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2nd Pillar of Health: Detoxification

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2nd Pillar of Health: Detoxification

July 7, 2024, 10:47 AM IST 

Having completed the first and most important pillar of health—Food, we now move on to the second pillar of health—Detoxification. First, let’s discuss the cellular structure of our body.

Cells are the fundamental building blocks of all organisms. The human body is made up of over 37 trillion cells. Each cell consists of a cell membrane, nucleus, and cytoplasm containing various organelles. The cell membrane separates the cytoplasm and nucleus from the external environment, which contains nutrients. After nutrients penetrate the cell membrane, they are metabolized and turned into energy that fuels the cell’s life functions. The by-products of this metabolic activity are waste products that need to be removed from the cell through the same cell membrane. Any impairment in a cell’s ability to let nutrients in or let waste out leads to death by starvation or toxicity. This concept in Yoga is called Prana and Apana.

As you can see from this discussion, detoxification is almost as important as nutrition. For good health, it is necessary not only to avoid the absorption of toxins into our body by avoiding sources of toxins in our food and environment but also to engage in activities that facilitate their elimination. Clearly, our goal should be to reduce the level of toxins we absorb and regularly engage in ways to detoxify our body. There are two types of toxins: External and Internal.

External Sources of Toxins

Our body can absorb toxins from the following sources:

1. The food we eat

2. The water we drink and bathe with

3. The air we breathe

4. The lotions we apply to our body

5. The household cleaners we use

6. The medications we take

Major Sources of Toxins In Food

1. Hydrogenated Oil, also called vegetable shortening (Dalda & Crisco)

2. Artificial sweeteners

3. Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG), commonly used in Chinese food

4. Preservatives in packaged foods classified as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS)

5. Pesticides in fresh produce

6. Traces of growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides (fed to dairy cows), and pus in cow’s milk

7. Refined Sugar and/or High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). All soft drinks and 80% of the packaged items in grocery stores have added sugar or HFCS.

8. Refined Oils with excessive Omega-6

9. Excessive Animal Protein

10. Municipal Water Supply

11. Alcohol and Tobacco


When we buy packaged food, we assume it is safe, believing some organization has ensured its safety. This is a common misassumption. “GRAS” stands for “Generally Recognized as Safe.” Many foods and additives fall into this category, with the burden of proof of safety lying with the food company.

A notable example of GRAS is vegetable shortening, also known as hydrogenated fat. In America “Crisco” is well-known while “Dalda” was popular in India. William Proctor and James Gamble, originally soap and candle makers, developed a process to hydrogenate oils, turning them into solids. This innovation led to the creation of Crisco, marketed as a healthier alternative to animal fats. Crisco became an overnight success. However, after more than a century, the scientific community recognized its fatal consequences, leading to bans in many countries. Despite this, trans fats like Crisco (Dalda) remain legal in India.

Internal Sources of Toxins

The metabolic activity in our body, involving various chemical reactions happening in our trillions of cells, also releases metabolic waste that needs to be cleared. Besides this there are four other internal toxins:

1.Dead and damaged cells

These cells release toxic chemicals damaging healthy cells adjoining them.

2.Misfolded proteins

Sometimes there is error in making new protein cells and a mirror image gets created which is of no functional use. These just sit in our body and need to be removed.

3.Senescent Cells

These are cells which have stopped reproducing. These hamper the functioning of the healthy cells around them.

These internal toxins prematurely age our body. Their removal is of utmost importance for healthy aging. So the question arises: how do we remove these toxins from our body? The following list summarizes various detoxification techniques.

1. Body’s Natural Responses:

Breathing, sweating, urinating, and bowel movements are the body’s natural responses for regularly excreting waste and toxins. Additionally, when we consume food that our body recognizes as toxic, the body’s natural response is to vomit or pass it through the colon as loose motion.

2. Daily Routine:

Brushing teeth, showering, and bathing are part of our normal routine. Steam showers and saunas are also good detox practices.

3. Water Therapy:

There are several techniques for water therapy:

  • Drinking 2-3 glasses of warm water first thing every morning is a good detox habit.
  • In Japanese water therapy, it is recommended to drink one liter of water instead of 2-3 glasses. While I do not know enough to recommend it, intuitively, it should not be done more frequently than once a week.
  • One of the Yoga techniques listed below as Dhauti (Varisara Dhauti, also known as Shankhaprakshalana) is also a water therapy.

4. Fasting:

Fasting is an ancient practice common in various forms in many cultures. It is no coincidence that two Nobel prizes in Physiology in the last seven years have been awarded for research on this subject. Intermittent fasting, also known as time-restricted feeding, is an ancient Indian practice known as Chauvihar among followers of the Jain religion.

There are many clinics worldwide that focus on fasting, such as True North Health Center in Santa Rosa, California, which uses continuous water only fasting for up to 40 days to treat severely ill patients. I recommend the following fasting practices:

  • 16:8 Intermittent Fasting to be practiced daily.
  • One full day of water fasting every two weeks, similar to the custom of Ekadashi fasting in India, practiced on the 11th day of the lunar cycle. It can be practiced on any convenient day of the week, but that day must be followed every other week.
  • Once or twice a year, a 9-day OMAD (One Meal A Day) fast, similar to the custom of Navratri fasting in India.

We will cover the subject of fasting separately in coming weeks.

5. Yoga Techniques:

In ancient Indian Yoga practices, six techniques for internal cleansing are prescribed. These are collectively known as Shatkarmas and include:

– Dhauti

– Basti

– Neti

– Trataka

– Nauli

– Kapalbhati

Except for Kapalbhati and Neti, all others should only be done under expert supervision.

6. Colon Hydrotherapy:

The main goal here is to clear the colon of stagnant, supposedly toxic waste encrusted on colon walls. Doing so would enhance the vitality of the body. It also improves the immune system because 70% of our immune cells reside in our colon. Two of the Shatkarma techniques called Dhauti (Varisara) and Basti also achieve the same goal.

7. Yoga Asanas:

Hatha Yoga practice is a good way to detoxify our endocrine system. It also helps detoxify the lymphatic system.

8. Nadishodhan Pranayam:

Pranayama are breathing techniques that help remove toxins. Among various techniques, Nadishodhan is especially effective, and practicing it for 15-20 minutes every morning can help the body tremendously. Kapalbhati, another good technique (listed in section 5) is also beneficial.

9. Walking:

Walking is a very good way to detoxify our lymphatic system. Every cell in our body eliminates waste, which goes either into our lymphatic system or into the blood circulatory system. The lymphatic system does not have a pump like the blood circulating system. It works only by the movement of the body. Therefore, I recommend an active lifestyle with 10,000 steps each day. It is also important to include some arm raises as part of walking.


The second pillar of health, Detoxification, emphasizes the importance of eliminating toxins from the body, complementing the first pillar, Food. Detoxification involves not only getting rid of external toxins but also removing cellular and metabolic waste to prevent toxicity. Effective detoxification methods must include fasting regimens in addition to daily hygiene routines, water therapy and walking.

Generally Recognised As Safe?Food Additives Secret

To read the article on times of India click here

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