We live in an amazing, beautiful world at a time when scientific and technological breakthroughs are creating new possibilities for innovation and quality of life.
Unfortunately, we are also living at a time when we are being challenged by an increasing burden of toxins around us and within us - all of which can have serious effects to our health.
No one can escape exposure to toxins. Research has demonstrated that babies who are born today are exposed to toxic chemicals before they even enter the world!
The good news is our bodies have an amazing ability to adapt and to heal. As communities and governments work to find ways to reduce toxins in their environments, there are also things that we can do as individuals to minimize the risk that these toxins represent to our health and the health of those we love.
What is a toxin anyway, and how to we detoxify our lives? We may hear about toxic plants, toxic chemicals, or toxic relationships - just to name a few. At a very basic level, we say that something is toxic if it works against our health and well-being.
In the body, toxins are made up of the everyday waste products that our bodies need to eliminate, as well as any harmful substances to which we may have been exposed.
Here are six ways to decrease the toxic burden in your body:
1) Educate yourself - Know what the toxic risks are in your community, your workplace, and your home. The EPA regulates environmental safety and provides a host of resources to help citizens assess environmental risks such as poor air and water quality or chemical and pesticide exposure. The United States Department of Labor oversees occupational safety and health, and provides resources to learn more about potential workplace risks. The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching and educating the public about potential health risks associated with consumer choices.
2) "Pretox" - Perhaps you've heard of pre-cycling — a practice of reducing waste by being selective about what you acquire or consume. Similarly, we can reduce our toxic burden when we are selective about our purchasing and lifestyle habits. We can avoid unnecessary exposure to mercury, for example, if we avoid eating potentially contaminated fish. Once you realize what your personal risks for toxins are, you can reduce them by altering your choices.
3) Drink sufficient clean water — You've probably heard the adage: "The solution to pollution is dilution". Your body needs water to complete its own internal detoxification processes, so make sure that you are getting at least half your weight in ounces of filtered water each day. Avoid water bottled in plastic, since it may be contaminated by BPA or similar chemicals - known to disrupt human hormones and increase blood pressure. Unfortunately, even BPA-free plastic has been shown to disrupt the reproductive system.
4) Optimize your nutrition — Your body has an elaborate built-in three-phase detoxification system that rounds up toxins, changes them to a form that can be excreted, and then flushes them out of your body. Your nutrition supplies important ingredients so that your body can carry out all these phases, including certain B vitamins, healthy fats, amino acids, and minerals. If you are concerned that your nutrition isn't optimal, consider getting professional guidance on what changes would move you in a healthier direction. Be aware that you are biologically unique and while general nutrition guidelines may be helpful, they may not provide the specific guidance that is optimal for you. The Whole 30 is an eating plan that incorporates some of the latest research and wisdom about healthy eating. It is a great place to start if you're not ready to seek individualized guidance.
5) Mind your gut health — Your gut health is very important to your ability to detoxify for several reasons. First of all, being able to absorb nutrients well is necessary for your body to get what it needs to carry out its normal detoxification processes. If your intestinal tract is inflamed, it may absorb toxins, such as food allergens, more readily. Also, normal bowel elimination is important so that your body can get rid of wastes in a timely manner. Research on the microbiome is revealing the key role that it plays in our overall well-being. You can find more information about maintaining a healthy microbiome in my blog "5 Ways to Mind your Microbiome".
6) Breathe deeply and sweat — Your body also rids itself of wastes through respiration and perspiration, so make sure that you are optimizing these channels too! Exercise is one way to facilitate both of these processes at the same time, and of course it is healthy for many other reasons. Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have practices that promote deep breathing, and many QiGong and Yoga teachers offer guidance in how to do them. For more information about QiGong check out my blog "Five Ways to Use Good Vibrations for Health and Well-Being". For more information about yogic breathing listen to my Nudge call with Jody Probert - "Deeper Mind-Body connection through Yoga". Traditional or infrared saunas are great ways to promote sweating in addition to your work-out.
The thought of toxins around us can be overwhelming, but the good news is, there is much we can do to limit our exposure and how much they impact us.
What about you? What are you doing to tame the toxins in your life? Please share your wisdom with us in the comments below.