If you’re a health conscious person, you most likely do your best to avoid chemical laden processed foods in order to help limit your exposure to toxins. This is a great way to reduce your intake of toxins, though even healthy eaters are exposed to toxins beyond their control from environment, food and water almost every single day.
Your body is designed to detoxify itself. You have a liver, lungs, kidneys and organs of elimination for every organ system in the body. When working optimally your body will be flushing a large portion of ingested toxins out through its natural processes.
That being said, we are all exposed to a huge amount of toxins on a daily basis even if we are doing our very best to avoid eating them. The sheer volume of toxic chemicals that have been introduced into our daily lives as a society since the turn of the century is startling. I’m not trying to scare you, but rather to help raise your awareness so that you can do your best to limit your exposure to the toxins in your environment, as well as helping you to support your body in its job of detoxing the chemicals you’re exposed to.
Top 10 Toxins Healthy Eaters Are Exposed To
1. Exhaust from vehicles: This is a really tough one to avoid, especially if you live in the city. Being outside walking around breathing in car exhaust isn’t great, and unfortunately being inside the car is not much better. The repeated exposure to low to moderate levels of carbon monoxide which is produced by most vehicles can cause memory loss, headaches, depression, nausea and vomiting if you are not able to fully detox it from your system. Long term exposure can have even more detrimental effects.
2. Tap water: Even if you have a filter or drink otherwise clean water, you are still exposed to tap water when you shower, bathe and wash your hands. Depending on where you live in the world, your tap water could contain anything from large doses of fluoride, chlorine all the way up to arsenic. These toxins leach through the skin, especially if you are having a very hot shower or bath. When these items are heated it increases their toxicity, and your body is more susceptible to absorbing them because your pores will be opened due to the increased temperature. You can contact your local water processing plant and ask for a report detailing which toxins are in the water running through your taps.
3. Off gassing from furniture: Due to an increased number of people falling asleep while smoking and thus setting themselves on fire, most furniture now a days is laced with a tonne of toxic chemicals known as flame retardants. This practice of dousing furniture in flame resistant toxins is even more prevalent in children’s furniture than regular furniture with an approximate 90% of all children’s furniture items having some chemical additive, this includes pillow top mattresses which many of us spend a great portion of our life sleeping on. These chemicals are linked to cancer, infertility and even lowered IQ levels for babies exposed while in utero.
4. Off gassing from wall paint: Paint used to contain high levels of lead which if applied to your walls will continue to off gas into your home for decades. All older homes will have lead paint on the walls and exposure to lead has been linked to problems in the central nervous system, brain and red blood cell production. Even new paint that is lead free still contains Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s which are known carcinogens.
5. Cleaning products: There are so many toxic chemicals present in modern-day cleaning products that there is no way I could list them all here. The two biggies are ethylene based glycol ethers and terpenes. The ethers are toxic all on their own, and the terpenes will react with ozone to form toxic chemicals. If you are using conventional cleaning products in a non-well ventilated area your ingestion of these poisons may be high.
6. Makeup: Makeup contains some of the most well hidden toxins. Reading the ingredient labels on some of your favourite products may leave you feeling like you should have paid closer attention in high school chemistry. Among the many components that are dangerous for your health phthalates, which are used in soaps, shampoos, makeups and other products to help bind fragrance and colour together are some of the most worrying. They can cause infertility and other hormonal issues with long-term exposure. And remember, since you are placing these products directly onto your body you will not only be breathing in these chemicals but also absorbing them through your skin directly into your bloodstream.
7. Fragrances/Perfumes: You may be one of those people who tends to get a headache or who starts feeling nauseous when you are around someone wearing a heavy perfume or other fragrance. The reason for this reaction is that conventional fragrances and perfumes contain a multitude of toxic substances. There are over 300 chemicals that manufacturers can choose from to create their signature scents. Of these 300 chemicals, most have not been tested for their toxicity, or what happens to them when they are mixed with other chemicals. These items are known to cause headaches, allergies and can even cause the development or exacerbation of asthma.
8. Hidden food additives: Even if you are eating a very clean diet, there could still be hidden food additives in your foods that you are not aware of. Even so-called “natural” foods can contain things like colours, dies, processed oils, MSG, and other chemicals labelled as “natural flavors/colors/additives.” The reason that these ingredients can still make it into your food is because they are wildly unregulated and labels can be misleading on purpose. For example, MSG can be labelled as yeast protein, soy protein, protein isolate, yeast, and natural flavor. The word “natural” is fully unregulated so they can put that in front of any chemical they are adding to your food to convince you that what you are eating is good for you.
