The research on toxins and their impact on our health has been known for decades. The general public, however, not so much. With so many studies that link toxins to chronic disease, is there anything we can actually do to protect our health?
A “Non-cleansing” approach to detox your body
My 10 years experience
Ten years ago, I became severely ill. After long months of suffering, running from one specialist to another, all I heard was things like genetics, pain medication, even surgeries. Above all, I heard “we are not exactly sure what is wrong with you.”
So, just like so many people, I decided to start my own health journey to get well.
Exposure to toxins came up pretty early in my research as a potential cause. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to this, as I was going down enough rabbits holes already with many potential causes for me to investigate.
Little did I know. Turns out, there’s much more to detoxification than just going on a cleanse or doing these apple cider vinegar home remedies. In fact, I found so much compelling research, I didn’t even know where or how to begin.
That was 10 years ago. Thankfully, I feel much better today, and I think helping my body to get rid of toxins was a big part of my healing.
If there’s one thing I am absolutely 100% confident, is that my story is not unique. There are others who most likely face similar health challenges.
So, if this is you, below are the main things I did to help detox my body that I believe made a big difference in my healing. I think most people can benefit from knowing these things.
The Top 5 things I did to detox my body
1. I stopped eating processed foods
With so much research on toxins in foods that pose serious health risks, cleaning my diet seemed like a first logical step.
As you can expect, the obvious top suspects of toxins in foods are fast foods, processed foods and beverages. All these refined sugars, food additives such as corn syrup or high fructose syrup, and other chemicals I can’t even pronounce. The only ones who truly benefit from these are the companies who sell them to us.
The dark side of the food industry, hidden toxins in “healthy” foods
Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t stop here.
Take whole grains “fiber rich” cereals or granola bars, for example.
You can see them in your organic local store’s health section. I used to eat these all the time thinking they were good for me. Turns out, in many cases, they host a bunch of “hidden” toxic substances you can only see if you read the entire label.
I have to admit, I did find this frustrating initially, because you kind of get the feeling that there’s nothing safe left to eat. It’s not so bad, though. Once you get used to read food labels, you can spot the junk from miles away.
So, grab your favorite packaged food, and take a good look:
- The amount of sugars and sodium on the label.
- Then, look at the different ingredients. If you can’t tell what an ingredient is, or if there are too many, you probably better off not eating the food, as it is obviously over-processed.
- Lastly, look for hidden sugars. As Dr. Robert Lustig, perhaps the biggest authority on this topic pointed out, there are 56 different names for sugar hiding in common foods.
Knowledge is power, right?
2. Toxins in animal products
A lot has changed since the days of our ancestors. Back then, it was all about living off the land. There were no supermarkets or packaged foods. Our ancestors had to eat whatever mother nature provided, including wild animals or fish they were able to catch.
These animals were very different from the commercial animal products we have today. Today, the animals are kept in horrible unnatural conditions. This includes eating cheap processed foods they are not meant to eat. For example, soy and corn. Really? Then, since the animals often get sick, to make sure they don’t die and grow even faster, antibiotics and hormones are added to the mix. Its all about the money, not the animals or our health.
And guess what? All these toxins pass from the animals to the final product we consume. Then, from the final product to our body. Food chain, 101.
And, we didn’t even talk about processed animal products.
I remember I felt a big change when I stopped to eat commercial animal products. Especially with my inflammation, body aches and pain. Animal products include meat, farm raised fish, dairy and eggs.
I think many people already know this in their hearts. So, just like you read the label of packaged foods, I think it is essential to also do so with animal products. You want to question the source of the animal products you eat. Look for things like free range, 100% grass fed, antibiotic free, wild or organic, etc.
3. Be like Tony Stark: The detox power of Chlorophyll
I apologize in advance for geeking out a bit on this one. But, please bear with me.We’ll get to the detox part very quickly.
In the movie Iron Man II, there was a scene where Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) was drinking a green liquid chlorophyll shake to combat the palladium poisoning he had to deal with. (And at the same time, flirting with Scarlett Johansson. Who said Iron Man is not a real superhero?).
Anyway, looks like whoever wrote the Iron Man script was on to something. Chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants was shown to eliminate harmful toxins from the body. Even more impressive, Chlorophyll was able to bind to mold toxins, which is a major potential indoor toxins concern.
