Toxins and You 4: Support Those Kidneys!

Today I am wrapping up the detox series by writing about our wonderful and powerful kidneys and how we can protect them so they can protect us.

Our kidney’s primary job is to filter our blood and send out the collected waste items out of the body. All of our blood runs through our kidney every five minutes. I don’t know about you, << Test First Name >>, but that’s mindblowing to me.

So how can we take care of this hardworking and important detox organ?

Your bodies are made to handle toxins but we have to do our part to reduce the toxins we take in and make sure our detox pathways are nourished. I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Toxins and You 3: You got to move it move it!*

The best possible outcome for toxins is for them to move through our body quickly. Movement is the name of the game when it comes to the toxins we come in contact with or that our bodies create.  If toxins don’t move out, they get stored in our fat cells and tissues. This can lead to anything from joint pain to autoimmune disease. So today I’m focusing on moving those toxins all on down the (sewer) line through our poop.

While we have many systems involved in converting toxins into waste, there are only a few ways that waste actually gets out of our body. Pee, poop, and perspiration are known as the Three P’s of detoxing (h/t to Dr. Hyman). All three P’s are important, but having consistent bowel movements is fundamental.

These tips are helpful in ensuring a daily or twice daily bowel movement.

1. Eat plenty of fiber in the form of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables and slow-burning, fiber-rich carbohydrates like lentils and quinoa. Pro Tip: If you are moving from a fiber-poor diet to a fiber-rich one make this move slowly and…

2. Drink plenty of water! I know this seems so simple, but most of us don’t do it. And tea, which is a  diuretic, does NOT count. Being well hydrated makes all that fiber you have eaten moves through your system and makes your poop softer. That’s a win times 10!

3. Move your body. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest reasons most people are constipated. Exercise, even a nice walk around the block, gets your digestive system moving so that you can move out those toxins.

4. Magnesium. Most of us are deficient in magnesium. This super nutrient is all about relaxation, helping you sleep better, de-stress easier, and poop better. It’s also a key nutrient for those of us with autoimmune disease, especially fibromyalgia. Dr. Mark Hyman recommends people take between 400mg to 1,000mg of magnesium citrate daily. I use my bowel movements to guide how much I take. If I’m pooping too much and the poops aren’t well-formed, I decrease my dose.

5. Squatting on the potty. The modern toilet may be responsible for the straining a lot of us do on the pot, which leads to hemorrhoids and an unpleasant experience. The theory is that modern toilets have us sitting in a way that constricts our outflow. While there is no research to back that up, there is lots of anecdotal evidence that sitting in a squat position when going to the restroom alleviates the straining and actually allows you to poop more quickly. Here is a really weird, somewhat gross, but entertaining advertisement from the creators of the Squatty Potty.

I hope these tips have helped, and that you start having an easier time clearing out those toxins.

 

*I apologize for any earworms I may have started.

Toxins and You 2: Toxins in your shower caddy

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Last week I jumpstarted my new series by writing about the powerhouse of our detox pathways, the liver! In that post, I focused on all the ways you could nourish your liver so that it could do its important job. Today I want to talk about ways to reduce the toxins it has to deal with, starting with our beauty products.

You come into contact with a barrage of toxins every day, in everything from the air you breathe to the furniture you sit on. These toxins cause a laundry list of health problems from acne to cancer.  I say this not to freak you out but to impress upon you the gravity of the situation.  I also say this to motivate you to take what action you can, i.e. the whole point behind this series.

You might not (individually) be able to change the number of pharmaceuticals in the water or the pollution in the air, but you can control what you put onto/into your body.

For those in the U.S., the responsibility to ensure the safety of what you are putting into your body falls completely on you.  The ingredients in soap, moisturizer, makeup, and other products are not approved by the FDA nor are the manufacturers required to do health studies or pre-market testing. These untested ingredients then end up in your body, your urine, fat cells, and tissues.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the results of this self-policing is…
Personal care products are manufactured with 10,500 unique chemical ingredients, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens, toxic to the reproductive system or known to disrupt the endocrine system. Though some companies make products that are safe to eat, others choose to use dangerous ingredients like coal tar and formaldehyde, both human carcinogens, and lead acetate, a developmental toxin.”

Here are a few common toxins found in our ingredients …

  1. Triclosan. An antibacterial agent and preservative that among other things is an endocrine (hormone) disruptor and is toxic to our organs.
  2. Retinyl Acetate. A product found in many moisturizers that can cause biochemical or cellular level changes.
  3. Dibutyl Phthalate. A chemical often found in nail polish that is dangerous for fetal developmental and reproductive health.

