The 10-day and 28-day Detoxification Programs
Dr. Nicholas LeRoy, DC, MS
"The 10-day and 28-day Detoxification Programs" were created by my desire to provide you with a simple to follow yet comprehensive guide to expedite the removal of toxic substances from your body. This program will also assist you in the transition from a lifestyle that causes disease, to one that engenders health and vitality. I prescribe a program both as a stand-alone preventive measure if you are relatively healthy, and as the core of my treatment strategy if you have an illness. The need for a program of this nature is clear. Too many of us have been led to believe that health is incidental—that we are the product of genetics and chance. We are not. How we eat, how we exercise, and how we choose to cope with stress will alter how our genes function, and thereby determine our state of health. Most of us, however, are so far from optimal health that only substantial lifestyle modifications will suffice. Aggressive intervention is sometimes necessary.
Whether you embark on the 10-day program or the 28-day program depends on your level of symptoms (easily determined by filling out the following detoxification questionnaire) as well as other factors such as blood test results. Either program consists of an alteration in how you eat that is coupled with specific nutrient supplementation proven to improve liver detoxification and gastrointestinal function. This combination is the most effective way to minimize the entry of toxins into your body as well as decrease the creation of toxins within your body. The following section will describe in detail what toxins are and where they originate. Sometimes I may use as part of the program a "chelating" agent to remove heavy metals from your body. Toxic metals like mercury and lead are particularly troublesome because once in your body they do not readily leave.
Unlike other difficult to follow detoxification protocols that often involve juice fasts coupled with colonic irrigation, mud baths, or the drinking of bentonite clay (incidentally, all of which can be beneficial) my approach is easier and supported by scientific research. My program teaches you how make permanent changes in how you eat. In contrast, these other detox plans foster the erroneous notion that you can perform brief "cleanses" every now and again, returning to poor eating habits upon completion, and still achieve optimal health. Although some of these programs can be useful, performing even several cleanses every year without changing your diet can be likened to attempting to extinguish a forest fire with a single bucket of water.
If you are excited about the program you are about to embark upon—good! Accepting responsibility for your health is rewarding and you may find that other areas of your life change favorably as well. In fact, I recommend that while performing detoxification you make additional strides toward a healthier lifestyle by starting a yoga program, meditating, and evaluating your life goals.
If you are anxious about starting the program, that is understandable. However, the time for excuses is over! It's your body and whatever shape it is in at this moment is nobody's fault but your own. Admittedly, if you are like the average American you likely did not realize fully that you were creating your ill health with your diet and lack of exercise. Perhaps you were exposed to toxic chemicals as a child and received poor dietary habits from your parents. But that is in the past and there is nothing you can do about it now—except make responsible decisions from this point forward. There is no magic bullet cure for what ails you. The "cure" consists of the difficult but rewarding modification of your unhealthy behavior.
To summarize, the ultimate goal of "The 10-day and 28-day Detoxification Programs" are not just to "clean" you out—achieving some false sense of accomplishment so you can continue eating the way you were without guilt. Rather, it is an introduction to a permanent healthier lifestyle. In following my program you will learn new behaviors that involve purchasing different foods at the store and preparing these foods in new ways. In effect, while undergoing an effective detoxification program you will also be learning an incredibly simple method to eating well without the fuss.
What are Toxins?
Toxins are chemicals that damage bodily tissues, interfering with normal biologic processes in our bodies. They are poisons, in effect, damaging the very chemical reactions that sustain life. Toxic chemicals include medications such as antacids, anti-inflammatory drugs, hormones, and antibiotics; and other man-made chemicals such as pesticides, food additives, adhesives, and solvents. Toxins also include chemicals that are produced in the intestine by bacteria and as a normal by-product of cellular function. Unfortunately, many of these toxins are stored in fat and can be extremely difficult to eliminate from the body. Literature suggests an association between toxins and premature aging, cancer, Parkinson's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
Where do Toxins Come From?
Toxins come from two places. They are produced inside of our bodies, and are referred to as "Internally-Derived"; and they come from outside of our body, and are thus referred to as "Externally-Derived" toxins. The following sections will discuss each class of toxins in detail to give you a better appreciation of why you are about to embark upon my program.
There are two classes of toxins originating from within our own bodies: those coming from an imbalanced metabolism, and those produced by gastrointestinal organisms.
