Fairfield County Edition

There is No Finish Line!

How to Sustain Positive Gains Against Toxicity

We’ve completed our first detox program and feel proud for following it to a “tee” and feeling better as a result. We’ve probably learned to stay away from foods that make us sick. We have our vitamins. But are we done? There’s no doubt we loosened the grip a gang of toxins once had on our bodies. We’ve made big gains. But do we really expect the toxins to just say “thank you for a good fight” and leave? If we do, that’s where we start losing the long-term “war”. Toxins always look for cracks in our defenses to creep back, and we may not even notice it right away.

How can it be otherwise? We are up against thousands of chemicals released into the environment and used in pesticides and cosmetic products as well as over 3,000 chemicals directly added to our food. So how can we monitor our toxic load and catch the problem before we start experiencing the symptoms of toxicity, including weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, aches and bloating?

The battle against toxins is often tough and never seems to end, but it is not hopeless. It is still possible to fend off the toxins encroaching by air, water and ground, and entering the body through the mouth, nose and skin. The key to success is staying organized; make a plan and stick to it diligently.

There are two approaches, subjective and objective; for best results, combine both through use of a symptom survey (subjective) and laboratory testing (objective). The former asks us to score several symptoms typically associated with toxins. The individual scores are then added up; the total score serves as an indicator of overall toxic load. We can then take the survey from time to time to see the direction our bodies are going. Lab testing is an important objective tool for measuring exposure to toxins. Both our blood and urine are tested for environmental toxins, including pesticides as well as toxic metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic.

Any approach that staves off toxins must include three major parts.

Initial detox

The initial detox is what sets the stage for our long-term success. Do not skip it or try to ease into it and then just coast along. Make a commitment to new healthy habits and undergo a major transformation. The initial detox will be a definitive break from the eating and lifestyle habits that have controlled our lives for decades.

Maintenance

There is a lot to be done to keep our hard-earned gains. Just like a car, our bodies need regular maintenance and occasional tune-ups. The initial detox is the hardest part because it puts the most restrictions on our diet and lifestyle. During the maintenance phase, some of the requirements, such as alcohol prohibition, are eased; many of the previously eliminated foods that we enjoy may be brought back.

Detox boost or tune-up

Although the initial detox, maintenance and boost phases differ in their methods and goals, they all share basic principles. Following them will help keep the body healthy regardless of the detox program being used or what phase of detox we are in. These ideas can be applied even before we commit to a full detox program.

• Replace toxic inflammatory food with healthy choices.

• Eliminate all refined sugars, flours, caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners and processed food.

• Replace supermarket groceries with local, seasonal organic fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy oils.

• Replace tap water with filtered water.

• Support the liver by using nutritional shakes or special formulations that contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

• Stay hydrated by drinking six to eight glasses of filtered water per day to eliminate toxins.

• Have at least one bowel movement a day to eliminate toxins. If that is not happening, magnesium citrate, buffered vitamin C or fiber may help.

• Sweat out toxins by exercising. When we sweat, the body releases a number of toxins, including heavy metals and environmental chemicals. Just like exercise, infrared saunas can help the body eliminate toxins through sweat.

• Detox the mind by connecting to nature, taking a break from the news, practicing silence and meditating. Get plenty of sleep. Our bodies detoxify themselves much
better when they are in a relaxed state.

Detoxification is not an event but rather a process; there is no finish line to be reached. Good habits that support detoxification should become an integral part of our lifestyles. While we cannot completely stop every toxin from reentering our bodies, it does not have to be a losing battle. We win by staying both vigilant and diligent, and by undergoing regular maintenance and detox boosts.

Tatiana Fleischman, MD, is the founder and medical director of Integrative MD, an integrative and functional medicine practice in downtown Stamford. Connect at 203-275-6666, Info@IntegrativeMDCenter.com or IntegrativeMDCenter.com. See Community Resource Guide listing, page 70.

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