In parts one and two of this series, we explored how detoxification in the body works, and how toxin sensitivity can affect your health. In this third and final part, I explain the ways in which to improve your health in the face of toxicity.
If you’re dealing with a long term sickness and suspect toxins are one of the root causes, you may be feeling frustrated. Where do you even begin with a trigger like that? Toxins are everywhere! Fortunately, there are lots of small steps you can take that accumulatively can make a huge difference to your health.
9 Ways to Reduce Your Toxic Burden
At first, reducing your toxic burden means addressing the obvious – reducing your alcohol intake, quitting any recreational drugs, reducing unnecessary medication use, and quitting smoking. But there are a lot of other ways you can reduce your toxic burden that you may not have considered.
- Eliminating BPA from your life. BPA in bottles and food packaging can seep into the food and drink, meaning you consume them, but they can also be inhaled or absorbed through your skin. Your liver metabolises BPAs, adding to your toxic burden, and these chemicals also belong to a family known as endocrine disrupting chemicals. Trust me, you want to avoid these! The clue is in the name. One of the largest sources of BPA is actually thermal receipts, so take care when handling ATM receipts and till receipts. Avoid them where possible.
- Reducing plastic use overall, including food packaging, Ziploc bags, and other storage devices. BPAs are not the only harmful chemical found in plastic packaging – PVC and phthalates are also potential sources of toxin burden. Overhauling your plastics can take a while. Think of it as an ongoing project because once you start looking at all the places plastic is in your life you’ll be overwhelmed. I recommend glass containers in the kitchen, and I supported a fantastic kickstarter recently called Final Straw which has eliminated my need to use straws while out of the house (mum’s of toddlers will appreciate why this is important).
- Making sure any new furniture or mattresses are certified chemical-free. This is a huge one, as you spend a large amount of your time sleeping in your bed! Most furniture is treated with flame retardants, which let off toxic vapor that can seriously damage your health. I really recommend investing in an organic mattress that hasn’t been treated. If your budget doesn’t stretch to an organic, non-toxic couch, consider looking for a second hand one in great condition as they will have ‘off-gassed’ all or most of the volatile compounds and that makes them a better choice. Also, check out Ikea. I believe they have recently released an organic mattress and have good information about their use of toxic compounds.
- Getting rid of aluminium and non-stick cookware. I recommend replacing cookware with good quality ceramic, glass and cast-iron options. Particles of aluminium and other metals, along with the chemicals in a non-stick coating, can attach to the food you eat, adding to your toxin intake. You can get great glass baking trays from Pyrex on Amazon and if you want to invest in non-toxic cookware that will last you a lifetime, I love the SolidTechniks range from Buy Me Once.
- Replacing all personal care products. Try to use only natural products, as unfortunately most cosmetics, grooming products, toiletries, and skin care are packed with chemical substances – many of which have the potential to be allergens or toxins. The beauty industry is very poorly regulated and can make all sorts of claims that are backed up by basically nothing. So you do have the read the labels and not just believe the claims of ‘natural’ or ‘plant based’. Do some googling around which ingredients to avoid as again this can be a VERY overwhelming area once you start looking into it. I recommend just replacing your products one at a time as you run out. See my favourite non-toxic haircare here.
- Using natural household cleaning products – this includes laundry detergent. The vast number of harsh chemicals in most cleaning products, from bleach to antibacterial spray, is staggering. I LOVE e-cloth, and recently tried the cleaning products called Tincture, which I think work really well too and have super-clean ingredients.
- Reducing the number of medications you’re taking, where possible. There are now over 70 medications that have been associated with autoimmune disease. If you are relying on over the counter meds for headaches and period pain thinking they are harmless because they are easily available, then I recommend working with someone to address the cause of the headaches or pain etc. Just because something is common, doesn’t mean it’s normal and just because it’s easily available does not mean it’s harmless.
- Investing in a high-quality air filter. Many people don’t realise this, but indoor pollution in our homes is often worse than the air you breathe outside. I recommend an air filer with a dual system – A HEPA filter for larger airborne particles like dust, pollen and pet hair, and a smaller filtration system such as charcoal for chemicals, smoke and other microscopic airborne pollutants. There are lots of filters that are created for people with chemical sensitivity and I recommend those as a great choice.
