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Out with toxins

Poor diet, other unhealthful choices can be countered with exercise

Poor diet, other unhealthful choices can be countered with exercise

July 10, 2006|by MEG PARTINGTON

The caffeine consumed to get through long days, countered by cigarettes and alcohol to relax are a toxic mix that many people have coursing through their veins.

Throw in fat- and sugar-laden foods and it's a wonder some bodies ever move off the couch.

"We bring on our toxicities in our life," says Lisa Dorfman, a registered dietitian and national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "Everybody has their own vice."

Sometimes those bad habits are determined by age.

Teens tend to fill their bodies with fast food, soda and high-fat foods, Dorfman says, while those 55 and older tend to overuse laxatives, pharmaceuticals and supplements.

"They overdo it. They just don't get it," Dorfman says in a telephone interview.

Life's stresses cause many people to lose sleep, get too little or too much exercise, and use food, drinks and various products to catch up and to calm down.

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In her latest book, "The Tropical Diet," Dorfman says vitamin and mineral supplements, bars and shakes can become addictive, forcing the body to take in more of them for health maintenance. This also is true of over-the-counter medicines, cold remedies, pain relievers and allergy/sinus medications, she writes.

Chris Anne Beardslee, special programs coordinator at Results Therapy & Fitness in Chambersburg, Pa., agrees that energy bars and other packaged foods are addictive, but not in a physical sense: "What's addictive is the convenience."

"If it comes in a package and it crinkles and you have to open it, it isn't the best choice," Beardslee says. She suggests opting instead for natural foods, perhaps selecting a banana over an energy bar.

Compounding the unhealthy lifestyles many people lead are the pesticides used on produce and pollutants from vehicles poisoning the air we breathe.

"We're getting bombarded with environmental toxins all the time," says Linda D. Potts, a registered nurse and owner of Healing Waters Wellness Center in Smithsburg.

Time to detoxify



The good news is that many health-inhibiting substances can be purged from the body.

Dorfman says it's time for an internal cleansing if you are experiencing any of the following: headaches; anxiety; lethargy; feeling a need for sugar, coffee or alcohol; skin rashes or dry skin; losing hair; indigestion; irritable bowels; or constipation.

"Your body will say, 'you need a break,'" Dorfman says. "I think they call it 'time out' for little kids."

Perhaps the simplest way to get started is to drink six to eight glasses of water daily.

Drink water first thing in the morning to wake up the kidneys, says Potts, adding that it's best to consume spring or bottled varieties instead of those containing softeners.

If drinking that much water seems daunting, try consuming half a cup every hour or so, Beardslee says. Those who are more active likely will need more than six to eight glasses, while those who are less active might need less, she adds.

Herbal teas are another healthful option, Potts says.

To add more punch to your hydrating regimen, and to clean out the kidneys and bladder, drink the juice from one lemon every morning, Potts says.

Sweat it out



Exercising regularly is a great way to rid the body of toxins, Potts says.

She says some can be sweated out of the system, and activity stimulates the lymphatic system, which helps destroy bacteria in the body.

If a night of overindulging in alcohol has your body screaming, a workout will work it out. Beardslee says nothing combats a hangover like sweating, so she recommends going on a run the next morning or doing other activities that keep your body in its target heart-rate zone for about 45 minutes.

"You've gotta sweat," Beardslee says.

To maintain a regular exercise-induced detox, people must partake in activities they enjoy. If running or biking don't fit the bill, try other outdoor activities or cardiovascular equipment, Beardslee says.

"It's going to have to be something they like," she says. "If they don't enjoy it, they're not going to do it."

Processes Potts suggests for cleansing include:

· Dry sauna for removal of environmental toxins and heavy metals such as mercury, which can seep into the system through fillings in the teeth. This option also is helpful for those who are undergoing or who have been through radiation treatments for cancer.

· Steam sauna. This is an alternative for those who don't tolerate dry heat well.

· Massage therapy.

· Acupuncture, which traditional Chinese healers use to allow energy to flow through the body.

Dorfman says detoxifying can have spiritual and emotional components, as well.

She suggests making time to meditate or pray every day. In her book, Dorfman says she takes care of her inner self by exercising early in the day alone or with friends, and taking five minutes to an hour out of every day to concentrate on a jigsaw puzzle.

Detoxification can take one to three days or might require weeks of work, Dorfman says. In "The Tropical Diet," she suggests going through the process two to three times a year.

Body cleansing is not for everyone, however.

In her book, Dorfman says women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, children and teens, those with emotional or eating disorders, and those on prescribed medications are not good candidates for detoxifying.

And some people just aren't ready.

Those who are overly stressed or tired might feel worse after a detox, Potts says. Such individuals might need to build a strong vitamin and mineral foundation before cleansing.

"Trust your gut," Potts says. "Your gut is dead-on."

A health screening can help determine what a person's body needs to reach its optimum health, Potts says.

Sometimes all the body needs is a chance to do its job.

By eating well, getting enough rest and exercising regularly, people are helping their bodies do what they were built to do, Potts says.

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