The concept of internal cleansing and detoxifying has been around for many years. By 'detox' I don't mean 'detox teas' or any other product claiming to instantly detoxify, I mean supporting your bodies natural detoxification pathways and reducing your exposure to toxins.
Every day we encounter thousands of toxins just by breathing in the air around us, touching various surfaces, or coming in contact with various substances including cleaning products or body care products, and even eating certain foods. As toxins build up in the body they can overwhelm the liver and lead to a variety of health problems that can be both small annoyances and major detrimental problems.
Symptoms of toxin buildup include fatigue, headaches/migraines, eczema, mood swings, weight gain, poor sleep, bloating, sinus congestion, bad breath, poor digestion/gastrointestinal upset, hormone imbalance, inflammation, and more.
The most common types of toxins include: Heavy Metals, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP's), Microbial compounds & Toxic waste ( breakdown of protein metabolites)
1. Heavy Metals - Aluminum, Arsenic, Lead, Mercury and Nickel
Heavy metals accumulate in the brain, kidneys, liver, Immune system and other body tissues. They are usually a result of environmental contamination – found in food crops, soil, pesticides, dental fillings, cookware, & antacids. Heavy metals damage detoxification in three main ways: Blocking the activity of specific enzymes, displacing minerals, increasing oxidative stress.
2. Persistent organic Pollutants (POP's) - Pesticides, drugs, alcohol, solvents, food additives.
POP's are processed primarily by the liver, so can put the liver under tremendous stress if high levels are consumed.
Symptoms of high levels of POP's include: depression, headaches, mental confusion/illness, impaired nervous function. POP's are also known to negatively effect the endocrine system.
3. Microbial compounds - These are toxins produced by bacteria and yeast in the gut and can be absorbed by the body. High levels can be associated with diseases such as liver disease, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, thyroid, psoriasis, allergies, asthma and immune disorders. The immune system as well as the liver is responsible for dealing with the toxic substances absorbed from the gut.
4. Toxic Waste - The kidneys are responsible for the elimination of toxic waste products of protein breakdown (ammonia, urea ect) You can support this function by drinking lots of water.
Natural detoxification begins with understanding what toxins are entering your body and how. Once you understand that you can begin to examine ways to reduce the number of toxins and begin to rid of your body of harmful toxins.Lifestyle changes will be crucial in supporting the bodies detox pathways. This might mean addressing your cleaning and body care products and swapping to a more natural option. A really useful tool is an App called 'Think Dirty' which allows you to check if a product is high in chemicals. You simply scan the bar code on the product or type in the name and it shows the toxicity via a traffic light system. For example if you scan in your particular brand of hand soap it will show you the ingredients and the over all toxicity, so a product that is green is less toxic than a product showing red. This is a great way to way to start to reduce toxic exposure.
The other huge lifestyle change is diet. Reducing consumption of artificial chemicals, additives, & processed food and increasing whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts & seeds will reduce exposure to toxins and increase antioxidant levels helping to support the bodies detoxification mechanisms.
Choosing organic produce where possible is advised. Organic produce has less harsh chemicals and pesticides I know it might not be possible for everyone to shop completely organic so I would advise choosing organic on the produce that has higher levels of pesticides known as the 'dirty dozen' This includes Apples, Tomatoes, Spinach, Cucumbers, Celery, Potatoes, Peaches, Berries, & Peppers ( google the updated list) As a general rule produce with a a hard skin such as bananas and avocados are ok non organic.
The Liver, intestines and kidneys are the bodies primary organs of detoxification. A health promoting diet will help provide the necessary nutrients needed to carry out important functions. Liver supporting foods include:
- Sulfur rich foods such as garlic, legumes, onions and eggs
- Fibre rich foods such as pears, bran, apples, legumes, cruciferous vegetables (especially broccoli, cabbage and sprouts)
- Herbs and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and licorice
- Vitamin C rich foods - Broccoli, cauliflower, peppers citrus, tomato. squash, spinach
Love H x