As a follow-up to the last two articles written regarding lead and mercury exposure and/or toxicity in children and adults, I wanted to provide some ideas for families to consider to be able to remove harmful compounds in the body – but in a safe and effective way. Please note that this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe any particular condition or method associated with detox. Detoxification is a vast field that can range from gentle to extreme and should always be supervised by a professional. Women who are pregnant, could be pregnant, and/or nursing should avoid detoxing because toxins released can cross the placenta barrier and affect the developing fetus or cross into breast milk. If your child tests positive for heavy metal levels, removal of these toxins from the body needs to be conducted by a medical professional who specializes in detoxification, as great caution needs to be taken with the release and proper removal of these substances from smaller, still-developing humans.
Detoxes and cleanses are not meant to be a quick weight-loss fix or diet; cleanses and detoxes should be taken seriously and done with an intent to heal and repair the body.
With precautions in mind, there are different approaches to consider when thinking about keeping the body “clean” on the inside on a daily basis. Always remember that conditions such as eczema, rashes, digestive issues, infection, and illness are all ways for the body to communicate with us that something is wrong. There are daily practices, foods, and supplements that my family utilizes to help our bodies get rid of the onslaught of chemicals and toxins that surround us each day. While these are merely ideas I am sharing, please do not view this as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to what you should do. Each body is different and needs to find what works for it.
With all of the toxins commonly found in our everyday environment, personal care products, foods, and home furnishings/decor, detoxing for adults 2-4 times per year is ideal. When considering a form of detox, a whole-food detox is optimal as it avoids unnecessary overload commonly seen from extreme supplements and expensive detox beverages. It is strongly recommended to consult with a physician prior to a detoxification.
Before detoxing, I would consider getting tested for a genetic disorder called MTHFR that greatly affects the body’s ability to remove toxins and rid itself of heavy metals. Without getting into too much detail or complicating explanations, the disorder is very common in many people, is easy to treat, but very damaging if left untreated. It affects the way the body can methylate, which leads to detoxing (which the body is normally pretty effective at). Without the natural ability to do this, the body is susceptible to years of damage, which leads to disease and disorder. Common side-effects of untreated MTHFR can be: infertility, miscarriage, hormone imbalance, thyroid disorders, heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, depression, and mood disorders, just to name a few. Some doctors are not fully comfortable screening for and treating MTHFR since there has been limited “exposure” about this condition, so be sure to ask to have it done (it’s done through a blood test, and even a saliva test has come out). If your doctor won’t screen you, you can have it done on your own, which I think is totally worth it considering its complications. Additionally, if you try to detox or cleanse and if you have untreated MTHFR, you can actually cause more of a build-up of toxins in your body since it has a hard time ridding itself of these contaminants to begin with.
The best way to start detoxing is to find and eliminate sources of “contamination” (as I like to call it). Things such as pesticide exposure, chemicals in foods and products, heavy metals, etc. should all be monitored and avoided as much as possible. While it is impossible to avoid all contaminants on a daily basis since they are everywhere in our environment now (and actually natural-occurring in some places as in cases like heavy metals), please do not stress out over trying to be “perfect” – stress itself is considered a toxin to the body!
- Eliminate- Have you ever heard of an elimination diet? Many people try elimination diets to pin-point particular allergens or foods that cause sensitivities. What does this have to do with detoxing? By first removing the common sources of inflammation, allergens, and toxicity is key to making space for the body to cleanse and renew. Consider the following sources:
- refined sugars
- meat (for some people’s diets)
- cutting these foods out of the system for several days can cause someone to feel ill at first, as the body is adjusting to purging out inflammatory markers.
- Try to eat organic when possible (especially off of the Dirty Dozen list)
- Avoid processed foods, as most of these contain crops that have been treated and/or changed in so many ways, your body may not even recognize what’s in it.
- Try to use as many natural-based products in the home and for the body that do not contain chemicals. We breathe these chemicals in and they are absorbed through the skin quickly.
