(NaturalHealth365) If you want to avoid (unnecessary) pain and disease – you’ll want to find simple ways to detox the body. We live in a toxic world and detoxification is more important than ever. Recently, I had the great pleasure of speaking with Susan Smith Jones, MS, Ph.D. – an expert in detoxification and natural health solutions.
A portion of our conversation is below – enjoy the read!
Jonathan Landsman: Why do we need to detoxify the body?
Dr. Jones: For centuries, in ancient medical traditions the world over, healing practitioners have known the importance of detoxification – drawing out, neutralizing and eliminating accumulated toxins – for maintaining optimum health. Every minute, our body’s cells produce the energy needed to sustain life and, in the process, produce wastes that must be eliminated such as carbon dioxide and free oxygen radical molecules. In addition, we’ve introduced to our world within the past 50 years, synthetic chemicals, air and water pollutants, heavy metals, prescription drugs and trans fatty acids. So, it’s clear that we’re piling on much more than our natural detoxification systems were designed to handle.
Jonathan Landsman: How does a toxic body affect our quality of life?
Dr. Jones: Allopathic (Western) medicine is beginning to turn its attention to ways in which this “detox debt” is contributing to widespread ailments such as headaches, bowel irregularities, allergies, weight gain and depression, as well as the epidemic levels of “diseases of civilization” such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. While many detoxification programs are still viewed skeptically because of the potential health risks they pose, there is a growing consensus that when used properly, herbs and nutritionally rich foods can help coax the body into a deeper level of detoxification than its normal baseline and thereby quell many conditions associated with toxicity.
Jonathan Landsman: Talk about the toxic waste in our own bodies.
Dr. Jones: We’d all like to think that toxic wastes are only the creation of modern science, but the truth is that our own bodies manufacture wastes that are toxic to them and must be constantly engaged in “toxic waste cleanup” in order to sustain life. As a result of normal metabolism, our cells generate wastes known as endotoxins, which include carbon dioxide, uric acid, ammonia, lactic acid and homocysteine. Creating energy is what drives our existence, but expunging the waste products is just as crucial to sustaining life. If anything goes wrong with our detoxification systems along the way, toxins build up and can cause disease and death.
Jonathan Landsman: What happens when our bodies are overloaded with too many toxins?
Dr. Jones: Well, when our bodies can’t keep of with the toxic residue, toxins are transported to and remain in the tissues, where they can impede cell functioning. Over time, this can cause irritation and inflammation. This state of chronic inflammation is thought to underlie many modern diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. At first, the body may show milder signs of toxicity that are commonplace such as headaches, bowel irregularities, allergies and depression. Over time, these more minor symptoms may lead to chronic diseases that are difficult to reverse.
Jonathan Landsman: What is your definition of a detox program?
Dr. Jones: A detox program is any program designed to assist our bodies in drawing out, neutralizing, and eliminating accumulated toxins that have been stored in the body. It typically involves dietary and lifestyle changes aimed at reducing toxin intake, minimizing the workload of the digestive tract, and improving elimination. This may include avoidance of chemicals from food and other sources, refined foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs (whenever possible). The most beneficial programs are those that provide nutritional balance and often include juice fasting, raw food diets, targeted nutritional and herbal supplements, and nutritional cleanses (which incorporate solid, cooked meals).
Jonathan Landsman: What are some of the benefits of a sound detoxification program?
Dr. Jones: In the short term, people often report improved energy, weight loss, clearer skin, more regular bowel movements, improved digestion, and increased concentration and clarity after making detox efforts. In the long term, allowing our bodies to periodically enter their natural “deep cleanse” mode may offer several benefits such as, improved immune function, reduction of chronic inflammation and elimination of free radicals.
Jonathan Landsman: Can you give us a list of some familiar foods and how they support the process of detoxification?
Dr. Jones: Sure…
Artichokes contain a substance that helps the liver break down fats in the body.
Beets have a unique mixture of phytochemicals that help purify the blood and cleanse the liver.
Blueberries can help block toxins from crossing the blood-brain barrier into fatty tissues of the brain.
Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc.) neutralize some of the damaging compounds found in cigarette smoke and contain a compound that helps the liver produce adequate amounts of enzymes for detoxification.
Carrots have beta-carotene which helps to cleanse the body of heavy metals.
Grapefruit has pectin which binds to heavy metals, helping to neutralize them for safe elimination.
Lemons have got vitamin C which supports the production of glutathione, which helps ensure that “phase 2” liver detoxification keeps pace with “phase 1”, thereby reducing the likelihood of negative effects from environmental chemicals.
Onions cleanse the blood and help detoxify the respiratory tract.
Seaweed binds to radioactive waste and heavy metals, helping to eliminate them safely from the body.
Watermelon is a good source of the liver-cleansing antioxidant – glutathione.
Jonathan Landsman: What are some of your favorite herbs for detoxification?
Dr. Jones: These are some of my favorites…
Burdock root which has been used for centuries as a blood detoxifier, diuretic and remedy for skin problems such as acne and eczema. Modern scientific studies suggest that its purifying effects on the blood and skin may be due to its support of liver, kidney and bowel functions – the body’s primary elimination organs.
