If we ask our doctor about detoxification, he or she might dismiss the idea as nonsense. Yet if we reframed that question slightly, we might get a completely different answer.
What I mean is that instead of asking about the many benefits of detoxifying, ask how bad things can get once our kidneys or liver stop working. Our doctor will probably give a passionate, informative answer.
Unfortunately, prevention and maintenance often take a backseat among conventional doctors. They only become concerned once the problem occurs.
That means they often overlook that our body continuously detoxifies. They fail to understand that with an unprecedented level of environmental and dietary toxins, our body simply cannot keep up with the constant daily barrage and remain healthy.
These 80,000-plus chemicals can interfere with our metabolism and stall weight loss, even when we stick with a normal-calorie diet.
We call these environmental toxins obesogens, or foreign chemical compounds that disrupt fat metabolism and create weight gain. Stop and consider the average newborn has 287 chemicals in his or her umbilical cord blood. It only gets worse from there.
Animal studies show early-life exposure to environmental toxins contribute to insulin resistance, hormone disruptions, and obesity. Toxins affect our metabolism, hormones, and brain function.
A vicious cycle ensues. Being overweight makes us toxic, and toxicity makes our body cling to fat. That partly explains why almost 70 percent of Americans are overweight and about 35 percent are obese.
Even animals and lab rats are getting fatter, suggesting an environmental aspect. Animal studies show toxic chemicals create weight gain independent of things like increased calorie intake or lack of exercise.
These toxins lurk nearly everywhere: in cosmetics, skin care products, soaps, shampoos, deodorant, food, water, air, household cleaners, Tupperware, furniture, mattresses, and carpets.
We live in a toxic world, yet we have tremendous opportunity to minimize toxic exposure. I’ve found these six strategies benefit my patients in reducing toxicity.
- Eat organic whenever possible. Follow the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) list of “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” to know the worst and least contaminated fruits and vegetables.
- Become aware of toxic skin products. Creams, sunscreen, and cosmetics that contain paraben, petrochemicals, lead or other toxins become easily absorbed through our skin. If we wouldn’t eat it, we don’t want it on our skin. Visit the EWG’s page about skin products to learn more.
- Eat clean, organic animal products by choosing grass fed or pasture-raised animals without hormones or antibiotics. They cost more, but we can eat smaller amounts with more plant foods.
- Increase foods that help our body detox. Eat one to two cups a day of organic cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, Bok choy, and lots of garlic, onions and ginger and turmeric.
- Support the body’s own detox system by drinking eight glasses of filtered water a day, and eating lots of fiber to eliminate daily.
- Exercise and sweat regularly. Vigorous exercise increases sweating, which helps move and excrete toxins from our body. Saunas or steam baths also help release the toxins through our skin.
Have you become more concerned about toxicity and its health effects? What measure have you taken to reduce that impact? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.
Author: Dr. Mark Hyman
Image: Susana Fernandez/Flickr
Editor: Emily Bartran
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