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Balancing the Body’s Cleansing System

May 21, 2012

Our body is very good at cleaning up after us.  We constantly consume and put things in our bodies without realizing what a mess we’re making inside. Fortunately for us, our bodies have a very efficient cleansing system that consists of different organs and bodily functions working together in order to keep our insides healthy and clean. But what happens when our body’s cleansing system is out of balance? One of the first noticeable symptoms of an overloaded, sluggish cleansing system can be grayish, dull-looking skin. However, skin problems can merely be the tip of the iceberg signaling a whole host of other serious health issues waiting to surface.

A basic knowledge of the different parts of our cleansing system and how they function in relation to each other is important because it helps us understand that when one part of our body is polluted, the entire system can be affected.

Here is a basic glance into our body’s “waste management” system:

The circulatory system is like the body’s main transport highway, carrying both pure and impure substances. On average, about 5 liters of blood continuously streams through the body by way of the heart, the lungs and the blood vessels. The heart pumps blood, which carries oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of every blood cell. In addition, the bloodstream can also carry hormones, glucose and other essential substances to every cell in the body.

The lungs play a very important part in removing carbon dioxide and other impurities from the body. If waste materials are not exhaled properly, they can build up in the body and disturb the body’s natural chemistry. This is why proper breathing practices are extremely important. Natural, diaphragmatic breathing ensures that the body is efficiently disposing of waste through exhalation. It is not only what we breathe that is important, but also how we breathe.

The lymphatic system acts as a drainage system by picking up excess fluid from the blood, nutrients, hormones, waste products of the cells, and cellular debris from the destruction of harmful bacteria and viral invaders.  If the lymphatic system becomes over polluted, a great deal of unprocessed waste can build up in the body which can lead to a weakened immune system.

The liver almost all nutrients from the digestive tract must pass through the liver to be processed on the way to the bloodstream. The liver helps to resist infections by removing bacteria, wastes and toxins from the bloodstream. Solid by-products then enter the intestine and leave the body as feces, while liquid by-products are filtered out by the kidneys and leave the body in the form of urine.

The kidneys are sometimes called the body’s all-purpose filters or purifiers. They help remove waste products from the body in the form of urine. They also regulate the amount of water, acid, and slats in the body, eliminate drugs and toxins, and produce some hormone for the regulation of the circulatory system.

The bowels and colon are the largest cleansing organs in the body’s lower region. Partially digested food material is treated in the stomach, liver, pancreas, and kidneys, then passes through the small investing, and finally enters the large intestine or the colon. A diet of unbalanced and impure foods can cause the bowels and colon to work sluggishly. When waste material are not expelled properly,  toxins can back up into the blood stream. Symptoms related to congested bowels are intestinal gas and long-term symptoms such as offensive body odors, and chronic constipation.

Our skin is also an excretory organ, so when the body is not able to filter out and expel waste through the other parts of the cleansing system, the body will look towards the skin as a means of toxin elimination. The skin is often the first apparent sign of an imbalanced cleansing system as acne, rashes, irritations and discoloration begin to develop.

Gently Reinforcing the Cleansing System

Just as our body takes care of us, so should we respect and care for bodies by finding gentle ways to maintain its natural balance and enhance its cleansing system rather than strain it.

We know that it is easier to clean house daily rather than once a year in the spring time. In that same token, it is far better to establish and maintain a routine of daily cleansing in the body rather than occasionally attempt major overhauls. I have seen and read about many detox cleanses that are trendy such as the master cleanse, juice fasts, raw food diets, etc.  But I find that a lot of them can be too sever and can cause shock and further imbalance in the body.

To ensure we are reinforcing our body’s natural cleansing system rather than straining it, there are three basic cleansing principles that we can follow:

1) Eat a balanced diet of fresh, wholesome foods

vegetables

We can start to balance our bodies by balancing what we put on our plates. A simple way to begin is by gradually increasing the ratio of fresh vegetables to the amount of grains and meats that we eat.  This will help us to obtain the maximum amount of energy from our food without overworking the digestive and eliminating systems.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Choose healthy whole grains.
  • Avoid processed foods which are difficult for our bodies to digest and break down.
  • Reduce our intake of sugar, caffeine and alcohol which are difficult substances for  the liver and the kidneys to filter.

If all of this is too intimidating, then the easiest and most important thing to stick to is by simply increasing the amount of vegetables that we eat.  This will lead us to have more regular bowel elimination, nourish our bodies, give us more energy, and help us to have glowing skin.

2) Adequate Physical exercise 

Stretching

Exercise increases the blood flow and the movement of fluids through the body.  Wastes, which might otherwise be deposited between cells or in tissues, are loosened up and can be carried out of the body with the help of exercise.

Walking is one of the most beneficial forms of gentle exercise. A brisk walk twice daily can help to increase circulation in our body and to invigorate our minds. Walking is actually my favorite form of exercise! It is so simple, yet so beneficial. Also, it is the best way to explore our surroundings.

Jogging and aerobic exercise are also important for stimulating and cleansing the cardiovascular and nervous systems and maintaining muscular tone.

Of all forms of movement however, Yoga exercise ranks at the top of the list, because its purpose is to create balance in the body and the mind. Many people are hesitant to try yoga because they have associated it with mystical religions and cults.  It’s a shame, because there is no other system that is as comprehensive and contributes as much to body-mind wellness as yoga. The physical exercises in yoga  balance, stretch, tone and strengthens the body in such a way that the nervous system and the mind can also be balanced and strengthened.

3) Regulation of the Breathing Pattern

Women breathing deeply, touching chest and abdomen

Breathing supports all of the body’s metabolic processes and rids the body of carbon dioxide. The breath is one of the most important cleansing tools, because it affects all of the body’s organs and tissues.

Our lungs are made up of an upper and lower sections for balanced, complete breathing. However, with the stresses and pressures of modern living we have developed an unconscious habit of upper chest breathing. This breathing pattern is characterized by short, shallow breathings, panting, jerks in the breath and pauses between breath. If we observe a newborn infant, who has not yet developed poor breathing habits, we will notice breathing patterns different from our own: the breathing is deep and the stomach moves up and down. These are the signs of diaphragmatic breathing, the natural and healthy breathing patters which we, as adults, have forgotten. Diaphragmatic breathing uses both the upper and lower lobes of the lungs in order to effectively ventilate the body.

A simple technique to establish diaphragmatic breathing is to lie on your back on a blanket, mat, or rug with both hands clasped over your stomach. As you inhale, your hands should move slightly apart from each other. You should feel your stomach rising with each inhale, and falling with each exhale. There should be little, if any, movement in the chest. Inhalation and exhalation should be regular, smooth, and even in length. You can do this practice ten minutes in the morning before getting out of bed.