Foods high in chlorophyll
To get enough chlorophyll, eat or make juices/smoothies with plenty of dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, sprouts, microgreens, spirulina and chlorella. As a bonus, studies showed that chlorella can remove toxic heavy metals.
Because I love to eat solid meals, I prefer to eat my greens. But, when I first started my healing journey, I found smoothies useful. Especially when I didn’t have much time to make or eat meals.
Here’s a simple dark green smoothie with tons of chlorophyll in it I used to make. I am sure Tony would approve. To avoid pesticides, I made sure to use organic ingredients.
- 1 cup of unsweetened pure almond milk. (Read the label. So many nut milks also include added junk).
- 1 banana
- 2 cups of spinach or mixed greens
- 1 teaspoon of spirulina or chlorella
- Sometimes, I added 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder with a few drops of stevia & vanilla extract
BTW, I didn’t truly appreciate the power of greens until I stopped eating them. Long story short, I was on a business trip out of the country, and the greens quality was absolutely awful. So, I ended up not eating any greens for several weeks. After a few days, my digestive system (that up to that point was working so well) went down the drain. And, not literally. Thankfully, things became regular again when I went back home and had my greens. Go, greens!
4. All disease begins in the gut
Among its many functions, the gut is the primary organ of elimination that gets rid of toxins with the stool. Even more, studies have shown that intestinal cells can detox harmful xenobiotic chemicals.
There are many ways you can support your gut health, including special diets, shakes, probiotics, etc. In my case, however, there were two things I did that made a world of a difference for me, very quickly:
- Fiber. The research shows that fiber can bind to certain toxins and also promotes healthy bowel movements. Until this day, I always have a great bowel movement in the morning, when I eat enough raw veggies the night before. For example, see this detox salad coleslaw recipe.
- Foods that irritate the gut. Many people develop sensitivities to foods such as gluten, dairy and soy, which overtime can cause gut problems like a leaky gut. A practical way to address food sensitivities, which I did, is an elimination diet. You basically stop eating these foods for 4 weeks and see if you notice any difference. Then, you reintroduce these foods again and see if your symptoms re-occur. In my case, it was day and night. And, it didn’t take long until I started to see positive changes.
5. Detox stress to detox your body
If you read my last post on how to stop stress before it begins, you already know that managing stress is a big thing for me. Truth to be told, there are quite a few things in life including certain people that have an incredible ability to stress me out.
But, how is stress related to detoxification?
For example, let’s say you had to hit the brakes really hard to avoid an accident. Or, you worry about your bank account way too often. Perhaps, your boss yelled at you again at work because of something you did or didn’t do.
All these things can make your brain thinks there’s a threat. As a result, your body goes into the “fight or flight” stress response.
At this mode, stress hormones go up. Your mind becomes more alert, and your body is ready to run away or fight the “threat”. But, at the same time, the body stops the healing and detoxification processes. After all, when a big scary bear is chasing you, who has time to detox?
And, therein lies the problem. Modern life is full of stressful situations. There are not many that are life threatening, but to our brain, they all are.
As a result, many people live their life on a constant state of stress, to a point the body never gets a chance to fully rest, recover, and…detox.
The good news is that there are plenty of things we can do to avoid and manage stress. The biggest epiphany for me, was the level of stress I actually had in my life. I became used to it to a point I kind of ignored it. But, once I was more mindful about my stress levels, I discovered they had a huge effect on my health.
“We live in a modern world where new toxins are being created all the time”, wrote Dr. Jennifer Kessmann in her article on detoxification. “Our body doesn’t always know how to identify these new toxins correctly, or effectively eliminate them.”
Body detox and cleansing are popular online buzzwords that translate into one giant rabbit hole of powders, pills, and home remedies. To be honest, I am not sure if many of these actually work or even needed.
At the same time, toxins are real. And there’s enough research we can learn from. With so many toxins we are exposed to every single day, our body may need some help.
And that help may not include going on a cleanse. As you can see from my story, most of the things that did help me, focused on reducing toxic exposure, rather than taking something. I believe this allowed my body to take over from that point and heal.
Lastly, there are other ways to support your body’s detox systems, some of which target specific organs such as the liver, or kidneys. I took a more systemic approach because I didn’t want to focus on an organ, unless I was confident there was an issue there.