Detoxification

Understanding detoxification and what to expect when detoxifying the system is extremely important for health and safety. A healthy detox diet plan can help you to cleanse your system safely for health, weight loss and longevity...

See also; 

Free Radicals, and Antioxidants...

Detoxification is a natural process that the body automatically goes through to cleanse itself internally. To the best of my knowledge, although it is not a scientifically proven fact, I believe the body is in a constant state of detox in an attempt to cleanse itself throughout its entire lifetime. This state of detox is a natural built-in mechanism that the body is able to do. The wonders of the physical human body never cease to amaze!

I have come to this conclusion of a 'continuous detox' as a result of many years of experimentation with various methods and all kinds of diets in an attempt to cleanse my own body from within. I have learnt to recognise the signs and symptoms of the detox process and have realised, that for me personally, my body goes through this process at times when I am not actively trying to detoxify my system. This tells me that my body is attempting to go through this same process all the time in an attempt to keep itself clean and healthy.

Learning to interpret the signs and symptoms of this natural bodily process of 'internal house cleaning' is important for you to gain some understanding of its nature in order to give you some indication of your own bodily state internally. This will help you to find the best way to proceed for you as an individual. Developing an understanding of the detox process and its accompanying signs and symptoms comes with practice and experience. 

In addition to these pre-requisites is the added virtue of courage. Yes courage, as we are in effect taking our health into our own hands on the most profound level! This does require courage but not blind courage. Learn all you can about the process of experiencing a detox from these pages and what to expect before starting out. Remember to proceed steadily and diligently so you are able to benefit from the many fruits on offer from a healthier, cleaner physiological system.

Detoxification Methods

detox

There are many various means and ways to cleanse and detoxify the body. Some methods are aggressive in their nature and can be dangerous if taken up too quickly by those new to the idea. This is especially so if those people's previous diet was very poor. Other methods are more subtle and much safer in their approach. 

Many of these dietary methods of internally cleansing oneself can be taken up full-time or undertaken periodically as a kind of system maintenance routine. With continued practice, in time, there's a good chance that you could stick to some of the individual methods towards the top of the list below for longer until they become a natural part of your everyday life. 

This list starts with the least aggressive form of detoxification at the top. As the list goes down these methods become more aggressive in their detoxifying effect upon the body and therefore potentially more dangerous to the inexperienced. Water fasting is the most aggressive and potentially the most dangerous detox you can put yourself through, and should only be undertaken with lots of practice and experience of the other methods previously in the list.

Detox inducing methods: (least aggressive first)

  1. Eating cleaner, healthier wholefoods - (beginner)
  2. Becoming a vegetarian (beginner)
  3. Giving up wheat/gluten products (beginner/intermediate)
  4. Becoming a vegan - no dairy foods (beginner/intermediate)
  5. Eating a vegetable only diet (intermediate)
  6. Eating a fruit only diet (intermediate)
  7. Vegetable juice fasting (intermediate/advanced)
  8. Fruit juice fasting (advanced)
  9. Water fasting (advanced)

Generally speaking, the best approach would be to go through the methods listed above in numerical order from the top (number 1) and spending time on each level before moving on to the next level down the list. How much time should be spent on each level comes down to individual requirements that you will need to learn about yourself. Again, this comes with practice and experience and listening to your body's reactions during each stage. Eating a cleaner, healthier diet will hopefully become more and more natural to you long-term so it eventually becomes your 'normal' daily diet. Try sticking to a healthy diet such as the first quick weight loss diet on the home page that focuses on speeding up your metabolism for a few weeks or more and see how you feel. If all is OK then maybe try to give up red meat and eating only white fish or boiled chicken breasts two to three times per week.

If you feel fine on those types of foods then try moving through the list at a pace that suits you. You can drift in and out of these methods of detoxification as you feel, slowly moving through the numbers over a period of weeks, months and even years. DO NOT RUN BEFORE YOU CAN WALK! It's far better to take your time to allow your body, mind and emotions time to adjust to the changes.

It's quite possible that you may already be gluten-free or a vegan perhaps, in which case you can try a 'vegetable only diet' for a day or two. If you feel strong enough you can try it for a little longer, thereby gradually getting cleaner on the inside but still providing your body with vital nutrients.

People have died from fasting. To the best of my knowledge and from my experience with fasting, they probably died from the excessive overload of toxins and impurities that were in the blood stream due to the detox process, and not from 'starvation'!

Detoxification can obviously be dangerous if encouraged too quickly, so be patient and take your time!

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What to Expect during Detoxification?

There are general symptoms of the detoxification process that, whether mild or more severe are generally the most common. Remember, if done gradually these symptoms are generally mild in nature.

