This blog is part two of the Best Detox for Your Body Series and will explore more specific ways to detox your body, home, and mind, and support your superstar detoxing organs. Be sure to read Part One before engaging in today's post!
The first step to any detox is reducing the toxic burden you put on your body - turn off the tap before you grab the mop.
Below is a list, which is by no means complete, of ways you can make small changes in your life to reduce that toxic load. Start with one category at a time, reassessing your personal care routine, your cleaning products and the items you use everyday. Maybe each time you use up a product, you choose a safer alternative to replace it.
When you're ready, commit to 2-4 weeks of "turning off the tap", then assess what elements you'll benefit from keeping in your life. The goal is to give your body a break that will also help create healthy, low-toxin habits.
Personal care products– make up, soaps, deodorant, lotion, hair products, shaving products, sunscreen, bug repellant…anything going on your skin is going to affect your system. Many personal care ingredients carry risks of being neurological toxins, carcinogenic, and endocrine (hormone) disruptors. Limit your exposure by shopping smart:
Before you head out, review EWG quick shopping tips!
My quick list to avoid: parabens, fragrance, triclosan, PEGs, phthalates, oxybenzone, Vitamin A (may be listed under a different name, so have ThinkDirty handy!).
ThinkDirty is an app that breaks down the ingredients of your health, beauty, and home products. It has tons of Canadian brands and all you have to do is scan the barcode!
Homeopathy with Paula also makes natural deodorant! Head over to Ginger Deodorant to learn about why your antiperspirant isn’t the best option for your health.
Menstrual products - The data isn’t quite all there yet, but the lack of regulation in the pad and tampon industry has women questioning the safety of the products they use, particularly in regard to the scent-control and bleaching of products.
Great alternatives are menstrual cups, reusable pads or period panties, or organic cotton pads/tampons. For many women, reusable options are way more comfortable, cheaper, and cut back on landfill contributions.
Menstrual cups come in many sizes and brands – do some research before buying and consider that you may need to try a couple before finding one that is comfortable for your body.
Reusable pads and menstrual underwear technology has advanced and trust me - they don't feel like diapers! There are so many brands out there, and even patterns to make your own! Try shopping locally at health food stores, on Etsy, or just good old google. Winnipeg's own Treehugger Cloth Pads plants a tree for every pad purchased - and they come in fun prints! Not an ad, I just love them.
2. Your home
Vinegar, baking soda, lemon, water, and Dr. Bronners are my general cleaners of choice for everything from all-purpose cleaner to dishes to windows to floors.
For laundry and harder-to-DIY things, or if you just prefer pre-made products, just check in with ThinkDirty or EWGs guide to cleaners before buying.
Trust the millennials, toss that fabric softener.
This is an eye-opening report about how even products like DDT, banned decades ago, are finding their way into newborns blood. Give it a quick read to understand the importance of reducing our toxic load today - we're already processing so much from our environment. Non-stick pans, plastic containers and bags, Volatile Organic Compounds in our furniture. We either inhale or ingest (via food) these troublesome compounds, How to avoid it?
Veer away from plastic by moving to reusable bags (another Manitoba great: Colibri!), glass containers, jars - thrift stores are your friend! Choose wood, bamboo or stainless steel utensils over their plastic counterparts.
This is a great article about off-gassing your furniture. If possible, choose new furniture touting natural fabrics and finishes, or look for refurbished/used furniture to reduce your exposure to VOCs all together.
Choose cast iron or stainless steel pans over non-stick.
3. Your diet
This topic is far more than just a bullet point, but put simply and beautifully by Michael Pollen in Food Rules: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I would add to that: less processed is better and aim for local, organic, or in-season. Grab his book from the library and give it a read, it's simple and short!
Eat in moderation. We need fat, we need carbs, we need protein, we even need sugar – in moderation. When you start cutting out all fat or all carbs or upping the protein, the liver suffers, the brain suffers, the body suffers. When you eat a whole bag of yogurt covered pretzels in one sitting – everything suffers. What goes in, must (be broken down, filtered, processed, neutralized…) come out.
Drink water. We’re a chronically dehydrated nation and our body needs hydration to properly remove toxins, to keep our blood nice and smooth, to keep us happy. Sugar dehydrates us, caffeine dehydrates us, alcohol dehydrates us. I won’t dare tell you to stop the coffee, but keep in mind for any 1 cup of anything-but-water, you need to consume 2 cups of water to replenish.
If you are embarking on a 2-4 week detox; commit to these guidelines. After 2-4 weeks, reassess what elements you will keep, slowly integrate other ones one at a time to see how they affect you.
Caffeine - coffee, tea, pop.
Animal products - meat, dairy, fats, eggs
Processed, fried, and synthetic foods
Corn and Soy - Check ingredients, it is everywhere.
Sugar - Cut all excess sugar except fruit (not juice), small amounts of honey and pure maple syrup.
Reduce wheat and gluten, avoid "white carbs" - white bread, tortillas, crackers, cakes, rice are all highly processed and are stripped of most nutrition.
Alcohol and drugs
Limit fats and foods high in salt
A wide variety of whole fruits and vegetable should fill #halfyourplate
Especially apples, celery, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, berries, fresh herbs, potatoes and anything fresh!
Choose local and in season foods where possible - organic is great, but isn't necessarily sustainable.
Water - at least 8 glasses per day, drink more if you are thirsty.
Start your day with an 8oz glass of lemon water - before anything else enters your body. This supports the liver's cleansing of all the overnight work it does.
Choose plant based proteins like quinoa, nuts and seeds, legumes.
Ensure you are supplementing B12 with either fortified foods (nutritional yeast, plant-based milks, cereals) or a supplement. (You cannot get B12 naturally from plants and deficiency can cause permanent nerve damage).
Limit your grain intake but choose less processed options when you do: quinoa, brown rice, vegetable/pulse based pasta, whole grain bread, steel cut oats...
4. Your mind and body
Stress is a big offender when it comes to toxins in our body. When we are in a chronic state of stress (fight-or-flight, adrenalin is pumping, cortisol pops in, our immune system shuts down) – everything shifts and our body does not perform in a sustainable way. Stress not only adds toxins to our body, but while it's busy processing adrenalin, all other detoxification is put on hold.
Get help – whether it’s therapy (we all benefit from therapy!), homeopathy, a vacation, or even medication: seek support for your chronic mental health concerns.
Prioritize and manage stresses in your life; assess toxic relationships, your workload, ask for help.
Take time for self-care: yoga, journaling, nature, massage, reading, find what feels good and use it.
Sleep: if you are having trouble sleeping, have your doctor run labs for any deficiencies, see a homeopath to balance things out, check in on your nutrition, make sure you’re exercising. Sleep is when our liver gets to work, so support it by ensuring you're resting.
Get your sweat on: sweating everyday is crucial for detox, cardio is great for lung support.
Deep breathing: take a couple minutes, a few times a day to fill your lungs completely, and then empty them completely.
It feels like a big list, but many of these switches are simple and a one time commitment. Every day is different and maintaining flexibility in your routine is a sure way to find success - sometimes we indulge, sometimes we have to use bleach, sometimes we don't have control. We simply cannot avoid everything toxic in this world, and that's why our body's are built to detoxify themselves. Doing our best to reduce the toxic burden is the only commitment we can make to ourselves, but don't let it control you. Strive for progress, not perfection.