· Imbalanced Metabolism
There is substantial diversity in human genetics. As different as each of us is in appearance, so too are we in the genes that control our internal physiology. This characteristic explains why an individual leading a healthy life may develop cancer, while another lives into his/her nineties smoking and drinking for decades.
Genetic research is demonstrating that each of us may have numerous genes that inadequately conduct the body's biologic affairs. The result of these genetic errors will be an imbalance in metabolism and a subsequent increase in toxic chemicals. One such genetic defect involves the accumulation of homocysteine, a compound that can damage the vascular system and contribute to heart disease.
Homocysteine is involved in the metabolism, or breakdown, of sulfur-containing amino acids. This process requires the proper activity of numerous enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that initiate reactions in the body and are produced by specific genes. If you happen to be one of the unlucky individuals with a faulty gene that encodes for these enzymes, you will have preponderance for the accumulation of homocysteine and thus, be at high risk for heart disease. Vitamin B12, B6, and folate are also necessary for the proper breakdown of homocysteine. Therefore, the toxic accumulation of homocysteine can be assured if you possess the faulty gene and your diet is deficient in the dark green leafy vegetables that are high in these vitamins. A change in diet, and the supplementation of B12, B6, and folate will decrease homocysteine levels. This example clearly demonstrates how a combination of weak genes and poor diet and nutrition can result in the accumulation of toxic compounds within the body. It also demonstrates how dietary modification and/or proper supplementation can decrease the genetic risks with which we are born. We are not the sum of our genes.
There are hundreds of such genes that influence the ability of the body to conduct the biologic reactions necessary to sustaining life. Some of the most important are the enzymes produced in the liver for the purpose of breaking down and eliminating toxic compounds in general. The detoxification pathways in the liver have been identified and the enzymes required to complete each set of chemicals reactions are understood. As is the case with the homocysteine scenario, some of us have genetic errors that produce a less than desirable amount of these detoxification enzymes. We are then biologically inclined to have more toxins in our systems, permitting these compounds to have deleterious effects on tissues and organs. Even without genetic errors, however, these detoxification reactions require specific vitamins, minerals, and amino acid co-factors to assist the enzymes in completing the removal of a toxin. A deficiency of one or more of these co-factors will impair the detoxification process and cause toxin accumulation.
Under normal physiologic circumstances toxic compounds are produced within the body. This toxin production is part and parcel to biologic existence. However, the rate at which we are able to rid the body of these chemicals is mostly dependent upon diet and nutritional status.
The second class of toxins originating from within our bodies are those produced by the bacteria and other organisms that reside in our intestine.
· Gastrointestinal Bacterial Metabolism
There are over 400 species of bacteria that reside in our intestines and have a total population in the trillions. Bacterial colonization occurs at birth with the inoculation of the child by the mother's vaginal and fecal organisms. During the first several years of life the organisms in the intestine must achieve a balance whereby healthy or beneficial bacteria outnumber the pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria. If a balance is not achieved, lifelong health problems can result. The cause of bacterial imbalance, also termed dysbiosis, is poor diet and the use of antibiotics.
Healthy bacteria produce vitamins, create an acidic environment that inhibits parasite growth, and manufacture short chain fatty acids that are important in nourishing the lining of the intestine. Unhealthy bacteria produce toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream. Dr. William Shaw, at the Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, has discovered metabolites of fungi (yeast) and bacteria in the urine of patients with various neurological conditions such as depression, multiple sclerosis, psychosis, and autism. Toxins produced by unhealthy microorganisms can also damage the wall of the intestine. This damage to the intestinal lining is known as "Leaky Gut Syndrome" and has been associated with numerous diseases.
The wall of the intestine is a semi-permeable structure. It is designed to facilitate the movement of nutrients into the bloodstream, while blocking the passage of bacteria, yeast, partially digested foods, and other toxins. Besides an imbalance in bacteria, an improper diet, use of oral anti-inflammatory drugs, and the consumption of alcohol and coffee will damage the intestine, thereby allowing these toxins to "leak" into the bloodstream.
Leaky Gut Syndrome is quite significant considering that over the course of a lifetime, the intestinal tract processes more than 25 tons of food, which represents the largest load of potential toxins confronting the human body. If the surface of the intestinal lining could be spread flat, it would cover the area of a tennis court! Upon this huge surface area are the trillions of bacteria as well as food in the process of being digested. Thus it is easy to see how the health of your intestine is probably the single most important factor determining your overall health!
