Like many people, you’ve likely been told that bone loss comes with advancing age. But what you probably haven’t been told is that your bone health is also connected to your surroundings. As it turns out, bone loss can be traced to exposure to environmental toxins.
But toxins aren’t just wreaking havoc on our bone health, they’re also linked to belly fat, brain fog, hair loss, and brittle nails.
As a Functional Medicine Practitioner at my wellness organization, Five Journeys, I’m well aware of how harmful environmental toxins are to our health — including our bones. And I also know how overwhelming it can be to try to identify and eliminate these toxins without any help.
So I visited the AlgaeCal Community to reveal the most common environmental toxins and the steps you can take to avoid them — as well as how to effectively rid your body of toxins already in your system.
And the best part? These simple tips are practical and don’t require a complete overhaul of your lifestyle. You may even find some tips to be too easy to be effective — but don’t worry, they work.
Watch this video to learn more. If you’re in a hurry, jump to the summary of my tips below!
Top Five Tips for Avoiding and Eliminating Toxins
Tip #1: Support Your Detox Organs
Our bodies have an amazing ability to detox naturally – but if your organs aren’t functionally optimally, your built-in detox machine can become severely compromised. The key players here are the gut, the liver, and the adrenals – I call these the body’s holy trinity.
Your gut runs the show, impacting virtually every other system in your body. So let’s start there.
As well as absorbing all the wonderful nutrients you feed your body, your gut plays an important role in eliminating metabolic waste and toxins. And if your gut’s not healthy, it can’t get rid of toxins.
Many gut issues we become accustomed to are simply not normal. It’s not normal to have bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation. It’s common – but not normal. Suffering from any of these on a regular basis warrants a workup from a Functional Medicine provider. A Functional Medicine provider can perform an evaluation of your gut microbiome and provided you with tailored advice.
Then let’s look at the liver and the adrenals. Your liver is your body’s detox powerhouse, doing much of the heavy lifting by removing toxins from your body’s blood supply. One clear way to support your liver is by giving it less work to do – avoid alcohol. You can also keep your liver happy by including brightly-colored spices in your diet such as turmeric, curry, and ginger.
Your adrenals are small glands located on top of your kidneys. They play a directorial role in detoxification, telling your organs what to focus on based on the hormones they secrete.
For example, while a primary focus of your liver is detoxification, when your adrenals put out fight, flight, or freeze hormones, the liver switches gears to focus on survival tactics such as the breakdown of glycogen for fuel. While this is extremely helpful in situations that threaten our survival, our bodies aren’t the best at differentiating between life-threatening situations and other crisis states such as emotional distress. Lifestyle changes can have a big impact on your adrenals – which brings us to Tip #2.
Tip #2: De-Stress, Sleep, and Sweat!
Easier said than done, but try to keep your stress levels low. As touched on above, stressful thoughts can alter your health by triggering your adrenals to secrete those fight, flight, or freeze hormones. You can quite literally change the course of your health through your internal dialogue.
As with most things health-related, getting enough sleep supports detoxing. When you sleep the cells in your brain shrink so that the pathways between the cells enlarge. Now I know this sounds a little creepy, but it’s a good thing. The cells are simply allowing the pathways to enlarge so the brain can drain out toxins easier. This allows you to detox as you sleep.
Sweating is also really good for you because it’s a major way that you release toxins from your body. So any way you can sweat — going in a sauna, taking an epsom salt bath, enjoying a hike, or exercising works wonders for your body.
Tip #3: Eat Awesome Food
Your body needs minerals and nutrients to function and eliminate toxins properly. So if you’re filling up on nutrient-poor, toxin-rich processed food you’re not giving your organs what they need – and you’re giving them more work to do.
So eat whole foods, consider supplementing with a high quality multivitamin, and include plenty of fiber in your diet. Fiber binds to the toxins your organs work so hard to eliminate and escorts them out through your bowel movements.
Finally, choose organic as much as your can. If you’re eating food that’s not organic you’re getting exposed to herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides.
For instance, let’s talk about glyphosate. It’s the most commonly used herbicide in the world. In 2014 approximately 250 million pounds of it was used on our food. This herbicide was originally developed as an antibiotic.
And what do antibiotics do? Well, they kill off the microbiome — or gut. So glyphosate messes with your microbiome. And it’s implicated in a number of different lymphocytic cancers.
Then there’s cadmium which is found in high phosphate fertilizers that are used in conventional agriculture. Of course, when the fertilizers are put in the soil the plants absorb the cadmium. And then when you eat the plants you absorb it also. Cadmium has been linked to bone loss and it also wreaks havoc on your kidneys.
Tip #4: Choose To Eliminate Key Toxins From Your Life
You don’t have to turn your whole life upside down – but choosing even just one or two pesky toxins to avoid can have a huge impact! For example, plastics. Plastics contain chemicals that are endocrine disruptors which can alter your ability to keep your bones healthy. They impact your energy, sleep — even the health of your hair. So it’s wise to avoid plastics as much as possible, particularly when it comes to food storage and heating.
And perhaps a less popular suggestion – alcohol. As mentioned, alcohol stresses the liver, and we want to keep the liver functioning optimally to eliminate all the other toxins in our environment that we simply can’t avoid. Now, you may find that a glass or two of wine here and there is fine for you. But if, like me, you’re not a strong detoxer, you might want to stear clear of alcohol altogether.
Looking at key detox genes in your DNA, such as your MTHFR, vitamin D, and COMT genes can help you determine your detox strength.
Tip #5: Shop For Clean Products
Toxins are lurking in many common house cleaning and personal care products such as nail polish, makeup, hair products and skincare. Like plastic, these chemicals are endocrine disruptors. Fortunately, there are fantastic apps available to help you identify the best toxin-free products on the market. Two I always recommend to my patients are Environmental Working Group and Think Dirty.
Now, don’t go throwing away all your products at once! As you’re running out of something, look on either app and see if your product is rated as clean. If it’s not highly rated or if it’s rated with some kind of endocrine disruptor or cancer promoting agent, then use the app to find a replacement product that is listed as clean.
Avoiding toxins doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Implementing a few small changes can have a BIG impact on your health. Remember, it’s about making a better choice — not a perfect choice. So don’t drive yourself crazy over this. But do make it a priority to take practical steps to reduce your exposure to toxins.
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