It’s disconcerting to think about those ingredients hanging out in your shower caddies and makeup bag BUT you have control!

Here are a couple of ways to take control!

1. Take an inventory of the products you use, from your shampoo to your toenail polish. Start checking those products or their ingredients against the EWG’s skin deep database.  Replace them as you can with safer products. I run any new product I want to buy through the database.  Yes, this takes a bit more time but your health is worth it!

2. Use less! We have all been sold a bill of goods about our need to look differently or smell differently than we naturally do, but that is all a part of a campaign to sell us things we don’t need or.  The truth is drinking plenty of water, eating plenty of vegetables, getting enough rest, and remembering that you are enough is the most powerful way to look and smell your best.

Toxins are everywhere but you have control over what goes into your body. Take the time to learn about whats in your products and then make better choices going forward.

Toxin and You 1: How to love your liver so it keeps on loving you!

I am diving into a new series on nourishing those detox pathways and reducing our exposure to toxins. Today I’m starting off strong by getting right into it and talking about the liver because it is the powerhouse of our detox pathways. Our liver daily deals with all those toxins we put into our body like sugar, pesticides, and alcohol and those toxins our bodies create, such as ammonia and estrogen.

This powerhouse takes care of this onslaught of toxins through this really cool two-step process.  First, it takes the toxins and makes them water soluble. At this point, when the toxins are water soluble, they are actually free radical which makes them really dangerous and why step 2 is so important.

The critical second step is when the liver takes all those new free radicals binds them up and sends them out via our kidneys or our gallbladder. Toxins leave the body!

Maybe I’m the only one that geeks out about this stuff but isn’t that so cool!

To do the awesome 2-step process, our liver relies on the vitamins and nutrients we take in through food or vitamins. This means out liver needs B vitamins which come primarily from animal products, i.e. eggs or salmon.  Next, it needs FOLATE  from leafy greens. (note: folic acid is a man-made form of folate and doesn’t work for all of us). The liver also needs glutathione and flavonoids found in a diverse range of plant food.

When our liver isn’t supported it can’t do that two-step process which puts us at risk for health problems like skin issues, fatigue, brain fog and other problems. More seriously, when our estrogen isn’t dealt with properly we are at risk of cancer.

Our liver health is so important which means we need to show it some massive daily love so it can do its massive daily job of keeping us toxin free. Here is how you do that.

  1. Eat a diet full of all sorts of vegetables, especially those of the leafy green variety.  Aim to have vegetables at each meal. Spinach and eggs make a perfect combo!
  2.  Eat good quality protein from happy animals that weren’t shot up with loads of antibiotics. The extra cost is worth it!
  3.  Reduce those things that gunk up your liver. Reduce sugar (it turns to fat in your liver).
  4. Reduce pesticide exposure by making the right choice at the grocery store. Check out the clean and dirty lists from the Environmental Working Group to find out which vegetables and fruits have the most and least amount of pesticides.
  5. Cut back on alcohol (no more than 7 drinks a week and no more than 3 at a time). Too much alcohol depletes us of B vitamins.
  6. Stop smoking and don’t be around those that smoke. Do I even need to say this? Smoking is the worst, says this ex-smoker! 🙂

So let’s get going and start loving up our livers!

Toxins are everywhere! Whats a lady to do?

Yellow and black sign that says Toxic Danger

I’m starting a series about our health and toxins, and I’ll be examining things like our beauty products, household cleaners, the stuff we cook with, and even the air we breathe in our home.

I’m going to be honest; I’m a little nervous. I remember when my own health coach brought up this topic, and I immediately felt overwhelmed. I mean, what the heck! I had just changed EVERYthing I ate, and now I had to think of this stuff too? UGH!!!!

BUT…

I know that you have a desire to take care of your health so that it can take care of you.

AND…

I know that this stuff is important.  Everything that ends up in our bodies affects our health for good or ill. Toxins affect out our health by wreaking havoc on our immune system and hormones and/or exposing us to carcinogens. And because we live in the world we do, we are exposed to toxins pretty much all the time.

You can unfold from the fetal position because, even though this sounds rather bleak, there is some really good news.  Our bodies are awesome (yes, even yours), and they can handle these toxins. We just need to do a little work to support that process.

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about how we can both reduce our toxic load and how we can support and nourish our detox pathways. My goal is to give you actionable and practical tools and tips to make this process meaningful.

