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By: Dr. Sushma Shah - Naturopathic Doctor


Each year the average American consumes 150 lbs of sugar and 566 cans of soft drinks ("liquid candy")(1). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that is equal to "52 teaspoonfuls of added sugars per person per day."(2) Can you imagine yourself sitting at the kitchen table gobbling down 52 teaspoons of white sugar – every single day? Well, that’s exactly what most of us are doing without even realizing it!


Junk food consumption has increased drastically in the last few decades. Compared to 1981, in 2001 the average American consumed in one year: 45 large bags of potato chips - up 78%; 120 orders of French fries - up 130%; 190 candy bars - up 80%; 120 pastries or desserts - up 95%; 150 slices of pizza - up 143%(3).


Super Size Me (movie) documents precisely what physical and psychological changes take place when one consumes too much junk food. Last February, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock decided to become a human guinea pig by eating three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald’s. The film centers around the impact this had on his health and life. As reported by the New York Post on January 22, 2004.:

  1. "Scores of cheeseburgers, hundreds of fries and dozens of chocolate shakes later, the formerly strapping 6-foot-2 New Yorker - who started out at a healthy 185 pounds - had packed on 25 pounds. But his super sized shape was the least of his problems. Within a few days of beginning his drive - through diet, Spurlock, 33, was vomiting out the window of his car, and doctors who examined him were shocked at how rapidly Spurlock's entire body deteriorated.

  2. "It was really crazy - my body basically fell apart over the course of 30 days," Spurlock told The Post. His liver became toxic, his cholesterol shot up from a low 165 to 230, his libido flagged and he suffered headaches and depression." (4)


Junk foods and soft drinks contain dangerous additives, chemicals, and many are laced with excitotoxins "found in such ingredients as monosodium glutamate [MSG], aspartame (NutraSweet®), cysteine, hydrolysed protein, and aspartic acid". Excitotoxins are "substances added to foods and beverages that literally stimulate neurons to death, causing brain damage of varying degrees."(5)


Understanding that our quality of life is determined by our daily choices, we have the power to improve our health and well-being quickly and dramatically. Optimum nutrition is a key factor, but our health depends not only on what nutrients we eat, but how much of those nutrients are absorbed and how well and regularly the body’s waste products are eliminated. With the proper use of cleansing and detoxification we can maintain health and vitality, even as we age.


Any cleansing program should begin in the colon, the last portion of the digestive system. The colon’s job is to compact the chyme, absorb water, and receive B-vitamins that are produced by healthy intestinal bacteria. We could actually compare the function of the colon in our bodies to a sewer system in a large city.

Just imagine for a second what would happen if the sewers in our area became clogged by some debris. Undoubtedly, within a short time the whole neighbourhood would be filled with filth and an unbearable stench. This is the same process that occurs in our bodies when the elimination system is not functioning properly. When the colon is clean and healthy, we experience an overall well-being. When it is congested with stagnant waste, poisons back up into the system and pollute the inner environment. This is called autointoxication or self-poisoning.


If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing autointoxication (a process whereby you are poisoned by substances produced by your own body as a result of inadequate digestion and elimination), and therefore you might want to consider some type of internal cleansing program:

  • Allergy or intolerance to certain foods

  • Bad breath and foul-smelling gas and stools

  • Constipation, diarrhoea, sluggish elimination, irregular bowel movements

  • Frequent congestion, colds, viruses

  • Flatulence or gas and frequent intestinal disorders

  • Frequent headaches for no apparent reason

  • General aches and pains that migrate from one place to another

  • Intolerance to fatty foods

  • Low energy; loss of vitality for no apparent reason

  • Lower back pain

  • Lowered resistance to infections

  • Needing to sleep a long time

  • Pain in your liver or gall bladder

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), breast soreness, vaginal infections

  • Skin problems, rashes, boils, pimples, acne

If you have severe symptoms or any serious disorders, seek the attention of a competent health care provider. The above list is only meant to indicate some of the symptoms of autointoxication. Anyone who has been on a Standard American Diet for more than two years would benefit from periodic cleansing, especially if you live in an urban area. "(7)


Every cell of our body is affected by self-poisoning. When the toxins accumulate in the nervous system, we feel irritable and depressed. We feel weak if they back up into the heart, bloated if they reach the stomach and our breath is foul if they reach the lungs. If the poisons try to escape through our skin, rashes and blotches develop, or we look pale and our skin appears wrinkly. If the toxins make it to the glands, we feel fatigued, lethargic, our sex drive may cease and we appear to look much older than our actual age.


The most common sign of a toxic colon is chronic constipation. Constipation is commonly defined as a condition where the fecal matter is so tightly packed together that bowel movements are infrequent and incomplete, causing much difficulty and straining, and producing dry, hardened feces. The accumulation of this old, hardened feces sticks to the walls of the colon, inhibiting its proper function of absorbing the remaining nutrients.

Instead it is forced to absorb the toxins from the build-up and fight the parasites that make this debris their breeding ground. The passage through which the feces are forced to travel is also greatly reduced in diameter so the stools become much narrower, even as thin as a pencil sometimes. In our society, bowel movements of the chronically constipated may be looked upon as normal.

But going to the bathroom once every few days, sitting there straining for half an hour and passing black, hard pebbles that drop to the bottom is not only abnormal, it is also serious trouble waiting to happen.


Our widespread colon problems begin with our unhealthy Western diet that is deficient in plant fibers. Fiber is indispensable in maintaining a healthy colon. A person with a healthy colon should in fact have two to three bowel movements per day. With the help of fiber, elimination should be complete, fast and easy.


