Let’s talk toxins!
Many people are becoming more aware of and concerned about toxins in our environment. We talk a lot here about things you can do to support your health, but the honest truth is that if the body is in a state of toxin overload (also known as oxidative stress), the effectiveness of even the best health tips will be limited.
Keep reading to learn more about what toxicity is, what contributes to a toxic burden, whether or not “detoxing” is necessary, and things you can do to reduce the amount of toxins in your body.
What is toxicity?
Simply put, toxicity occurs when the amount or type of toxins the body is exposed to surpasses its ability to get rid of them. These toxins can come from things like our environment, diet, lifestyle, and more. There are different severities of toxicity, with some being fatal (like ingesting a type of poison) and others being less severe in the short term, yet still damaging to the body in the long term.
The good news is that our bodies are naturally designed to protect us from toxicity by utilizing the functions of organs like the kidneys, liver, digestive system, and skin to help rid our bodies of toxins. Unfortunately, though, the ability to naturally detoxify is limited, and it is still possible for the body to get into a state of toxic overload. Toxins can disrupt normal bodily processes and interfere with the function of enzymes, minerals, hormones, and can damage our cells’ DNA.
Some of the side effects of toxicity include:
- Inflammation & disease. Exposure to toxins leads to inflammation in the body, which in turn can lead to the development of inflammatory diseases and conditions like cancer, Diabetes, infertility, birth defects, skin disorders, Alzheimers and heart problems.
- Development of allergies. Research has shown that people who live in areas that have the greatest exposure to environmental toxins are more likely to develop both asthma and allergies.
- Food sensitivities. More inflammation and exposure to toxins can change the way our body’s respond to food and can lead to the development of both food allergies and sensitivities, which are the body’s way of trying to protect it against what it sees as a foreign invader.
- Insomnia. Repeated exposure to chemicals and other toxins can impact both the ability to fall and stay asleep.
- Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, which are more likely to occur when the body is in a state of inflammation and toxicity.
Things that contribute to a Toxic overload
Since the dangers of toxicity may sound a bit scary, you might be wondering what is contributing to a toxic burden.
Here are some of the biggest factors:
- Plastics. These often contain chemicals like BPA which are associated with endocrine disorders and even some types of cancer.
- Man-made chemicals. There are thousands of different types, and many can be hidden in everyday products like household cleaners, makeup, and toiletries.
- Pollutants. Pollution is released into the air from things like factories, cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles.
- Pesticides. These are used on conventionally grown produce, grains, and others and are viewed as a toxin in the body.
Do I need to detox?
The media loves to advertise detoxes, and it can be easy to believe that our body’s need to detox given all of these toxins we are exposed to. Yet the truth is that detoxes which are sold in the markets are often short-term fixes and do not address the underlying cause of toxicity, nor do they provide long-term benefits. In addition, they can be dangerous to follow.
As mentioned, things like your liver and kidneys, digestive system, and others help support detoxification. However, they often need some support. While we cannot eliminate our exposure to all toxins, there are many changes we can make to our diet and lifestyle to help us get rid of or avoid toxins naturally, without the use of a product marketed for detoxing.
Things you can do to reduce toxin buildup and support natural detoxification
- FOOD. The following foods can help naturally support detoxification in the body In addition, purchasing organic foods is a great way to reduce exposure to pesticides. We recommend specifically choosing organic for the dirty dozen:
- Herbs like cilantro and parsley
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts
- Chlorella/spirulina (both types of algae that can be purchased in powdered form)
- Leafy Greens
- Garlic, onions, and other vegetables in the allium family
- Green tea
2. Air filters. We can’t change what pollutants are in the air around where we live, but we can utilize air filters in our homes to help remove these toxins. Here are 2 options we like:
3. Water filters. Toxins can be present in our water, too, so water filters are key to ensuring we are taking in clean water. We love Zero water filters like these ones:
4. Exercise. While all types of exercise can support detoxification, cardio is best to really get things moving and promote sweating, which is one way the body eliminates toxins.
5. Household products. Chemicals are a major source of toxins, but by choosing cleaner products like household cleaners and personal care products, we can reduce our exposure and lower our toxic load. Look for plant-derived cleaners and be sure to specifically avoid products made with parabens, phthalates, fragrance (aside from pure essential oils), and other harmful substances as outlined here.
6. Cut back on alcohol and avoid smoking. Both promote toxin buildup and reduce the body’s ability to naturally detoxify.
7. Supplements. Certain supplements can also support the body in naturally detoxifying. Some that we recommend include charcoal, chlorella, glutathione, N-Acetyl cysteine (NAC), and milk thistle. You can find these supplements here.
Toxicity can be a big health problem if not addressed. While you don’t need to do an official “detox”, we strongly recommend focusing on the steps outlined in this post to reduce your toxic exposure and help support your body in its ability to naturally detoxify.