- As mentioned in the previous articles, try to find sources of heavy metals – from products in the home to the foods we eat – heavy metals are lurking wherever you turn.
- Invest in clean water – whether that’s getting a water service, a home-treatment system, a single water filter for the kitchen, showerhead filters, etc….try to hit as many sources as possible – prioritizing on the water you drink – for this is the source of many contaminants that build up in the body. I personally recommend reverse osmosis, distilled (with minerals added back), or a Berkey (I just bought one for our drinking water…I’ll let you know how it works). Water flushes the body of impurities, so this is important. Aim to consume at least 50% of one’s body weight in ounces of water daily from non-plastic containers.
- While cleanses are regarded as completely safe when done properly, any type of cleanse can still be stressful on the body and mind as impurities are removed and the body works hard to restore itself, so remember to rest and relax. This is also a great way to start teaching children modes of meditation and/or taking breaks to actively and mindfully rest (i.e. not sitting in front of the TV or sitting inactive for hours on end).
- A large emphasis on alkaline-rich deep-green plant sources is key to a successful detox and balancing for common acidity excess that can be the source of severe physical and emotional issues. Using dark leafy greens to juice and/or eat during a cleanse is imperative. Additionally, eating dark leafy greens (and juicing) is important to maintain on a daily basis to help keep toxins moving out of the body from exposure day-to-day.
- We like to use chlorella and spirulina as daily detox agents. My son eats chlorella on its own and he takes spirulina in his smoothies (trooper!). These blue green sea superfoods are very rich in minerals, vitamins, protein, and even bind to heavy metals and radiation and flush them out of the body. Since we have been doing maintenance doses daily for quite some time now, we don’t use large doses for a cleanse….although I would recommend people doing cleanses to take larger doses initially to help trap many of the heavy metals and contaminants out of the body as they are released out of the tissues and cells so they are not floating around the body as free agents, where they can re-implant themselves in other tissues without being properly removed.
- There is another process called chelation (pronounced “key-lay-shun”) therapy that is used in heavy metal detoxing cases where either an IV of heavy metal-binding fluids are flushed through the system to bind to and remove heavy metals or oral supplements of heavy metal-binding substances can be ingested to help bind to and remove heavy metals. This process should only be done by a licensed medical professional since it needs to carefully monitored.
- You can help pull toxins out of your body with a detox bath (using Epsom salts): http://wellnessmama.com/8331/detox-bath-recipes/
- Please be cautious of supplements that claim to be “detoxers” – while there are many reputable products on the market that help facilitate a healthy cleanse, there are many that are questionable and may not even be healthy. Recent studies have found that some of these “detoxers” actually have more heavy metals and contaminants in them than what they are supposed to be removing from the body! This is why I believe in using whole-food cleanses (like organic pressed juices) as the best detoxifying agents.
- A great book and resource on juice detoxing is by Steve Meyerowitz: “Juicing and Fasting”
- Remember that your detox or cleanse is only as effective as keeping the bad stuff out once you get rid of it. So many times I hear of people doing a cleanse just to watch them go back to their old, bad habits – eating the foods that replace contaminants, using chemical-laden ingredients and/or beauty products. In all honesty, don’t bother doing a cleanse unless you have a genuine intention to work on keeping the bad stuff out. I only say this because it is confusing AND dangerous to your body to remove toxins (which the body has to work hard at doing) and then putting that stuff right back in. I know you can’t be perfect, which is OK, but have a plan put in place of the things you are going to do to try and keep toxins out as much as possible.
As mentioned before, I believe that a whole-food detoxing approach is best and is very effective. By eating detoxifying foods on a daily basis, you can maintain a healthy natural elimination of toxins that bombard the body. Here is a list of some websites that contain helpful lists of detoxifying whole foods:
What have been some of your detox experiences? What would you recommend or what has worked for you? Any tips you’d like to share?
Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more:http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her onFacebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.