While so many are getting ready to start their diets, head to the gym, and generally treat their bodies better, we in the integrative health field take it a step further. For us the symptoms are not the problem, we love to get at the root cause of things, and so while starting off with a good diet and exercise program is great, we usually start off with a very important question, rather than dive right into fixing symptoms. And that question is: Do you know how toxic your body is?

The Problem

Dr. Sherry Rogers, the pioneer of environmental medicine, in her book Detoxify or Die, gives lots of reasons to believe it is more toxic than you may think, "in EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] studies, surgical samples of fat of 400 average Americans showed every single person had stored carcinogens and destroyers of health. And they didn’t have just one, but many. For example, every single person had stored dioxins, PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyl], dichlorobenzene, styrene, and xylene. Any one of these alone can cause autoimmune disease, cancers, and nearly every symptom imaginable."

Knowing this, it becomes much clearer what the real issue is: We need to detoxify our bodies because they have stored lots of nasty stuff that is hurting us.

Detox is the body's best way to reset.

The facts are that we’ve contaminated our environment with chemicals, pesticides, plastics, and phthalates. We are exposed to toxic metals including mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and aluminum. The water we drink is polluted with chlorine and fluoride. In her book, Dr. Rogers says, "we should have known we were in trouble when a decade ago the cover of the article USA Today showed that the average city water contains over 500 different chemicals."

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OK, so it’s bad, really bad. We are living in an environment that is not very pro-health. Worse yet is the stress on our newborns. The Environmental Working Group in 2005 published a study on newborns and their exposure to toxins. The report discovered 287 chemicals found in 10 newborn’s umbilical cord blood. Of those, 180 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to brain and nervous systems, and 208 are known to cause abnormal development in animal tests.

The sad truth is that toxicity begins in utero.

We are also bombarded daily with electromagnetic pollution from our power lines, household appliances, microwaves, home computers, and cellphones. Add to that the fact that many of us become stressed with emotional and attention overload driven by 24/7 TV, internet, and social media.

Take Action

But it’s not all doom and gloom. You can do something about it. And you can do it right now. You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Are you sensitive to odors, smoke, perfume?
  2. Do you have muscle aches or muscle weakness?
  3. Do you or did you work with or around toxins?
  4. How many restaurant meals do you eat each week?
  5. Do you have memory loss, depression, or anxiety?
  6. Do you shake, do you drop things?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you could probably benefit from detoxifying your system.

Help in Healing

Detoxification is the body’s best way to reset and start getting the most out of its metabolic activity.

Detoxification begins with healing the gut. Detox doesn’t have to be complicated or lengthy to give your body some really great benefits. Talk to your functional medicine practitioner to find out more about the detox programs they offer. The most important thing is to remember that you should not do this alone. A trained professional’s help is going to be essential to getting you the proper nutrition andprovide you with a list of things to eliminate from your diet and environment. Your practitioner will also be able to order or perform any needed tests to get a clear picture of your particular health profile to create the most personalized plan necessary to get rid of the toxins that are hurting your body.

Functional medicine solutions often include homeopathic remedies, as well as studied helpful herbal products to start the cleansing of the colon. Probiotics of course are useful to re-colonize the gut with healthy bacteria. Along with clean, nutritious meals or meal replacements designed to reduce the inflammation in the gut, your body will be well on its way to healing.