Being tired all the time is no way to live. Chronic fatigue can make it next to impossible to perform even your most basic day-to-day responsibilities, let alone enjoy life. Instead of turning to caffeine, energy drinks and sugar to keep you going, there’s a much safer, more effective solution that practitioners of integrative and natural medicine use successfully with their patients— detoxification. In this article, the third of a four-part series on fatigue, you’ll learn about the often-ignored medical research linking toxin exposure to fatigue and other problems and how you can regain sagging energy by enhancing your body’s detoxification systems with a safe, natural detox cleanse.
Environmental toxins, which we now encounter on a daily basis through our food, water and air, are increasingly being recognized as playing a role in fatigue. It is now well-documented that our bodies store unknown mixtures and amounts of many toxins for years, and the long-term health effects of this are still largely unknown. While the human body has sophisticated mechanisms in place to process and excrete toxins it encounters, research is showing that these mechanisms can (and are) being overwhelmed. This often results in feeling tired all the time, even at low levels of exposure in healthy individuals. For example, studies have shown that office workers exposed to low levels of PCBs or mold through building contamination are significantly more fatigued, as are students in poorly ventilated computer labs.
Toxins have also been found in studies to be linked to many fatigue-related illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivity. Even the rates of common chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease and Alzheimer’s have been found to be directly related to levels of chronic exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
The conventional medical establishment largely ignores this issue, despite the growing body of research linking environmental toxins to various fatigue-related conditions and the fact that fatigue is one of patients’ most common complaints to their doctors. About half the time, patients who visit their primary care providers and complain of feeling tired all the time never receive a diagnosis and are not offered any treatment. This is bad medicine for patients, for society and for the medical system.
If you’re tired all the time, exposure to chemicals, mold, heavy metals and other toxic compounds could be directly causing or exacerbating your fatigue, and spending a short time doing a detox cleanse could be the answer. Medical research is finally being conducted and published, which validates what many natural healing systems have taught for centuries: there are scientifically valid ways to enhance the body’s capacity to detoxify. Researchers are uncovering ways that diet, nutrition, natural supplements and other natural therapies can be used to support the body’s ability to detoxify. Incorporating these natural therapies into a detox cleanse helps reduce and prevent chemical toxicity and often relieves toxicity-related symptoms like feeling tired all the time.
The liver is responsible for the greatest share of the detoxification load. It must metabolize toxic substances into non-toxic, water-soluble compounds that can be eliminated by the kidneys and intestines. The liver and other tissues involved in detoxification must be supplied with the essential nutrients needed for this task. In addition to these nutrients, specific compounds in foods (phytochemicals) have been found to assist in detoxification and aid in preventing damage to the body’s tissues during the detox cleanse process.
A major component of any detox/cleanse is a healthy diet. Why? Detoxification programs that combine short-term dietary changes and supplements to support the liver’s detoxification enzyme systems have been shown in studies to significantly reduce fatigue, pain and other symptoms in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions.
The dietary component of a detox cleanse typically involves making short-term dietary adjustments that are designed to accomplish a number of objectives, including:
● reduce exposure to common allergens, food additives and toxins from foods
● increase intake of nutrients required for detoxification-related biochemical processes
● improve the health of the gastrointestinal tract
● maintain higher levels of compounds that increase the detoxification enzyme systems of the liver
● keep the bowels moving regularly with plenty of fiber and water to reduce absorption and facilitate elimination
You may find it hard to believe that short-term dietary adjustments to enhance detoxification can end your fatigue. But if you’re tired all the time, you need to experience for yourself the transformative powers of detoxification. Stay tuned for Part 4 of this series on fatigue where we will provide specific how-to’s for a simple but effective detox cleanse for treating fatigue, including diet and supplements.
Contributing editor Kathleen Jade, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Physician in the Seattle area where she conducts natural health research and writes for Natural Health Advisory Institute. Contact Dr. Kathleen by commenting on one of her blogs. She has written a recently released e-Book Fatigue Causes and Relief: Natural Remedies for Excessive Tiredness and Chronic Fatigue.
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