By now, if you are over 65, you might be experiencing subtle changes in your health as you age. You might find that you are taking longer to recover from a cold or flu, and you need to rest longer after you exercise or do a chore. You may notice other subtle changes, like patches of eczema on your skin, or ridges on your fingernails, or pervasive physical and mental fatigue. Normally, you shrug off these symptoms—you’re just grateful that you are not suffering from some drastic illness, and decide to leave well enough alone.
But if you are curious about why these changes occur, and how they might affect you in the future, you might want to learn more. As it happens, an entire body of research and scientific thought is devoted to immunosenescence, “the gradual deterioration of the immune system brought on by natural age advancement”.
Some of the research involving immunosenescence, discusses toxins—how they enter the food we consume, and how they adversely affect our health and compromise our immune systems. It’s a contentious subject, and represents a clash of beliefs, which has been raging for decades in various books and articles, now joined by hundreds of blogs and sources online.
There are two distinct points of view, the first reflecting the beliefs of the holistic community, and the second, the views of conventional medicine:
a: Dangerous pesticides and other substances collect in our bodies over the years, and must be removed by a variety of prescribed methods.
b: Dangerous substances do enter our bodies, but are removed naturally, and as a matter of course by our own body systems. No intervention is needed.
Here is the ‘holistic’ view
Experts like Laura Barklay, writing on behalf of the Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology, outlines the beliefs commonly found in the holistic and alternative communities. She poses a convincing argument.
“These days we are exposed daily to high levels of toxins (i.e. chemicals, pesticides, water contaminants, food preservatives, heavy metals and electromagnetic radiation) through our food, water, air, body and home products. These toxins lodge in the bowel, liver, kidneys, lymphatic system and especially fat tissue. The toxic build up prevents the normal uptake and utilization of nutrients. It reduces the body’s oxygen uptake and creates an acidic, septic, low-energy state, prone to disease.”
The conventional view, and the rebuttal
The medical and scientific community, representing doctors and conventional clinicians, are strident in their response. Negative reports, like this 2014 Guardian article, You Can’t Detox Your Body. It’s a Myth, appear regularly in the media:
“If toxins did build up in a way your body couldn’t excrete, you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention. The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak, there is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better.”
A rebuttal, Is Detoxing Really a Myth? written by Ben Greenfield, appeared in an edition of the Huffington Post a short time later:
“And while heavy metals are only one form of a toxin that can accumulate in your tissues, there is no doubt that science has proven that these toxins can indeed be removed via the use of these specific “detox” compounds found in nature. So when the article in The Guardian“guffaws” at the ideas of superfoods such as spirulina, I would actually beg to differ.”
A promising shift in the debate
Key the word, toxins, online, and you will see that the debate rages on. It’s becoming increasingly clear, though, that the long-held beliefs of the holistic community are gradually making inroads into conventional thinking about detoxification. The biggest support comes from scientific experts in the field of medicine, like (Hope4Cancer), which is pioneering radical methods of preventing and treating cancer.
Everyday threats, they say, eventually take a toll over the years. A lifetime of stress, as well as exposure to radiation, chemicals and diseases, can indeed contribute to a diminished immune system. And here is their response to the claim that the body can detoxify itself:
“Our body’s built-in detoxification pathways are powered by important organs: the intestines, skin, lungs, liver and kidneys. These organs, when healthy, eliminate toxins. But when our body is overloaded and overwhelmed with toxins, the functioning of these organs can deteriorate and become unable to handle the toxin build-up. “
Finally, a short quiz from Dr. Subrata Chakravarty Ph.D of Hope4Cancer, to help you identify some of the symptoms of toxicity:
“Is your body toxic?”
So we’ve now explored why detoxification is critical. Could your body be toxic? You might benefit from detoxification if you have some of the following symptoms:
Regular muscle aches and pains
Weight you just can’t shed
Constipation, bloating or irritable bowel syndrome
Broken-out skin, rashes, acne, puffy eyes, eczema or psoriasis
Sensitivity to smells
Arthritis or gout
I feel I have waded into shark infested waters with the introduction of this topic. There are many aspects to toxicity, and many suggestions about how to fix it—herbal cleanses, antioxidants, and especially the use of saunas may be effective measures. So, I’ll be back with more!