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There are various types of detoxification and cleansing procedures. Fasting, parasite cleansing, Candida (a specific yeast) cleansing, liver, and kidney cleansing are some examples. Each procedure employs various dietary products and techniques. In case you're wondering if you would benefit from a cleansing and detoxification program, body cleansing has been shown to prevent and alleviate allergies, acne, IBS, Chrons Disease, and constipation just to name a few (1). Many proponents claim various cleansing protocols can ward off yeast infections, PMS symptoms, backaches, fatigue, halitosis, and insomnia (2). Being as the intestines are responsible for absorption of nutrients as well as expelling toxins, it's a good idea to begin a detoxification regimen with a colon cleanse. 

I'm sure you've seen the late-night infomercials claiming "you're storing twenty pounds of waste material in your intestines right now!" Or perhaps you've browsed the colon support section of your local health food store. Some of you may even have had rather scary, explosive experiences with products like psyllium husk powder or other fiber-based colon cleansers. But fear not; like weight training, yoga, diets, or any activity aimed at improving overall health and well being, knowledge and moderation are key. So do you really have twenty pounds of red meat backed up in your colon. Probably not, but it is possible.  And it's probable that you do have some blockage, unless you've been consuming 20-35 grams of fiber daily, along with loads of leafy vegetables (2). A blocked, or toxic colon allows fecal matter to build up on its walls for weeks, months, or even years in some cases.  This mucosal buildup can literally poison your body from the inside out (3). There are various methods for colon cleansing such as expensive oxygen-based products (dilute solutions of hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals), and colonics, however this article will focus on those methods that are the most convenient, inexpensive, effective, and available. 

Fiber supplements such as psyllium, flax, hemp, or a combination of the three are a good start and available in capsules or powders. Flax and hemp are high in protein and delicious sprinkled on ice cream  or yogurt too.  The trick with fiber is to start low: use one teaspoon a day and slowly work your way up to three teaspoons (go especially slow with psyllium).  Ramp up the dose too fast, and you'll anger your bowels. Use fibers correctly and you'll know when the products are working.  In many cases you may even drop a waist size or two. In addition to fibers, a form of volcanic clay known as Bentonite can be added to water and consumed, as it has absorptive properties that further cleanse the colon. In addition, herbs such as garlic and chlorophyll also enhance the colon cleansing effects of fiber products (3). Also, traditional Ayurvedic formulas such as Planetary Formulas™ Trialpha Internal Cleanser have been around since roughly 520 BCE, and are still used today to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Now that you've cleaned the sludge, mucous, and generally nasty materials from your colon, and probably dropped a few pounds in the process, you've got to maintain your newly cleaned colon. A diet high in both soluble and insoluble fiber along with regular exercise is a good start. Increasing water intake is another important element.  Most importantly, regular, frequent (at least three) daily bowel movements are a sure sign of intestinal health. Supplementing with probiotic and digestive enzymes is also a good idea. Should you choose to continue on the cleansing path, liver, kidney, gallbladder, Candida, and heavy metal flushes could be in your future. Anyone living on Planet Earth during the twenty-first century (indigenous jungle-dwellers excluded) would definitely benefit from the abovementioned detox programs. Toxins from processed food, OTC and prescription drugs, the water fountain at your gym, even the air most of us breathe can bring about a toxic state (2). Though many detox and cleansing regimens require strict, unforgiving diets along with several dietary support products, you'll thank yourself in the long run. Proper liver and kidney health can be maintained with a decent amount of discipline and minimal physical or financial investment as well, so stay tuned for part two of the detoxification and cleansing series: "Your Liver, Your Kidneys, Your Friends," or something like that.

1. Body Cleansing. Wikipedia.  Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_cleansing
2. Trudeau, Kevin. Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About. Alliance Publishing Group, Inc. 2004.
3. Group, Edward F. Colonic Cleansing. The Constipation Resource Center. Available: http://www.colon-cleanse-constipation.com/

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