Common detox symptoms:

  • Bad breath/body odour
  • Headache
  • Neck/shoulder tension
  • Body aches
  • Restless, dream-disturbed sleep, heavy dreaming & even mild nightmares
  • Tiredness
  • Mild depression
  • Irritability/anger
  • Feeling light-headed

I do admit, at first glance these symptoms may seem somewhat off-putting, but DO NOT LET THEM PUT YOU OFF! The detox process is natures' operating table! Your body is the most advanced and capable piece of natural machinery on the planet, possibly the universe! Your body harbours so many toxins in your life time to protect you from their harmful nature and negative effects.

Going through a process of detoxification is one of the most profound things you can ever do for yourself. It is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually rewarding. You are 'clearing out', rejuvenating, rebuilding and re-energizing. Do you think you can have all of that for nothing? Especially when it is YOU who has done that to yourself in the first place by eating 'wrong' foods? 

Experiencing the above symptoms of detoxification is a small price to pay to get cleaner and healthier in my opinion. If you do not agree then that is your choice and your choice alone.

Don't Worry

In truth, the above symptoms would only tend to be severe when the detox is increased too quickly by skipping the levels 1-9 as discussed under the sub-heading 'Detox inducing methods' further up. Changing your present diet to the next level up too quickly without spending adequate time on each level to allow you to adjust can increase the detoxification process too quickly. Eating certain types of 'mono-diets' are very cleansing to the system and would therefore bring stronger detox symptoms. This is very demanding on the body's energy levels and not the most pleasant or safest approach.

Mono-diets are strict diets that only include one type of food stuff such as vegetables or fruit for example. These types of diets would be eaten for a number of days or more for a deep cleanse but should only be started if you are in the 'right condition' to do so. For a deeper cleanse would be something like a vegetable juice only diet for a number of days or a fruit juice only diet for a number of days for a slightly more aggressive detox. The last two here are also known as 'liquid diets'.

I stress to you once again though, these types of strict, deep cleansing methods should only be started if you have eaten yourself into the right physical condition over a period of time to do so safely. Go through the numbers 1-9 under the sub-heading 'Detox inducing methods' slowly and steadily seeing how you feel during each level before moving on to the next level.

Either way, if you do experience any of the above symptoms and you aren't comfortable with them, all you need to do is slow the detox down slightly by eating something that you are accustomed to eating from your old eating ways. Remember, this section is purely about detoxification to help you to gain some insight and understanding of this natural bodily mechanism. How to speed up or slow down the process of detoxification in detail will be explained in the accompanying text of any relevant diet plans or other detoxification methods.

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What's the Reason for these Symptoms?

This is a good question, but to understand the reason for these signs and symptoms more easily, we need to understand what is actually happening during the detox process. Now, when it comes to this type of thing my understanding and explanation comes more from a holistic approach rather than scientific, because to me, it is an holistic way of healing and therefore totally unscientific in its nature.

The American Indians, just as one very fine example, but also many other ancient civilisations too, have been detoxifying themselves for thousands of years. I would say this makes it more holistic than scientific, wouldn't you?

With this in mind, what actually takes place during a detox is quite simply a 'process of elimination'. The body is cleansing itself from within. It does this by releasing toxins into the blood stream to be eliminated from the body permanently. The body is doing this all the time, or at least attempting to if given the chance?!

The trouble is, our bodies often never get the chance because we are usually shoveling so much junk into them that they become overloaded. Our bodies' in-built detoxification mechanism just can't keep up, shame on us!

Anyway, the signs and symptoms of detox are now easily explained.

Bad breath and body odor

This something that you would not know about unless somebody tells you. It would also take someone who knows you well enough to feel comfortable enough to be able to tell you this. A dentist or doctor will tell you that bad breath comes from the mouth, poppycock! It comes from the stomach 90% of the time if not more. I know this for a fact because when I have fasted I have been told my breath is 'nasty'. Further along the fast as I have gotten cleaner internally my 'bad breath' ceases to exist.

When you stop eating the stomach starts to cleanse itself. Why do you think it is that most people have bad breath in the morning, and, after eating it goes? Because they haven't eaten for quite some time, therefore the body is in a mild state of detoxification. During the night you're actually fasting. Why do you think it is that breakfast is named 'breakfast'? Because you are breaking the fast - 'break-fast' - 'breakfast'. So in actual fact, the truth is, the first meal of the day is breakfast even if it's at ten o'clock in the evening!  

