On a day to day basis, the average human in the U.S. is exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of environmental toxins. We take these toxins in, either knowingly or unknowingly, through our skin, the air we breathe, the food we eat, or injections we require. Some of these toxins we have control over, while others are much harder to limit exposure.
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has researched and reported that the average person carries 91 different toxins at any one time in their blood or urine (SOURCE). Although if we don’t ‘feel’ sick necessarily, how do we know what exposures are harming us, and how to best support the body to detoxify them?
Common exposures to toxins come from:
The main issue is that when companies or manufacturers test (if they even test at all) the safety of products in use, they typically only test for large enough amounts to cause immediate harm. They also typically only test on healthy individuals, not individuals who have auto-immunity or compromised immune systems, adolescents, or children.
The problem is not the acute dosage we receive, but the accumulative dosage over the course of months or years that can impact us negatively, and it mostly impacts our endocrine and detoxification abilities. By our body getting these chemicals and toxins within the bloodstream, that means our detoxification system - our liver and kidneys - need to work harder to manage them and get them out of the body. The level of burden becomes much higher the more we are exposed to. These chemicals can act as what we call xenoestrogens, which mimic estrogen in the body. This manifests with symptoms including:
It can be hard to limit all of our exposures, but what we can do is lessen the load. We can also work to strengthen the body's detoxification system to be able to remove toxins more effectively.
Unfortunately supporting detoxification is not as simple as drinking a ‘cleansing tea’ for 5-7 days and pooping everything out. The detoxification system within the body is pretty complex, and there are things we need to be shifting in our lifestyle to support our liver and it’s ability to remove toxins properly from the body.
These are the top 5 tips for creating a better detoxification system within the body!
1. Reduce the Toxic Load
There are a few things that are easier to remove/replace than others. We focus mostly on making sure your hair and skin-care products are free of the worst offenders. You can utilize this LIST of the top 12 toxins/chemicals to watch out for in your products.
We also try to keep an eye out for things that can include BPA’s - some tips around this include:
In general, it is recommended to eat organic, as well as whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. This can limit our exposure to more harmful pesticides and environmental chemicals. We also want to include as many nutrient dense foods as possible because the gut is one of the main pathways of detoxification in the body. Without a healthy gut, these toxins will make their way into the bloodstream more than we want (i.e. from leaky gut or dysbiosis) and cause problems (SOURCE).
The other problem is a lack of fiber in the diet. When these toxins that may make their way into the bloodstream need to be excreted, if we don’t have adequate fiber to bind to them, they never make it out in our stool. This is why we must focus on plant based foods as much as possible, and these are what we call ‘liver loving’ foods since they help bind to things to excrete and take some burden off the liver (SOURCE).
Sweating is one of the best ways in which we can get toxins out of the body - ever felt like you needed ‘sweat off the alcohol’? There is some truth to that!
The skin acts as a detox organ all in itself! There have even been studies that show all types of toxins including heavy metals and BPA residue in human sweat. In fact, sweating appears to be one of the only ways that certain toxins leave the body, likely because many toxins are stored primarily in the body’s fat tissue (SOURCE).
Exercise is obviously a great way to induce sweating, but one of our favorite ways is through sauna use! A sauna has so many benefits and research behind its use, it is actually quite staggering. It induces something known as hormesis, which is a small stressor on the body that helps the body come back even stronger after. Utilization of up to 15 minutes daily can be amazing for how your body functions and feels!
4. Purify Drinking Water
Although the US has one of the cleanest water supplies in the world, toxins do still exist within our water system. The EWG has identified over 300 contaminants in the public water supply, over 200 of which are unregulated. Certain immune-compromised populations (babies, pregnant women, and elderly) are disproportionately affected. Some of the toxins include:
You can either invest in a full-house filtration system, or if looking for a more financially realistic situation, you can get separate water filters for household drinking and showering. We usually recommend reverse osmosis systems, gravity filters, or Pure Effects type water filters.
5. Prioritize Sleep
We feel we’ve covered sleep a lot, but it never hurts to talk about it once more and how it impacts detoxification in particular! Sleep deprivation increases inflammation, impairs immune function, and lowers detoxification ability. When we sleep, neurotoxic waste products are eliminated from the brain, and our circadian rhythm also is pivotal in regulating liver detoxification (SOURCE). We recommend getting a minimum of 7 hours in bed, with a goal of 8-9 hours of sleep.
We’ve shared some of our best tips for improving circadian rhythm in our blog HERE, but some quick tips include:
We know that toxins seem like they are everywhere and it can be a bit overwhelming to try to eliminate all of them, but what we recommend is picking which areas seem to be the biggest opportunity for you to reduce exposure and start there. We can control more than we realize, and our body will thank us in the long-term!
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