It’s January, the excesses of Christmas are sitting heavy on my mind and my hips and the new year puts me in a cleansing kind of mood. I wanted to understand more about toxicity, and my lovely friend, and detox specialist at CALA, Carolyne, was kind enough to let me grill her on all things toxic.
Where do toxins come from?
Toxins come from outside the body and inside the body.
External: Today’s environment is the most toxic in history. There are thousands of toxins in our environment and we are introduced to new chemicals every day. Toxins come from:
- Food: processed foods, packaged foods, take-aways, ready meals
- Agricultural: pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers
- Pharmaceutical drugs: painkillers, antihistamines, antibiotics
- Recreational drugs: alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine
- Household cleaning products
- Hygiene & beauty products
- Dental restorations & products: e.g. mercury fillings
- Clothing: synthetic materials
- Water: pollutants in tap and bottled water
- Heavy metals: mercury, fillings, lead, vaccinations, cosmetics
- Air: pollution, car fumes
- Technology: We are constantly attached to our smart phones, over exposed to information and switched on to social media.
- External stresses: work, relationships, kids, family, other people (e.g. annoying people), bills, worries (to fix the car, re-mortgage the flat), etc.
Internal: Our internal environment also produces toxins.
- Metabolic waste (from the energy production cycle)
- Hormone imbalances
- Allergies & auto-immune diseases
- Mental and emotional (anger, fear, frustration and irritation are signs of toxicity)
- Internal Stress:
- Too much acidity
- lack of necessary nutrients
- lack of sleep
- not eating
- bottling up emotions
Dehydration is the number one stress to the body! Most of us don’t drink enough water to stay hydrated, this causes internal stress, and if you are stressed, there is a mobilisation of primary materials around the body. This process uses up water, and so dehydration creates stress and stress will cause further dehydration.
Why are processed foods so toxic?
Processed foods have been designed for good business, not good health. They are mainly made of cheap & synthetic ingredients: salt, sugar, MSG, aspartame, E numbers and many, many more. Most of these toxic chemicals are also very addictive, making us want to eat more, which is great news for the food industry but not for our health.
- There is up to 14 teaspoons of sugar in 1 can of fizzy drink. Sugar is highly addictive and is known among nutritionists as legalised cocaine.
- In non-organic meat and dairy products we find pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, hormones, antibiotics, bacteria and other allergens. It’s said that a cow is given over 2.300 synthetic chemicals and 59 synthetic active hormones throughout her life. Non-organic milk and other dairy products also contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).
- Conventional or farm-raised fish are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury.
- Processed and packaged foods are a common source of chemicals such as BPA and phthalates. BPA is found in plastic bottles and plastic packaging.
- Modern processed white wheat has been linked to mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
What do these toxins do to us?
The body can’t tolerate being toxic for a long time. Over-toxicity in the body underlies all diseases, it also keeps us fat and speeds our ageing process. We may experience symptoms like headaches, fatigue, skin eruptions, allergies, colds and flu, sinus problems and if the blood pH stays acidic for too long it will result in irritation and inflammation. Recurrent illnesses manifest over time as the body tries its best to get rid of acidity. All manner of chronic symptoms and diseases can show up when the body is exhausted from trying to get rid of toxicity.
When we get to our personal limit of accumulated toxins and we can’t get read of these toxins fast enough or efficiently, we experience toxic symptoms. A big symptom which shows that we are too toxic is lack of energy.
At a cellular level, this is because:
- Toxicity causes inflammation
- Which causes poor circulation
- Which causes low oxygenation
- Which cause low ATP production (no energy)
That’s why we see so many people with low energy levels, chronic fatigue, ME, depression, etc.
Medical research is recognising many symptoms related to the build up of toxins, including fatigue, allergies, infertility, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, mood swings, headaches and cognitive disorders, among many other disease like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
How does our body cope with toxicity?
The body has in-built detoxification & elimination systems which are always working to filter the toxins we have been exposed to. Detoxification is an on-going process and our body eliminates toxins through a number of processes:
- Skin: through sweat, spots, rashes
- Liver: filtration, bile secretion & enzymatic detox
- Intestine: via bowel bacteria & excretion
- Kidneys: water soluble toxins are excreted through urine
- Lungs: coughing up or exhaling of toxins
- Nails and skin: can get dry & brittle whilst detoxing
- Lots of the toxins we consume are fat soluble (carried and stored in our fat)
When the body is overloaded with toxins, these organs can easily get congested and toxins can clog up our detox channels.
How can we get rid of toxicity? What happens during a detox?
To get rid of accumulated toxins we must minimise our intake of acidic/toxic foods and exposure to toxic chemicals and stresses that cause toxicity; add cleansing foods and supplements. Exercise, yoga, meditation and other therapeutic treatments are also very helpful. All of these encourage and support our detoxification & elimination systems as well as calm our body and mind to allow healing to take place.
When we switch our bodies out of dehydration alert and move into a state of growth and repair, our cells release more waste into our lymph which moves into the blood and then the liver for filtering. The liver stores toxic waste as bile in the gallbladder which is released into the intestines and moves out of the colon. In a healthy state, all these routes will be open and toxic waste will move freely out of the body but sometimes these routes get blocked and we experience symptoms which give us an idea where we need more support.
Quick fire tips
Top 5 changes to make in your life:
- The number one tip is to drink water like it’s your job! 2 litres / 4 pints every day. The solution to pollution is dilution!
- Add organic greens to your diet! They are very alkalising & cleansing, and assist the body to detox naturally e.g: kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, lettuce, fennel, parsley, spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass.
- Look after your bowel flora: add fermented foods (kefir water, kefir milk, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut) to your diet. These help with sugar cravings, boost your mood & immunity and help digest foods properly for absorption of nutrients and release of toxins. These good bacteria also compete with the bad bacteria and help avoid illness and infection.
- Stimulate your lymphatic system: the lymph system is our rubbish collector. Start dry skin brushing daily, exercise and practise breathing techniques.
- Minimise your intake of the big 5 toxic foods: processed foods, sugar, wheat, meat and dairy.
Top 10 tips to reduce your exposure to toxins (places toxins are hidden or easily consumed):
- Choose natural, organic & fresh produce as much as you can (fruit, veg, meat, fish and dairy)
- Avoid canned & processed foods.
- When possible, use natural remedies or address your nutrition before taking a pharmaceutical pill to treat your health symptoms.
- If you can’t eat it, don’t put on your skin.
- Switch to organic toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, cosmetics)
- Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds (even thousands) of chemicals.
- Research, and set a higher standard of the products you buy. Don’t buy crap products!
- Choose ethical companies that care about the consumer. There are plenty of them out there.
- Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
- It’s advisable to avoid all plastic, especially flexible varieties.
If you have any other questions about toxicity or detox please post them here and I’ll try to get them answered!