This time of year people are looking to get healthy. There’s lots of talk about detoxes or cleanses and the talks range from nonsense to important steps you can take to address environmental pollutants. Industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides are major contributors to chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and neurocognitive diseases in children and adults. (1) Some detox programs use strong metal chelators that pull toxins out of tissues while others restrict calories with juicing or fasting, making certain detoxes inappropriate for the part of society that are most vulnerable to toxins- children. A study from 2005 showed over 200 industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. (2) Industrial toxins are everywhere and something we should all be addressing in a healthy lifestyle. Here are some easy steps to help detox that the whole family can do:
Do a Cleanse
An important piece of any cleanse is getting rid of toxins in the body. Common food additives and packaging contain chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to everything from hormone disruption to cancer to behavioral issues in children. (3) Whether a short term cleanse or a daily meal selection, your choices in food can have a dramatic effect on the toxic burden of your family.
Eating fresh food and avoiding packaged, processed food is an easy way to reduce the toxin burden of the whole family. A recent study showed that avoiding food packaged in plastic and canned food for as little as three days can dramatically reduce the levels of BPA and DEHP (chemicals associated with hormone disruption and cancer) in the body. Participants avoided packaged foods in their diets for three days and saw a reduction in these chemicals by over 50%. (4)
We know that an organic diet decreases exposure to chemicals and pesticides. A diet based in organic fruits, vegetables and grains helps avoid these toxins. Organic dairy and wild fish are also important choices when trying to reduce your family’s toxic burden. The Environmental Working Group analyzes Department of Agriculture data about pesticide residue and ranks foods based on how much or little pesticide residue they have. The group estimates that people can reduce their exposure by 80% if they switch to organic when buying these 12 foods: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries (domestic), lettuce, kale/collard greens. (5)
Detox Your House
Several things can be done around the house to lessen the toxic load in your home and personal care products.
There are low emission options for carpets, bedding, paints and furniture that can reduce your family’s exposure to chemicals.
Choosing cosmetics and personal hygiene products that are free of mineral oil, paraffin, propylene glycol, parabens and phalates limit your family’s contact with these toxins. There are many natural, organic cosmetic and personal hygiene lines for the whole family.
Adding certain plants to your household can help filter toxins out of the air making house plants a beautiful way to detox your house. (6)
Green Your Clean
Tackling toxins by minimizing dust and avoiding harsh chemical cleansers are important tools in detoxing your family.
To green your clean, start by choosing green products or making your own. Many cleaning products on the market today contain harsh chemical cleansers but there are many green cleaning products available as well. Making your own cleaners can be as simple as utilizing the power of vinegar, baking soda and water.
Cleaning out your air ducts, changing your furnace filters regularly with high quality pleated filters and not wearing shoes inside can decrease the amount of dust in the house. The toxins we want to avoid are actually in the dust. (7) Using a hepa filter for vacuuming can also reduce the amount of dust and therefore limit toxin exposure in your family.
Sweaty Is Good
Whether you want to rid the body of heavy metals or manmade chemicals, sweating is an easy and natural way to make sure you are getting rid of those toxins. While some detoxification programs call for saunas and profuse sweating that would not be suitable for the entire family, gentle sweating is a safe and easy way to boost the body’s detoxification processes.
There is a ton of research showing that simply sweating can be one of the most powerful ways to detox. Drink plenty of water to replace any fluid lost while sweating. (7, 8, 9)
Regular exercise helps rid the body of toxins as well so some exercise and a little sweat is a great way to detox. (10)
Whether it is a three day cleanse with fresh food or choosing green cleaning products the next time you buy supplies, these simple tips can help lower your family’s chemical burden today!
– Dr. Catherine Clinton
(1) Environmental Determinants of Chronic Disease and Medical Approaches: Recognition, Avoidance, Supportive Therapy, and Detoxification. Margaret E. Sears and Stephen J. Genuis J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 356798.
(2) A BENCHMARK INVESTIGATION OF INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS, POLLUTANTS AND PESTICIDES IN UMBILICAL CORD BLOOD. Environmental Working Group, July 14, 2005
(3) Bisphenol A and human health: a review of the literature. Rochester JR. Reprod Toxicol. 2013 Dec
(4) Plastics and Food Sources: Dietary Intervention to Reduce BPA and DEHP. Kellyn S. Betts. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Jul 1; 119(7): a306.
(6) Planting Healthier Indoor Air. Luz Claudio. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Oct; 119(10): a426–a427.
(7) Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review. Margaret E. Sears, Kathleen J. Kerr, Riina I. Bray. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 184745
(8) Human Elimination of Phthalate Compounds: Blood, Urine, and Sweat (BUS) Study. Stephen J. Genuis, Sanjay Beesoon, Rebecca A. Lobo, Detlef Birkholz. Scientific World Journal. 2012; 2012: 615068.
(9) Human Excretion of Bisphenol A: Blood, Urine, and Sweat (BUS) Study. Stephen J. Genuis, Sanjay Beesoon, Detlef Birkholz, Rebecca A. Lobo. J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 185731.
(10) Effect of physical exertion on the biological monitoring of exposure to various solvents following exposure by inhalation in human volunteers: II. n-Hexane. Tardif R, Nadeau V, Truchon G, Brochu M. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. 2007;4(7):502–508.