- Purchasing a high-quality water filter. There’s a growing number of chemicals that are being discovered in our groundwater aquifers. Keep in mind it’s a good idea to avoid tap water, especially if you’re struggling with chronic illness. I like the Berkey filter.
The 7 Best Ways to Support Healthy Elimination from Your Body
We all know we need to eat right and exercise to be healthy – the reasoning is clear. But an important part of the conversation around health that we tend to forget is detoxification. Everyone should be concerned about the impact of detoxification on their health.
If you’re committed to detoxification, you can take these 7 steps to better support your efforts:
- Adopt a diet low in sugar and carbohydrates – while also adding healthy fats and proteins. Detoxification requires a lot of energy and nutrients, so you’ll need a wholefood, nutrient-dense diet to support detoxification. Ensure all produce is pesticide free.
- Heal your gut – Your gut microbiome plays a major role in supporting biotransformation and detoxification. If you are perplexed as to why having a balanced diet isn’t changing the outcome of your health, it may be because your body is having trouble absorbing nutrients, due to undiagnosed leaky gut. It’s worth looking into this, and taking steps to heal.
- Treat any outstanding infections – Existing infections can make it really difficult for your body to do its job. (Work with a certified functional medicine practitioner to undergo testing and treat any common infections, please don’t try to do this yourself at home). It’s important to make sure you don’t have any underlying conditions or infections, such as:
- Reactivated Epstein-Barr
- Lyme disease and coinfections
- Candida overgrowth H. pylori
- Exercise – Exercise supports detoxification not only through the many ways it keeps you healthy – but because it causes you to sweat. Sweating is one of the best ways your body eliminates and is an easy way to increase output in a day – there are only so many times you can poop after all!
- Use a infrared sauna – Infrared saunas are great option to increase detoxification through sweating. If you can’t exercise due to illness or other limitations, infrared saunas can help. They work by raising your body’s core temperature, which improves circulation, increases sweating, reduces inflammation, promotes relaxation, alleviates pain, and most importantly – helps your body eliminate many more toxins.
- Use binders – Binders such as activated charcoal and bentonite clay help pull toxins from within the gut. Binders then move the toxins along so they can be successfully excreted. You should only take your activated charcoal or bentonite clay every six hours in between food or supplements.
- Dry brush your body – Dry brushing as an ancient technique that is gaining attention in functional medicine world. This is because dry brushing is simple and yet effective in stimulating the lymphatic system, which is one of your body’s natural detoxification pathways.
3 Ways to Heal After Toxic Illness
Once you’ve healed and your toxic symptoms fade, it’s all too easy to fall back into bad habits, but it’s incredibly important you continue to follow your exercise or infrared sauna regime, continue to eat whole foods, and maintain your health.
Here are three ways to supplement your new way of life, to ensure full healing from toxins:
- Address stress. Remember that your brain and body are intrinsically linked, and what affects your body also affects your brain – and vice-versa. When you’re stressed, cortisol floods your system, triggering a number of responses, including disrupting the normal workings of your immune system – which may leave you more open to toxin sensitivity. Of course nobody has zero stress in life, but making changes where you can to reduce your stress load, and also taking regular walks outside, laughing or a good meditation practice can all dramatically change your body’s response to stress.
- Get regular massages. Massage reduces cortisol levels, and alleviates stress. Plus, it’s a wonderful form of self-care.
- Supplement with glutathione or NAC. While I always urge my patients to get the nutrition they need from food, supplementing with glutathione is often wise, as it fights oxidative stress caused by toxins. A liposomal form of the supplement is best, as it ensures the antioxidant goes where it’s most needed. NAC is a precurser to glutathione and has been shown to increase glutathione levels in the body
Above all, remember that if you have toxin sensitivity, or are concerned about your toxic burden, it’s an ongoing concern – that you have to keep protecting against. Through improving your diet and behaviours, you can aid detoxification and reduce long standing symptoms.
Join my Signature Program for Better Health
My Signature Program, The Foundations of Health covers this whole subject in great detail, as I genuinely consider it to be fundamental to healing alongside food, gut health and self care. Perhaps you suspect toxins are playing a big role in your life, but you’re not sure where to begin in reducing their impact? Or perhaps you’ve been sick for as long as you can remember, and you’re fed up and want to find a solution? Then The Foundations of Health is for you. Featuring modules on food, the gut, and detoxing, and including 16, in-depth classes plus private one-to-one consultations, the course is built to help you gain a handle on your health and your energy.