What is Detox?

by Head Health Nutter on February 25, 2008

The short answer: Detox is an abbreviated form for detoxification, a natural and continuous process your body uses to purify itself of harmful substances.

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For those with a little more time: This about.com article, “What You Need to Know About a Detox Diet,” does a great job summarizing the research I’ve done so far in this area.

Long-winded, but interesting, answer:

The coolest thing about being alive on Earth is that we truly exist as part of something bigger – for this discussion, I mean biologically-speaking. All living organisms are co-dependent on their environment for basic survival (for air, water, energy, etc.).

But not all organisms have exactly the same needs. Some environmental elements are necessary for life in one species but will be either neutral or harmful to other species. So Nature, in her infinite wisdom, basically made us into big, biological filters. We are semi-permeable in various ways, all so that we can absorb what we need to live while defending against what threatens our survival.

Our waste removal system helps us do this. Known as the excretory system, it involves the participation of several organs and systems that work together to balance the body’s chemical composition:

  • Skin – our largest organ, waste and toxins are eliminated through perspiration
  • Blood – carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body while removing harmful waste
  • Liver – neutralizes harmful substances so they can be safely eliminated by the body
  • Kidneys – water soluble waste is filtered here and eliminated through the bladder
  • Colon – eliminates insoluble waste and toxins processed by liver
  • Lymphs – eliminates poisons through its network of vessels that extend throughout the body
  • Lungs – expels toxins through exhalation; deep breathing also stimulates lymphatic flow to eliminate additional toxins

It’s important that our body adequately detoxes metabolic waste and environmental toxins. They immediately impair proper body functioning while damaging cells and tissue, which eventually leads to major disrepairs and system failures.

We have delicately balanced biological machines, which means that one chink in the chain can cause a whole whack of other problems. So any damage to our other systems caused by a poorly functioning excretory system will also further affect the proper functioning of our waste disposal system, causing an even bigger build up of toxins. The result: a self-perpetuating cycle of ill-heath.

So this leaves us with a few questions:

  1. Do our excretory systems have the power to keep up with the rate of waste production and exposure to environmental toxins?
  2. What exactly happens if our bodies fail to maintain the pace needed for adequate waste disposal?
  3. What can we do to strengthen our natural detoxification processes?

Leave a comment if you’d like to share your knowledge on detoxing. Maybe you can help me write the next detox article, “Why Should We Detox? which addresses the first of these three questions. Subsequent articles in this detox series will answer the other two questions…and more.

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