We talk a lot about healthy lifestyle at Vita Health. But what does that mean? For a lot of us (OK, most of us) devoting hours a day to doing all the things we’re “supposed” to do to achieve health perfection is not possible. Kudos to those rare demi-gods that do an hour of yoga every day, cook every vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free meal from scratch while meeting their optimal protein requirements, meditate regularly in nature and go for a run every morning. You rock. For the rest of us, leading a healthy lifestyle is about finding balance between kids and personal time, work and play, nutrition and convenience.
Needless to say, we were pretty excited to find out Dr. Terry Willard, leading Canadian Herbalist would be joining us to discuss ways to strike the health-convenience balance. Although the title of his talk – “Tongue to Bum…A Detox Story” has received some bemused responses on social media, it is pretty accurate. The concept of regularly cleansing or “detoxing” the body’s major systems as a way of maintaining good health is not a new concept in natural healing. However, Dr. Willard has actively modernized the practice to make it comprehensive and accessible for modern life.
What is a detox, and why would I do one?
The reality is – we don’t live in a perfect world. Even if we ate perfect diets (if that even exists), cleaned with all-natural products, wore all-natural makeup and clothes, and exercised and meditated daily, we would still be exposed to harsh chemicals and toxins through the world around us. While it’s certainly worth doing our best, trying to eliminate everything that could possibly harm us just leads to isolation and frustration, which can be their own form of harm.
This is where detoxing comes in. In short, during a detox, you eat a whole organic foods and take herbal supplements for a short period of time (for Dr. Willard’s detox, 12 days). This stimulates your body to “flush” toxic materials through all channels of elimination. While this may not sound very fun, the benefits are worth it. “As the cleanse comes to an end one usually feels lighter and healthier.”(1)
As Dr. Willard explains, “It is impossible to build healthy new tissue without eliminating old cells and their by-products…Some of the best times to cleanse are during spring and fall, as these are the same times nature goes through a similar organic process.” (2) He also suggests that it can also be a good way to kick-start a healthy new routine.
Unlike a “diet,” a detox is not about deprivation. While most detoxes do limit or temporarily eliminate certain foods, the goal is not calorie deprivation. Rather, the aim is to cleanse the intestinal tract, liver, blood, lymphatic system and urinary tract. Why? Natural healing practitioners and medical doctors alike agree that healthy digestion is a major factor in overall good health. As Dr. Willard points out, herbal detox programs are easier on the body than calorie-depriving fasts and/or starvation diets. As he puts it, “If you cleanse too hard, as can happen during a fast, you often end up with a ‘Healing Crisis’ …an acute condition with symptoms ranging from headaches and nausea to fever and rashes.” (3) He likens these crises to grinding the gears of a car when you don’t use the clutch.
While detoxing is not a diet, many of the things we hope diets will do happen as a result of detoxing. Bloating, better digestion, reduced cravings, increased energy, and sometimes even weight loss are all described benefits.
Interested? We’ve run down the basics here, but there’s a whole lot more to learn about the function of the digestive tract, (from Tongue to Bum), how detoxing aids in these functions, and how to get the most out of digestion and detoxing. You can get this information tomorrow May 24, when Dr. Terry Willard will be joining us at the Caboto Centre. Hope to see you there!