At the beginning of every year, many people turn to ‘detoxification diets’ (read: fad diets). This definition of detoxification is used so widely and loosely that the whole concept has become confusing. In reality, detoxification is a natural, constant process performed by the liver and kidney in unison with the immune system. It is only when the body is not able to keep up with the toxin build-up, that it sends us subtle signs that extra help is needed. Before we get to how to address these signs, let’s understand where the toxins come from.
Environment: Environmental sources of pollution include industrial and urbanisation projects that contribute to water pollution and drop in air quality, vehicle emissions, and chemical-laden cleaning sprays, air fresheners, perfumes, make-up and daily-use products like detergents, creams, etc. which we are surrounded with.
Inefficient metabolism: Our cells are constantly undergoing damage and repair to keep us in the healthiest possible state. These processes generate something called cellular metabolic waste. But when our food and lifestyle habits lack the vital nutrients to support the cleansing process, toxins can build up within us.
Lifestyle: Food, sleep and movement are major factors that affect the body’s ability to detoxify. We often mindlessly pop over-the-counter pills, over-indulge in processed foods for convenience, drink dehydrating stuff like alcohol, tea or coffee, binge-watch movies late at night and lead sedentary lives. All this stops our cleansing process.
Emotions: We experience emotions all the time, but certain traumatising events, constant stress or fear can alter the body’s ability to detoxify itself by hampering the nervous system and creating hormonal havoc.
The world we live in is full of toxins. So it’s time to start listening to your body, if you experience any of these signs
Weight gain: Finding it difficult to lose weight despite eating clean and working out regularly? Toxin build-up could be the reason. These toxins, usually pesticides or dioxins, tend to dissolve in our fat stores, stimulating the multiplication of fat cells to store up more toxins, and making it impossible to lose weight—unless the toxins are cleared out first.
Digestive issues: Your intestines help you eliminate toxins everyday. When its working goes for a toss, you definitely need a complete diet revamp. Constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, etc. are not only uncomfortable but also lead to toxin build-up, paving the way to assorted health problems.
Insomnia: Sleep is often overlooked because we don’t consider it important enough. The brain’s waste-clearing system is specifically active while we are in deep sleep and when this gets affected, it also disrupts your mood, metabolism and immune system.
The body releases a hormone called cortisol to counter stress, and usually cortisol levels drop by evening. But when there is cortisol imbalance, one feels more active during the latter half of the day and finds it difficult to sleep. This works antithetically to the normal circadian rhythm, and can lead to heart disease in the long term.
Body odour: If you are experiencing bad breath or bad-smelling gas, it could be because your liver is struggling to eliminate the toxins. The toxins may also be ejected from the skin (the body’s largest organ), leading to body odour. If that is the case, put the deodorant aside and reach for some real food.
Your mind feels foggy: Sometimes our minds have trouble focusing on a task or remembering where we kept something. For many, this happens on a regular basis. When the body can’t eliminate toxins, it leads to inflammation that can also affect your memory.
Hormonal Imbalance: Toxins can stimulate, inhibit, block and mimic the action of hormones. This imbalance can range anywhere from fatigue to weight gain to irregular menses. For example, arsenic blocks thyroid hormone receptors, causing them to be hyper-active which results in puzzling fatigue.
Your skin isn’t clear: Your skin is accountable for removing waste in the form of sweat. Chemical and toxin build-up in the body is not good for human skin and health. These toxins surface in the form of acne, rashes or skin tags and are a hint that something’s fishy.
Detox is not about drinking a detox tea that flushes out all your toxins – it’s about optimising the body’s existing innate detox pathways, and re-balancing and supporting them so your body can work the magic that it is designed to do.