By Reisha Zang

Do you suffer from headaches, fatigue, insomnia or unexplained aches and pains?  Perhaps your digestion is poor, you have bad breath or your skin isn’t quite as clear and smooth as you would like for it to be. These symptoms could be the result of toxins in your body. Toxins are substances that cause harm or create stress on how your body functions. When they reach high levels in your system, your body has a difficult time eliminating them on its own, which can affect your overall well being. When this occurs, a mild detoxification may be the answer to help cleanse your system.

“Our bodies are exposed daily to environmental toxins such as air and water pollution and allergens,” said Dr. Tina Marcantel, a naturopathic doctor practicing in Mesa.  Mercury is found in the fish that we eat and hormones are added to chicken. Toxic substances can enter our bodies from alcoholic beverages, hair spray and dye and food preservatives and additives.

“Medications are another major source of toxins for many people,” said Dr. Marcantel.  She explained: “Over-the-counter and prescription medications are man-made chemicals that our bodies must figure out how to process. While these medications can certainly be beneficial, over time they can build up to dangerously poisonous levels in our bodies.”

The body has a system for eliminating toxins from the blood. The liver processes debris and removes impurities from the blood so that toxins can be eliminated. “A healthy liver means a healthy body and better quality sleep with more energy,” said Marcantel. “When the liver is not filtering well, it is not detoxifying the blood.”

The kidneys, intestines, lungs and skin also help eliminate impurities. However, when your body’s natural process to detoxify is overwhelmed with toxins it may not be able to remove all of the unwanted substances. There are, however, some things you can do to help.

Here are a few of Marcantel’s tips to start the detoxification process:

1. Squeeze a whole lemon into 16 ounces of water each morning. This will help detoxify your liver. You may want to add Stevia Plus, a natural sweetener, to turn it into healthful lemonade. Stevia Plus also has probiotics to help re-establish normal intestinal flora.

2. Mix one to two teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar into 16 ounces of water, add Stevia to taste. Drinking this will help the kidneys in detoxification.

3. Exercise with sweating. This will assist the lymphatic system in ridding the body of toxins and build up the immune system.

4. Consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber every day. Include both soluble fiber such as psyllium, legumes, oatmeal, skinless fruits and vegetables and insoluble fiber such as whole grains, seeds and fruits and vegetables with skin. This will help the colon rid itself of toxins.

5. Counseling for stress management and lifestyle changes can also play an important role in allowing the body to cleanse itself and restore balances in its chemical processes.

6. Develop an individual meal program. It should include fiber, antioxidants and low-glycemic foods that assist in the body’s healing processes.

These steps can help your body become more efficient in allowing the detoxification pathways to function more proficiently. Depending on your lifestyle and how you feel, start with one or two of the treatments and go from there. “These measures are simply a way of aiding your body’s natural cleansing processes,” said Marcantel.

This program can be adjusted to fit your lifestyle. “Some people I start on this program continue to do it as a regular part of their diets because they like the way they feel,” said Marcantel. She added, “Others may do it for a few weeks at a time a couple of times a year. Generally speaking, it’s up to the individual to determine how diligent they will be with it and how they feel it’s affecting their physical health.”

It is important to keep in mind that a mild detox program will not work immediately. It depends on the level of toxicity and how serious you are about following the regimen. In fact, said Marcantel, “you may actually feel worse for a short period of time before you begin to feel better, because the toxins that are stored in the cells are being released so they can be flushed out of the system.”

There are many benefits of a detoxifying program. “It allows your liver, kidneys and intestines to perform more efficiently at removing toxins from the body, thus removing some of the symptoms of toxicity that many people have come to think of as the way they ‘normally’ feel, like headaches, fatigue, constipation,” explained Marcantel.

Continuing this routine can help you stay in good shape and help lighten the load on your body’s filtering system. “A good detox program can help us cleanse our bodies of substances that are harmful and detrimental to the body’s natural healing processes,” said Marcantel.