Where were you when you first found out that your shampoo could contain cancer-causing ingredients? Is it right here and now?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we’re surrounded by more than 80,000 chemicals in our environment. And that’s not the worst part. Most of those chemicals haven’t been adequately tested for human health and safety.
Right about now, you’re probably thinking that you’ll get rid of your $3 mascara and opt for more expensive natural products. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Although you can, and probably should, take measures to avoid chemicals in your beauty and cleaning products, they are still in our environment. Chemicals are present in the air we breathe and the food we eat.
This is exactly why it’s so important to help boost your body’s natural detoxification methods.
How to detox
You may think of detox as a trendy thing that’s touted by celebs on the daily. But that’s more about the commercial side of detox. And the truth is that you don’t have to buy a single product to help your body detoxify. In fact you’ve been detoxing since the day you were born.
The body’s natural detoxification system includes organs like the liver and kidneys that filter waste and flush it out of your body.
The body’s natural detoxification system is much more efficient than you could possibly imagine. But the problem is that it’s not built to handle the 80,000 chemicals that are in our environment and food supply.
So our bodies need a little help to detoxify. This is where the products have come in. Many products on the market are intended to help the body’s natural process of detoxification. This is a good thing, but again, you really don’t need to spend a dime on supplements for detox.
It’s impossible to avoid chemicals completely, even if you spend a month in an Ojai retreat without access to the outside world. But fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your exposure and help your body detox naturally.
The fewer new chemicals your body has to process, the more it can work to unload the chemicals that have been building up in your body.
Here are some tips for helping your body’s natural detoxification process rid your body of more toxins.
1. Eat organic
We don’t often think of our food when we think of toxicity because the toxins aren’t always listed as ingredients. Pesticides from the farming process seep into foods that aren’t organically grown, and then we unknowingly eat those chemicals. But you can significantly cut down on the amount of toxins in your body by choosing more organic produce.
Organic produce tends to be more expensive than non-organic produce, so if you’re on a budget, choose wisely. Look at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) list of the “Dirty Dozen.” These are the most heavily sprayed crops, so you’ll make the biggest impact if you buy these organic.
The same principles apply to meat and dairy. Buy food from animals that were humanely raised, antibiotic free and raised on a natural diet. It may not always be possible, but buy organic whenever you can to cut down on the amount of toxins you consume.
2. Scrutinize labels
When you start looking at the ingredients listed in your beauty and personal care products, you might feel like you need a specialized degree to understand them (or even pronounce some of them).
But don’t let that deter you. Even if you don’t understand all the ingredients listed, look for products that are labeled as phthalate- and paraben-free. You’ll also want to avoid any personal care products that contain retinyl palmitate. This is a form of vitamin A that has been linked to skin tumors and lesions.
3. Exercise regularly
The body stores toxic chemicals that it can’t expel, and exercise is one of the best ways to get those toxins moving again. Toxins are stored in fat, and when you break down fat cells, the toxins get flushed out through the body’s detoxification process.
If you can, try to exercise for about 30-minutes every day.
4. Avoid saturated fat
Meat, dairy and fried foods are high in saturated fats that can also be high in toxins. Animals’ bodies store toxins in their fat just like we do. And then their toxins enter our fat cells after we digest them from our food.
You don’t have to become a vegetarian, but you should consume a diet that’s rich in vegetables and low in animal products. Limit your intake to lean meats, like wild game if possible, and try to buy organic meat from grass-fed animals.
5. Avoid fad detoxes
There’s no shortage of detox plans and cleanses on the market, but most of them aren’t as effective as simply relying on your body’s natural elimination (e.g. sweat, urination).
Remember that there is no magic pill that’s going to help your body detox. All the activated charcoal drinks won’t get rid of your stored fat if you aren’t sweating it out. So, avoid getting wrapped up in the latest fads. Instead, do follow these tips and do what you already know is good for your body.
6. Clean up your cleaning products
Most cleaning products contain toxic chemicals that are a danger to breathe and bad to absorb through your skin. These products may (or may not) disinfect, but they do so at a price.
Try to choose products that are made with all or natural ingredients, and only use disinfectant whenever someone in your household is sick.
7. Improve home air quality
Flame retardants and other chemicals in our furniture and paint can diminish the air quality in your home. Add toxic cleaning products and perfumes to the mix and your home’s air quality takes a nose dive. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that can be emitted as gasses from certain liquids or solids. Whenever possible, open your windows to improve air circulation and reduce this off-gassing exposure. Also, get as many houseplants as you can reasonably keep as these will help filter the air naturally. Plants are especially helpful for clearing the air in your bedroom while you sleep.
8. Avoid nonstick pans
Nonstick pans release toxic chemicals into the air, especially when they’re heated to high temperatures. Choose stainless steel or cast iron pans to avoid off-gassing from your cookware.
Also use glass instead of plastic storage containers. Plastic contains BPA, which can seep into your food or drinks. And if you do use plastic, be sure not to microwave it. Always use microwave-safe ceramics or glass in the microwave to avoid contaminating your food with chemicals.
9. Drink lots of water
If you’re like most people, you don’t drink enough water. Drinking water is the best way to help your body’s natural detoxification process because it sends water through your kidneys. With more water, your body can send more of the toxic waste out of the body instead of storing it as fat.
Everyone’s water needs are different and can depend on variables like climate, body type and gender. So it can be difficult to know exactly how much water is best for you. As a general rule, you can start by having your body weight and drinking that much water in ounces. So if you weigh 120 pounds, you’ll drink 60 ounces daily.
You can drink herbal teas and lemon or cucumber water to count towards your daily count, but remember that coffee and tea do not count. Anything with caffeine may act like a diuretic and pull more water from your body, having the opposite effect of what you’re after.
10. Limit prescription drugs
Believe it or not, prescription drugs may sometimes contain things that you don’t want in your body. These ingredients may be natural and toxic at the same time. Opioid painkillers are a great example. Opiates are natural, but they have an undesirable effect on the body. Try to find an alternative treatment for pain and other issues that can be treated naturally. There are times when prescriptions are the only option, but it’s best to find alternatives whenever possible.
Start by talking to your doctor about alternative treatments that don’t involve prescription medications. It’s important to wean yourself off safely from prescription drugs, and for that, you need a doctor’s help and supervision.
Unfortunately, we can’t avoid chemicals in our food supply or environment completely, but we can make wiser choices that help our bodies detoxify naturally. When the body isn’t being overloaded with chemicals, it can begin to detoxify stored toxins to bring you to a cleaner, healthier state.