How to Stay Healthy in a Toxic World
In my ongoing series on living in a chemical world, I have covered the following subjects:
- An overview of the ubiquitous chemicals in our environment that are negatively impacting our health, our food supply, and nutritional status. I also acknowledged the concepts and controversies surrounding cleansing and detoxifying. I discussed that we can shield the body from these harms as we honor size diversity and nurture physical health with nourishing foods and avoidance of restrictive diets.
- A review of the harmful compounds and substances that persist in our bodies and environment for generations and how children are most impacted during their critical times in development.
- How the regulations in consumer goods are lacking and that there are deleterious substances found in everyday products that many assume are safe, including baby food, water, and cosmetics. By being aware of what is in their purchases, a buyer can prevent additional exposures which add to their total body burden.
- The negative repercussions of endocrine disruptors and persistent pollutants on the individual, chronic disease risk, healthcare, the global community, and the economy. I discussed the adverse impact of these compounds at the cellular and personal level and how this influence carries over to our medical care and financial markets. To benefit everyone, we must analyze and amend the flaws in the current consumer and food safety guidelines and create policies and educational opportunities that allow the world and its inhabitants to flourish. I suggested several personal actions to do this.
Although this information can be overwhelming and scary, by being aware one can take actions to mitigate their risk through avoidance of harmful chemicals as much as possible, within their means. For example, throughout my series, I have provided some tips to reduce exposures, including purchasing organic and non-toxic products. I also reiterated it was important to recognize the social justice and economic inequalities relating to the availability of these options.
Below is a more comprehensive compilation of resources on how to make empowering purchasing choices that are safer and healthier for you and your loved ones throughout the lifespan. I also discuss that if one is considering cleansing and detoxifying, it is important to ensure that their body is first set up to handle this energy-demanding process.
Step One of Any Cleansing and Detoxing Protocol: Set Yourself Up So You Are Well-Nourished
Before starting any cleansing or detoxing support protocol, it is important to confirm that someone is optimally nourished and that all their detoxification pathways are well-supported. By using a personalized approach, a naturopathic and/or functional medicine doctor will first assess all the factors that could impact how one handles upregulating their body’s biotransformation processes.
Some of these aspects that are considered include:
- nutrient availability
- proper hydration
- current health status
- level of stress
- history of exposures
- protein intake
- current medications
- quality of diet
- genetic differences that impact one’s ability to detoxify toxins. These include enzymes involved in phase I of detoxification (biotransformation) and phase II (conjugation: e.g., methylation, glutathione, glucuronidation, and sulfuration).
- sufficient elimination through the kidneys and bowels so that toxins won’t recirculate.
Without addressing these facets, one could experience unwanted side effects from a cleanse. For example, it is important to evaluate the methylation process and provide the vital nutrients that support the three phases of detoxification to avoid excessive oxidative stress that can place extra burden on the liver, gut, and kidney acid load. Naturopathic and functional medicine doctors aim to support the body’s capacities to eliminate these substances safely and mitigate the inflammatory and cellular stress that can result if one doesn’t have the proper balance of nutrients and herbals.
There are also specific lab markers and tests that naturopathic doctors and functional medicine practitioners can run to assess variations in detoxification capacity and oxidative stress markers. These tests can be helpful in those who have a history of excessive exposures and/or poor responses to treatments and detox plans. They can be used in context with clinical symptoms to help to determine which supplementation would be best for the individual.
This post gives a more detailed overview suitable for clinicians and savvy consumers who love the science and want to learn more.
Starting Cleaner Early On
One should not be upregulating toxin removal during pregnancy. As mentioned above, critical development times are when chemicals can have the most deleterious effects. The last thing a mamma needs is the release of more substances into her body as her fetus is forming. Therefore, it is best to cleanse at least a year or six months prior to pregnancy.
These tips below from Medscape can be used by parents-to-be to avoid more exposures to their little ones:
- Avoid smoking, as tobacco contains benzopyrene, aromatic polycyclic hydrocarbons, and cadmium, which are endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). (Here’s a list on how to avoid the top 12 EDCs. )
- Avoid microwaving in plastic containers due to the plasticizers.
- During pregnancy, if possible, eat organic fruits and vegetables to decrease pesticide burden. If not possible, consider using the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Shopper’s Guide to pesticide exposure on produce.
- Avoid painting, as paints contain solvents that are endocrine disruptors.
- Don’t use pesticides or insecticides in the garden.
- Avoid eating canned foods and soft drinks. Cans have a plastic coating which contains bisphenol-A (BPA).
