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Detoxification is good for the body


September 20, 2006

After having grabbed a few too many cookies walking past the treats in her school's conference room, Marla Melito, a teacher in Niskayuna, N.Y., noticed that her energy level flagged toward the end of the day as she graded exams.

She wondered, could there be a connection between the way her body was feeling and what she was putting in it?

Melito decided it was time for a change; she wanted to detox her body.

Although the word often is associated with people trying to kick a drug addiction, it can apply to trying to change poor dietary habits and cleanse your body.

"Detoxification is the process of breaking down and eliminating in the body anything that shouldn't be in it," says Debbie Mandel, a fitness and stress management expert on New York's Long Island and author of "Changing Habits."

Because our diets aren't natural anymore, containing pesticides, additives, artificial coloring, even medications we take, toxins need to be excreted.

This can be accomplished with a whole-body cleansing, involving a colonic or gentle laxatives, says Decker Weiss, a board-certified naturopathic cardiologist in Scottsdale, Ariz. Or detoxification can be achieved through a calculated elimination of unhealthy foods.

A whole-body cleanse, Weiss says, combines gentle laxatives with fiber (to bind the toxins). Weiss advises patients to read labels and look for products that contain magnesium hydroxide, slippery elm bark and marshmallow root, which helps to draw water into the intestines. Also look for burdock and red clover, two additional substances associated with detoxifying the blood and lymphatic systems.

A whole-body cleanse generally takes two weeks, but could last up to six months for someone recovering from a major illness or disease.

Similar results can be accomplished by changing eating habits, experts say. Mandel urges clients to make small changes and get comfortable with them before moving on. For example, she might recommend a client cut out or reduce soft drinks.

Along with boosting your energy, eliminating junk from your diet can enhance your appearance.

"Skin not only clears up but looks radiant; hair becomes stronger, thicker and shinier," Mandel says.

Although you won't be able to see it, your body will change internally as well; you will have a healthier cardiovascular system and your immune system will grow stronger.

Copyright 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.