Tag Archives: cleansing

Balancing the Body’s Cleansing System, Part 2

June 19, 2012

In the previous post, I touched on the different parts of our body’s cleansing system and talked about how our skin can be an indicator for what’s going on inside our bodies. This time, I’d like to continue elaborating on the idea that, as part of the excretory system, our skin can directly reflect an improperly functioning digestive system.

The Importance of Eating for Our Skin.

Our digestive system has the very important role of breaking down the foods that we eat and turning them into energy. The nourishment of our body and health rely upon this process of breaking down food into useful components : amino acids, simple sugars, fatty acids and glycerin. However, when our digestive system is not working properly, the result can be fatigue and fermentation and production of toxins, which then give rise to many diseases, including acne, eczema, psoriasis, and even unpleasant body odors.

There are many factors that can contribute to an improperly functioning digestive system, so it is important to consult with a physician for your really serious digestive issues. For the purposes of this article however, we will look at some of those factors that are linked with our lifestyle and diet.

The case for fiber
The digestive system works mechanically by moving food through different parts of the body. Meals that are high in fiber provide more indigestible bulk and are moved more efficiently through the intestines. You can use the example of squeezing a tube of toothpaste—it’s easier to squeeze the paste out when there’s a lot of it as opposed to a very small amount. In the same way, high-bulk fibrous foods take up more room in the intestine and are easily moved along. Fibrous foods promote regular bowel elimination, and reduces the instances of constipation and the amount of time that fecal matter sits in the intestines, thus limiting the potential for toxin absorption.

Can you guess which types of foods are high in fiber ? ……Why yes, good guess! Fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber!!  Well, actually, there are several good sources of fiber and we can place them into the following categories :

  • Vegetables
  • Fresh and Dried Fruits
  • Wholes Grains
  • Beans and Legumes
  • Nuts and Seeds

But the reason I highlight fresh fruits and vegetables is because they really give us the most bang for the buck. Not only are they rich in fiber, but they also provide us with a very wholesome source of energy and they contain a lot of the vitamins and nutrients that are essential in nourishing our skin and giving us that healthy glow.

What about whole grains ?
This is a question I’d like to address because recently I have been trying to reduce my consumption of wheat breads and other gluten containing foods.

There are many types of grains out there and some of them may be good for digestion while other types of grains can hamper the digestive process. The one thing we can conclude is that, in terms of nutrition, whole grains will always be better for us than processed grains.  This is because whole grains still have their outer layers intact, which contain vitamins, minerals and proteins.

But in terms of digestion,  there is a lot of evidence that gluten containing whole grains, such as rye, barley, and wheat, are not actually that great for the digestive system. Yes they are high in fiber but they also have gluten, a type of protein that is very difficult to digest. Gluten intolerance is not yet very well understood, but symptoms that have been linked to it include : diarrhea, gas, bloating, general gastro-intestinal discomfort, as well as a poor immune system, and chronic skin problems such as dermatitis and eczema.

This is not to say you need to be extreme and cut out grains entirely from your diet. But, you can get the same amount of fiber from eating more fruits and vegetables and also, they are definitely a better source of nutrition and energy for our bodies. For healthier grain options, however, try to go for brown or wild rice, quinoa, and amaranth. And if you are wary of gluten, you can do your research and find that there is a long list of grains out there that are gluten-free.

Other factors that contribute to poor digestion:

  • Too much protein and fats
    Excessive amounts of protein and fat in the diet can slow down digestion because the body has to work harder to digest them.
  • Dehydration
    To digest properly, we need to drink plenty of water! Water is used to help produce mucus, which helps lubricate the lining of the intestines and makes it easier for food to pass along. An efficient digestive tract reduces the amount of time food spends in the intestine, decreases intestinal gas formation, and improves regularity of bowel movements. Also, water is just great for keeping the skin moisturized! Most people will say to drink at least 8 glasses of water, but you can actually get a lot of your water just by eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eating too much, eating too fast
    Your mother will tell you, chew… your…. food… slowly…. As I have already mentioned, digestion is a mechanical process of moving food along through different parts of our body. Digestion starts in the mouth by mashing food with the help of our teeth, saliva and digestive enzymes. Also, when we chew our food slowly, our stomach requires less food to feel full than if we were to eat hurriedly.

 

Reading Sources on the Digestive System:
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/slow-digestive-system.html
http://www.livestrong.com/article/166981-what-are-the-causes-of-a-slow-digestive-system/#ixzz1yF8ehGQO

vegetables

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.