We are exposed to environmental toxins all the time. Even the simplest of daily routines can expose one to several common pollutants found in the water we drink, food we eat, and air we breathe. While our liver, kidneys and lymphatic system play a major role in removing biologically harmful compounds, our bodies have not evolved to deal with the growing number of toxins we unknowingly interact with every day. Detoxification systems can easily become overwhelmed, causing toxin overload. This happens when your body has taken in more toxins than it can process. When this happens, real damage is imminent.
Where Do Toxins Come From?
Toxins can come from lots of different places. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report tracking air pollution levels, and found that they had risen 8% between 2011 and 2016. In a similar report from several years previous, Dr. David Bellinger, writing for the National Institutes of Health, explored the impact of pesticide exposure on children. This report wasn’t looking at traditional at-risk groups, like farmers, but at the general population. His conclusions were startling: he estimated that children across the US had lost a combined total of 16.9 million IQ points, just from the cognitive damage from everyday pesticide exposure. Part of the reason is school-age children are often times eating school meals which are heavily sprayed in pesticide.
The WHO monitors the food and water supply for toxins, and has found that a large percentage of food consumed by Americans is deemed unsafe. The highest concentration of toxins are derived from glycophosate (found in the pesticide Roundup). Roundup is commonly used in the U.S. to spray our agriculture, highways, parks, and playgrounds to kill weed. The highest concentration of Roundup is spraying is in the states with the highest agriculture land: Florida, California, Washington, followed by the Midwest, New York and New Jersey. The food produced in these states is then shipped throughout the U.S. and hence, becomes the staple of the American diet.
Glycophosate is heavily concentrated in all animals and fish since their water supply and grass is heavily contaminated. The farm fed animals are also fed mostly heavily sprayed crops such as corn and soy which cannot naturally digest. They are also often fed the brains of other animals and hence, develop high levels of prions which then trigger normal proteins in the brain to work abnormally. The WHO has discovered that all animals and fish now have the highest toxin load ever noted in history. Hence, when a person consumes animal protein (ie., meats, dairy products, eggs, fish) they are highly suspectible to extremely high exposure to many heavy metals (i.e., mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, prions, and glycophosate which they cannot safely tolerated. Consumption of non-organic produce, processed foods, condiment, and items rich in non-organic corn, soy, and wheat are also exposed to high levels of glycophosate and other dangerous pesticide.
Glycophosate is an antibiotic which kills a person’s healthy microbiome. It binds to critical minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins and prevents them from being bioavailable.
Some toxins can be absorbed through your skin. Personal care products, like shampoos, make-up, perfumes, and lotions often contain parabens, formaldehyde, and phenoxyethanol (a stabilizer in many perfumes that’s very dangerous to infants and children.) As these products are absorbed, those toxins come into the body too. Some toxins come in through your supplements, toothpaste, and medications since many of them contain gelatin. Gelatin is often contaminated with prions.
Symptoms of Toxic Overload
Toxic overload can cause a number of changes in your body. In the early stages, your body try to expel those toxins by any means necessary. You may experience diarrhea, sneezing or coughing fits, excessive urination, sore throat, heartburn, nasal congestion or runny nose (from mucus overproduction), or vomiting. Many people notice changes to their body odor or excessively oily skin, as well, since their bodies are acting to purge those toxins through their pores.
As the toxins gradually accumulate in your system, you may also find impairment to some of your faculties. Most people experience fatigue, memory difficulties, sleep impairment, eczema (and other inflammatory conditions like gout), depression, or “brain fog”.
Diagnosing Toxic Overload
Diagnosing toxic overload is more than just tallying symptoms, since so many different conditions and diseases can cause similar problems. Sensitivity to a chemical or food you’re routinely exposed to, and even substance abuse can all cause every single one of the symptoms mentioned above.
A diagnosis of toxin overload starts with a general overview of your habits and lifestyle, your symptoms and a comprehensive physical exam. Blood and urine tests are often order to better understand what is going on inside the body.
Treatment for Toxic Overload
The good news about toxic overload is that your body is great at cleansing itself, once you stop taking new toxins in. In most cases, you can avoid invasive procedures by simply providing support through diet and lifestyle changes.
First start with doing less harm by restricting your intake of dairy products, eggs, fish, red meat, poultry, processed food, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, inorganic produce and crops (i.e., wheat, corn, soy). At the same time add lots of organic green vegetables, fresh herbs, ancient whole grains like quinoa, oats, & amaranth; and small beans like mung beans and red lentils into your diet. Make sure to soak the grains and beans overnight before cooking so they are easily digested.
Many of these organic plant-based foods support the liver, kidneys, and digestive tract so that can detoxify the body. Foods like dandelion, parsley, cilantro, turmeric, wheatgrass, and milk thistle all help to support liver: the key organ for detoxification. You’ll also want to drink lots of warm water throughout the day, since water is critical for flushing out your organs.
Make sure to give your time off of electronics for the first hour after awakening and the last two hours before going to bed. The lights emitted from electronics prevent the production of the critical hormone Melatonin. Melatonin deficiency (come after age 45 or even earlier) leads to difficulty with detoxification, and a compromised immune system.
Avoid repeat exposure to toxins, by restricting your intake of all processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, foods especially high in saturated and trans fats (i.e., animal protein, too many nuts) and nicotine. When it comes to skincare and hygiene, use only natural, fragrance-free care products which are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, lead, and other potentially toxic compounds.
