We’re hearing a lot about toxins lately, and for good reason: Over the last 50 years, some 70,000 to 100,000 different chemicals have been introduced into the food supply and environment, with about 1,500 new ones added each year. (source) These man-made chemicals (referred to as persistent organic pollutants, or POPs) invade the environment; spread through our water, air and soil; are taken in and stored in fish and animals; and eventually reach the top of the food chain — humans, when we eat plants and animals. Babies are born already carrying as many as 300 different chemicals in their bodies, and studies cite that breast milk is filled with environmental pollutants. (source)
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “body burden,” which refers to the total amount of toxins you carry in your body. We each have a total toxic threshold, or a limit to the number of chemicals we can process before our detox organs become overwhelmed. Each day we’re exposed to carcinogenic environmental pollutants and toxins from household cleaners, cosmetics, body care products, food supply, medications. Certain chemicals and heavy metals can affect our nervous systems and contribute to anxiety, insomnia, ADHD, chronic fatigue, autism, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. Scary stuff.
When toxins build up in our systems and overwhelm the liver and detox organs, symptoms result. Signs you are “toxic” include
- digestive issues like constipation, gas, heartburn, indigestion, bloating
- foggy thinking, trouble concentrating
- inability to lose weight (toxins are stored in fat cells, making the body reluctant to burn excess fat!)
- anxiety, depression
- joint pain
- endocrine disruption
Women especially are susceptible to the effects of toxins because of our sensitive endocrine systems. Toxins can affect fertility and hormone balance, so it’s especially important to detox your system twice yearly, follow my daily detox tips, and take these steps to reduce the toxins in your daily life. It’s easy to kick the chemicals! You’ll breathe a little easier and feel better.
10 Ways to Reduce Toxins in Your Life
1. Skincare: the average woman applies over 500 chemicals to her skin daily. I always say if you can’t eat it, don’t apply it to your skin! Your skin absorbs everything you apply to it, and those chemicals you can’t pronounce have to be neutralized, detoxed, and excreted. Detoxing your skin care routine is a great way to start reducing your total toxic load. Use natural moisturizers like coconut oil. You can even wash your face with it! I make my own body care products and use chemical free shampoos. You can use milk, honey, avocado, egg, yogurt, coconut oil, and olive oil to keep your skin and hair looking gorgeous. Click here for my natural skin care routine and info on how to go “no poo.” (natural shampoo)
2. Household products: this is a big one. Household cleaning products are among the most chemical-filled and carcinogenic products. We inhale and inadvertently ingest them. Switch to green cleaning products, or even better, make your own! It’s so easy. You can use essential oils, vinegar, borax, and hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. Here’s an example: Easy bleach substitute – mix hydrogen peroxide, water, and lemon essential oil. This can be used to freshen your whites and for any other purpose you’d normally use bleach. Lemon essential oil is amazing for cleaning, and I add lavender oil to my wash with non toxic detergent. (Click here for the oils I recommend). I also love Mrs Meyers all purpose cleaners (they smell amazing!) and Ecover.
3. FOOD: you probably know that buying organic is important, but it gets very expensive. I tell my clients to prioritize by buying organic meat foremost. Commercially farmed animals and dairy cows are raised under abhorrent conditions and are given hormones and antibiotics, which end up stored in their fat and flesh. Avoid farmed fish, which are filled with toxins and PCBs. After that, avoid the dirty dozen high pesticide produce list. To save money, buy conventional produce with thick peels or skins, like avocado, citrus, or winter squash. Buying organic supports the health of the environment and the workers who are exposed to the toxins when working in fields and harvesting crops.
4. Detox twice yearly. This is an easy way to support the detoxification and release of chemicals from your system. Click here for my recommended detox program.
5. Using essential oils: as I mentioned above, I use essential oils for cleaning both my house and my skin! They have amazing restorative properties for skin care, so I use them as part of my anti-aging skincream. They also are amazing antibacterials, and thieves oil kills mold too. I use Thieves and lemon in natural house cleaning product recipes.
6. Avoid plastics & canned foods: plastics contain dioxins, which are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that leach from the plastic into your drinking water/food. This gets worse if you heat food in plastic, or if you’re leaving water bottles in hot cars. Canned foods, polycarbonate plastics, and epoxy resins contain bisphenol A (BPA). Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. (Mayo Clinic source) I use a Kleen Kanteen for water and buy coconut milk and pumpkin (the only canned food I buy) from BPA-free sources. I love the eco lunch boxes to transport food.
8. Poop regularly: yes, you read that right. Stool is one of the main vehicles for detox. The toxins, cholesterol, and excess hormones the body doesn’t need get bound up in stool and need to be excreted regularly. If you’re constipated, toxins sit in the colon where they’re reabsorbed into your system. You should be producing a banana-sized sinker daily. Yep, every single day. Click here for my tips to get things moving.
9. Fat loss: because excess toxins are stored in fat tissue, normalizing and maintaing your weight is a great way to reduce toxins. Detoxing can help. Here are my strategies for fat loss.
10. Home air quality: In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. People spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, so for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors. (source) What to do? Open your windows!! Don’t let your house get stuffy. I open windows daily to air out my home. I also use an ionizer and I LOVE LOVE my Himalayan salt lamp that helps clean the air.
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Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.