9. Plastics: Plastics are some of the worst offenders when it comes to substances that cause hormonal imbalances and other health issues like cancer. Plastics are known as “xenoestrogens” or toxic chemicals that disrupt estrogen levels in men and in women which can cause estrogen dependant cancers, estrogen dominance and other hormonal imbalances. Even if your plastic is BPA free it will still contain toxic components that are bad for your health.
10. Aerosol cans: Most aerosol cans contain ingredients that are highly toxic. Many of them are flammable like butane. Butane is added as a propellant and will be getting into your hair, onto your skin and into your lungs whenever you spray. Other toxins within aerosol cans include those that are corrosive, reactive and just straight up poisonous.
Now, living in a bubble may seem like a really attractive option right now, but there is really no need to go to that kind of extreme to protect yourself. As mentioned above your body is set up to detox. Because we live in a world full of unnatural toxins our bodies can use a little help every once in a while in clearing those toxins to protect you from illness. It is easy to become bogged down with toxic exposure so here are 10 Things you can do today to help support your body in its natural detoxification processes.
What Can You Do About The Toxins? Aside from Living in a Bubble…
1. Drink lemon water first thing in the morning: This little trick will cause your gallbladder to contract, which will stimulate your liver and help to induce the emptying of your bowels. This simple morning habit will help to boost your bodies natural ability to detoxify by getting everything running first thing when you wake up. Here’s a 1 day raw food meal plan if you want to try a 1 day cleanse.
2. Drink 1.5-2 liters of fresh pure water every day: Your body is composed of upwards of 70% water. This water is not only important for cellular function, nutrient delivery and so on, but it is also essential for flushing excess toxins from your body. Your liver works to create water-soluble toxins from the abundance of fat soluble toxins in your body which are far easier to remove. If you don’t have the water to carry those toxins out of your body you will stay toxic. Drinking 1.5-2 litres of water (or more if you are active, breast-feeding or pregnant) will help keep things flowing for you.
3. Drink green juice: Green juices are any juice that have a base of green veggies like leafy greens, cucumbers, celery and fennel. These juices are not only super high in water which we already know is important for the removal of wastes, but are also dense with vitamins and minerals.
These vitamins and minerals are needed to help your cells, muscles, tissues and organs function. By adding a green juice to your day you will be boosting your nutritional intake, which will enable your detox organs to do their job better. On top of that, your body does not have to expend any of its own nutrition or energy to digest and access the nutrients found in your juice as they are delivered directly into your bloodstream.
4. Eat liver supporting foods: The liver is your bodies main detoxification organ. You can read more about it here. You can support your liver and its detoxification role by consuming foods like bitter greens, cruciferous veggies, sulphur rich foods like garlic, lemons, limes, cilantro, beets and carrots.
5. Do a semi-annual detox: Even if you are eating a super clean diet, your body is still being exposed to a tonne of chemicals on a daily basis that it was not designed to deal with. Most of the poisons in our environment now are man-made, and have only been around for the last 100 years or so. By doing a well planned semi-annual detox you will be further lightening the load of toxins you ingest through your diet as well as increasing the rate at which your body is filtering toxins out. This can help to reduce your risk of toxic overload.
6. Get adequate rest: If you are not sleeping enough, your body will not be detoxing to its full potential. Your organs need rest and recovery time in order to function and process everything you ingest on a daily basis. Going to bed before 11pm and getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is a great place to start if you want to improve your bodies detoxification capacity by improving your sleeping habits.
7. Stress less: Just like when you are getting too little sleep, when you are experiencing a ton of stress in your life you are most likely not detoxing properly. This is because your body needs to be in the “rest and digest” state in order to properly tap into its full healing and detoxifying powers.When you are in fight or flight mode you are not allowing your body to tap into its healing side, because you are asking it to be on high alert. Finding ways that help you reduce stress will go a long way to helping your body heal and detoxify properly.
8. Engage in moderate physical activity most days of the week: When you move your body in some way that elevates your heart rate and produces a light sweat you are helping to move stored toxins through your lymph system in order to be processed and removed. You’ll be increasing your circulation which will increase the rate at which your blood passes through your liver to be detoxified. You will also be releasing toxins through your sweat and increasing the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your cells, helping them to release wastes more efficiently. Bonus points if you enjoy your activity because this will have an added bonus of decreasing stress!
9. Skin brush daily: Skin brushing stimulates the bodies lymphatic system, which can also be known as your bodies “garbage dump” system. Your lymph may contain lots of built up toxins to be processed by your lymph nodes before being released from your body. When you skin brush you increase the rate at which your lymph system filters toxins and thus you increase the rate at which they are removed from your body.
10. Treat yourself to a steam: The skin is the bodies largest detox organ. When you sit in a steam room you increase your rate of circulation, as well as your rate of perspiration. This means that more oxygen will be getting to your cells, and more toxins will be delivered from your cells to your liver to be processed. They will then be ushered out of your body through your pores at an increased rate.
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