Monday 5 December 2016

Shape Up: The tonic to all things toxic

Damien Maher

Published 07/03/2011 | 05:00

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images
Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

THE old adage 'You are what you eat', is not entirely true.

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You are what you eat, drink, breathe, touch and can't eliminate. The 21st century is seeing chronic diseases reach an all-time high, with obesity rates soaring. The truth is that fat loss will become harder for people to achieve unless they review their exposure to toxins -- internally, through nutrition, and externally, through the environment.

A toxin is a poison produced by living organisms that can cause damage or disturbances in the body and traces of over 400 synthetic chemicals can be found in the average human.

Homes can contain between 30 and 45 litres of hazardous materials and during the last few decades over 85,000 synthetic chemicals have been released into the environment through chemical solvents, heavy metals, and pesticides. Toxins can come from herbicides, drugs and alcohol and occur internally in our gastrointestinal tract.

Every day we are exposed to toxic substances in our air, water, liquids and foods. It is important to practice detoxification in order to reduce the toxic burden on the body by removing these substances that can lead to disease.

Some of the conditions associated with toxic overload include headaches, muscle and joint pain, allergy or flu-like symptoms and chronic fatigue. Also, adipose tissue (body fat) is a storage site for fat-soluble toxins. So the more body fat you have, the higher your toxic load.

Two celebs who know a thing or two about detoxing are Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyonce. Gwyneth is a fan of Alejandro Junger's 'Clean' programme, while Beyonce is alleged to have lived on a sugar-water diet to drop weight for a role.

To effectively lose fat you need to first of all rid your body of harmful toxins. If you don't, the toxins will just be redistributed around the body instead of being excreted. This can cause symptoms such as migraines, nausea, diarrhoea and it can be a large reason for stubborn fat retention.

To help prevent this happening you need to support the two key organs involved in detoxification -- the liver and the intestine.

The liver is the primary detox organ in the body. It protects the rest of the body from harmful substances by reducing their toxicity and making them ready for excretion.

You need to support your liver if it is to assist you with fat loss. Magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamin C and the vitamin B family will all be important, as will cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage) and citrus fruits that contain limonene.

Nutrients like folic acid, curcumin and sulphur-containing foods like egg yolks, onions and garlic should also be included in your detox diet.

An essential factor too are amino acids. They are commonly found in organic proteins like chicken, turkey and fish, so vegetarians can have a harder time in detoxifying as their diet can be deficient in these.

The intestinal tract is also important. If large particles are allowed to pass or 'leak' from the intestine into the general circulation in the body, they can promote inflammation.

So, keeping the intestinal tract healthy is a good strategy to prevent leaky gut. Food sensitivities, gluten and alcohol intolerances, increase the likelihood of gut permeability and therefore the risk of inflammation.

No detoxification is complete without the inclusion of fibre. Low-fibre diets are responsible for constipation. Laxative sales are constantly rising but these would be unnecessary for many people if they simply consumed more fibre.

Health experts recommend 25g to 30g per day (composed of both soluble and insoluble types) -- most people only get around 10g or less.

Our exposure to toxins and our ability to deal with them is unique but on the plus side, we have an amazing amount of enzymes that can handle the toxic load of persistent pollutants in our blood.

Many people are unaware of the amount of toxins they are exposed to on a daily basis. But if weight loss is your goal the solution to pollution is dilution. If you are overweight, you need to detoxify first, or you will be sicker in the long term.

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