You may have heard of the term “body burden.” This is the term used to describe unnatural, man-made chemicals in our body. This body burden starts before we are even born. Want to hear a scary stat? Babies born in today’s society are born with more than 200 man-made, industrial chemicals already in their blood (that means they are passed from mother to baby in vitro.) This number of chemicals will grow to more than 700 by adulthood. Unfortunately we don’t even realize that we are being exposed to these chemicals. They are found in things that we come in contact with daily – whether from the products we use on our body and in our home, to the foods and drinks we consume. Most of these chemicals have not been well-studies either and we have no idea the long term effects of these chemicals in our bodies. And we wonder why we are sick and tired all the time and why diseases and cancers are on the rise? So what can you do? You can take matters into your own hands by educating and protecting yourself. We all need to be informed consumers and make safer choices for our personal health and the health of our families.It starts with a detox! Read below the 10 steps to start detoxing now!
Step One: Eat REAL food
This is a difficult step towards detoxing, but it is the most important. A real food diet is the cornerstone of good health. Our bodies prefer and operate best on nutrient-dense foods that have not been stripped of their nutrients when refined in a factory.
Take a look at these facts on processed food – Processed foods are:
- Nutrient-deficient and sometimes have synthetic nutrients added back in
- Filled with refined grains, sugars and/or high fructose corn syrup, which wreak havoc on blood sugar levels and leave you feeling hungry again soon after eating
- Filled with artificial colors, preservatives, and flavor enhancers, some of which have actually been banned in other countries due to safety concerns
- Filled with pro-inflammatory, rancid oils
- A major source of trans fat
The Standard American Diet (SAD) consist of mostly processed foods and unfortunately whole real foods are not a major part of the SAD. 61% of the food Americans buy is highly processed. The effects of the SAD diet on our health has been evident by the fact that 66% of American adults and 42% of American children are overweight or obese. Rates of chronic diseases have also been on the rise and are the leading cause of death and disability in our country. Even the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) acknowledges that many health conditions are preventable and manageable through lifestyle changes.
So, choose REAL foods! Is the thought of this overwhelming? Just start with one meal a day. As you increase your intake of whole foods, you will notice positive changes in how you feel and look and feel. You will notice you have more energy, less moody and clearer skin. Just take baby steps!
Step 2: Choose organic whenever possible
It’s important to consider how your food is grown. Around 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the United States each year and these pesticides pollute the environment and consumers who eat the food sprayed with these chemicals. Some of these pesticides have been linked to cancer and are known neurotoxins.
Organic food is produced without these chemical herbicides and pesticides. But be careful and don’t fall into the Organic Trap! Organic toaster pastries and organic mini cheese crackers are still processed foods. Yes, they are healthier than their non-organic counterparts since they do not contain GMO’s or chemical pesticide residues, but they still are not healthy. These types of foods are okay from time to time, but I would advise against filling your pantry with these foods. Worried about your budget? Check out these ways to save money on healthy, real food.
Step 3: Get an oil change
The Standard America Diet (SAD) is known for it’s pro-inflammatory, rancid fats. These are mostly in the form of vegetable oils, including corn, canola, soybean, safflower and sunflower seed oil. Vegetable oils are not healthy contrary to what you have been told! These oils are very unstable in their nature since they are comprised mostly of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids. Because they are unstable, they are not ideal for cooking or heating and go rancid very easy.
An excess of omega-6s in our diet is also unhealthy . When omega-6 consumption greatly exceeds omega-3 consumption, the body becomes overloaded with inflammatory arachidonic acid. The idea ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in our diet would be 1:1, but due to the widespread availability and use of cheap vegetable oils in processed foods, and the excess consumption of these foods, most American’s consume these fatty acids in a 1:10 to 1:20 ratio.
For Cooking & Baking:
- Coconut oil
- Butter from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows
- Ghee from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows
- Avocado oil
For Low-Heat Cooking or Use as Dressings
- Extra virgin olive oil
Remember, fats are necessary as a part of a healthy diet. Low-fat diets are unnatural and extremely unhealthy.
Step 4: Cut the sugar
Do you know the average American consumes over 130 pounds of sugar per year?! That is some major sweet teeth!! This is 22 teaspoon’s of sugar a day for the average American adult and 32 teaspoons of sugar each day for the average American child. This is a lot of sugar and no doubt the root of our nation’s failing health.
