What does it mean to detoxify your body, and how does detox work? Detox is all about cleansing the impurities out of your blood. That includes the blood in your liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. It also encompasses getting rid of the toxins through the lungs (via exhalation and expectoration), intestines (feces) and kidneys (urine), as well as the lymphatic system and even through the skin (sweat). Let's backtrack a bit. It helps to know exactly what toxins, often referred to as poisons, are. What is it we are talking about when it comes to cleansing toxins out of our body so as to help protect our immune system? These can include the unhealthy residue left in our bodies after we have consumed processed foods loaded with chemicals, pesticides and preservatives. We know there is certainly plenty of that out there, begging our indulgence from the shelves of the local grocery store. Common sources of toxins include air, water, food (as we just mentioned), drugs, tobacco, household products like cleaners, personal care products, and even stress and other negative emotions. In other words, toxins are present almost everywhere we turn. There's really no way to go through life without exposing ourselves to them, even with care, caution and good intentions. There are steps we can take to assist our body on a daily basis in rendering toxins harmless and then getting them removed. Note: this is not to be confused with an annual body detox some people undergo that entails resting, cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out. A healthy diet is part of the equation for the more traditional, regular detoxification; so is regular exercise and prudent use of vitamins, supplements, minerals and herbs that target those places where toxins are processed and eliminated. Here's a list of some of the best-known supplements, vitamins, etc. that can play an active role as anti-toxin agents:
- Berberine. Its antimicrobial properties in the digestive system make berberine a particularly useful supplement for detoxing our bodies. Studies have shown berberine to be effective in inhibiting the ability of bacteria to attach to human cells. According to the National Institutes of Health, berberine stimulates bile acid synthesis and bile secretion, which may offer benefit during Phase 2 of liver detoxification when fat-soluble toxins are processed and then shuttled into the intestines via the bile duct.
- Curcumin. Ayurvedic medicine, which dates back thousands of years to ancient India, has used curcumin for treating a variety of conditions for which curcumin's antioxidant, antibacterial, anticancer and anti-inflammatory activities make it especially effective as an antitoxin.
- Milk thistle. This is another herb that has been in medical use for thousands of years. It's a plant native to the Mediterranean region and is best known as a natural liver supporter and detoxifier. Milk thistle has been shown to decrease, or even reverse liver damage caused by sources such as air pollution, metals and prescription medicines known to have side effects.