"By 7:30 in the evening, I was on the couch, exhausted," recalls Lina Fronzo. But that was before a cleansing regimen-under the guidance of Gaetano Morello, ND-and some simple lifestyle changes transformed her life. Now, Lina's day starts at 5:30 a.m. and sometimes lasts until 11 p.m., although she usually goes to bed a bit earlier. "I don't slow down for a minute," she says.
That's not surprising, since her normal day consists of taking care of her teenage son, her husband, and her elderly mother, as well as running a home business. And five times a week, she works out for an hour at a local gym, training with weights and doing a variety of cardio routines, including kickboxing and spinning. "You have to get rid of the toxins in your body to make everything work the way it's supposed to," she says.
Getting with the Program
Lina's path from exhausted to excited included several key steps. In addition to cleansing, she changed her diet-dropping white pasta and rice for brown, and emphasizing fruits, vegetables, fish, and poultry. "We never eat red meat now," she says. She takes fish oil and other nutrients found in quality multivitamin/multiminerals. She flavors her dishes with a variety of spices instead of salt, and she drinks plenty of water along with the occasional glass of wine.
The transformation Lina experienced thanks to her new healthy lifestyle has been visibly noticeable. In addition to regaining a tremendous amount of energy, she gradually lost a significant amount of body fat and dropped four dress sizes. "All the cellulite I had on the back of my legs has totally disappeared," she says. "And my skin is unbelievable." At a recent 25-year school reunion, a former classmate couldn't believe that Lina hadn't had cosmetic surgery.
"Average people have between 400 and 700 chemicals that we've tested for in their bodies," says Gaetano Morello, ND, author of Whole Body Cleansing: Transform Your Health Through Gentle Purification and Effective Detoxification. However, he points out, these tests only measure about 1,000 of the more than 85,000 chemicals in use, so the potential contamination is far greater.
The effects of these toxins on our health aren't fully understood, he says, but "we can assume that these chemicals aren't benefiting us in any way." For example, studies published in journals such as Obesity Reviews and Toxicological Sciences indicate that, because toxins are stored in body fat, they can make weight loss difficult, if not impossible, without a cleansing program. In trials of obese women and men who lost weight, blood levels of common pesticides increased. At the same time, there was a decrease in levels of thyroid hormone (which drives metabolism) and resting metabolic rate (the number of calories a body burns to stay alive). In weight-loss programs, this mechanism causes plateaus and regain of body fat.
The Detoxification Process
The amount of chemicals in a human body at any given time-known as body burden-is determined by two things, says Morello: exposure and the ability to detoxify. Avoiding exposure as much as possible and becoming more efficient at eliminating toxins help to reduce body burden and improve health and vitality.When describing detoxification, Morello uses this analogy: To remove dried paint from your hand, you need turpentine to thin it and a cloth to wipe it off. With toxins, the liver performs a similar two-phase process, and the waste is dumped into bile that takes the toxins into the bowel. There, bile binds with fiber and is eliminated.
This process can break down if the liver is overloaded or there isn't enough fiber to carry out the job. In such cases, bile is recycled in the body. Toxins then enter the bloodstream and are stored in fat.
As you get rid of fat cells during weight loss, stored toxins are released. They generate free radicals, which trigger inflammation. Consequently, Morello says, "You need high levels of antioxidants to combat that inflammation as quickly as possible." An organic diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables will improve the body's detoxification system. But even then, says Morello, "Once in a while, we need to do something special to eliminate more of those toxins."
What To Do
These are the steps Morello recommends to lower your body burden of toxins.
- Reduce dietary intake of chemicals by eating organic foods as much as possible, and certainly organic versions of produce with the highest pesticide load (see www.foodnews.org).
- Get adequate fiber. The National Academy of Sciences recommends 35 g daily for men and 25 g daily for women, approximately double the American average. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Good fiber sources include apples and pears (about 4 g each), berries (about 3-8 g per cup), whole grains, and legumes (cooked beans range from around 4 g to more than 7 g per half-cup). If you eat cereal, choose one with at least 4 g of fiber per serving.
- Use non-toxic, environmentally friendly household cleaning agents and laundry soaps, air fresheners, and hair and skin care products. Keep in mind that the skin isn't a barrier, but rather an organ that absorbs anything you put on it.
- Filter the air and water in your home.
Try this three-week cleansing program, three to four times per year.
Increase your antioxidant levels by drinking fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices daily and, in addition to your usual supplements, take these:
- Vitamin C: 1-2 g daily; cut back if diarrhea occurs.
- Vitamin E: 400 IU daily.
- Resveratrol: 300 mg daily.
- Alpha lipoic acid: 350 mg daily.
Weeks 2 and 3
Continue taking extra antioxidants and drinking fresh juices as in Week 1. To release chemical compounds stored in body fat, spend 15 minutes daily in an infrared sauna,
or do 30 minutes of daily exercise intense enough to break a sweat. And, to enhance detoxification, take these:
- NAC (N-acetylcysteine): 300 mg daily. A special form of the amino acid cysteine, NAC is a precursor of our internal production of glutathione, a key part of our built-in antioxidant defense system. It also helps the liver eliminate toxins.
- Milk thistle: 300-400 mg daily of the phytosome form, which is absorbed most
effectively. Silymarin, a key substance in milk thistle, helps the liver to repair itself and protects it against toxins.
- Curcumin: 750 mg twice daily. The active ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric, curcumin supports healthy liver function and is used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat liver problems.
- Fiber supplements: Take 5 g in the morning and another 5 g in the evening.
- Protein: Once daily, between meals, get 12-15 g of protein from whey or vegetarian protein powder (without artificial ingredients) mixed with water. The amino acids in these formulas are easy to assimilate and are used to produce enzymes required by the liver to detoxify. [Editor's note: See p. 36 for protein powder recommendations.]
- Magnesium hydroxide: For constipation, take a laxative that contains magnesium hydroxide. Known as an "osmotic" laxative, it works by drawing water into waste material in the bowel, rather than acting as a stimulant that may cause irritation.
A cleansing kit may contain these and other helpful ingredients, and is an alternative source of detoxifying nutrients during Weeks 2 and 3.
toxin test stats
In the Human Toxome Project of the non-profit Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), scientists measure levels of industrial chemicals-absorbed from food, air, water, or various products that we use daily-in the human body. In a group of 172 people of all ages, blood, urine, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood samples were tested for 552 industrial substances. Of these, 409 different chemicals were found in the bodies of study participants.
The CDC examines blood and urine samples from 2,400 people every two years. Although it does not test for as many chemicals as the Human Toxome Project, the CDC has found around 219 chemicals in the bodies of Americans.
The National Human Adipose Tissue Survey (NHATS), a program of the US government, collected and tested approximately 12,000 samples of human fat tissues from cadavers and surgical patients between 1970 and the late 1980s. Among the conclusions: "The NHATS has successfully documented widespread and significant prevalence of pesticide exposures in the general population."
"Once in a while," says Dr. Gaetano Morello, "we need to do something special to eliminate toxins."
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