CHAPTER 5: TIME TO DETOX

THE PROS AND CONS OF CLEANSES AND DIETS AND HOW TO TRY ONE SAFELY

Between the environment that we live in, the food we put in our mouths and our stressful lives, our bodies have become increasingly toxic. The bad news is that our bodies do not know what to do with many of these chemicals.

Often they are stored in the body, which can lead to a variety of ailments that we try to cover up with medicine or ignore altogether. The good news is that for the most part, we can detoxify on our own with a well-rounded, clean diet.

Headaches, bloating, gas, depression, constipation, eczema or psoriasis, fatigue, cravings, compulsive eating, arthritis, asthma, learning disabilities, anxiety, and stomach pains are just a few signs and symptoms of having a toxic body. When it comes to environmental toxins, they’re pretty hard to escape these days. Plastics, cleaning supplies, beauty products, pesticides, heavy metals such as mercury and over-the-counter drugs and prescriptions contribute to the amount of toxins our bodies are exposed to on a daily basis.

And that’s before we even sit down to eat! You can naturally reduce your toxic load with these tips. To reduce the amount of environmental toxins your body is exposed to, drink filtered water out of glass bottles. Avoid water bottles and other containers made with bisphenol A (BPA), which has been linked to obesity and kidney and heart disease.

BPA is a hormone disruptor and xenoestrogen, which means it mimics estrogen and potentially feeds cancers. Switch to organic beauty products or do the best you can by avoiding ingredients listed as fragrance or perfume and elements ending with paraben.

Sixty percent of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream, including unsafe chemicals like parabens and phthalates, which disrupt the hormonal system.

Phthalates are also estrogen mimickers, a synthetic ingredient added to shampoo, hair gel, nail polish, deodorant and other cosmetics to plasticize the product and give it a lasting scent.

It appears on the label often as “fragrance” or “perfume.” Europe and Canada have strict regulations on the use of phthalates, but the United States does not. Along with hundreds of more regularly used ingredients, these chemicals have been linked to obesity, birth defects, diabetes, asthma and possibly breast cancer, to name a few.

One of my favorite sites to check my products is run by the Environmental Working Group, EWG.org. You can search for your favorite products to find out how toxic they may or may not be. In addition, the food that we eat is contributing to our toxicity levels.

Artificial colors, sulfites, artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, BHA/BHT, MSG and heavy metals are or contain chemicals our bodies do not respond to well. You should be able to avoid these if you follow a clean-diet plan but always read your nutrition labels. Limit packaged foods and minimize exposure to genetically modified corn, soy and sugar.

Look for the non-GMO verified label when purchasing these. Produce that is labeled organic is usually a safe bet. The organic label does not necessarily mean a food is more nutrient-dense, but that it has been raised without chemical pesticides, so fewer toxins are going into your body.

As a rule of thumb, if a fruit or vegetable has a thick skin like a banana or an orange, you can get away with conventionally grown. Organic produce can be more expensive, so save your money when buying these foods.

But when shopping for foods such as grapes, berries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apples, bell peppers, lettuces, celery and tomatoes, buy organic if you can afford it, as they have been found to have the highest traces of pesticide residue. And always wash them thoroughly. When it comes to meat, fish and other animal products, I highly recommend buying organic if you can. They are given access to pasture, direct sunlight, and have the freedom to move and fresh air.

They also have not been given growth hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified feed. What your food ate is what you eat when you consume it. Other terms to look for are pastured, vegetarian diet, grass-fed, free-range, cage-free and wild-caught. Toxins are fat-soluble. Your body requires nutrients such as B vitamins, folic acid, and glutathione to process and eliminate toxins; otherwise, they are stored in your fat cells. For this reason, it’s important to eat a nutritious diet and maintain a healthy weight.

The more fat you have, the more toxic your body can become if you are not eliminating the toxins. “Eat the rainbow” to get all the important nutrients that your body needs. Some foods to help you naturally detox include raw tomatoes, spinach, carrots, garlic and grapefruit. Egg yolks are filled with B vitamins.

Seeds, nuts, beans, watermelon, apples, avocados and asparagus are also especially great. Cilantro has been shown to help move heavy metals out of your system. Infrequently used fresh herbs and spices, such as burdock, ginger, dandelion and turmeric also help detox the body.

If you believe that you may have a high level of toxicity, first start by making the changes that I suggested above. You may be thinking that you have been eating a pretty healthy diet and don’t use any of the products mentioned, but you still have many of the symptoms of toxicity. How can you detox your body? First, you may have a hidden food allergy. Try an elimination diet like the Virgin Diet to find out.

The Virgin Diet identifies the 7 foods most likely to be causing food intolerances in our diets today. Some of these are marketed as “diet foods” and may be causing you to gain weight if your body is sensitive or allergic to them.

Next, try a juice, vegan or eat-clean cleanse if you are interested. I’ve battled sugar cravings my whole life, and after losing 10 pounds for a photoshoot, I thought I’d finally kicked the habit. When Thanksgiving brought the sweet tooth back, I finally decided to try a juice cleanse to see if would help me bounce back and reset my body.