The brink of a brand-new year is a good time to reward your body with a clean start. If stubborn weight, frequent ills and mental fog seem part of daily life, Behnaz Sanjana suggests you start now.
The word detox is tossed around quite a lot these days; but do we actually know the how and why of it? Bahrain-based naturopath and iridologist Dejana Subsol sheds some light on the matter.
To ‘detox’ is to shed the load of toxins, or poisonous substances, that our bodies are laden with. According to the specialist, disease or imbalance originates from two sources; toxicity or deficiency. Detoxification of the body is therefore crucial to optimum health. “The ancients knew this thousands of years ago and fasting was used as a primary detoxification tool to regain and maintain health in all different cultures and religions throughout this planet. Look at animals in the wild; as soon as they are ill they will sleep, fast and only drink water – and recover!” says Dejana.
She goes on to add that in today’s world we are bombarded with toxins, mainly from our food, water, the air, furniture, paints and body products. “Toxins, particularly in food, come from pesticides, additives, colourants, taste enhancers and GMOs [genetically modified organisms],” she says.
“They are damaging to the lining of our intestine and result in a condition we call a ‘leaky gut’ or a porous intestine. We therefore find ourselves being poisoned from the inside as well [auto-intoxication]. Research in the last decade has shown that this lining of our intestine is where all the nutrients pass into our blood system, along with the beneficial bacteria that surround it. It is a true factory of enzymes, neurotransmitters, immune cells, vitamins and minerals. This is the core of our health, our immune system and our emotional well-being. A leaky gut is directly related to a whole range of conditions starting from digestive problems, concentration and behavioural problems in children, autism, allergies and asthma to autoimmune diseases, to cite just a few.”
This is why it’s paramount to consciously know what you are ingesting. All processed food has some kind of synthetic, toxic substance that can prove dangerous in the long run. The majority of food we eat is loaded with pesticides and has travelled halfway around the world to reach us. Unfortunately, even the best locally sourced, organic foods are deficient in nutrients, thanks to soil depletion. However, fresh, responsibly grown produce still is the most reliable source of nutrients for living beings.
So how do we go about ridding ourselves of toxins? Dejana believes it’s important to first recognise your body’s needs and what should be given priority – toxicity or deficiency. She says: “There are many ways of detoxing; fasting is one of the best. The form of fasting [juice fasting, water fasting, intermittent fasting] and its duration depends on the individual, the purpose and also on our schedules. Fasting may be a challenge for novices and is definitely not recommended without professional advice from a certified alternative therapist or naturopath, especially for the first time.
“Juice detoxing is one of my favourites, and is suitable for people who are not very deficient in nutrients. Fresh juice brings a lot of bio-available nutrients [nutrients that your body can use very easily] while detoxing you at the same time.”
First-timers should opt for a gentle detox, eating very light foods such as only soup or only raw vegetables and fruits for one or more days.
Another technique that naturopathy advocates is colonic cleansing, which removes the built up of toxins and faeces that line the large intestine. Dejana says this build-up harbours parasites and pathogens that further damage the lining of our intestine. Of the various types, she recommends enemas as the safest and best form of colonic cleansing, as a part of a detox. “Depending on the state of one’s health, coffee or herbal enemas can be administered. Only by removing this build-up in our intestine can we regenerate its lining and heal a leaky gut,” she says.
Before you embark on ‘Mission Detox’, remember to first detox the body’s major filters – the liver, kidneys, intestine, lungs and skin – with herbs. “Each one of these major filters is responsible for throwing out different kinds of waste. If you are planning to do a fast it is absolutely crucial to detox your filters before it. Otherwise, all the toxins that your body will put into circulation from the tissues and organs will have nowhere to go,” warns Dejana.
If you are mentally calculating the loads of toxins you battle daily, don’t press the panic button just yet. The body has an innate healing ability and will go into detox mode, given a chance. “As soon as we free it of some of the foods that are non-specific to us as human beings [which is roughly 80 per cent of the modern diet today!], it will naturally go into the ‘detox mode’,” says Dejana.
Pregnant women, children, elderly or weak individuals should not detox.
Dejana reminds us that the mind plays an important role in our health. Science has proved that our thoughts are capable of changing the chemistry in our body. The body, mind and the soul are so closely interlinked we cannot act on one without having an effect on the others. “If you notice, when you detox, your mind and your spirituality become clearer and better,” she states.