The level of bad breath and body odor varies from person to person. Remember, this is mainly when fasting so it wouldn't affect most people. Although a person with bad breath and body odor much of the time generally is an indication of their 'internal uncleanliness' which would benefit greatly from a good 'house clean' through eating a cleaner, healthier diet and slowly introducing various detoxification methods.

Headaches, neck & shoulder tension & body aches

Headaches, neck and shoulder tension and general body aches are all a direct result of toxins (in various forms) in the blood stream and muscles. Basically speaking, our body ultimately becomes a bit clogged up with these toxins and impurities as the body tries to eliminate them from the system and the above symptoms are the result.

It's also interesting to note that the Gallbladder meridian or channel, as recognised in Chinese medicine and acupuncture, runs up and over the head and down through the neck and trapezius muscles. The Liver is a major organ in the process of detoxification along with the Gallbladder as they are both connected in Chinese medicine and also in Western medicine too. Both the Liver and Gallbladder meridians will become blocked and stagnant due to their over-worked connected organs during detoxification thus resulting in neck and headaches.

Restless, dream-disturbed sleep

Restless, dream disturbed sleep and heavy dreaming, sometimes even mild nightmares, come as a result of these toxins and impurities being in the blood stream waiting to be eliminated from the body, passing through the brain while sleeping.

Tiredness

Tiredness usually occurs during detoxification but not through a lack of nourishment as many might think. It is due to the body using valuable energy for the cleansing that is taking place. In addition to this is a 'foggy' unclear feeling often accompanied by general fatigue that I put down to a 'stirring up' of toxins now in the blood stream for elimination. I liken it to a jar full of water with some sand or soil in the water. If left overnight or longer the water becomes clear and the sand/soil sits quietly at the bottom. If we shake it up, the entire contents of the jar become very unclear. Of course the sand/soil is representing the toxins in our body and the water is representing our blood.

Let's not forget also that our bodies have been left far longer than just overnight as was the case with our jar of dirty water above. The build-up of toxins has taken place over many years and their shake-up during detoxification can therefore be rather unpleasant if undertaken too quickly! In addition to that is the fact that it can take weeks, months and possibly a year or two for your body and its blood stream to become 'clean'. Patience and determination is paramount.

Mild depression

Mild depression sometimes occurs which is connected to the low energy and general fatigue usually experienced during detoxification. Don't forget also, that toxins and impurities are in fact mild poisons which are not pleasant substances. These substances will be in your blood stream more than usual during a detox, so it makes sense really that we wouldn't feel that good while this is taking place. 

Toxins do make you feel miserable and you will at times feel miserable depending on what level of detoxification you are experiencing. This depends on various factors such as your age and level of internal intoxication which is largely down to your existing or previous diet. If you've been eating junk food for a long time then you will most definitely be harbouring many toxins and will therefore feel miserable during a process of detoxification.

There's a saying that states; 'toxins hurt us on the way in, and also on the way out'. The reality is though, they are far more unpleasant on the way out in my personal experience as we never really notice them on the way in. The good thing is, once they pass through the blood-stream and exit the body you will automatically feel better!

Irritability, mild anger and/or impatience

Irritability, mild anger and/or impatience are strong emotions that show their heads during the process of detoxification. Again, toxins and impurities are in the system and they are not pleasant. This can sometimes make us feel miserable and short-tempered. The liver is under more pressure than usual during detoxification as previously mentioned under the sub-heading 'Headaches, neck & shoulder tension & body aches' due to these toxins and impurities being in the blood stream as the blood passes through the liver which is our 'blood filter'. 

Trying not to get too deep here, each of our internal organs is related to a specific emotion. This is Chinese medicine diagnostic principles. The Heart is related to Joy, the Lungs to Grief, the Kidneys to Fear, the Spleen to Melancholy (pensiveness) and the Liver is related to Anger or mild versions of it such as irritability and impatience. Why do you think it is that a woman gets PMT (premenstrual tension) or PMS (premenstrual syndrome) just before her period? Because the liver is under extra pressure during this time due to the movement of blood. The liver being related to irritability and anger makes the woman that way during this time.

It's the same for drinkers that get angry with alcohol. Their liver is intoxicated and the liver's emotion comes out for them, anger!

If you don't believe this, then I ask you this; is it coincidence that a person can wet themselves through fear? Fear is the emotion related to the kidneys and stated as such by the Chinese in their medical theories? The Chinese system has stood the test of time and the ancient masters knew their stuff, plain and simple.

Feeling light-headed

Feeling light-headed is a more common symptom for a first-time faster or if you've reduced your carbohydrate intake too quickly and you aren't fully prepared for it by slowly eating cleaner and healthier over a period of weeks, months or possibly years. Remaining relaxed, comfortable and drinking plenty of liquid such as herbal teas, natural fruit juices, water and even regular tea or coffee is the key. If this situation gets too much, then the fast would be broken or you should slowly increase your carbohydrate intake. This will be discussed in more detail on relevant pages.  

