4 Keys to Safely Detoxify Your Body
by Laura Korman, D.C.
It’s no surprise this modern world we live in is a toxic one. From the air we breathe, to the food and water we consume, to the medications we take, we are exposed to over 83,000 chemicals in our environment. What’s more, an estimated 2,000 new chemicals are created each year, often with minimal oversight from the Environmental Protection Agency.
It isn't the incidental exposure to just a few chemicals, but the daily bombardment and accumulation of these toxins over time that increases our risk for developing chronic illnesses. Some of these health concerns include fatigue, headaches, muscle or joint pain, skin conditions, immune challenges, unexplained weight fluctuations, cognitive and neurological impairment, or even cancer. Therefore, I want to share four vital keys for detoxification, so we can minimize the detrimental consequences of living in a toxic world.
Our first defense in protecting our bodies from toxins is to “shut off the hose,” or limit the influx of toxins we are exposed to. The average American could encounter nearly 128 different chemicals on a given day.
These include phthalates found in cosmetics, personal care products, soft vinyl flooring, plastic bottles, food packaging, air fresheners, drinks, or toys and clothing. Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften plastics and to help dissolve other materials. They interfere with healthy testosterone and thyroid hormone production. In addition, prenatal exposure to this chemical could affect the neurodevelopment and brain health of children.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is another toxin that can be detrimental for infants and young children. This chemical is found in plastic bottles, food containers, the lining of metal food cans and cardboard containers, as well as thermal paper used in cash register receipts. BPAs are considered endocrine (hormone) disruptors, which can have negative effects on the development of sex organs and the brain of young infants.
Glyphosate is an herbicide and antimicrobial agent, found in Roundup and used in farming subsidized crops such as corn, wheat and soy. It is used to create genetically modified seeds, and research links its use to antibiotic resistant infections, hormone disruption, gut dysbiosis, diabetes and certain autoimmune diseases. The World Health Organization recently classified it as a probable carcinogen.
With environmental toxins being so ubiquitous, how is it that we can begin to minimize our exposure to these chemicals? One way is to choose organic fruits and vegetables. It’s especially vital to choose the organic options of those listed by the Environmental Work Group as “The Dirty Dozen,” as these are the most toxic varieties of produce.
Avoid GMO (genetically modified organism) foods such corn, soy and canola as well. These crops are grown to be resistant to toxic herbicides and pesticides, like glyphosate, so they can tolerate chemical spraying. According to the FDA, these GMO crops are fed to more than 95 percent of commercially raised animals used for meat and dairy in the United States.
One might wonder if this is why some studies show these proteins to be unhealthy for human consumption. As such, choosing organic and pasture raised poultry and eggs, selecting grass-fed beef and dairy products, and avoiding farm-raised fish will also significantly lower your toxic exposures. In addition, it’s crucial to avoid inflammatory processed foods with added sugar, as well as seed or vegetable oils.
Many commonly available personal care and household cleaning products contain toxic
fragrances, dyes and chemicals that can cause allergic reactions. These accumulate in our bodies, putting additional strain on the detoxification organs such as the liver, lungs, kidneys and lymphatic system. The EWG (Environmental Work Group) has diligently created a master list of cosmetics, personal care items household products, ranks according to their toxic levels. This is an excellent resource to find products that are safer for our bodies and the environment.
Aside from limiting our exposure to environmental chemicals, hydration is paramount to the detoxification and elimination of toxins as well. The average adult body is composed of 60 percent water, with the brain containing 75 percent of that water. We need this water content to flush toxins from our bodies.
I often tell my patients, “The solution to pollution is dilution.” The rule of thumb is to drink a minimum of half the bodyweight in ounces of water per day, then increase this amount if consuming caffeinated or sweetened beverages such as fruit juice or alcohol. It’s also important to drink more water when exercising, using a sauna or being outdoors in the heat.
Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to find clean, toxic-free water. Be careful not to purchase or consume water stored in plastic bottles, as many of these containers contain BPAs and phthalates which can leach into the water, especially when stored at high temperatures. They also put a toxic burden on the environment by ending up in landfills or producing chemical wastes from recycling factories.
Purchase and drink filtered or mineral water in BPA-free plastic or glass containers. Consider a home water filter (such as a Berkey Filter) for drinking water and shower head filters to help eliminate chlorine and other toxins that can easily absorb through the skin.
Another way toxins are escorted out of the body is through movement. Physical activity such as walking, biking, swimming, dancing, yoga or stretching can improve circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system to pump toxic wastes from the body. Other therapeutic procedures like massage, acupuncture or chiropractic care can also optimize the body’s organs of detoxification.
Another way to bolster the body’s defenses against toxins is to do a nutrient-dense detoxification program one to two times per year. Our organs of detoxification include the liver, bowels, kidneys, lungs, lymphatics and skin. We have three distinct phases of detoxification, all of which are necessary to remove toxins from our body.
Each one of these phases needs adequate amino acids, proteins and nutrients to release, dissolve and bind toxins, so they can be eliminated. Phase One is the biotransformation phase, during which the liver turns harmful toxins into water soluble intermediate chemicals. This makes it easier to conjugate, or bind the toxins into more stable compounds, ready for removal. Phase One requires vitamins A, E and C, as well as several B vitamins and minerals.
Once the toxins have been transformed in phase One, they must enter Phase Two conjugation which, depending on the type of compound, will undergo different metabolic pathways that require specific amino acids, magnesium, glutathione, B6, B12 and folate, and other B vitamins. The problem occurs when there is a deficiency in the nutrients to bind the toxins in Phase Two, the intermediate chemicals formed in phase One will continue to recirculate in the body and might become even more toxic than the original substance.
Finally, the Phase Three of detoxification moves the transformed and conjugated toxins through the liver and bile to be eliminated by stool, or shuttled through the blood and kidneys to be excreted by urine. The detoxification process is complex, and careful consideration should take place before detoxification.
When a person has been under extreme toxic load, slower is better to start off. First, aim to eliminate the toxins in food, water, and personal or household products. Make sure to hydrate, participate in stretching movements or exercises daily, then consider a 28-day detoxification program twice a year. These 4 keys will facilitate an effective, consistent strategy to defend against the harmful toxins we continually face in our modern world.
Dr. Laura Korman is the lead practitioner at Korman Relief and Wellness Center, located at 16954 Toledo Blade Blvd., Port Charlotte. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 941-629-6700 or visit DrLauraKorman.com.