Are you ready?

Carrie

Detox 6: Toxins and your skin

skin

We all want beautiful skin, but we spend loads of money making sure we won’t have it.  You see, your skin is a reflection of your liver. If your liver is gunked up and unable to get the toxins out of your body, then your skin will tell you about it through premature aging, acne, rosacea, etc.

But we don’t usually consider that our skin as something that is reflecting our insides. Rather, we see our skin problems and seek to fix it with external applications of soaps, creams, and all sorts of other products. These are supposed to keep us looking younger, feeling softer, and free from spots, but here’s the catch: Those youth/clear skin potions we use are often toxic, and not only do they harm our skin by way of overloading our liver, but they also put us at greater risk of cancer and other diseases.

In the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel report, the panel stated, “With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread. ” That’s cancer people! Your quest to look better might be making you look worse and putting you at serious risk. It’s time to rethink what we put on our bodies!

Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done a lot to help us understand what we are putting in our body. They have found that women are typically exposed to 168 unique ingredients daily from the products they use, 85 for men. In their evaluation of the common 60,000 products listed on the back of labels, the EWG found that 34% of products have chemicals associated with cancer, 45% have chemicals associated with reproductive or developmental toxins, 60% have estrogenic chemicals that will mess with your hormones and cause everything from aggressive puberty in little girls to breast cancer.

The good news is that consumers are getting better informed and asking Congress to update policies regulating these chemicals. In the meantime here are some things you can do to reduce the toxins you are pouring into your skin.

Tips

  1. First, check out those things that you put on your body like shampoo, soap, makeup, laundry detergent, and sunscreen.  Do they have any of these chemicals? Anything that goes on your body that has an added fragrance is highly suspect.
  2. Second, download the Environmental Working Group app  so you can make better choices when buying new products by scanning in the item or searching by the name.  I geeked out when I downloaded the app and ran around scanning all my products. It’s a good time!

As always, I hope this series has helped you feel empowered to reduce your toxic load so that you can feel and look your best!

Detox 1: Your body on toxins

toxins-pic 1

I’ve done just about every detox out there. I’ve taken huge pills several times a day for 14 days, I’ve had days on nothing but fresh pressed vegetable juice, and I’ve even jumped head-first into an intense candida diet.  Over time, I’ve come up with three realizations. One, I was very toxic and those toxins were making me sick. Secondly, detoxing can be harsh on the body and can cause damage if done in a drastic way. And finally, I would rather set my body up to handle toxins daily rather than randomly cleaning it out through a big dramatic effort.*

In this series, I want to help you understand what it means to detoxify and give you practical and gentle ways to reduce your body’s toxic load thereby reducing your vulnerability to disease. But first…

The bad news:  We come in contact with toxins every day. Sitting on our couches, breathing in that “new car smell,” even cooking up healthy veggies for our family in that non-stick pan exposes us to toxins. And this exposure starts at the beginning of our lives. In 2004 the Environmental Working Group and Commonweal had the umbilical cords of 10 newborn babies tested and found over 200 toxic chemicals; chemicals known to cause cancer, that are harmful to the brain and nervous system, or that cause birth defects.

These toxins creep into our body from the chemicals in the products we use, like furniture, wrinkle cream, or even spatulas; through the air we breathe that’s full of pollution; through the food we ingest that contain pesticides and heavy metals (even organic produce); and by the water we drink that has been contaminated by commercial agriculture run off and  pharmaceuticals. Basically, our systems are either dealing with or storing toxins in our body pretty much always.

Right about now, if you aren’t in the corner curled up in the fetal position, you might be thinking that this all sounds rather bleak. Honestly, it ain’t great.  We haven’t been good stewards of our earth, and in return our health is suffering. But there is good news…

The good news: We have amazing bodies that are designed to rid our bodies of toxins, and many non-toxic choices are available.

Our lymphatic system and our digestive system handle all toxins our bodies come in contact with. When these systems are hampered, meaning they aren’t able to move the toxins out of our body, toxins get stored in our fat. However, our fat has only so much storage capacity, so when our fat cells can’t hold the toxins anymore, the body send the toxins to our brain — our very fatty brain.

So our job is to do the best we can to make sure those systems are working really well and to give them a break by reducing our toxins.  Next up in the series, how we keep our lymphatic system chugging along. Stay tuned!

 

*Note: I’m not opposed to time-constrained or seasonal detox programs. However, the focus of this series is the work we need to do to keep our body’s daily detoxing mechanisms up and running.