Regularly practice deep breathing since so many toxins are released through the lungs. Yoga is a great way to get your exercise in while learning to be more mindful of your breathing.
Get as much fresh air as possible, too, since so many toxins are airborne. Taking a walk through the park, instead of eating lunch at your desk, can make all the difference.
Toxic Overload, Detoxing, and Advanced Health
At Advanced Health, our integrative approach to medicine is built on the understanding that wellness comes from purity and balance. Avoiding toxins, supporting your body’s natural systems, and taking regular exercise go hand in hand with meditation and psychological treatments to detox your mind, as well as your body.
Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. specializes in toxin overload and how to effectively detoxify. Her Advance Health’s wellness team can support you through nutrition, stress and sleep counseling, genetics analysis and other diagnostics to better understand the root cause of your symptoms. Contact Advanced Health and book a consultation. It might be the first step to your clean bill of health.
10 WAYS TO DETOXIFY YOUR BODY
Practiced for centuries by cultures around the world — including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine systems — detoxification is about resting, cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out. By removing and eliminating toxins, then feeding your body with healthy nutrients, detoxifying can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to maintain optimum health through a range of methods including yoga, meditation and more.
HOW DOES DETOXIFICATION WORK?
Basically, detoxification means cleansing the blood. This is done by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, and skin. However, when these systems are compromised, impurities aren't properly filtered and the body is adversely affected.
A detox program can help the body's natural cleansing process by:
- Resting the organs through fasting;
- Stimulating the liver to drive toxins from the body;
- Promoting elimination through the intestines, kidneys, and skin;
- Improving circulation of the blood; and
- Refueling the body with healthy nutrients.
"Detoxification works because it addresses the needs of individual cells, the smallest units of human life," says Peter Bennett, N.D., co-author of 7-Day Detox Miracle with Stephen Barrie, N.D., and Sara Faye.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU NEED TO DETOXIFY?
Bennett suggests that everyone should detox at least once a year. However, Bennett cautions against detoxing for nursing mothers, children, and patients with chronic degenerative diseases, cancer or tuberculosis. Consult your healthcare practitioner if you have questions about whether detoxing is right for you.
Today, with more toxins in the environment than ever, "it's critical to detox," says Linda Page, N.D., Ph.D., the author of Detoxification: Programs to Cleanse, Purify and Renew. Page recommends detoxing for symptoms such as:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Sluggish elimination
- Irritated skin
- Low-grade infection
- Puffy eyes or bags under the eyes
- Menstrual problems
- Mental confusion
HOW DO YOU START A DETOX?
First, lighten up your toxin load. Eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugars, and saturated fats, all of which act as toxins in the body and are obstacles to your healing process. Also, minimize use of chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products (cleansers, shampoos, deodorants, and toothpastes), and substitute natural alternatives.
Another hindrance to good health is stress, which triggers your body to release stress hormones into your system. While these hormones can provide the "adrenaline rush" to win a race or meet a deadline, in large amounts they create toxins and slow down detoxification enzymes in the liver. Yoga, Qigong and meditation are simple and effective ways to relieve stress by resetting your physical and mental reactions to the inevitable stress life will bring. Gaiam carries yoga mats, props and accessories for beginner yogis to advanced practitioners and a meditation seating to help you relieve stress.
WHICH DETOX PROGRAM IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
There are many detoxification programs and detox recipes, depending on your individual needs. Many programs follow a seven-day schedule because, as Bennett explains, "it takes the body time to clean the blood." His program involves fasting on liquids for two days, followed by a carefully planned five-day detox diet to allow the digestive system to rest. Page recommends a three- to seven-day juice fast (drinking only fresh fruit and vegetable juices and water) as an effective way to release toxins.
Here are our five favorite detox diets:
- Simple Fruit and Veggie Detox
- Smoothie Cleanse
- Juice Cleanse
- Sugar Detox
- Hypoallergenic Detox
TOP 10 WAYS TO HELP YOUR BODY DETOXIFY
After a detoxification program, you can cleanse your body daily with these diet supplements and lifestyle practices:
- Eat plenty of fiber, including brown rice and organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Beets, radishes, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, spirulina, chlorella, and seaweed are excellent detoxifying foods.
- Cleanse and protect the liver by taking herbs such as dandelion root, burdock, and milk thistle, and drinking green tea.
- Take vitamin C, which helps the body produce glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins.
- Drink at least two quarts of water a day, made easy by bringing our 32 oz. Stainless Steel Wide Mouth Water Bottle with you everywhere you go!
- Breathe deeply to allow oxygen to circulate more completely through your system.
- Transform stress by emphasizing positive emotions.
- Practice hydrotherapy by taking a very hot shower for five minutes, allowing the water to run on your back. Follow with cold water for 30 seconds. Do this three times, and then get into bed for 30 minutes.
- Sweat in a sauna so your body can eliminate waste through perspiration.
- Dry-brush your skin or try detox foot spas/foot baths to remove toxins through your pores. Special brushes are available at natural products stores.
- What’s the most important way to detoxify? "Exercise," says Bennett. "Yoga or jump-roping are good. One hour every day." Also try Qigong, a martial arts based exercise system that includes exercises specifically for detoxifying or cleansing, as well as many other exercises with specific health benefits.
Consult your doctor before using any health treatment, including herbal supplements and natural remedies, and tell your doctor if you have a serious medical condition or are taking any medications. The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended as substitute for medical counseling.