The question from my friend Chris:
“Have you found any places that actually say what these toxins are? I’ve wondered about ‘detoxes’but haven’t been able to track down anywhere that has actual evidence of these toxins, or that your kidneys and liver can’t remove them naturally.”
What information I could find to answer:
Sifting through the sometimes conflicting and vague information about detoxes on the internet has been a bit of a challenge. It seems that research about the chemicals and toxins that are absorbed into are bodies are at the preliminary stages. But from what I can figure out, are bodies have been absorbing harmful toxins since birth. Some of these toxins come up the food chain and we ingest them (why a vegan diet can be consider a form of detox or eating organic fruit and vegetables). Some are contained in the products we use everyday – like nonstick pans, shampoo, cleaners, flame-retardants in airplanes or on the mattress you sleep on. Some have been passed on from our mothers during pregnancy and breast feeding.
These chemicals range in how harmful they can be and depend on the amount of them in your system. Some are naturally removed by your liver, but an excess of toxins can cause your system to work over-time and not be able to cleanse properly, having the chemicals stay. A detox helps this process of cleansing.
I asked a friend of mine who studied naturopathy and is an advocate of cleanses and only using natural, organic products. She sent me the link to Renew Life: “This company specializes in cleansing and other daily health products like fibre, probiotics, good fat….they also have this great product called Intestinew. Great for anyone who has had long-term digestive problems. Anyway, they’re my favourate cleanse company, they cover specific cleanse and educate stores that carry them in detail.” Taking a Stand on Toxins covers many of the toxins found in everyday products we use and discusses the process of biomonitoring currently being used by a number of organizations to map the effects of toxicity throughout the world. She also sent me Detoxification: Mainstream Medicine’s Blindspot, highlighting the reasons to use a detox.
I also found What is a Body Burden on chemicalbodyburden.org – very informative of the burden our body takes being exposed to harmful chemicals since birth.
My favourite article and worth a read if you have time, is The Pollution Within by David Ewing Duncan at National Geographic. Duncan had himself tested for 320 chemicals he “might have picked up from food, drink, the air I breathe, and the products that touch my skin—my own secret stash of compounds acquired by merely living.” The article covers a lot of the topics concerning our ‘body burden’ and how his blood tests reveal many of the chemicals he’s come in contact with from when he was a child to present. (And he refers to himself as “journalist-as-guinea-pig”, a term I can relate to!)
Duncan also suggests there may be a link to the rise in certain illnesses recently:
Yet even though many health statistics have been improving over the past few decades, a few illnesses are rising mysteriously. From the early 1980s through the late 1990s, autism increased tenfold; from the early 1970s through the mid-1990s, one type of leukemia was up 62 percent, male birth defects doubled, and childhood brain cancer was up 40 percent. Some experts suspect a link to the man-made chemicals that pervade our food, water, and air. There’s little firm evidence. But over the years, one chemical after another that was thought to be harmless turned out otherwise once the facts were in.
He goes on to state specific cases and might answer more of the questions of where chemicals are coming from.
I know this is a bit of a tangent from being vegan, but I’m interested to find out the reasons why my body reacts in certain ways. I’m always in the frame of mind that I’d rather know and knowledge is power (and makes it less scary – this applies to all cases but the porn cinema I went to during Out of My Comfort Zone month!). This is what I learned: by my elimination of meat and dairy from my diet and generally eating less processed chemical-filled foods by doing this, my organs are finally able to catch up and are expelling the chemicals from my system resulting in the headaches and fatigue (I’m also slightly allergic to dairy, like many people are, which also explains the detox symptoms).
In the larger picture, from what I understand, although going on a detox can help in the short-term, trying to limit our chemical intake in the long-term is more important. We should be paying more attention to what products we are using and consuming. I don’t think everyone will go on a vegan diet or do a cleanse (actually I’m positive none of my family will ever do that), but I do think everyone should read the labels of products more often and learn what chemicals are surrounding them outside and inside of their bodies every day and try to minimize those.
I hope that sort of answered your question Chris!