Chronic disease and bothersome symptoms can usually be traced back to too much “bad stuff,” not enough “good stuff” or both.  This article is part of an ongoing series addressing the “bad stuff.”

By now you know that “detox” is a specific set of processes inside the body making toxins less toxic, and that “depuration” is the process of getting those toxins out. You can catch up here if you need a refresher.  You’ve also been clued in about seven simple ways to support detox and depuration every day.  What about dealing with toxins before they even enter the body?

Sources of Toxicity

There are five major sources of “bad stuff” in our bodies.  Our body has to deal with toxins that we

  • Eat
  • Drink
  • Breathe
  • Absorb through our skin
  • Create endogenously (in our bodies)

Of those, four are fairly straightforward to address so let’s look at the outlier. First.

Endogenous Toxins:  Toxicity Made In Our Bodies

Just as every day you eat and poop, every day all of your cells “eat and poop” too.  Some amount of toxins are created in your body every day just as a result of being alive.  These toxins are called “endogenous,” and are the result of every metabolic process in our bodies.  Endogenous toxins can only be reduced to a point, but they can be reduced.  How?  Address the exogenous toxins, support detoxification and depuration, and be sure your body has the right amount of the building blocks it needs for optimal function  As a result of those things, the body will operate more efficiently and with less waste.  (Do you have your sauna sessions scheduled? Sauna supports detox and depuration!)

Exogenous Toxins: Toxins We Bring In From Outside

Eating, drinking, breathing and applying things to our skin, then, expose us to exogenous toxins–toxins that come from outside our bodies.  To the degree that we can control what we are exposed to, we can control our exposure to exogenous toxins and limit their contribution to our total toxic body burden.

Food.

Some food exposures are known toxins, such as pesticides on produce.  Others have been hotly debated by stakeholding industries.  These artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, genetically modified organisms, hormones in meat production, and so on. Added sugars would fall in the category of food toxins, as well.

Reduce your exposure by eating a whole food diet consisting of REAL food: food that was once alive or that comes from a living plant or animal.  Use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list to support your produce purchasing decisions (remember, though, ANY vegetable is better than no vegetable).  As possible, buy meat and eggs from local sources where you can be sure the animals were raised on their natural diets.  Eat Wild is a good source for finding clean food near you.  Craigslist can also be a way to connect with ranchers selling clean meat.

Drink.

Your water report will reveal the carcinogens and hormone disruptors known to be in your water supply.  Conventional coffee and tea are heavily sprayed with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.  Do we have to mention the sugars and chemicals in most other commercial beverages?  These flavors, colors and sweeteners would fall into the “hotly debated” category, being “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) by the FDA but still completely void of nutritional value and something extra and foreign for your body to process.

Reduce your exposure: This cannot be overemphasized:  drink clean water!  Filtering your water with a high quality, NSF certified filter is one way to be certain of reducing toxic exposure all day, every day.  (We’ve done the research and Multipure is our favorite filter.  Installing one is a certain investment in reducing your toxic body burden.)  Choosing organic coffee and tea both reduces or eliminates potentially harmful exposures and may increase the healthy antioxidant content of those morning beverages.  As for the rest?  If it’s not a pure juice or a naturally fermented product of clean ingredients (think KeVita), leave the can closed and opt for filtered water instead.

Air.

It’s true that you exhale toxins, but you probably inhale them, too!  The World Health Organization estimates that 1.3 million deaths per year are caused by air pollution.  From off-gassing plastics and glues to microscopic particulate matter, our air is far from clean.  Particulate matter (PM) is composed of dust, ash, smoke, fumes, aerosols and any other tiny bits of liquids or solids that can remain suspended in the air for a while.  PMs have been shown to cause acute cardiac events and chronic cardiovascular inflammation, anxiety and even increased risk of type 2 diabetes!

Reduce your exposure by getting your exercise away from busy roadways, breathing through your nose rather than your mouth, staying inside on smog alert days, using a high quality HEPA air filter for home and office, and making use of air-cleaning plants.  (Source.)  Burn clean burning candles such as beeswax, and skip the fragrance in air fresheners, candles, laundry detergent, etc.

Skin.

Like the lungs, the skin is also a two-way street: the body depurates toxins through sweat and respiration via the pores, and also can absorb many materials transdermally.  Cosmetics and body care products contain well-known carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and neurotoxins.  (We like the discussion on that here:  “if you can make a lipstick without lead, why the heck wouldn’t you do it?”) .  Unfiltered shower or bath water is another opportunity for exposure to carcinogens, hormone disruptors and chlorine by-products.

Reduce your exposure first, by simply reducing your exposure! Using less of fewer products is a great first step,and you can filter your shower water.  Use EWG’s Skin Deep Database to analyze your current products and find the safest alternatives available, where needed.  Many kitchen staples make great body care products, from baking soda and vinegar “no poo” shampoo, to coconut oil facial cleansing, to honey avocado masks.  Could you commit to not put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth?

Others.

Greening your environment, in general, is going to reduce your toxic exposures:  eating clean, pesticide- and chemical-free food, filtering air and water, using toxin-eating plants, and reducing the number and amount of hormone disruptors and carcinogens applied to your skin are all great steps.  Two other less specific but heavy-hitting ways to reduce toxic exposure include:  avoiding plastics in the kitchen, especially soft plastics and/or with hot foods; and, replacing harsh chemicals with natural alternatives.

Remember, baby steps count and any changes you make, however small or incomplete, still results in that many fewer toxins for your body to battle!

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