Today let’s start with a one question pop quiz. Don’t worry, it isn’t graded! Ready?
True or False: Detoxification can be dangerous.
Did you guess True? Good job!
Most of us understand that it’s entirely possible to have too much of a good thing. Many nutrients, from water to trace minerals, that are essential for good health can be life-threatening if we consume too much too fast, or accumulate unsafe amounts in our bodies.
The same (sometimes inconvenient) reality applies to detoxification: Detoxing too hard, too fast, or when our ability to process and flush toxins is impaired can cause us serious harm.
Although the mechanisms and possible repercussions can be complex and vary widely, for today’s post we’re going to look at just the stripped down core ideas:
1. Toxins openly circulating in our systems can cause terrible harm. To protect us, our bodies routinely barricade toxic substances they are unable to handle (typically due to a lack of the vitamins, minerals, water, etc. necessary to bind and flush them) by allowing toxins to build up in a particular organ (often the one that was supposed to process them) or locking them up in fat cells. Detoxing before you’re able to eliminate stored toxins from your body returns toxic substances to active circulation, increasing their potential to cause direct and immediate damage.
(Note: Long term toxic build up can be devastating to our health, but our bodies are primarily concerned with continuing to run right now. After all, if circulating toxins kill you today, tomorrow becomes irrelevant! Stashing toxin can keep you functioning and buy time to secure the resources needed to take proper corrective action.)
2. As we noted yesterday, a key step in detoxing is reducing the active daily burden on the body. Often, people attempt to do this through fasting, meal-replacement shakes/smoothies/juices, or eliminating sugar and caffeine. Abruptly eliminating the “crutches” our bodies are relying on to function in the face of chronically unhealthy diets and lifestyles can cause painful and debilitating system-wide crashes.
Yikes! At first glance it appears to be a Catch-22. Internal toxic buildup is exhausting; long-term, it can even cripple or kill us. But the onslaught of a toxic hoard and the derailment of every-day functioning that can result from unsafe detoxing leave us in a mess just as terrible!
What do we do? Thankfully, although it can be hard to do in practice, the answer is fairly simple: Approach detoxification as a powerful, long-term process. Respect that detoxing has the power to both heal and hurt, depending on how you apply it. Accept that real detoxification can be a slow journey that must be walked one step at a time, and at your body’s own pace.
It can be aggravating to crawl through a slow, safe detox process when you’re struggling under a heavy toxic burden. Especially when glossy ads and smiling fitness pros are plastered on the covers of books, magazines and web ads promising easy miracles with the next great detox fad. But you didn’t get where you are overnight, and you can’t get where you want to be overnight either.
Have you ever tried to detox too hard, to fast?