We all carry trace residues of the plastics, solvents, and dioxins from our environment and food sources in our bodies/adipose tissues. Most of us do not notice any symptoms from this toxin load. Some scientists and holistic practitioners suggest, however, that some individuals may be particularly sensitive to these toxins, either because of their genetic makeup or allergies they’ve developed during their lifetime, leading to chronic fatigue, pain, and obesity. They suggest you go on a detox program to get rid of these toxins. Should you? If so, which one? Are they dangerous?
This weekend I attended a workshop on detoxification programs toward finding answers to these questions. Here are some key points:
1. As usual, the best detoxification is prevention: It continues to be a good idea to eat a balanced anti-inflammatory diet (email me at email@example.com for a copy), stick to organic and free-range foods when possible, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Stay away from plastic food/water containers–BPA can leach out even at room temperatures. Avoid pesticides/ solvents/ other toxins at work and at home when you can. Avoid foods that may contain mercury and other heavy metals.
2. Exercise is a form of detox: Try to get 60 minutes a day, working up a real sweat if you can, but any exercise is better than none.
3. The gut is a major organ of elimination/detoxification: Avoid constipation by eating lots of fiber and staying hydrated (with water in a glass or safe metal container, see above). Support gut function by avoiding excessive alcohol and high-fat diets, and consider probiotic supplementation.
4. Many people are sensitive to gluten and milk products: Consider an elimination diet trial to see if you feel better.
5. There are laboratory tests that can help you determine if you are particularly sensitive to toxins and if your natural detoxification systems are functioning normally: If you do 1-4 above but continue to have symptoms, consider being tested. Your physician will then design a personalized plan for you. Without this step, some programs may cause more harm than good; your individual needs may be different from another’s, and your program needs to reflect this. In general, look for well-designed programs based on clinical research as suggested by a physician you trust and avoid anything too generalized, financially driven, or fad-like.
A couple of things that seemed interesting: There was a suggestion that age-related slowing of metabolism and weight gain may be related to a lifetime toxin load and its effect on the mitochondria. Interesting idea. Also, a mention of resveratrol as an anti-aging supplement and how it prolonged life in laboratory rats; a glass a day of red wine, anyone?
All the best, and feel boundless.