The word “detox” has been thrown around as a dietary buzzword over the past several years now, and has spurred various juice cleanses, fasting, and extreme short-term diets that have very little long-term effect on health and weight loss. Unfortunately, these versions of "detox" are so misleading, and like many quick fixes in American culture, don’t lead to actual change. Beyond that, some juice cleanses can disrupt our blood glucose level (blood sugar) regulation. It's not necessary to put your bodies through such an extreme shock to get to optimal health.
Toxins get into our blood stream from a variety of sources. Exhaust and fossil fuels from the outdoor air we breathe, pollutants from carpets, dust, and furniture from the indoor air we breathe, pesticides from the food we eat, heavy metals and contaminants from the water we drink, and chemical toxicants that absorb into our skin from the cosmetic products we use. It’s a toxic jungle in, and out, there. Fortunately our bodies are in a constant state of natural detox, or, more aptly described as biotransformation of these toxic invaders. When chemicals and toxins enter our body, they undergo metabolic changes through our cytochromes and mitochondria to be made ready for excretion. Toxins that cannot be excreted are stored in bones and adipose (fat) cells.
The problem is, these toxins bioaccumulate, and the higher concentration of toxins already in the blood, the slower the biotransformation and excretion. They add up and cause serious problems such as asthma and allergies, cognitive problems, depression, fatigue, headaches, memory problems, chronic pain, and weight gain. For example, the higher the pesticide levels in your blood, the slower you burn calories while you’re sleeping and while you’re sedentary. So, we must constantly work to help our bodies do their job properly. It is a marathon, not a sprint, for the optimal function of detoxification in our bodies. Here are 8 ways to do that:
Take a supplement regiment daily of magnesium, selenium, and a B-complex. Make sure you do not take these with your morning coffee, as coffee interferes with the bioavailability of nutrients. And as with most things in life, you get what you pay for, so don’t skimp on the cheaper versions of the vitamins.
2. FOR SOME PRODUCTS, SPLURGE ON ORGANIC
If you haven’t heard of this before, take a look at the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen. This is an infographic that illustrates which fruits and vegetables are most heavily sprayed with pesticides. These pesticides are endocrine disrupters and wreak havoc on our organs and our cells. Repeated exposure results in illness, disease, and weight gain. For the love of your health, for those in the dirty dozen category: BUY ORGANIC.
3. DITCH THE DELI SANDO
As a rule, stay away from ALL PROCESSED MEATS. This includes sliced deli meat, packaged meat, hot dogs, sausages, salami, bacon, and ham. I’m not saying you need to go vegetarian, but processed meats are directly linked to oxidative damage leading to disease, illness, certain cancers, and mortality. Read the studies, check the science. And for all the nay-sayers and Cross-fitters, I'd advise you to get a serious check-up and blood panel every year. But while the media was wrong to demonize all fat as a culprit to obesity and disease, saturated animal fat like that from bacon is still directly linked to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (Micha, 2012).
4. DRINK GREEN TEA
Drink one glass of green tea every day. The catechins and polyphenols in green tea are like fairy angels to your mitochondria and cellular health. Their antimicrobial properties protect the microbiome, decrease intestinal inflammation, and enhance the function of glutathione, which acts to clear toxins from the blood stream and intestines.
5. REPLACE ALL YOUR CANDLES WITH BEESWAX ALTERNATIVES
Regular candles are a huge source of indoor air pollution. Most candles are made of paraffin wax, which creates highly toxic benzene and toluene bi-products when burned. Toluene has been proven to negatively affect immune and respiratory function, and cause cardiovascular disease and low birth weight. Artificial scents and dyes in candles also interfere with normal cellular function. Good news: beeswax candles not only are non-toxic, but clean the air around you.
6. GET AN AIR PURIFIER
Many of the materials in your home (from your furniture to the paint to the carpets) off-gas chemicals that are negatively affecting your health. Invest in a high-quality air filter, and start in the bedroom. Choose one with both charcoal and HEPA filters. IQAir and Blueair come highly recommended. Getting a good night’s sleep has wondrous, life-changing benefits, but even more so for those with allergies or have trouble falling asleep at night.
7. HOUSE PLANTS
Buy indoor house plants and keep them alive. Plants clean up the air around you by removing ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde (released by the glue that holds furniture together), and xylene (gasoline exhaust that most certainly migrates indoors if you have an attached garage). The best plants to clean indoor air include the Boston Fern, Garden Mum, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, and the Dracaena.
...all year round. Indoor air can be even worse than outdoor air, as it contains all the toxins from inside the home, in addition to outside air that migrates in (exhaust, pollution, particulate matter). Household dust is the highest source of exposure to PBDEs, which are used in flame retardants and are a highly persistent toxicant, which bio accumulate in our cells and take dramatic effect on our organs and immune system causing illness, malfunction, and disease.
THIS LIST IS BY NO MEANS COMPREHENSIVE AND THERE ARE SO MANY MORE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE FOR A CLEAN BODY, MIND, AND HOME.
Micha, R., Michas, G., & Mozaffarian, D. (2012). Unprocessed red and processed meats and risk of coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes–an updated review of the evidence. Current atherosclerosis reports, 14(6), 515-524.