- Take folic acid (preferably a natural folate source) due to its positive effect on gene methylation and the baby’s nervous system. (Caveats to this recommendation can be found here.)
- Ensure iodine (and other nutrient) sufficiency to prevent subclinical hypothyroidism, which increases susceptibility to EDCs and can impact a child’s cognitive development.
Tips for Everyone Throughout the Ages
Many of the suggestions for everyone to take to reduce toxicity are similar to what a mamma-to-be will be heeding. Dr. Pizzorno, leading expert in naturopathic environmental medicine, offers eight recommendations to:
- Eat fish low in mercury: these include sardines, anchovies, and small varieties of salmon.
- Eat organic when possible and/or avoid the “Dirty Dozen.”
- Use glass over plastic: “in one study, those who drank out of the can saw a 16-fold increase in BPA levels, and a rise in systolic blood pressure. In addition, BPA exposure resulted in two times the risk for diabetes.”
- Use safe, non-toxic beauty products and avoid fragrances.
- Eat healthy and well. Dr. Pizzorno recommends a Mediterranean diet. I believe nutrient density is important and should be taken in the context of a personalized dietary approach and a HAES and non-diet perspective.
- Eat fiber- “Fiber is shown to decrease POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants), says Pizzorno.”
- Sweat to reduce heavy metals and toxins.
- Consider chelators and nutritional supplements to help relieve the body burden when needed.
Additional Resources and Tips
- Use essential oils to support and protect the body from these unwanted exposures. Choose greener products infused with them. (See more on this below.)
- Consider how our emotions impact our body. This blog offers tips on “emotional detox.”
- Purify the air with diffusing and an air filtration system.
- Use filtered water and do everything you can to not “re-tox.”
Links to Outside Resources
- Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database (A database with toxicity rankings and health risks of personal care and cleaning products)
- Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen Produce and Shopping List
- Safe Cosmetics
- Addressing Toxin Exposure in Pets
- The Safest Cookware Choices for You and Your Family
Conclusion and Follow Through
Although we must accept that we cannot totally shield ourselves from all we are up against, we can do our best. Therefore, staying mindful of what we put in, on, and around our bodies, without being frightened, is important.
To make the nerves less frazzled, it may be best to take this new material in bit-sized chunks and view it as a means to make more informed buying choices. Pick one new step to implement every few days or week. Another “hack” to optimize brain calm while learning new facts is to sniff some soothing essential oils. These secondary metabolites calm the brain when it is on overload and help to balance the body’s stress and hormonal levels.
If one has a history of reactions to supplements or excessive exposures, it may be best to seek out using a personalized approach to prevent side effects from cleansing. A naturopathic and functional medicine doctor can assess all the above factors relating to cleansing safely and come up with an individualized plan. Still, even if one does not choose a more personalized approach, everyone can benefit from the preventive measures listed in this post, including avoidance.
I hope you have found this series helpful. It is my intention that to educate one person at a time, from there, change can and will occur.
My Free Webinar On Using Essential Oils to Create a Healthier Body & Home
To round out this topic, next week, I will be re-posting my webinar with resources specific to using essential oils and essential oils infused products to help make for a safer, healthier home and body. Not only does incorporating quality essential oils into personal care regimes, cleaning, and household products decrease the need for more chemicals, which reduces your risk for chemical-induced health complications, they also support your health in so many ways!
To access the “Trading Harmful Chemicals with Drops of Essential (Oils) Hope- Webinar”, you must be a member of my essential oil community. If you would like to join to view it, sign up here.
Mental Health Resources
*If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and/or are suicidal, please seek professional mental health support:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) — Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line — Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor
- Lifeline Crisis Chat — Chat online with a specialist who can provide emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention services at www.crisischat.org
Other Helpful Resources
Below are some of the highlights of the many free resources on this website:
- Four Essential Oils Blends for Supporting the Mind-Body and Easing Tension
- VIDEO: How Your Brain and Body Suffer with Too Much Stress & Naturopathic Medicine Tips for Calming the Mind and Relieving Overwhelm
- Video Recap: Essential Oils to Ease the Stress & Anxiety of Back to School
- The Importance of Fun, Music, & Play for Mental Health
- Video Recap: Essential Oils for Brain and Mental Health & Soothing Stress
- 10 Natural Ways to Relieve Stress and Calm the Mind-Body During Trying Times
- Video: A Naturopathic Doctor’s Approach to Thyroid Health Using Essential Oils: Video Recap & Additional Resources
Additional Supportive Techniques & Tools
- The Tapping Solution, A Technique to Lower Cortisol and Reduce Stress- Podcast interview by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald with Nick Ortner.
- Stress management tips and resources
Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.