Ever seen activated charcoal water? Or detox foot pads? Or detox shampoos?
These “detox” related products are everywhere these days, and people are shelling out big bucks to participate in this trend. These products didn’t spring from nowhere—they are the byproduct of diet detox and cleanse programs that have become a standard practice among those seeking to improve their health.
These programs are popular, and for good reason; most people are dealing with chronic health issues and are doing all they can to feel better. Diet detoxes and cleanses are great way to reset healthy eating habits, cut back on sugar, and incorporate nutrient dense foods, but when it come to actually detoxing, are these programs missing the point?
How About a Story
Imagine: You're in a row boat, merrily rowing down the stream. After a while, you notice you’re taking on water through a small hole in the bottom of the boat but you’re not really worried—a small amount of water in the bottom of a boat never hurt anyone, right?
Plus, your boat comes equipped with a little bucket, so if you need to, you can toss some of that water overboard.
An hour or two later, you see that the water has risen quite a bit; it's up to the tops of your feet now, so you start getting concerned. You pick up that little bucket and start bailing out a bucketful here, and a bucketful there.
Eventually, water starts pouring in much faster and the water level is really high. Panic sets in and you start tossing bucketfuls of water over the side of the boat. You are in crisis mode.
The boat is quickly sinking, and your arms are fatigued from the constant bailing. Eventually, overcome by exhaustion, and more water than you, or that bucket can deal with, your boat sinks.
And you drown.
Or in less dramatic terms, you gain 40 lbs, your hormones go crazy, you develop thyroid disease or cancer: i.e. you get sick.
The boat = your body
The water = toxins
The bucket = your natural detox process
Most detoxes, and detox related products on the market are aimed at helping you empty the boat.
They're designed to help your body's natural detox pathways work better, but they don’t do anything to address the toxins that we’re exposed to, which is what we’re trying to “detox” from in the first place!
This isn’t to say diet detoxes and cleanses are pointless—quite the contrary, it’s just that in order to actually “detox” we must also address the exposures we’re getting.
3 Ways to Plug the Hole (ie: Detox More Powerfully):
Magical things happen when we simply reduce our exposure to toxins: the levels of them in our bodies decrease… here are some great examples:
1—Start with Organic.
In 2014 a study in the journal Environmental Research found that adults who ate a mostly organic diet were able to reduce the metabolites of a certain class of pesticides by nearly 90% in just one week.
A 2008 study found similar results in children, showing that after 5 days of eating mostly organic food, metabolite levels of some pesticides were non-detectable.
To know that just by eating a mostly organic diet, we can have an immediate and dramatic reduction in pesticide levels, is super powerful! Refer to the Environmental Working Groups annual Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list to triage your food dollars!.
2—The Skin You’re In!
As a follower and hopefully customer of Annmarie Skin Care you’re already tuned in to some of the issues with conventional skincare products and the harmful chemicals many of them contain. But did you know that by making the switch to safer products you’ve also made an immediate impact on your levels of those chemicals in your body?
A 2016 study lead by the Environmental Health Laboratory of the California Department of Public Health found that when teen girls swapped their personal care products with ones that did not contain endocrine disrupting chemicals like parabens, triclosan and phthalates, the levels of those chemicals in their urine dropped by 27-44% in just three days!
What is significant is that these studies illustrate what can happen when we reduce our exposures, and why avoidance is so important; if we give our body a chance, it knows what to do.
3—Avoidance is Key
Dr. Walter Crinnion, considered one of the foremost experts in the field of environmental medicine outlines 5 essential steps to dealing with toxins and getting healthy. They are:
Avoidance is so key he lists it three times!
When we couple avoidance with detox boosting foods and behaviors… that’s when we’re actually detoxing!
4 Simple Ways to Boost your Body’s Ability to Detox
1—Drink More Water
Our kidneys, one of our key detox organs, rely on water to help filter minerals and fluid in our body. Without adequate hydration, the kidneys (and other organs) have to work much harder to carry out their roles, which includes flushing toxins out in our urine.
2—Eat Fiber Rich Foods
Ahh poop. It’s also one of our primary ways to detox, because well, poop is our body’s waste, and it’s essential to be regularly “taking out the trash”. Eating fiber rich foods helps to usher that waste, including toxins, out of our bodies.
Hit the sauna! While many people think sweat is simply water and minerals, many toxins can actually be excreted through sweat, including heavy metals. Skip the anti-perspirants and get sweaty on the regular.
4—Eat Sulfur-rich Cruciferous Veggies
Sulfur rich veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale are not only great sources of fiber, but can help support your liver in breaking down and eliminating toxins.
3 Ways to Reduce Exposure in Your Daily Life
1—Ditch the Plastic
Plastics of all kinds release chemicals that mimic our body’s hormones, which when out of balance, can lead to a long list of health issues. Since we’re unlikely to rid our lives of all plastic, aim for the stuff that’s in direct contact with your food. Store your food in glass and stainless steel.
2—Safer Skin Care
Since you’re reading this on the Annmarie blog, you’re already ahead of the curve on this one! But make sure your safer skincare purchases extend to all personal care and beauty products, from deodorants and shampoos, to nail polishes and shaving creams. Look for the Made Safe label to be sure you’re using the safest, toxin free products.
3—Skip the Scents
Are you using scented candles, air fresheners, plug-ins, or incense? My guess is no, but you’d be surprised to learn that more than 80% of Americans use an air freshener product at least once a week! These synthetic fragrances contain hormone mimicking chemicals, that can mess with your body in the same ways plastics can. Give your body a break and go fragrance free, or use only high quality plant based essential oils.
“Detoxing” isn’t something we do a couple times a year for a week at a time; it’s something we do every single day by reducing exposure and by supporting the body’s natural detox pathways.
When we do these two together, we’re able to more thoroughly enjoy our boat-ride down the river!
Kevin Gianni is co-founder and CEO of Annmarie Skin Care, an award winning skin care company that produces organic and wildcrafted facial oils, serums, and cleansers. Annmarie Skin Care has been one of Inc500’s Fastest Growing Companies and also was recognized as one of Inc500’s Best Workplaces. The company and products have been featured by many media outlets including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Forbes, and Organic Spa Magazine. He is also the author of Kale and Coffee: A Renegade's Guide to Health, Happiness, and Longevity published in 2015 by Hay House.