How many times have you heard on the Internet or from an “expert” on TV, there’s no such thing as detoxing, there’s no “SCIENCE” behind it and “your body cleanses itself”? If you’ve questioned the word “detox” like many out there, then you definitely want to read this, and then decide for yourself if what they are leading you to believe is true or not.
What do you think it REALLY means to “be healthy”? Does it mean that you are not sick? Does it simply mean the absence of disease or does being healthy mean so much more than that? Could being healthy mean that not only are you NOT sick, but you are thriving, happy, and full of energy?
I’m sure many of you agree that there is so much more to being healthy than just the absence of health problems, especially since these usually take years to surface and can remain hidden for long time. In my personal life, not only have I been able to get off of several prescription medications for eczema, asthma and allergies, but I feel better and healthier than ever!
But what if I didn’t do anything to change my diet? What if I just believed the “experts” who said your body “detoxes naturally” – and there’s nothing you can do to make it detox any faster or better. What if I just listened to their advice and trusted that my body was going to be able to continue to detox itself just fine from all the soda, fast food and candy I was eating filled with a slew of controversial synthetic additives, pesticides and plasticizer chemicals from the packaging material – not to mention the daily exposure of suspect chemicals in water, air and the environment I was being exposed to … ?
I suppose I could have just stayed hopped up on medicine, just surviving the days, walking around like a zombie!
One thing is clear, we might not be able to see toxins, but they are there!
Hearing the breaking news that the government has approved aerial spraying of a chemical that is banned in Europe all over Florida that is linked to neurological disorders and defects in the womb really opened my eyes. This pesticide – Naled – is “moderately to highly toxic” which degrades into dichlorvos, classified by the EPA as a “probable carcinogen”. Repeated exposures to Naled over time “may result in the same effects as acute exposure” such as respiratory problems, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, slurred speech, twitching, paralysis, convulsions and coma. It’s alarming that this toxic pesticide is routinely being sprayed all over our communities (not just in Florida) to kill mosquitoes – but this is just one example of what our regulatory bodies allow us to be exposed to on a daily basis.
Varying amounts of toxic chemicals – pesticides, heavy metals, parabens, fertilizers, herbicides, and mold – are consumed by our bodies during normal everyday life. Many of these set up shop in the body for months or years (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and are showing up in human urine and blood tests.
So how do they end up in our bodies?
Many of them come from pesticide-sprayed food, farmed fish, and food packaging materials. Besides the food we eat, everyday items like shampoo, household cleaners, plastic bottles, clothing, furniture, water, and even the air we breathe are all possible sources of toxin exposure. It has been estimated that the average person could be harboring about 500 synthetic chemicals in their bodies, and one study found that unborn babies had over 200 toxins in their umbilical cord blood – this amount of toxins is no joke!
What is a toxin?
When I say the word “toxin”, I am talking about a substance that is harmful to the body after either after a single exposure (acute) or repeated exposures over time (chronic). While we may not find ourselves at the scene of an accidental chemical leak (which would be acute exposure), all of us are being chronically exposed to low-levels of synthetic chemicals repeatedly, day after day. Low-level chronic exposures to synthetic chemicals over time have been shown to have a negative impact on health. (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
An “unprecedented” alliance of 48 of the nation’s top scientists recently came to a consensus that the scientific evidence supports a link between exposures to toxic chemicals in our environment (which specifically include organophosphate pesticides that are sprayed on non-organic food) and neurodevelopmental disorders in children, such as autism and learning disabilities. They are calling out the chemical industry to “prove a chemical is safe, rather than waiting on the medical and scientific community to prove it is harmful” and asking that food companies get these toxins out of their supply chains so that pregnant women and children are no longer exposed.
The problem is that your body can’t easily eliminate many of these toxins or break them down. They get stored in places like fat tissue and eventually make their way through your bloodstream and invade your brain, lungs, heart, eyes, stomach, liver, and sexual organs. Heavy metals are particularly toxic to your brain cells, where they can cause memory loss, migraines, and premature brain aging.
Anyone who eats, drinks, breathes is being exposed to these toxins, we can’t escape them. While this isn’t something to live in fear of, we shouldn’t pretend that it’s no big deal and hope that our body will take care of these toxins for us automatically. When you look at the increasing amounts chemicals invading our environment, doesn’t it just make sense to do whatever we can to mitigate the damage?
Sure, it’s true that our bodies are designed with the natural ability to detox – but that isn’t the whole story.
Our kidneys, liver, cardiovascular system, and skin are all working hard every day to process all of the substances that come into the body and to expel toxins – but they are being pushed to the brink. Even when we eat a good diet and surround ourselves with a healthy environment, the natural system in the body needs help. When our organs are overtaxed and overburdened with toxins, symptoms can creep up such as fatigue, digestion problems, bloating, and muscle aches (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and while we may appear “healthy”, this is not the true health that I’m talking about! When these symptoms go unchecked and our bodies are not able to detox optimally, we are at risk for greater health problems down the road. (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
This goes against the mainstream idea that our bodies can process all of the toxins that we are exposed to throughout our lives without any intervention on our part. Many doctors and scientists have been known to say, “your body can handle toxins on its own…” and that “detoxing is a myth…” – I know you’ve heard these claims before as they are prevalent in the media.
Which drink or food helps your liver work more efficiently? A couple of shots of vodka or green juice? A McDonald’s Super Sized Meal or pasture raised chicken with vegetables? I think you know the answer.
