidotes as well as techniques such as dialysis and (in a limited number of cases) chelation therapy.

Detoxification is certainly a worthwhile health-enhancing endeavor, as it helps boost the immune system and decrease inflammation in the body. 

Detox Diets

When most people talk about “detoxing”, that is not what they are really referring to.  Most people are doing a modified “cleansing diet, or “detox diet”.

Detox diets mostly revolve around eliminating sugar, caffeine, alcohol and sometimes nicotine. These are the four primary toxins. I refer to them as SNACs —  Sugar, Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine. 

This is certainly a good place to start, but we should be off all of these substances all of the time anyway.

Additional foods to avoid during a detox are all starchy carbs, baked goods, gluten products (cereals, grains, etc) and all milk-related products. Milk and grain products are extremely proinflammatory and can have an adverse effect on the immune system as well.

The next step involves avoiding all animal protein and eating strictly vegan to become alkalotic.  Alkalosis makes the Ph of the blood more basic and less acidic. This is supposed to help our entire enzyme systems work better, including the elimination of toxins through the liver and kidneys.  Drinking extra water is included in this activity to help “flush” the kidneys and wash toxins out of the body. 

How Far Should One Go?

There are many levels and extremes of detoxing, some of which will require professional help and support, such as going to a detox spa.  

Commonly at detox spas people are placed on ultra restrictive diets where they are almost fasting except for hydration and a small number of calories.  These severe diets are mostly vegetables and vegetable juices. Usually people feel very weak initially and can’t function very well, thus necessitating the support staff of a residential spa.  Extreme detoxing like this can result in headaches, body aches, joint pains, severe weakness, diarrhea, nausea and overwhelming fatigue. These are the classic symptoms of withdrawal.

But usually after a few days the energy begins to rise as toxins are eliminated rapidly from the body, and symptoms slowly resolve leaving the individual feeling sharper, healthier and more energetic than they can remember ever being. 

Many detox programs also include the use of dietary supplements. These can be in the form of natural chelators such as chlorella and cilantro. Teas made of these products are often used, as well as smoothies with fiber and different binders which “mop up” toxins from the gut and eliminate them in the stool.

Helpful Modalities

Sweating is another helpful tool in detox programs such as engaging the use of FIR (far infra-red) saunas, which can raise the core body temperature and produce profuse sweating.   Many industrial toxins can be eliminated through sweat.

Colon therapy is another excellent aid in helping to remove toxins that have been deposited into the digestive tract.

Some residential detox programs include intravenous vitamin and antioxidant infusions, acupuncture, deep tissue massage, homeopathy, ayruvedic aids, meditation and more.

More classic medical detox involves oral or intravenous chelating agents like DMSA, DMPS and EDTA to help the body eliminate toxic metals.

Intravenous and subcutaneous glutathione is an excellent adjunct to detoxing as it is critically needed for the liver to do its detox work, and is often rapidly depleted.

Ozone therapy has also been shown to be an extremely valuable tool in assisting the detox process as it has a significant impact on boosting the liver and kidney detoxification pathways.

What Type of Detox Should I Do?

As you can see, there is a wide myriad of options for detoxing.  One can mix and match a program customized to suit their lifestyle and budget.  It is possible to vary the detox from week to week or day to day, integrating different modalities into an ever-increasing blend of treatments.

The end result of a successful detox program is usually an improved feeling of well being.  Typical signs that you are accomplishing something are increased energy, sharper cognition, and often some weight loss as toxicity has the ability to poison the metabolic processes needed to burn off excess stored fat calories. 

Toxic metals are usually the most difficult to eliminate and usually require specific testing to know where one is in the process. 

But any form of detox can be helpful to varying degrees.

To Sum Up

We live in an extremely toxic world where everything we eat, breathe or drink is probably contaminated with insecticides, plastics, hormones, antibiotics and heavy metals.

Therefore, any level of detoxification will do your body some good.

Dr. Liebowitz has been designing and directing detox programs since 2005, back at the original Hall Center in Santa Monica.  He also can recommend some excellent residential programs here in Southern California as well as overseas, for those seeking a more exotic experience. (He knows a fabulous spa in Thailand!)

If you would like to discuss some Detoxification options and plan a customized detox program for yourself, please call the office at 310-393-2333 or book online for an appointment to discuss it with Dr. Liebowitz

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