The longer the transit time, the longer the toxic waste matter sits in the bowels, allowing proteins to putrefy, fats to become rancid, and carbohydrates to ferment. The longer the body is exposed to rotting food in the intestines, the greater the risk of developing disease. Even with one bowel movement per day, there are still at least three meals’ worth of waste sitting in the colon at any given time.

Dietary fiber plays a crucial role in the proper function and maintenance of the colon. "Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet may reduce symptoms of diverticulosis and prevent complications such as diverticulitis. Fiber keeps stool soft and lowers pressure inside the colon so that bowel contents can move through easily. The American Dietetic Association recommends 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day." (9)


Many people have small pouches in their colons that bulge outward through weak spots, like an inner tube that pokes through weak places in a tire. Each pouch is called a diverticulum while the condition diverticulosis. About 10 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have diverticulosis. The condition becomes more common as people age. About half of all people over the age of 60 have diverticulosis. When the pouches become infected or inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis(8) The main cause of diverticular disease is a low-fiber diet.


Before attempting any cleanses, ask your naturopathic doctor what type of detox plan would be most suitable for you specifically. Remember no two individuals are alike neither are their bodies for that matter. Your health care provider should first assess you using scientific methods, making sure that cleanse is not overwhelming for your body and that you do indeed need a cleanse.

For general colon cleansing, its good to start with a fiber supplement designed specifically for this purpose. Good-quality supplements contain both soluble and insoluble fiber and are formulated to loosen the stool, absorb and sweep away fat and toxins, reduce transit time, and make elimination effortless and complete.


When we start using an effective fiber supplement, we can expect some startling occurrences within a few days. The fiber goes to work immediately by loosening the hardened feces on the walls of the large intestine and gradually sweeping it out of the body. If we are not repulsed to look at what’s leaving our body, we’ll be surprised to see a lot of mucus and all the different colours of debris. It’s hard to believe that all these things could actually be lurking inside us. What’s even more shocking is that among the different colors and shapes people often notice various forms of parasites.


This is unfortunately a lot more frequent than most would like to believe. According to United Nations data: " Overall, about 1.5 billion people have roundworms, making it the third most common human infection in the world. Whipworm infects 1 billion people… More than 1.3 billion people carry hookworm in their gut, and 265 million people are infected with schistosomes."(10)

It is true that most of these infections occur in developing countries, but the rate of parasitic-related disorders in North America is skyrocketing. An astounding number of people would test positive for parasites. This is from the Parasitology Department of the University of Cambridge, England: "Pinworm. An extremely common nematode infection, particularly in temperate areas such as Western Europe and North America

It has been estimated that the annual incidence of infection is over 200 million, this probably being a conservative figure. Samples of children in the USA and Canada have shown incidences of infection of 30% to 80%, with similar levels in Europe."

Humans can actually play host to more than a hundred different types of parasites, ranging from microscopic ones to tapeworms that are several feet long.

Contrary to popular belief, parasites are not restricted to our colon alone, but can be found in any other part of the body - in the lungs, the liver, in the muscles and joints, in the esophagus, the brain, the blood, the skin and even in the eyes!

"Parasites are the missing diagnosis in the genesis of many chronic health problems, including diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and endocrine system. Most individuals would be truly amazed if they knew the extraordinarily high number of Americans who are unknowingly infected by parasites…"
– Dr. Hermann R. Bueno, Fellow of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene of London

It is extremely easy to come in contact with parasites. Contaminated water, undercooked meats, improperly washed fruits and vegetables, are just some of the common sources of infections. Transmission from pets or other infected persons is also quite common.

Overuse of antibiotics further adds to this problem as this can interfere with normal intestinal flora and lower the body’s resistance.

Fiber supplements help to get rid of parasites, but they are not enough. Specific herbal formulas are used deal with this issue, which are usually chosen once your doctor or naturopath correctly identifies what parasites you are harboring.


There’s an important added benefit to internal cleansing that most people experience: weight loss. With a sluggish, toxic digestive system, metabolism slows down, the energy level drops and we’re simply not strong enough to start burning off stored fat through exercise or other means. An internal cleansing program can help restore balance in the body and increase the metabolism, reactivating the body’s fat-burning mechanism.

Plus, after a thorough detoxification program, you’ll find yourself much more inclined to make healthier dietary and lifestyle choices. Through a detoxified system, improved digestion, balanced metabolism and a healthier diet you will have no trouble maintaining a healthy weight.

Added benefits of an effective detoxification program:

  1. The Prevention of Illness

  2. An Improvement in Physical Appearance

  3. A Boost in Emotional Well-Being

  4. A Sharpening of Mental Capabilities

  5. An Enhancement in Digestion and Elimination of Unhealthy Food Addictions & Allergies

  6. The Attainment of Ideal Weight

  7. A Minimizing of the Effects of Aging


(1) Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH: Soft Drink "Pouring Rights": Marketing Empty Calories
(2) United States Department of Agriculture: Agriculture Fact Book 2001-2002
(3) Dr. Robert Osgoodby: Food For Thought
(4) New York Post: Arch Enemy, 01/22/2004
(5) Russel L. Blaylock, M.D.: Excitotoxins, The Taste that Kills; Health Press 1997
(6) Bernard Jensen, D.C., Ph.D.: Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management, ISBN 0960836071
(7) Linda Berry: Internal Cleansing; Prima Publishing 1997
(8) National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, part of the National Institutes of Health
(9) National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, part of the National Institutes of Health
(10) UNICEF: The State of the World’s Children 1998
(11) Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald: The Detox Solution, Illumination Press, 2001

Please ask your doctor or naturopath before starting on any supplements. Its is better to first identify the cause and then treat it with the right remedies, even though those mentioned above have minimal side effects.

The information on this handout is the property of SUSHMA SHAH N.D., and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease. For any questions, or concerns, please contact me at 416 913 4325 (HEAL) or email me at

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