Robert Claridge N.D.
Specialist Naturopath, Holistic Nutritionist, Herbalist, Homoeopath, R-System Specialist
Detoxify, cleanse, purify, decontaminate, whatever you want to call it, just get it done. Your health depends upon it!
With Easter now over, you have traversed the main festive periods of the year. It’s time to get focused on correcting the residual health effects from all your first quarter celebrations. So where do you start?
A powerful starting point is via a gastrointestinal (GIT) detox.
Festive foods can often expose you to insidious dietary chemicals, which among their many effects include GIT irritation. The following are just a few of these culprits:
- Trans fats: Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that are created through the process of hydrogenation. They have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Trans fats are found in margarine and other spreads, fried foods (i.e. fries, fried chicken), baked goods (i.e. cakes and pastries), snack foods (i.e. chips and crackers) and processed foods (i.e. frozen pizzas and frozen dinners).
- Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, neurological problems, and digestive issues.
- Sodium nitrite: Sodium nitrite is a preservative commonly used in processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats. It has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer.
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT): are preservatives commonly used in packaged foods to prevent spoilage. They have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health problems.
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG): MSG is a flavour enhancer commonly used in processed foods. It has been linked to headaches and hot flushes.
- Sodium benzoate: Sodium benzoate is a preservative commonly used in acidic foods like soft drinks, fruit juice, and pickles. It has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health problems.
- High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS): HFCS is a sweetener commonly used in processed foods and beverages. It has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.
The most obvious sign that your GIT has been affected by unfavourable food chemicals is a change in bowel motion. This often appears as either constipation or diarrhoea.
Sluggish bowels, or constipation, can have systemic health effects well beyond the digestive system. This is because constipation can lead to a build-up of irritants in the body, which can have an impact on overall health, as follows:
- Fatigue: Constipation can cause fatigue due to the impact of increased toxins entering the blood stream as well as a compromise to innate neurotransmitter production.
- Headaches: Toxins entering your portal bloodstream are firstly on route to your head and can cause headaches and migraines.
- Skin problems: The first place that the portal blood surfaces is your face and so if it is carrying increased levels of toxins it could lead to skin problems like acne, rashes, and dry skin.
- Mood changes: Increased toxins associated with constipation can affect the central nervous system and lead to mood changes like anxiety and depression.
- Increased risk of infections: A build-up of toxins in the body due to constipation can distract and overwork the immune system potentially leading to increased risk of infections.
- Nutrient deficiencies: Constipation can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, leading to nutrient deficiencies that can affect overall health.
On the other end of the spectrum, loose bowels, or diarrhoea, can also have systemic health effects beyond just the digestive system. These can include:
- Dehydration: Diarrhoea can cause dehydration which in turn can lead to symptoms like thirst, fatigue, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat.
- Nutrient deficiencies: Similar to constipation, diarrhoea can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, leading to a vast array of deficiencies that can affect overall health.
- Electrolyte imbalances: Diarrhoea can cause an imbalance of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride in the body. This can lead to symptoms like muscle cramps, weakness, and irregular heartbeat.
- Weight loss: Diarrhoea can cause weight reduction due to the loss of water and nutrients from the body.
The reason a GIT Detox can have such a powerful effect on your health is that it ultimately strengthens your GIT barrier.
This barrier provides a complex system of defence mechanisms that protect the body from harmful substances and pathogens that enter the GI tract. There are several layers to the GI barrier. These include:
- Microbiome: The GIT microbiome, is the collection of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes, that live within the gastrointestinal tract. The microbiome plays an important role in digestion, metabolism, immune system function, neurotransmitter production and many other physiological processes.
- Mucous membrane: This is the first layer of the GI barrier, consisting of a thick, gel-like substance produced by goblet cells in the intestines. It helps to trap and remove potentially harmful substances, including bacteria and toxins.
- Epithelial layer: This layer consists of a single layer of cells that line the GI tract, providing a physical barrier between the lumen (the inner part of the GI tract) and the bloodstream. These cells are connected by tight junctions that prevent harmful substances from passing between them.
- Immune cells: The GI tract contains nearly 70% of your total immune cell population and comprises lymphocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. These cells help to identify and destroy harmful substances and pathogens that enter the GI tract.
- Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT): This is a specialized type of immune tissue found in the GI tract, including Peyer’s patches in the small intestine and lymphoid follicles in the large intestine. These tissues produce antibodies and other immune cells that help to protect against harmful substances and pathogens.
- Blood vessels and lymphatics: Blood vessels and lymphatic vessels in the GI tract help to transport immune cells and nutrients throughout the body, while also removing waste products and harmful substances.
Together, these layers of the GI barrier work to protect the body from harmful substances and pathogens that enter the GI tract, while also allowing for the absorption of nutrients and other beneficial substances. Maintaining a healthy GI barrier is essential to your overall health and well-being.
If after reading this article you feel that you qualify for a GIT detox, and are unsure of how to proceed, please feel free to make an appointment by calling (03) 5221 8220.
Matthew Burrell is overseeing our REFRESH GIT Detox program and would be happy to support you through this life changing process. For all those who invest in the Program prior to the 30th of April, will receive a 12.5% discount.
As always, we are here if you need us.
We are excited to be able to help you move closer to your true potential!
The Claridge Naturopathics team