By Dr. Michelle Hagel, ND

We live in a toxic world in fact we are born toxic, as chemicals can cross through the placenta and umbilical cord from mother to child. We are then exposed to unavoidable toxins daily, toxins from environmental pollution, food sources exposed to pesticides, even toxic thoughts that we have about ourselves. Toxin build up can cause symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, headaches, joint pain, skin and digestive issues. Toxins contribute to many diseases such as dementia, Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue, infertility and other mental disorders. Children with increased toxic burden showed changes in mood, aggressive behavior, problems with attention and focus, sleep problems and reduced intellectual performance. Toxins change our health dramatically, increasing our risk of disease, impact our hormones and altering our appetite signals leading to weight gain.

What is detoxification and how does it work?
When we get down to the physiology it all starts with the mitochondria, these are cell components that provide energy for the body by converting from our food stores. Mitochondria are the metabolism engines of the body. Toxins can damage these components, resulting in build up of fat and poor energy or exhaustion. When we detoxify we eliminate the toxins and wastes from our body so we can promote the mitochondrial function. This helps reduce the burden on the body specifically through 5 elimination pathways. The number one organ of elimination is the liver, the liver deactivates toxins and then eliminates the toxins. Second are our kidneys which filter and eliminate toxins through urination. We can eliminate through our skin through sweat. Lastly our lungs and circulatory system including blood and lymphatics will flush toxins out of the body. Supporting all these systems we can increase the body’s healing ability, improve immune system and live to our true ability.

Overweight = Toxic
Signs of toxic overload according to environmental medicine expert Dr. Walter Crinnion include if you are more than 25lbs overweight and suffer from allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, bone marrow cancer, chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue, chronic infection, diabetes, fibromyalgia, infertility, or Parkinson’s. Toxic burden will make us tired, make us sick and make us fat. Studies have shown a strong correlation between toxic burden, elevated body weight and increase risk of diabetes. It is more difficult to lose weight than it was 100 years ago, as our toxic burden has increased. We accumulate fat because fat acts to protect us from fat soluble toxins, it stores the toxin in fat cells. By detoxifying you allow your body to release the fat it has been holding on to protect itself from the toxins. Detoxification is vitally important for weight loss, as fat-stored toxins are factors in becoming overweight. When you break the fat down (lipolysis) you allow the toxins to be released into the blood stream, which can cause headache, low energy or flulike symptoms. Individuals that lost 46% body weight loss showed an increase in pesticide level of 388%, because these toxins are no longer held in protection by our fat cells. It is important to lower toxic burden to avoid these symptoms and once you eliminate the toxins you can watch the fat melt away. Detoxing will help your body burn fat and reduce inflammation. Detoxing will also align the good bacteria in the gut, and these healthy bacteria will contribute to a healthy weight and appetite. Unfriendly bacteria or dysbiotic flora will cause sugar cravings and weight gain.

How to safely and effectively detoxify?
The goals of detoxification are to stop new toxins from accumulating in our bodies and get the current toxins out. Clean up home environment, diet and improve elimination. We can do this by:

  • Supporting the liver by reducing/eliminating alcohol, smoking, and refined sugar.
  • Urinate your way to good health by increasing filtered water consumption and urinating every hour.
  • Ensure adequate fiber and filtered water intake to ensure regular bowel movements.
  • Exercise will increase circulation, lymphatics and lung function as well the toxins can be eliminated through the skin by sweating. It is important to wipe the sweat away within 15 minutes of workout to ensure those toxins do not get reabsorbed into the skin.
  • One of the easiest techniques for detoxification is breathing, all too often we breath shallowly especially in a stressful state, so take a deep breath in and exhale out those toxins.
  •  Avoid exposure in the diet by eating clean (organic- especially dirty dozen), filtered water, using organic personal care products and cleaning supplies. Do not use anything topically that you wouldn’t consider consuming internally, consider that these ingredients are absorbed through the skin.
  • Incorporate phytonutrient rich foods especially flavonoids- broccoli/cabbage, parsley, strawberries, blueberries, kale, and onions.
  • Reduce stress, as stress is held in the gut, inhibiting our ability to properly digest our food which can increase toxic burden.
  • Ensure healthy gut bacteria, with probiotics or fermented foods.
  • Add some air purifying plants in your home: Spider Plant, Lucky Bamboo, Aloe Vera, Peace Lily, Rosemary to name a few.
  • Speak with a naturopathic doctor about supplementation to aid in detox process, avoid low quality vitamins.

Talk to a naturopathic doctor to discuss what form of detox is best for your body.