Jennifer hadn’t felt quite right for several months. The physical energy she enjoyed for 28 years had been replaced with chronic lethargy. She began to feel bloated and uncomfortable after meals. Her weight was up, and her memory, normally terrific and a necessity in her high tech job, was starting to fail her. Jennifer worried that there was something seriously wrong. She went to her doctor, and, after undergoing a variety of tests, was told she was in perfect health. The doctor could find nothing wrong; no irregularities in her physical examination or lab tests. Jennifer left the doctor, frustrated that he was unable to help her get well.
This scenario, played out thousands of times a day in doctors’ offices all over America, accounts for a great deal of the dissatisfaction we have with our health care system today. Incredibly, advances in medicine have had little impact on the amount of time we spend feeling sick. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that “Out of an average 76 year life span, Americans can expect to have 4,383 sick days or 12 years of sickness.” That’s one day out of every week! According to Ronald Hoffman, MD, author of Tired All The Time, “Americans make a staggering 500 million visits to their doctors every year to complain about fatigue”.
But there are no tests or pills for fatigue, and no cures for the common cold or flu. Nor are there medical cures for the majority of ills suffered by most of us; overweight, intestinal bloat, gas, insomnia, poor skin, allergies, poor digestion, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, bad breath, asthma, fatigue, irritability, tension, headaches, depression, poor memory, menstrual problems, abnormal body odor, brittle hair and nails.
Alternative health care practitioners and forward thinking MDs now believe they have found the culprit responsible for these and many other conditions, internal toxicity – the accumulation of poisons in the body. Where do these poisons come from? Many are environmental, fine particles in the air we breathe, chemicals added to the water we drink and the food we eat. The EPA reports that levels of pollutants inside buildings can be as much as 100 times greater than outdoor pollution levels. Food and Water Inc., a non-profit group, found that US agribusiness uses 33 times more pesticides than it did just 50 years ago. According to the same study, the average American child consumes more pesticide residues by her first birthday than the EPA considers safe for an entire lifetime.
Many toxins are manufactured inside our bodies as a result of poor metabolic function. Testifying to the extent of our poor digestion and elimination is the fact that antacids and laxatives are the top two selling OTC medications in America today. But, heartburn and constipation are merely the tip of this iceberg. If we don’t want to go the way of the Titanic, we need to heed these warning signs and address the underlying cause, internal toxicity.
Jennifer came to my office on the verge of tears. After talking with her and running some tests I found that internal toxicity was the cause of many of her problems and assured her that everything would be all right. During our first consultation I learned that she was having one bowel movement every day or two, instead of the optimum number of 2 to 3 per day. Because her body wasn’t eliminating waste in a timely manner, some of that waste was being reabsorbed into her bloodstream, making its way back into her body, and causing her symptoms.
Internal detoxification involves making changes in diet as well as using therapeutic supplements, primarily cleansing herbs and fibers to speed the release and elimination of toxins. First, look for any unnatural, low vitality, congesting or mucous forming foods that may be lurking in your diet. These include excessive amounts of white flour products (breads, pasta, bagels etc.), sugary foods, high fat and acid forming foods (dairy products, fried foods, fast foods, excessive animal protein), also processed, refined and canned foods. Much of the food that is mass marketed via supermarkets and restaurants, is low in fiber and nutrients necessary to keep your body working properly, and high in chemicals, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics that contribute to the toxic load.
What you want are fresh, whole foods, grown as naturally as possible. The list is a short one: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, and, if you choose, a small amount of animal protein. A cleansing diet emphasizes the high fiber, high water content foods; vegetables and fruits.
During the cleansing process make sure you drink plenty of water. Water not only transports all nutrients into your body, it carries all the waste products out. Strive to drink one half of your body weight in ounces of bottled or filtered water each day. But beware. The fluids most of us drink, coffee, sodas and alcohol, have a diuretic effect and actually cause the body to lose water. Have some fresh vegetable juice 3 or 4 times a week. Your liver, which detoxifies poisons in the bloodstream, loves this combination: carrot, celery, spinach, parsley and beet.
Getting enough exercise is another important part of internal cleansing. Poisons are transported out of the cells of the body via the blood and lymph systems. These “streams” stay free flowing only when we remain active. If you lead a sedentary life and don’t exercise regularly, you’re headed for toxic overload.
Stress is a toxin. Even so, it is a condition many of us accept as an unavoidable consequence of modern life. Stress generates an acid condition in the body and puts a strain on the organs and glands responsible for managing our energy and keeping our bodies in balance. Left unchecked, your stress can lead to anything from gastrointestinal dysfunction to fatigue, weight gain and even degenerative conditions such as cardiovascular disease and even cancer. To lower your stress level, find an activity that helps center you, that gives you a feeling of inner calm (exercise, yoga, meditation), and use it every day for 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t underestimate its power. If you don’t conquer your stress, your stress will conquer you.
Three weeks after our first meeting, Jennifer returned to my office. She glowed! The digestive bloat was completely gone. Her crashing fatigue had disappeared. The cobwebs in her brain had begun to clear. Even her weight, which I had not expected to see improve so quickly, was down 5 pounds. “That’s the power of internal detoxification’, I explained. ‘The human body is a self-maintaining, self-healing organism. Cleansing the internal body eliminates the poisons that can prevent it from taking care of itself. Remove the poisons and the body gets well.” But… I didn’t have to convince her.