An article published in the New York Times earlier this year is a perfect example of how many of the experts quoted in the media paint a different picture and steer people away from the belief that food has any ability to help you detox from poisons. Dr. James H. Grendell is quoted as saying: “The human body is well designed to eliminate wastes and toxins, and a number of organs play a role… there is no good scientific evidence that a juice cleanse, or any other food for that matter, is particularly relevant to removing toxins”.
No good scientific evidence? That’s BS!
This article really got under my skin because I’ve seen that there is good evidence that certain foods have remarkable powers and are capable of helping your body flush toxins. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine have used detoxification and purification techniques for centuries continuing on to today – healing foods, massage, herbs, and fasting – this is not some fad.
Just a few examples of how foods can help you detox…
- Garlic and onions are high in sulfur and compounds that help to remove heavy metals from the body and can also prevent kidney damage caused by exposure. (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) These sulfur-rich foods also help your body produce more glutathione, a critical antioxidant which latches onto and carries toxins out of the body (sources: 1, 2).
- Chlorella (a type of green algae) helps your body eliminate of mercury stored in your gastrointestinal tract, muscles and bones. If you’ve never eaten this before, you can try adding it to a green drink!
- Vitamin B1, which is naturally found in peas, spinach, and pistachios, increases the excretion of lead from the body. Likewise, diets with sufficient vitamin B1 inhibits lead absorption and correlates with lower levels of lead in the blood.
- Sunflower seeds, avocados, and almonds are high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant shown to protect the body from methylmercury (sources 1, 2, 3). Avocados in particular can improve the health of your liver (your body’s primary detoxing organ).
- Calcium-rich foods like collard greens and almonds protect your body from lead because more lead is absorbed by people on a calcium-poor diet.
- Lemon juice stimulates the liver and helps your body flush out toxins. (sources: 1, 2). The vitamin C in lemon juice is also used by the body to produce glutathione. (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4) That’s why I do this every morning!
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, a mineral shown to protect the kidneys from cadmium and can eliminate the symptoms of cadmium toxicity. (sources 1, 2, 3)
- Cilantro (also called Chinese parsley) enhances your body’s ability to detox from heavy metals such as lead and mercury. (sources 1, 2) It also has been shown to effectively purify drinking water that is contaminated with these toxins!
- The lactic acid bacteria in kimchi (my favorite fermented food) has been shown to degrade the presence of pesticides. Probiotics also help to protect the body from BPA exposure, and also to detox from heavy metals and cancerous nitrosamines.
- Beets and milk thistle both help to keep the liver healthy so that it can do its job to remove toxins from the blood. (sources 1, 2, 3)
- Simply drinking plenty of filtered water every day (not from plastic bottles!) helps your body eliminate toxins by keeping your kidneys and bowels active.
All of us can naturally keep our body’s detox system running optimally at very little cost or effort.
The average person doesn’t need some fancy supplement or expensive prescription, you can simply eat whole real foods that support the detox process, while avoiding things that are known to tax the liver such as toxic cooking oils (soybean, corn, canola) and sugar.
Juicing is an easy way to keep your organs working optimally!
There are specific foods that I eat every day to help my body detox – besides drinking lemon water first thing in the morning, I like to add detoxifying ingredients like dandelion greens, cilantro, and parsley to my salads and green drinks. Juicing is one way that I provide my body with a rich source of nutrients and give my digestive organs a rest. I’ve been on several green juice fasts in my life – and I come out feeling better and healthier than ever! I even put together my plan for others to try, because it is so effective – you can check it out here.
Eating organic can reduce exposure to synthetic chemicals that overtax your body’s natural ability to cleanse
I eat fresh organic produce with every meal. Choosing organic food helps me avoid organophosphate pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. My health changed dramatically when I changed my eating habits and started filling my body with organic raw whole foods from all of the colors of the rainbow – leafy greens, red beets, orange carrots, purple cabbage, blueberries… as varied as possible! It is no accident that my health improved because there is ample scientific evidence that these types of foods help support the detox process and provide optimal health!
The absolute best thing about eating this way is that the food industry hasn’t adulterated your food with industrial chemicals that you need to detox from – artificial colors, flavors, chemicals, pesticides, additives, preservatives, or BPA and other harmful packaging materials. Meal planning and cooking at home with whole real foods is one of the best ways to stay alkaline, provide your body an abundant amount of nutrients on a daily basis, and prevent disease.
If you want help eating this way, I invite you to join the Food Babe Eating Guide Program. When you join, you’ll get hundreds of pages of my tested tricks and tips to make healthy eating mindless, and a monthly meal plan full of Food Babe approved recipes and guidelines to help you detox naturally every day.
You’ll also get exclusive how-to videos and access to live group check-ins with me, where you can ask me anything. I hope to see you there! Here’s where to join and download your guides.
Watch out for commercial detox potions, powders and concoctions – make sure to research each ingredient carefully!
Of course there are people who will take advantage of the fact that our bodies are full of unwanted chemicals and will try to sell you some magic pill or potion for a solution. These people give the words “detox”, “toxin” and “cleanse” a bad rap. Remember to research anything you decide to put in your body carefully.
If anyone tells you that detoxing is a “myth” or if you know someone who would love some tips about how to detox from all of the toxic chemicals in our lives, please share this post with them!