In summary, there is a continual struggle between healthy and unhealthy microorganisms within your intestine. For optimal health and disease prevention a balance must be achieved whereby the healthy organisms prevail. However, many of us will create an imbalance due to poor diet as well as the incidental exposure to pathogenic organisms through daily contact with others as well as from travelling to other countries. This imbalance will result in an increase in toxin production. It can also cause Leaky Gut Syndrome that will further increase the entry of toxins into your bloodstream.
Simply put, we are awash in an ocean of man-made chemicals. It is next to impossible to avoid these toxins because they are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Due to this ubiquitous nature of these compounds, most persons have over forty synthetic chemicals in their bodies at any given moment. Many of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.
Sources of externally derived toxins include:
· Herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers
· Illegal drugs
· Prescription drugs
· Food additives including coloring agents
· Alcohol in beverages and solvents
· Computer hardware and electronics
· Plywood and particle board in home construction
· Carpeting and paint
· Petroleum products
· Volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, trichloromethane, and vinyl chloride
· Heavy metals including mercury, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and aluminum
Chemicals that are derived from outside of the body are termed xenobiotics. Xenobiotics can have profound, adverse effects on bodily tissues and organs. For example, a study in the December 5, 1998 issue of The Lancet, found a dose-dependent relationship between dieldrin and breast cancer. Dieldrin is a pesticide that was used in the U.S. for many years, and continues to be used throughout the world. The results of the study demonstrated that the more dieldrin within your body, the higher your risk for getting breast cancer. Many xenobiotics mimic estrogen and are termed xeno-estrogens. The significance of xenoestrogens is that they have a high affinity for estrogen receptors that are located on breast cells, and they are fat-soluble. In other words, once these compounds are in your body, they do not like to leave and preferentially attach to breast tissue, where they exert cancer-causing effects. These toxins also affect men by elevating overall estrogen levels, relatively diminishing testosterone levels. Unfortunately, there are over 800 different chemicals that belong to this class of toxins! Many xenobiotic compounds are stored in fat tissue, and can reside there for decades, continuing to exert their harmful effects.
Special attention must be given to heavy metals due to the significant effects these toxins have on human function. Evidence demonstrates the ability of metals to impair brain function, and they are likely culprits for impairing the cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, and urological systems. Even small amounts of these toxins can have deleterious effects. A study in 1999 found that patients with cardiomyopathy (a type of heart disease) had blood mercury levels 22,000 times greater than that of normal test subjects. Blood levels of antimony were 12,000 times, and gold 11 times higher than control subjects. Other studies have made correlations between mercury fillings, a source of mercury accumulation in other bodily tissues, and autoimmune diseases and heart attacks. Levels of hair mercury levels were significantly higher in multiple sclerosis patients than in persons without the disease. Recently, the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical industry finally acknowledged that there is likely a relationship between autism and the mercury preservative in vaccines.
Lead accumulation is another example of chronic heavy metal exposure. Once lead has been sequestered in the bone of your body, where it replaces calcium, it takes 62 years for the amount to be reduced by one half! Hair analysis, an effective means to identify chronic metal exposure, has made a connection between lead levels and reduced intelligence scores and achievement scores in children. Lead has also been associated with hyperactivity, delayed learning, fatigue, behavioral problems, headaches, insomnia, and loss of appetite.
A Point to Consider
Virtually all safety testing conducted on man-made chemicals is performed on each individual toxin. Safety testing for the purpose of determining the potential bodily effects when exposed to more than one toxin is not a concern of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, research is demonstrating the harmful effects of the multitude of toxins to which we are exposed far exceeds the summation of the effects of each individual toxin. Thus, high levels of bodily toxins have synergistic effects, thereby causing a greater degree of damage than a singular toxin alone.
This multiplicity of toxin effects has been clearly elucidated with animal studies and is exemplified with the following example. Researchers desiring to study the effect of mercury and lead administered just enough lead to kill one percent of the test subjects. They did likewise with mercury. But when they administered the same amounts of both lead and mercury, all of the animals died.
It is clear that what government health agencies consider safe levels of singular toxins, may not be harmless when determining the safety of the numerous chemicals to which we are exposed. This uncertainty concerning the full potential of the interaction of the myriad of chemicals to which we are exposed is all the more reason to expedite their removal from our bodies.