Toxicity and Its Link to Disease
BY BRENDA WATSON, N.D., C.T.
Modern medicine prides itself on providing expensive, high-tech, "miracle" treatments. But do you ever wonder why, with all this know-how, conventional medicine hasn't been able to prevent people from getting sick and needing these therapies in the first place?
When it comes to prevention, conventional Western medicine mistakes the symptoms of disease for its cause, thus choosing to treat the symptoms, rather than the underlying source. If you're in relatively good health and you want to stay that way, consider a more traditional and reasonable approach to wellness; one that focuses more on prevention. You can start by helping your body stay clean of the No. 1 cause of disease: Toxins.
THE BODY: A TOXIC ENVIRONMENT
The word toxin is derived from the Greek word toxikon, a poison that was applied to arrows. In 1888, a Berlin doctor, Ludwig Brieger, coined the word toxin to refer to poisons created within the body. Those poisons appear in your cells no matter how pure a life you lead. Thus the simple act of living makes the presence of toxins inevitable.
Think of the body as a construction site, where cells are like workers, constantly tearing down old body parts and forming and building new tissue. To facilitate this process, your cells absorb nutrients, produce energy, synthesize natural chemicals, and then trash the waste. Just as demolition debris must be removed from a construction site, the body must rid itself of metabolic scraps and waste. Otherwise, like a building that's had garbage buried in its walls, it rots from within, no matter how new it is. Removing that trash, however, makes the construction habitable.
"We are constantly taking in oxygen, water, and food for metabolism and that process makes latent products that need to be dealt with," observes Leonard Smith, M.D., of Gainesville, FL. "Even if we lived in a pristine world with no chemicals, no air pollution, pure water, and pure food, still, with the passage of time, we would experience cellular toxicity."
Unfortunately, the large number of pollutants we encounter in modern society every day further complicate our body's toxin-elimination efforts. There's no end to the toxicity coming into the body. In addition to the garbage—or waste—constantly produced during normal metabolic processes, like digestion, cellular respiration, and daily body maintenance, most forms of nourishment (air, food, water) also now contain damaging chemicals and other pollutants. If allowed to accumulate in tissues and organs, both natural and artificial toxins make you sick, the same way buried garbage makes a building unlivable. And that accumulation, researchers now believe, lies at the heart of disease and is the root of illness.
On a positive note, the body is a cleansing machine; with many parts working together to remove toxins. The main toxineliminating organs, which have to perform their jobs well for the body to effectively dispose of them, are the lungs, liver, kidneys, colon, bladder, and skin. When these organs are overburdened with toxins—or unable to metabolize them effectively, the toxins will re-circulate in the blood and accumulate in the tissue. Stored toxins will eventually impede cellular function, thus increasing the risk of disease in the body. (Note: The more fat a person holds on their frame, the more toxins it stores.)
A DANGEROUS PROCESS
Stress on tissues and organs can result in inflammation, one of the body's defense mechanisms designed to facilitate healing. Since it is designed to be a normal response to injury or infection, inflammation stimulates the formation of cytokines—messenger proteins released by white blood cells—which alert the immune system to attack an invader or heal wounds. But when inflammation becomes chronic—set off by ever-present toxins—the body can damage itself.
"We believe that when inflammation occurs, the body is in a fighting mode, ready to fight off germs," says William Joel Meggs, M.D., Ph.D., professor, and chief of toxicology at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. "But when this is an inappropriate response (when toxins set off inflammation), the oxidants produced (by the body) to attack the bacteria instead attack our own DNA and lead to mutation."
SANITIZING THE BODY
If you help your body relieve its toxic burden, however, you increase your chances of having a clean bill of health. A proper detoxification program will support the organs of elimination and assist the body in clearing toxins. The foundation of what you should do (to defend yourself) is drink filtered water, eat organic food, use air filters, and use a cleansing and detoxifying product at least twice a year.
A good product will include ingredients that target all of the organs involved in detoxification: The colon, as well as the liver, lungs, kidneys, and skin. These ingredients include milk thistle, artichoke, burdock, mullein, western larch, chlorella, and triphala. You can also support your detoxification processes with a daily supplement of fiber, like flax fiber, and a daily multi-cleanse formula that you take in addition to your multi-vitamin.
By assuming a more traditional approach to medicine—prevention via healthy detoxification practices—you enable your body to perform its daily "miracle" for which it was designed: Keeping itself healthy and toxin-free.