Sunday, January 10, 2010

Post-Holiday Clean-Up, Part 2


Our body is constantly wanting to rid itself of toxins.  That is how it was designed.  Like a filter in a swimming pool, our liver is sifting out the impurities that enter into our bodies through our environment, through what we eat & drink, and those that are created through the processes that keep us alive.  Historically, the liver has done a pretty good job of accomplishing this function.  Problems arise, however, when we overload our bodies, causing so much work for our liver (and the whole system) that it begins to let some things slip.
My backyard 17,000-gallon pool has a great filtration system to accommodate the demands of a family of five (give or take a few), and has worked great for years.  Following the directions specific to its type, this filter should last for quite a while, performing optimally.  If we were to suddenly begin filling our pool with muddy water,
or invite 30 - 40 people over for a swim on a regular basis, the filter would not be able to keep up.  The water would stay cloudy, the skimmer basket would become clogged, and bacteria would flourish.  Before too long, the pool would be rendered “unsafe” and become nothing more than a swampy, stinky backyard eyesore. 
When we eat processed foods and consume high amounts of sugar and artificial sweeteners, neglect our sleep and avoid exercise, we are treating our own filtration systems the same way we’d be treating that pool in the “bad” scenario above.  People lament the fact that “everyone” seems to be getting sick, or that they simply don’t have enough energy to get through the day without the assistance of caffeine, yet rarely do they consider the effects of the common American diet on their overall health.
We have four primary ways of cleaning up our bodies – getting rid of excessive nutrients, hormones, toxins and other wastes that come in through our food, water and air.  Unfortunately, the typical American diet and lifestyle does little to help us accomplish these. 
The first method of cleaning up is through respiration.  Through the basic act of breathing, we rid ourselves of carbon dioxide and other gaseous wastes.  During heavy exercise, our breathing rate increases, not only helping to increase our lung capacity and cardio function, but at the same time we are breathing out toxins at a higher rate.  The second way we clean out toxins is through perspiration.  This brings toxins such as excess sodium, urea, oils, and fluids to our body’s surface.  Unless you’re living in a sweltering climate, the only way you are going to work up a good sweat is if you are exercising on a regular basis…strenuously.  Urination is the third way we eliminate toxins.  Most all of us do this, we just don’t do it very well, since we are usually not drinking enough water to accomplish productive flushing out of our systems.  It is through this process that our body is able to eliminate urea, uric acid and other nitrogenous wastes, sodium chloride and about 100 other substances suspended in fluid.  THE best way to accomplish this flushing is through adequate WATER in-take (not “fluid” – diet sodas, juices and sugary drinks create MORE of the toxins our bodies are trying to eliminate!).  For info on this, see my previous post.  The final main process our body has for cleaning up is through bowel movement (to put it bluntly).  The waste that is eliminated through this process is mainly cellulose and other undigested food remains, bile pigments, mucus, bacteria and water.  Also eliminated through this process are excess hormones that find their way into our body via foods (including processed foods containing soy), as well as through cosmetics, lotions and our environment.  These excess hormones get filtered out of our blood  by our liver and then sent to our intestines awaiting an “escort” out of our bodies through bowel movement.  If a bowel movement does not occur in an appropriate amount of time, these excess hormones are then reabsorbed through the lining of our intestines, back into our blood – but this time joining the newly created, ingested and absorbed hormones, and the process starts all over again.  To make sure this process is able to function properly, consuming adequate fiber (25-35 grams per day) and whole foods, water, nutrients and healthy fats in imperative. 
By allowing our bodies ample opportunity to get cleaned up by eliminating the “bad stuff”, we are able to have higher energy levels, deeper and more satisfying sleep, and experience better over-all health.  On your list of resolutions, be sure to include opportunities for all four of these on a “regular” basis.  Your body will thank you for it!
For more tips on how you can detoxify your body and create some strategies for a healthier 2010, contact me today (elly@ elementalfit.com).  I’d love to work with you!

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