After the Fires…3 Top Tips for Daily Detox
The Need for Daily Detoxing
I confess, that since the devastating fires here in Sonoma County, and the noxious smoke that blanketed the entire Bay Area, I’ve been utterly obsessed with detox.
Here in the Bay Area (and beyond), noxious, throat-burning smoke darkened skies for days and weeks.
Few people – if any – could escape it completely.
And not just here – across the entire Western landscape from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Arizona, Texas, wildfire smoke was pervasive. And the smoke plumes traveled deeply into the Midwest and as far east as Newfoundland.
These plumes carried a witch’s brew of pollutants such as heavy metals, dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and other toxic byproducts of burning materials. While the smoke can never be fully analyzed due to the scope and scale of the wildfires, we do know that it carries carcinogens and neurotoxins.
Wildfire smoke has large amounts of small particles called PM2.5 and PM1, indication their size in microns. These can pass from your lungs, into your bloodstream, and to your liver for deactivation and removal. However, they can also overwhelm your system and get stored in your body.
Even if you weren’t affected by wildfire smoke, read on, as this is very important for EVERYBODY, every single day.
I want to help you protect your body from this exposure using food and supplements that I’ve used to protect myself and counter the effects of these toxins.
We all have what’s called “body burden.”
Body burden is the amount of toxins we carry in our tissues and organs. Research shows that even new-born babies have over 250 environmental toxins in their tissues.
While the immediate effects of the smoke have faded – like the burning eyes, scratchy throat and hoarseness – it’s likely that many millions of us have increased levels of toxins now.
You likely don’t even feel an increasing body burden. Toxins build up silently in your tissues, growing heavier with each season.
Even though your body has exquisitely designed systems to protect you and get rid of toxins, those detox systems can get overwhelmed by the levels of modern day toxic onslaughts.
When levels of environmental toxins get too high for your body to keep up, your body accumulates these bad boys in various tissues and organs – particularly fatty tissue (like breasts!)
We all have it.
And you don’t have to be exposed to wildfire smoke to have increased toxic body burden this year.
Sitting in traffic fumes.
Exposure to flame retardants in furniture and building materials.
Pesticides in food.
Junk in household products.
And daily exposure to any of the tons of other 100,000 industrial chemicals dumped into our environment, food, homes and buildings every year.
Yes, I’ve been obsessing. It’s one of the most critical issues affecting us all.
I’ve reviewed dozens of detox programs, looking at how to protect ourselves. And support our bodies to work at optimum detox levels and get rid of this stuff.
With the upcoming holidays, it’s no time to start a full-on detox and cleansing program.
But it’s a great time to start incorporating healthy habits into holiday and year-round traditions.
And I have some important tips you can use to get started on replenishing your body’s reserves of its most powerful detoxifying processes and enzymes.
I want to show you how to protect yourself and get rid of stored toxins. To better eliminate the large toxic loads we face from wildfires, traffic jams, and day-to-day living.
OK, before the tips, here’s the preamble.
REAL detox is not about juice fasts.
In fact those practices can hurt you, as you may be robbing your body of the essential nourishment it needs to make its own most powerful protective detox substances.
Your body – particularly your liver – is constantly detoxing the onslaughts of modern life 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
And the most important substance your body makes for this 24/7 effort is the enzyme glutathione. While your liver makes the majority of glutathione, it’s also made in the lungs, intestines, kidneys, and throughout your body.
Called “the mother of all antioxidants,” “the master detoxifier” and “maestro of the immune system,“ glutathione is essential to:
- Your ability to eliminate toxins;
- Helping your immune system fight infections;
- Repairing DNA and preventing cancer; and
- Recycling other antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E and alpha lipoic acid.
When you are overwhelmed with too much oxidative stress or too many toxins – such as in days and weeks of wildfire exposure – your glutathione becomes depleted. You can no longer protect yourself against free radicals and infections.
When you get a big dump of toxins – like from breathing wildfire smoke for days – your body stores toxins instead of getting rid of them. This leads to sickness and a downward health spiral. Over the long term, high toxicity and low glutathione levels are implicated in cancer, neurological damage and other chronic illnesses.