Oregon grape root is known as “yerba de la sangre” – herb of the blood. It has been described as one of the best western herbs for supporting liver function. It is a rich source of berberine, which, in addition to having antibacterial and antifungal effects, has also been shown in studies to protect the liver from damage.
Milk thistle seed has a long history of use as a liver tonic. Texts from as far back as ancient Greece to early European folk medicine, down to 19th century American medicine, all refer to its liver-protecting action. Several scientific studies suggest that substances in milk thistle seed (especially a flavonoid called silymarin) protect the liver from toxins, including certain drugs such as acetaminophen, which can cause liver damage in high doses.
Red clover is recommended by herbalists to enhance the cleansing action of the liver and kidneys and to support a healthy lymphatic system. Traditionally, it was used as a diuretic and expectorant to help the body rid itself of excess fluid and mucus. It’s highly recommended as one of the herbs of choice when it comes to detox programs, due to its gentle yet thorough cleansing action and its ability to quickly flush toxins from the body.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids (a type of antioxidant that can help protect cells from damage). It contains a wide array of detox-supporting nutrients, including B complex vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid). Research shows that spirulina has protective effects on the liver and kidneys, especially in the case of toxicity from drugs such as acetaminophen and heavy metals such as lead.
Jonathan Landsman: What are the organs of elimination and how does this work?
Dr. Jones: In Ayurvedic and Chinese medical traditions, one of the first things that practitioners want to know is whether a patient is having regular bowel movements, urination and sweating. This is important because these processes are the body’s ways of eliminating toxins. Once toxins have been released into the blood and neutralized by the liver, they must be eliminated safely from the body, otherwise they may become reabsorbed.
The bowel is the body’s main elimination organ, yet amongst many Americans today, this central elimination system is compromised, as evidenced by high rates of constipation. The National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 4 million Americans have constipation, defined as having a bowel movement less than three times per week. Yet, when you consider that some experts believe that it is normal for the body to eliminate after each meal (three times a day), the prevalence of constipation may be much higher.
Jonathan Landsman: What causes constipation?
Dr. Jones: Constipation can be caused by a number of factors, many of which are related to our modern diet and lifestyle, such as:
Diets low in fiber: The bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. Most Americans eat too few fruits, vegetables and whole grains and too many processed/refined foods from which the fiber has been removed. The average American consumes only 5 to 14 grams of fiber daily, which is far short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association.
Diets high in dairy, wheat, refined sugars and excessive red meat. These foods can be difficult for the body to digest and promote the formation of a sticky mucus to buffer against irritation. This dense mucus can slow the bowels.
Not enough liquids. Liquids add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. Most Americans do not drink the recommended 8 glasses of water per day. Instead, they consume sodas and other caffeinated drinks as well as alcoholic beverages, all of which exacerbate dehydration.
Lack of physical activity. It is unclear precisely why, but long periods of physical inactivity can bring on constipation. Every year, there is a fresh survey that comes out that determines that Americans do not get enough exercise, adding to the constipation epidemic.
Prescription medications. A number of pharmaceutical drugs such as pain medications, antidepressants and blood pressure medicines can cause constipation.
Jonathan Landsman: Why is chronic constipation the cause of so many problems?
Dr. Jones: Chronic constipation can cause all sorts of health complications, from hemorrhoids to fecal impaction. Many people also experience related symptoms such as headaches and back pain, which accompany the constipation. None of this is pleasant, but from the standpoint of detoxification, constipation is one of the largest barriers to the efficient elimination of accumulated toxins.
If stool sits inside the colon too long without being eliminated, the toxins contained within may be circulated back into the blood. Furthermore, stools that are held up from being eliminated may generate even more toxins. The bacteria implicated in constipation emit their own wastes, which must be eliminated. With chronic constipation, good bacteria may die off as harmful bacteria flourishes and their toxins may damage the colon, causing further stagnancy.
Jonathan Landsman: Can you tell us about the “Squatty Potty”?
Dr. Jones: My favorite remedy for constipation is the Squatty Potty toilet stool that I wouldn’t be without and recommend to everyone. The Squatty Potty stool is a simple, 100 percent natural solution for better elimination. This sturdy, custom-designed stool allows for full squatting and semi-squat positions on our existing toilets. And when it’s not in use, it slides conveniently out of the way under the toilet.
To learn more about the Squatty Potty or to order, visit: SquattyPotty.com.
Jonathan Landsman: Susan, thank you for your time today. I know this information will be helpful for any person concerned about detoxification and optimal health.
Susan Smith Jones, MS, Ph.D. has made extraordinary contributions in the fields of holistic health, anti-aging, optimum nutrition and balanced living. For 30 years, Dr. Jones taught students, staff and faculty at UCLA how to be healthy and fit. As founder of Health Unlimited, Dr. Jones travels worldwide and is a frequent radio and TV talk show guest and motivational speaker. For more information about Dr. Jones – visit: SusanSmithJones.com
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