Toxins and Their Effects on Your Health
Nowadays the words “toxic environment”, “toxic emotions”, “toxic substances” and “detoxification” have entered our mainstream vocabulary.
What is a Toxin?
What do we actually mean by the word “toxin”?
A toxin is a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism. The result of toxin formation in the body is the production of antibodies to rid the body of the unwanted substance.
Over time all the cells of the body can accumulate ‘debris’ from all the biochemical processes that go on every second of your life. While the body has its own detoxification systems via the colon, liver, kidneys and skin, these can become overwhelmed by modern diets and lifestyle. Hence any substance which remains in the body longer than its intended time may turn toxic and invite the onset of illness.
Where Do Toxins Come From?
Although toxins are described above as internally generated some of them have their source externally.
We are all familiar with the toxins that exist in polluted air. Other toxic substances that come from the environment are second hand smoke, car exhaust fumes, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals and preservatives that can contaminate food.
Examples of the internal cause of toxins would be stress, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition and dietary choices.
What Are the Main Defences Against Toxification?
The Body’s Detox System
Oftentimes people don’t realize that the body has its own extraordinary internal detoxification system. Here’s a brief look at three critical organs involved:
- The Liver: Your first line of defence against toxins is your liver, which acts like a filter in preventing toxic substances contained in foods from passing into your blood stream.
- The Colon (Large Intestine): This organ has bacteria that produce both healthy and unhealthy chemicals. You want to keep your colon flowing regularly since its main role is to flush out toxic chemicals before they can do you any harm.
- The Kidneys: Like clockwork, the kidneys are constantly filtering your blood and getting rid of toxins in the form of urine.
In addition our lymphatic system with the production of antibodies such as lymphocytes and T-cells directly aid in fighting the diseases that threaten our health. Lymph circulating through our system eliminates fatty acids from the blood and excess fluid from the body tissues.
Finally our skin is the largest eliminative organ we have since we excrete toxins through our perspiration. Hence the need for regular exercise.
How Do Toxins Affect Our Health?
When the body is unable to eliminate toxins one symptom which develops is inflammation. We all know that inflammation on the surface of the body produces local redness, heat, swelling and pain. It is the cornerstone of the body’s healing response, bringing more nourishment and more immune activity to a site of injury or infection. But left untreated it can turn into chronic inflammation. This manifests in a variety of diseases such as heart disease, many cancers, Alzheimer’s, asthma, rheumatism and arthritis amongst others.
A starting point for toxic build up is constipation. If food does not get digested it’s as good as poison for us. Food that does not get digested produces toxic gases and poisonous, undigested gastric juices.
They are a contributing cause to high blood pressure, headache, heartburn, acidity, insomnia and menstrual problems among others.
How Can We Eliminate Toxins?
A plethora of modern day detoxification diets and treatments compete with each other today to aid in the elimination of toxins from the body.
But it’s good to remember that the practice of detoxifying the body to rid it of unhealthy toxins has been around for centuries. Hippocrates recommended fasting to improve health, and many religious groups have historically used fasting as a way of purifying the spirit. While short one day fasts can be undertaken by anyone with a little bit of expert guidance, long fasts for deep cleansing should be undertaken under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. Short fasts are a key component of “lifestyle maintenance” in much the same way as regular exercise and discretionary dietary choices keep us mentally alert and optimally energized.
For some people even the abstinence from coffee and tea for one day may induce “healing symptoms” in the form of headache, dizziness, fatigue and low energy as the body adjusts to the absence of the powerful chemical stimulants found in these drinks.
It would be beyond the scope of his article to outline the entire possible diet regimes one may try to eliminate body toxins.
Alkaline and Acidic Diets
But generally speaking, it is important to keep the blood content slightly alkaline so as to eliminate toxins before they affect our health.
For this reason food can be broadly categorized as “alkaline forming” and “acid forming”. The more gastric juices and acids produced by the digestive organs the more that food would be termed “acid forming”. Some examples of acid foods would be meat, fish and poultry. “Alkaline forming” foods on the other hand are those which require less gastric juices to digest. Restoring your acid/alkaline balance can increase your energy levels, improve sleep patterns, lengthen your concentration span and give a sense of calm. Some examples of alkaline foods are fruits and vegetables. They are loaded with antioxidants that can help to metabolize lymphatic-clogging toxins and further purify your body.
Exercise to Eliminate Toxins:
As we mentioned before toxins can be excreted through the skin so regular “hard” exercises wherein we have a good sweat will also help eliminate unwanted toxins through the skin. Endurance and cardio vascular exercises such as fast walking, jogging, taebo, squash, tennis or certain martial arts will also do our hearts a big favor by getting them pumping and getting our blood and oxygen to all parts of the body.
Another factor that mustn’t be neglected is the role the mind plays in preventing and eliminating toxins.
If our thoughts are impure due to stress, worry, hatred or suppressed negative emotions no amount of healthy food or regular exercise will eliminate the acidity that a negative attitude produces. Hence the contemporary phrase “toxic emotions”. Remember that your eyes are in the front of your head not behind, because the Creator wanted us to look forward to a bright and joyous future and not wallow in the miseries of the past. Numerous mental techniques such as auto suggestion, affirmations, meditation, silent prayer or counseling can be used as aids to direct our mental energies in a positive way and thereby enjoy the high of harmonious physical and mental well being.
Although toxins exist in our environment and can be present in some foods that we eat, a regular attention to healthy lifestyle habits should enable us to ensure that they do not overwhelm us. So be careful with your dietary choices, get in your daily exercise routine and stop worrying and start enjoying every moment of every day.