I have experienced every single one of the above signs and symptoms to a greater or lesser degree during the many cleansing diets, fasts and induced detox experiences I have undertaken. These signs and symptoms eventually clear with the result being a clearer mind, happier disposition and a more energetic body. This is only if you listen to your body during the detoxification process and never go too far. If any signs or symptoms become too much then you should eat something from your old ways, but not too much and do not binge!

The Severity of Detox Symptoms Depends on Factors 

  1. Your age.
  2. Your physical condition - strength, weakness and ailments or medical conditions in the past or present.
  3. Your previous diet and your level of internal toxicity derived from toxins, mainly from foods, alcohol and drugs (recreational and medical), but also your environment.

All these factors have an influence on the level of severity of any of the signs and symptoms of detoxification as listed in the previous section.

The point is, although we are all human and very similar in many ways, we are also very different at times too. These differences are often highlighted by our individual reactions to certain things, and food, including a big change of diet, is one of them. This is something that you should be aware of. At the end of the day there is no telling how any one person will react to a significant change of diet. It is for this reason that it's best to do it gradually over a number of weeks, months and even years. This way, the detoxification process will be less aggressive. This in turn will reduce the severity of the signs and symptoms as discussed above.

Drinking plenty of water and/or herbals teas with sugar or honey is very helpful when experiencing any unpleasant detox symptoms. Drinking fluids will help these temporary symptoms to pass!

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Who Should Detox, and is it Safe?

Detoxification is different for different people. As we have seen from the information on this page, there are different levels of detoxification according to a person's age, health previous diet and existing diet. There are also a few different reasons why different people may feel the need to change their diet or detoxify their system. Poor health can be a reason for many. For others it's a means of increasing their health to prevent illness rather than cure it. For me, it was something I was drawn to in my twenties while practicing Yoga and Tai Chi. I was curious about fasting. I saw it as a way of becoming cleaner and healthier internally and also potentially spiritually uplifting.

Reasons for detoxification:

  1. Disease prevention
  2. Poor health
  3. Weight loss
  4. Alcoholism
  5. Drug abuse

Disease Prevention

Generally healthy, active, young to middle aged people (25-45+) who are not on any prescription medicines may tend to experience little or no undesirable detox symptoms due to a gradual dietary change. From a physical point of view, these people are generally in quite good shape and will therefore more than likely be able to handle a change to their diet more easily with very few side effects, if any at all. This does depend of course on how much of a change to their diet they actually do make. Slight changes have less effect than big changes, as you would expect of course.

Poor health

Those that have specific medical conditions will more than likely experience more of the adverse signs and symptoms of detoxification, because they will generally be more intoxicated with prescription drugs. I personally know people who get headaches if they miss their breakfast. This is a classic, mild detox symptom and shows the level of toxins and impurities in a persons system. As soon as they eat breakfast the headache goes. Proof!

If you are on prescription drugs then you should get professional help when changing your diet.

Weight loss

This is a very common and very good reason to motivate a change of diet to a healthier, less fat and less intoxicating one. If this is you, then the severity of detox symptoms that you might experience depends upon your level of toxicity from your existing diet, and any over-the-counter medications that you may have taken in the past or may be taking now.

The way forward is to start eating healthier. Over time start to eat cleaner, healthier foods so it becomes a part of you life. This can take quite some time for some people while others can just switch almost overnight to a cleaner lifestyle. Always monitor how you feel during any change of diet and only do what you feel comfortable with.

Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

These two big problems in life are well-known for destroying lives and families. This is a very sad and common situation for too many people. If you are someone who suffers from one of these addictions then you must get professional help through a qualified medical professional and rehabilitation centre.

Conclusion

In short, detoxification is happening all the time, but this naturally occurring, bodily process will speed up if you start to eat cleaner. It will speed up even more if you eat less. This is safe providing you have slowly cleaned up your diet over a period of time. As the body slowly becomes cleaner, you will be able to eat cleaner still. Over time, you will experience less of the undesirable detox signs and symptoms previously mentioned. 

Make small changes over the long-term for easier, longer lasting results. Listen to your body's reactions and take notice of what they are telling you. Do not bite off more than you can chew. People have died from fasting. They probably died from the excessive overload of toxins and impurities that were in the blood stream due to the detox process rather than starvation.

Detoxification can obviously be dangerous if encouraged too quickly, so be patient and take your time by eating a healthy, balanced diet for weeks or months before considering any 'stricter diets'!

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