Sugar has absolutely no nutritional benefit whatsoever. Sugar has no vitamins, no minerals, no protein, no health fats and no enzymes. Sugar only affects our health negatively. Here some examples of sugar’s negative effects:
- Can pull minerals from the body during digestion
- Suppresses immune function
- Stresses the liver
- Creates an inflammatory response
- Cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome
- Never satisfies you, but always makes you feel hungrier, which leads to over eating and weight gain
- Can interfere with hormone production
How are American’s consuming this much sugar? There are the obvious culprits – soda, candy, cookies, donuts and ice cream, but sugar is also added to other products you might not suspect. Look at the labels on bread, salad dressing, tomato sauce, peanut butter and crackers and you would be surprised at how much sugar is in there.
Eating a whole, real food diet, as well as making many of these items from scratch, will cut out most of your sugar intake. You can replace sugar with fruit, raw honey, pure maple syrup, coconut sugar and molasses. Even with these should be consumed in moderation.
Step 5: Filter your water
Water is a life essential! But, our modern day water is also a major source of our exposure to unhealthy, toxic chemicals. The Environmental Working Group recently conducted a three-year study that assessed 20 million drinking water quality tests performed by water utilities since 2004. They found a total of 316 contaminants in the water that was supplied to 256 million Americans in 45 different states. I know that here in North Carolina, there has been a decade long issue regarding water contamination in the Jacksonville / Camp LeJeune are.
- 97 agricultural pollutants including pesticides, chemicals in fertilizers and manure-laden runoff
- 204 industrial chemicals from factories and consumer products
- 86 contaminants linked to urban areas
- 42 pollutants) that are byproducts of the water treatment process
- Out of the contaminants, only 114 were subject to government regulation or safety standards as set by the EPA. The other 202 were not!
I don’t believe bottled water is the answer to this problem as most bottled water is just tap water packed in plastic bottles that leach chemicals into the water. Bottled water is also a waste of money! Instead, invest in a quality water filter and glass drinking bottle. This is the most economical as well as the healthiest.
Do your research and find the filter that is the best fit for you. Make sure it eliminates as many pollutants as possible. The Environmental Working Group has a great water filter buying guide and that is a great start on your journey to finding the right filter.
Step 6: Choose safer skincare and beauty products
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and absorbs almost all of what is applied to it. One study found that the average woman absorbs almost 5 pounds of skincare products through the skin a year. Also, topically applied products – and the unhealthy chemicals in them – go straight to your bloodstream, whereas ingested chemicals are filtered by the liver and kidneys. You can inhale these chemicals (think scented products) and eat them (lip and oral care products).
Many of these chemicals have been directly or indirectly linked to hormone disruption, DNA damage and even cancer. Again, many of the chemicals have not even been studies for their effects. More concerning is that companies are able to keep some chemicals a secret as “trademark secrets” so we may never fully know everything that is in a product.
There are several reputable natural beauty brands out there. Some of them are 100% Pure, Beauty Counter and juice Beauty. And of course, making your own products allows you to know EXACTLY what is in products. DIY is also a lot of fun. I have some great DIY recipes over on my Natural Beauty & Bath page! Everything from whipped body butters to soaps to face moisturizers to foot creams & soaks to lip balms.
Step 7: Switch to safer cleaning options
Did you know that indoor air can be up to 7 times more polluted than outdoor air? And do you know what one of the biggest offenders is? Cleaning products!! Ironic huh? The good news is that there are safer, effective alternatives available, both to purchase and to make.
When it comes to making your own natural home cleaning products , you need just a few items:
- Baking soda
- Washing soda
- Castile soap (both liquid and bar)
- Bacteria fighting essential oils like lemon, rosemary, and red thyme
- White vinegar
I know this sounds to simple to be true, but really, these products will cover all your needs.
All-Purpose Cleaner: 1 cup water, 1/2 cup white viegar, 20 drops of essential oil Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and use as needed. Shake before using.
Glass Cleaner: 1 cup water, 2 tbs white vinegar, 15 drops essential oil Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and use as needed. Shake before using.
The Environmental Working Group’s guide to Healthy Cleaning allows you to look up products to check the safety of their ingredients. You can search the products you use to see how they rank, then use the guide to find safer alternatives. Norwex is also a great company for natural, toxic and chemical free products for your home. For more great DIY tips and ideas, check out my Natural Home page!
Step 8: Create a plastic-free kitchen
I personally strive to have a plastic-free kitchen. My husband is also happier because I can’t just throw all the tupperware lids and parts into the cabinet anymore! One of the easiest ways to convert to a plastic free kitchen is to ditch the plastic food storage containers by switching to glass. Even if your plastic containers are the fancier, multi-use plastic containers, they still leach unhealthy chemicals into your food. Reminder: BPA-free is a load of B(P)S!