As you get older, your body makes less and less glutathione. A study showed that glutathione production drops an average of 10% per decade after age twenty in healthy adults.
So the older you are, or if you’re not in peak shape, you likely have a glutathione deficiency. It can easily be depleted. So…
#1 Tip for Daily Detox: Support your body making its own supply of glutathione with food, supplements and exercise.
While there are glutathione supplements you can take, and foods you can eat that naturally contain glutathione, it’s not very effective to ingest it either way.
Because when you take glutathione orally, it lands in your stomach and is dismembered by your stomach acids.
Instead of taking glutathione, it’s better to feed your body the building blocks it needs to make its own. These building blocks are called precursors.
These foods, supplements and habits will help you improve your glutathione levels, improve your health, and optimize your performance to live a long, healthy life.
Eat LOTS of Foods that Support Glutathione Production
Not just a sprinkling, or once or twice a week. I’m talking about 3x PER DAY! If you really want to support detox, and do it right, eat from this list for every meal.
- Sulfur-rich brassica vegetables (arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, chard, collards, kale, watercress, etc.)
- Sulfur-rich alliums (garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, chives, etc.)
- Spices: turmeric (isn’t it good for everything?), ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, black cumin
- Herbs: parsley (fresh, not dried), sage, rosemary, thyme
- Whey protein (MUST be bioactive, cold-processed, made from non-denatured proteins – provides precursor amino acids)
- Bone broth (provides precursor amino acids)
- Folate-rich foods (think foliage!) including asparagus, avocados, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce
Take Glutathione Supporting Supplements
You might wish you could just take glutathione as a pill… but your body will digest it as a protein – so you won’t get the benefits.
The production and recycling of glutathione in your body requires many different nutrients and you CAN take these. Here are ESSENTIAL supplements you need to take consistently to boost your levels of glutathione:
- A high-quality multivitamin that includes:
- Vitamins C and E (in the form of mixed tocopherols)
- Folate (B9) and vitamins B6 and B12. These are some of the most critical to keep your body producing glutathione.
- TIP: here are three important ways to identify a truly high quality vitamin: B9 will NOT be in the form of folic acid, which is a synthetic form. The highest quality B9 is the active form of 5 methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) or methyl folate. The B6 will be the in active form of P5P, and B12 will be in the in the active form of methylcobalamin, NOT cyanocobalamin.
- Selenium: this important mineral helps the body recycle and produce more glutathione.
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). This amino acid is a precursor for glutathione
- Alpha lipoic acid. This is a close second to glutathione in importance to your cells. Alpha lipoic acid is involved in energy production, blood sugar control, brain health and detoxification. Your body can make it, but given the stresses we all face, it can’t make enough.
- Milk thistle (silymarin). This has long been used for liver health and helps boost glutathione levels.
- MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). This naturally occurring compound is a donor of organic sulfur. Animal studies show that it promotes the synthesis of glutathione and upregulates glutathione enzymes in the presence of elevated oxidative stress.
Exercise Your Way to More Glutathione
Moderate exercise boosts your glutathione levels, whereas overly strenuous exercise can deplete it. Build up to 30 minutes a day of walking, movement classes or your choice of aerobic machines (bike, treadmill, stair climber, etc.). Strength training for 20 minutes 3 times a week is also helpful.
#2 Tip for Daily Detox: Avoid and minimize glutathione-depleting substances and activities.
What depletes your glutathione?
Eh, so much in everyday life. You’re constantly exposed to many toxic and harmful substances on a daily basis. You require considerable amounts of glutathione and metabolic energy to constantly detoxify it all.
