Toxins and detox have become the health buzzwords of the 21st century. Unfortunately they have been overused as a marketing tool and bandied about rather too freely and often unscientifically. Some argue that our body’s innate detoxification systems are sufficient, however the world we live in is very different to the one our livers and kidneys were designed for – we now have a daily onslaught of external chemicals that massively increase the potential for our bodies to become overwhelmed and overburdened, resulting in symptoms (headaches, acne, digestive problems, poor sleep, hormonal issues etc) and an increased risk of disease.
Here are some of the factors that increase our toxic load:
- Processed food
- Non organic foods
- Burnt/ barbecued or charred food
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Food intolerances
- Pharmaceutical drugs
- Emotional stress
- Lack of rest and relaxation
- Intense exercise
- Lack of exercise
- Polluted air, water and environment
- Constipation and digestive disorders
- Use of chemical laden cosmetics, make up, aluminium containing deodorants etc
Signs your body needs support with detoxification
- Strong armpit odour
- Bad breath
- Coated tongue
- Brain fog
- Itchy skin
- Dark circles or bags under eyes
- Congested sinuses
- Chemical sensitivity e.g. to strong smells such as perfume
- Poor sleep
- Irritability, anger, inability to cope with stress
- Digestive issues
- Sugar cravings
So what can you do about it?
In order to help you stay well and strong in the face of an increasingly toxic world, I’ve listed some easy, affordable changes you can start implementing now to gently support your body’s ability to detoxify. Incorporate the following tips into your routine and you’ll be giving your body a massive helping hand in getting the toxins out more quickly and efficiently so you can get back to looking and feeling your fabulous and sparkly self again..
As the physician Parmenides said 2,000 years ago “Give me the power to produce fever and I’ll cure all disease” – creating fever is one of the body’s ingenious tools to cleanse and kill bacteria and viruses that have taken hold. Anything you can do to mimic this mechanism and encourage your body to sweat will help you keep harmful microorganisms in check and liberate a large amount of toxins through your skin – consider using a sauna, playing sports or taking a hot bath. I am a big fan of sauna therapy – a relaxing, safe and effective method to draw heavy metals and toxic chemicals out of the body through the pores. To find out how to get the most out of sauna therapy, Ben Lynch’s sauna guide is excellent, read it here.
2. Kickstart your day with hot water and lemon
I’m sure you have heard this one before, but it really is AMAZING. It’s a simple, cheap trick you can start incorporating in your routine with minimal effort. Juice half a lemon and add hot water, sipping it whilst you peruse your clothes for an outfit and apply your makeup. Lemon juice is high in vitamin C, limonene and live enzymes, giving both your liver and gut a wonderful boost. If you suffer from constipation, swapping your morning tea/ coffee for this drink is one of the best changes you could make as lemon juice acts as an effective, mild and natural laxative. If you are short on time, squeeze 3 lemons on a Sunday evening and keep in a glass jar in the fridge to use over the next week.
3. Guard yourself against electro magnetic frequencies
We live in an electromagnetic soup, with radio waves whizzing past us constantly. EMFs affect your body on a cellular level – research has shown that even at low levels of exposure, your body produces a stress response similar to that produced by exposure to heavy metals or toxic chemicals. But luckily there are some very easy steps you can take to reduce your exposure –
What you can do:
-Swap your wireless home phone for one that is corded.
-Use headphones with a microphone when speaking on your mobile phone to keep it away from your head and less likely to fry your brain.
-Get rid of your SMART meter.
-Turn your wifi off at night.
4. Get some fresh air
Spending time in nature is hugely beneficial for health. The abundance of clean air, negative ions, natural light and the peace and quiet are quite literally food for your cells. Bringing nature into the home is also a good way to improve the quality of the air you breathe. House plants are excellent for this – aloe vera, snake plants and spider plants are good low maintenance choices. These plants absorb nasty chemicals from your home environment and pump out fresh oxygen. I recommend How to Grow Fresh Air by B.C. Wolverton if you want to learn more about using plants to purify your home.
5. Detox your home
Are you aware of how many chemicals are in your home? Freshly painted walls, new carpets and new furniture can be a huge source of toxicity. Paints contain high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as toluene, xylene, ethyl acetate, formaldehyde, methylene chloride and glycol, which are emitted as gases and have been linked to an array of health symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, migraines and even an increased risk of cancer. The level of omission is highest in the first few months after the paint has been applied. New carpets and furniture contain flame retardants called PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) which research has suggested may have a negative impact on cognitive function and behaviour in children.
What you can do:
-Use low VOC paints if you want to redecorate
-Stay in a separate room/ go on holiday if you have freshly painted walls
-Choose wooden floors with rugs instead of new carpets
6. Detox your cosmetics
Did you know that the average woman absorbs 5 POUNDS of chemicals from her cosmetics every year? Don’t be fooled by their pleasant fragrance and nice texture, these products are highly toxic. And don’t think because a product says ‘paraben free’ that this is enough, you need to look further. Do some research and find some trusted organic, chemical free cosmetic brands. My favourites are Green People, Weleda, Ren and Dr Hauschka, which all smell and feel gorgeous.
If you want to go really natural, you can use raw ingredients, such as coconut oil for a make up remover and egg yolks as a hair mask. I’ll do another post about beauty routines soon, it’s an important topic that deserves more attention. Cosmetics you put on your skin will absorb into the blood stream, if you doubt this then consider how many pharmaceutical medications are applied transdermally via a skin patch! The best principle for skin is this – don’t put anything on your skin that has ingredients you wouldn’t eat.