I also do not like to buy foods that are canned since the lining of cans is coated in plastic. I know that this may be excessive, but this small daily exposure is significant when considered over the long-term. If nothing else, avoid purchasing tomato products in plastic or cans since the acids in the tomatoes readily leach plasticizers from packaging.
Lastly, carry around reusable shopping bags. This will cut down on plastic bags in landfills and the environment.
Step 9: Choose non-toxic cookware
Common types of cookware leach unhealthy toxins into your food. There are a good number of safer alternatives.
Unsafe Cookware: Nonstick Cookware and Bakeware, including Teflon
Nonstick synthetic surfaces are made with the plasticizer polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which emits a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) when heated. The PFOA form heated nonstick cookware is known to kill pet birds! (As I type this, I look over at my two sweet Parakeets as they are chirping at me!) I know that we are much larger than my little parakeets, but I still don’t want to put that into my body.
During the cooking process, the nonstick surfaces are easily damaged, allowing the coating to flake off and get into the food. According to a study by the 3M Company, PFOA is found in the blood of 90% of Americans, including 600 children tested. PFOA bioaccumulates. That means it is not excreted by the body but builds up and up and up. And again, we do not know what levels are safe nor the long term effects on the body.
PFOA is released at relatively low cooking temperatures. Teflon maker DuPoint reached a 16.5 million dollar settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency for failing to report the health risk of PFOA. While DuPoint stated that Teflon emitted dangerous chemicals ate temps above 660 degrees F, test revealed that the PFOA is released at temps as low as 325 degrees F.
Aluminum is a heavy metal that attacks the central nervous system. Research has shown that aluminum can produce toxic, oxidative stress in the brain. Aluminum has been linked to degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Safer Cookware Options
Stainless steel is my personal favorite option for cooking. Stainless steel pots and pans brown foods better than most other options, and are very easy to clean. You can season stainless steel pots and pans to make them virtually nonstick. Here’s how:
- Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of salt into the pain
- Heat the pain to the point where the oil is almost starting to smoke, and then let it cool down
- Scrub the salt into the pain using a clean cloth or paper towel
- Wipe the pan out, oil it again and wipe it out again
- Do this process when the pan is new and repeat it periodically
- Just clean the pan by wiping it with a bit of warm water, but without soap/detergent.
Tempered glass works very well for cooking and baking in the oven. It is also safe for marinating foods. It is also convenient because you can take it straight from the oven to the fridge for storage when your meal is done.
Cast iron cookware is my favorite!! I love a steak that has been seared and cooked in our cast iron flat pan. Cast iron does a great job browning meat and can withstand high temperatures. Just like stainless steel, you should season it so it provides a smooth, stick-resistant surface. However, there is some concern regarding the iron leached into foods as its being cooked – an excess of dietary iron promote oxidation and has been proven to promote dangerous oxidation of cholesterol. So, this may not be the best option for everyday cooking.
Porcelain-Enameled cast iron cookware yields great cooking results and last a very long time making them well worth the upfront investment. Most can be used on the stove, in the oven and under the broiler. The enamel is impervious to acids, so it can hold raw or cooked foods that are marinating. Le Creuset is the darling of the porcelain-enameled cast iron cookware brands and is pricey, but worth it. If you are going to invest in one piece of porcelain-enameled cookware – get a dutch oven.
Step 10: Houseplants to purify indoor air.
Remember that indoor air quality can be up to 7 times more polluted than outdoor air? This is due to toxic-chemicals in household cleaning products, air “fresheners”, carpeting, furniture varnishes, fire retardant treated products, and personal care products.
Good for us, there is a cheap, easy and visually appealing way to cleanse the air – house plants!! NASA even conducted a study on the effectiveness of certain houseplants to purify the air. While all plants produce oxygen, NASA found the following particular plants drastically improve indoor air quality by removing the most common indoor air pollutants:
Peace Lilly - great at removing formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene Lady Palm - great at removing formaldehyde, xylene, toluene and ammonia Golden Pothos/Money plant - great at removing formaldehyde, monoxide and benzene Bamboo Palm - great at removing formaldehyde and benzene; a natural humidifier Snake Plant - great at removing nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde. Great for bedroom as it is very effective at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen at night Spider Plant - great at removing formaldehyde and benzene Aloe Plant - great at clearing formaldehyde and benzene
I hope that you have found this 10-step detox guide helpful. Please continue to follow me at http://www.beehappyessentials.net, on Facebook “Bee Happy Essentials” and on Twitter @beehappyoils for more and continued information.