These common substances and activities deplete your reserves. Avoid or minimize exposure whenever you can:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and other pharmaceuticals;
- Acetone, solvents, paint removers
- Vehicle fuels and fumes;
- Heavy metals (dental amalgams, vaccines, many tattoo inks, large fatty fish such as tuna, etc.);
- Pesticides, herbicides (conventionally grown foods, golf courses);
- Nitrates and other synthetic food preservatives (salami, hot dogs, hams, bologna, smoked foods, etc.);
- Artificial sweetener aspartame;
- Synthetic food dyes;
- Benzopyrenes (tobacco smoke, barbequed foods, fuel exhaust, etc.);
- Household chemicals (synthetically scented and colored detergents and fabric softeners, air fresheners, mothballs, mildew removers, cleaners and bleach, lawn and plant fertilizers, etc.);
- Housewares chemicals (Teflon-style non-stick coating of pots and pans, plastic containers and linings of tin cans and other food packaging);
- Formaldehyde and styrene (photocopiers and toner printers);
- Chlorine and chloramine in treated water;
- Medical X-rays;
- UV radiation;
- Electromagnetic fields (EMF);
- Industrial pollutants.
Other factors that deplete your glutathione include:
- Poor diet – in this case glutathione has to work hard to cover for missing or insufficient antioxidants, and the lack of glutathione co-factor vitamins and minerals impairs glutathione synthesis and proper functioning;
- Overly strenuous exercise – produces a lot of free radicals within the body;
- Chronic stress, anxiety and depression;
- Light pollution which lowers glutathione levels by suppressing melatonin production at night (bedside night lights, street lights);
- Age – after the age of 20 natural glutathione production decreases at the rate of 10% per decade on average in healthy adults.
#3 Tip for Daily Detox: Support your body’s elimination paths. Like, poop and pee and sweat.
This may sound really basic, but age-old advice from your grandmother is really really good: Drinks lots of water. Eat lots of veggies (and a little fruit). Get exercise. Take hot baths with Epsom salts. Ditch the junk food, flour, and factory-raised meats.
Boring? Stale? So last century?
No….ESSENTIAL!!! If you’re constipated and dehydrated, your body can’t eliminate toxins. Unclog those pipes!
Most peeps are chronically dehydrated. I know I used to be. For years. Until I finally realized that I was not drinking nearly enough water. Sometimes I still don’t drink enough water. But I’m getting better at it.
How much water do you need? Here’s a handy calculation: take your weight in pounds, divide it by half, and drink that many ounces of water per day. So if you weigh 140 pounds, that is 70 ounces of water, which is eight and three-quarters cups.
Also, herbal teas are good. Particularly dandelion, marshmallow, licorice, ginger. And don’t forget these classic detoxifying drinks – hot lemon water, golden milk made with turmeric and ginger, ginger tea and lemon.
If you don’t poop at least once a day, and preferably 2 or 3 times, it’s time to loosen things up a bit. You’re getting more toxic – and staying that way — when you don’t eliminate.
Before you reach for laxatives, try shakes and smoothies made with with psyllium, flax and chia seeds. And lots of water!
If that doesn’t work, it may be time for an enema.
Also, eat mostly plants, as Michael Pollan says. He’s soooooo right. Plants give you the soluble and insoluble fiber you need to make gorgeous poos.
Turmeric is good to get your bile flowing, which helps your elimination. It also supports your liver, and adds excellent detox support.
To sweat, a good brisk walk can’t be beat! You can also treat yourself to Epsom salt baths and saunas, as well as body brushing and self-massage. Luxuriate yourself with self-care!
A Final Note: Turmeric and Spices for Detox
If you’ve seen my talk or read my book “The Anti-aging Secrets of Spices,” you may remember that turmeric, spices and herbs activate a transcription factor in your cells called NRF2.
Nrf2, a master regulator of detoxification, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other cell-protective functions, activates the transcription of over 500 genes. Most of these are crucial to detoxification and excretion of all kinds of compounds, and particularly important when you’re exposed to toxic chemicals. .
Phytonutrients in spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits are your ticket to NRF2 activation!
Spice Pharm’s Golden Goddess Turmeric Elixirs, Matrix Tea and Premium Turmeric Spice are some of my favorite health-promoting beverages. I use them every day for supporting detox pathways.
Add these to your daily routine for excellent detox support!
More to come on recipes and tips for detoxing. And for now, please leave a comment – would love to hear from you and how you are feeling!