7. Choose organic.
There are so many reasons to choose organic, but especially with regards to reducing exposure to toxins this is a very important step. Organic food is free of agrochemicals and synthetic hormones which have been time and time again been proven to be harmful to our health. Organic food tastes better, has more nutrients, supports and protects our ecosystems and helps keep our future and our children safe. When a client complains about the cost – we run over what they spend their money on, and I have always managed to find an area that they can tweak to free up more money for organic food, for example quitting smoking, making coffee at home instead of from a coffee shop every morning, buying one less piece of clothing a month, getting one less taxi, having one less meal out etc. At the end of the day it comes down to priorities – if you value your health as a top priority, you will see organic food as value for money, rather than an overpriced luxury.
What you can do:
-Find a supermarket with a decent organic section
-Sign up to a veg box scheme
-Grow your own veggies (even if you don’t have a garden, you can do amazing things on a windowsill or balcony)
8. Upgrade your water
Especially if you live in a city, a water filter is an absolute essential addition to your home. Tap water is full of chemicals. Natural spring water is a great choice and mineral water is good quality too, but these are expensive and most often packaged in plastic, which is a source of toxicity in itself (BPA is only one chemical that is found in plastics, there are many other harmful chemicals that have been found to leach into water/food). Your best bet is to get a decent water filter. If you get one that is plumbed into your home, you can enjoy filtered water for both drinking and bathing. You can find a good range of water filters and water filter systems on this website.
What you can do:
-Get a water filter.
-Buy a glass or stainless steel water container.
9. Detox emotionally.
Emotional toxicity can be just as damaging to health as physical toxicity. As fantastic and complex as our minds are, they can be like a continual dripping tap of negativity if the emotions are not expressed and purged effectively. In Britain we herald a stiff upper lip and witholding of our emotional life as a marker of success and functionality, but to me this is completely illogical. Keeping them inside doesn’t purge the emotions, it forces them to stay exactly where they are – inside, allowing them to seeth and boil like a tumultous sea. We can only keep the lid battened down for so long – until that morning where the washing machine has died your lovely white shirt a psychedelic mix of grey and pink, your train is delayed (again), your needy friend phones you to offload when you really don’t have the time and you’ve forgotten your wallet so have to go on an involuntary fast for the day.. and you just… SNAP. We’ve all experienced emotional meltdown – sobbing uncontrollably feeling like you can’t take it anymore. But how do we feel after this – better. I am always fascinated with our body’s infinite resources and coping strategies to deal with adversity, and this is yet another one of its marvellous tools.
So don’t wait until things are boiling over, find a way to share your internal environment – your worries, fears, doubts, on paper or with others, enabling you to lift the lid off the pressure cooker and have more left in the tank to deal with life’s setbacks.
Two of my favourite emotional detoxification methods are journaling (getting the head mush out of your brain and onto paper) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which have been of huge benefit to both myself and my clients. I also believe it is important get rid of toxic people who drain your energy if it is feasible; you can tell if they are toxic to you if you feel tired, heavy or depleted most times after seeing them. Don’t shout it from the rooftops, just gently phase them out of your life as all they will do is zap your energy.
What you can do:
-Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
-Develop support network with one or two close friends/ members of family who you trust to share your inner world with.
-Don’t feel alone. With 7 billion people in the world, there will be someone out there who can feed and stimulate you, and provide a shoulder to cry on when things get rough.
10. Check your use of stimulants
Many people use caffeine to rev up, alcohol to wind down and sugar as an emotional crutch. What you have to remember is that these substances have a very strong impact on your blood sugar levels, hormones and the nervous system that can end up being very depleting to your health. Caffeine, alcohol and sugar are potent chemical messengers, firing off signals to change the body’s internal environment every time you have a coffee, a chocolate bar or a night on the town.
Good quality coffee, chocolate and wine can most certainly be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet, the problems start when people feel they need rather than simply want – there is a huge difference. The abuse of stimulants in a tired, depleted and stressed human will never be conducive to health and healing. If you are feeling well however, then an espresso with your Sunday breakfast, and a glass of organic red wine with a meal are some of life’s greatest pleasures. As boring as it sounds, if you are suffering from symptoms, these three potent substances absolutely must be avoided or at least reduced if you are to regain optimum health quickly.
11. Love your gut
A gut that is not working efficiently can be a huge source of toxicity for the body. Especially if you are constipated (i.e. not having a bowel movement at least once a day) then waste is sitting in your colon for longer than it should, resulting in toxins being absorbed back into the blood stream. A gentle gut cleansing programme combined with a course of colonic hydrotherapy can work wonders to get your tummy happy again, otherwise here are some easy tips to start incorporating into your routine now –
What you can do:
-Chew thoroughly. This is mentioned so frequently yet it’s probably the thing that’s followed the least! What you need to remember is that the stomach has no teeth!! Chewing your food is vital to start the digestive processes, coat your food in salivary enzymes, and give your stomach a helping hand by mechanically breaking the particles into smaller pieces.
-Start listening for natural hunger rather than continually grazing. Allowing a break between meals is essential for a healthy digestive system.
-Eat dinner earlier. It takes around 6-8 hours to digest each meal, so the earlier you eat dinner, the less of your sleep cycle is spent digesting, so your body can focus on cleansing and repair elsewhere, and you will wake up feeling more refreshed, and naturally hungry.
-Eat fermented foods. Most cultures have a fermented food that is a staple in their diet, think kimchi in Japan, sauerkraut in Germany, kefir in Turkey… they are a wonderful source of beneficial bacteria, which help to replenish your troops and crowd out the bad guys.
What do you do to detox? I’d love to hear about your favourite methods below..