5 Ways to Lessen Toxic Load + Detox
The bulk of my health journey over the last ten years can be summarized in two statements.
The bad news: We’re assaulted with toxins all day, every day.
The good news: We have more of a say than we realize.
I know toxins are scary to talk about. But, the more I’ve learned, the more I realized the toxins we’re regularly exposed to cause stress + inflammation in the body. There’s no denying toxic load poses a very real risk to your health.
Your toxic load is always building from exposure through:
- Personal care products
- Cleaning products
- Scented products
The list could keep going. But I’m sure you get the point.
And while this can be a terrifying realization, uncovering and understanding these risks can be empowering if you use it to reframe your mindset about toxic load. Because we DO have a say in what we expose ourselves to and how resilient we are to toxic exposure.
Toxic Load Is Causing a Health Epidemic
Unfortunately, most people (especially in the U.S.) are in pretty bad shape health-wise. And a lot of it has to do with our toxic load as a whole.
Diseases virtually nonexistent a century ago are killing humans at astounding rates. As a society, we’re civilized beyond common sense.
→ We’ve largely accepted industrial “farming” as normal, but it’s filling our bodies with toxins and continuing to cause an environmental crisis.
→ Dangerous chemicals in personal care products are deemed harmless. Yet cancer rates have continued to rise, and proven carcinogens and hormonal disruptors are still present in personal care products. These products are largely unregulated.
→ Overmedicating vs. practicing root cause medicine is the status quo. There’s a medication for everything these days. I’m not saying that medicine isn’t necessary for some situations. Still, in the majority of situations, there’s a way to eliminate the problem completely instead of putting a bandaid fix on it. (Hint: it has to do with minimizing your toxic load!)
Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect, or I’ve got it all figured out – like I said, we all have toxic load. I just have years of experience from both sides. So keep in mind: it won’t happen overnight. You’ll need to have grace for the process and stay aware.
Because for most of my life, I was no exception.
My Experience With Toxins Growing Up
I grew up eating a standard American diet. Toaster Strudels for breakfast, Hot Pockets for lunch, and fish sticks for dinner – sometimes with a side salad.
It’s no wonder I developed several pesky health issues in junior high, including:
- Unbearable seasonal allergies
- Persistent acne
- Constant fatigue
- Frequent (and severe) colds
I was repeatedly told these things were “normal” and that medicine was the only solution. I went along with it at the time, but truthfully that answer never sat well with me.
It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I began understanding the true impact of diet and lifestyle. I knew I had to change something.
I started with my diet. Eliminating processed foods + industrial oils and switching to real, whole foods was life-changing for me. Removing toxins in my personal care products came next. I had no idea how much of a difference it’d make.
I could tell my toxic load was smaller, because with just these two changes, I did improve.
But I had this lingering sense that something was still not quite right. I’d still have the occasional breakout and was sick more often than I’d like. Although my allergies no longer lasted the entire season, I still had some miserable days/weeks of allergies. I noticed that my eyes were increasingly puffy in the morning (which can be a sign of toxic buildup).
I decided it was time to dig deeper into the problems – and solutions.
Through testing designed to identify your body’s specific toxic load, I discovered that I had high levels of mercury in my system. I was actually relieved to get this news because I finally knew what was wrong. I now had the information I needed to make a change!
I was trying so hard to live a squeaky clean lifestyle, but because the toxic load in my body was too high and I was still extremely sensitive. It felt like one little misstep could make everything fall apart.
What do I mean?
Well, I’d have one cocktail during allergy season and I’d sneeze for the next 24 hours. Even just one sweet treat and a breakout would soon follow. And I’m not talking about conventional drinks and sweets – they were made from the cleanest ingredients possible.
It was beyond frustrating.
Toxic Load ExplainedI love how Dr. Mark Hyman explains toxic load with this analogy:1
When our detoxification system becomes overwhelmed and overloaded, we start developing symptoms and get sick, but it may take years of accumulated stress and toxins to get to that point.”
We all have some level of toxic buildup because of the world we live in. Our bodies can usually handle occasional chemicals, BUT when exposed consistently and daily, you end up with a toxic load your body can’t handle. As a result, disease and health conditions are more likely to occur.
It may seem unfair, but genetics definitely play a role in our toxic load.
Some of us are genetically better at detoxing, and some (like me) were not born with all the mechanisms necessary to get rid of toxins efficiently.
Thankfully, there are many things you can do to reduce toxic load and support detoxification in your body. The following suggestions for lessening your toxic load are ones I’ve focused on in my personal detox journey.
5 Ways to Lessen Your Toxic Load
I could sit and talk about lessening your toxic load all day long, but it wouldn’t help if I didn’t give some tangible advice, right? Here’s a peek into all the ways I personally invested in lessening my toxic load.
The first and most crucial step in reducing your toxic load is to stop the intake of additional toxins. You can do this by removing toxins from your diet and environment wherever possible.
Depending on your situation, this could mean a complete diet/lifestyle overhaul or just removing those few remaining toxic products in your home.
Tip: Our friends at Branch Basics have a #tossthetoxins challenge to help people identify and eliminate any lingering household toxins – check it out!
If you’re at a loss for where to start removing toxins, start with personal care products. This part can feel overwhelming, so I always recommend beginning with deodorant. (Here’s an easy guide to non-toxic, natural deo.)
Conventional deodorant is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to toxic personal care products. And because your armpits are directly connected to your breast tissue, it poses a very real threat to your breast health too. Most deodorants found on drugstore shelves are filled with ingredients like fragrance, aluminum, and parabens.
It’s no secret these ingredients have been linked to:
- Sickness + disease (especially cancer)
- Hormonal imbalances
Personal care products are especially important because they’re applied to sensitive + absorbent parts of the body. Swapping to clean personal care products can significantly affect your toxic load + health for a lifetime.
Sweating has been wrongfully vilified over the last few decades. It really bums me out to still see commercials on TV for antiperspirants that boast about blocking sweat. Because the truth is that sweating is good for you. Sweating is one of the best ways your body can detox daily.
Here’s another reason deodorant is one of the first swaps I recommend: The aluminum found in most conventional deodorants actually blocks your pores. And in turn, this inhibits you from releasing toxins through sweat.
Putting toxins into your body is harmful, but antiperspirant takes it further by sealing them in and adding to your toxic load. NO, thank you!
Here are my go-to choices for working up a sweat:
→ Regular exercise paired with a non-toxic, natural deodorant is an active way to release toxins via sweat!
→ Detox baths can be highly effective in helping reduce your toxic load with regular use.
→ Infrared saunas are like the holy grail when it comes to toxic buildup.
(I recently ordered one from Heavenly Heat and cannot wait for it to arrive!)
Tip: If you want even more creative ideas, check out this post for 6 ways to sweat more.
How you sweat is up to your preference, but don’t forget it’s a healthy, natural + necessary function to rid your body of toxic buildup.
Your mind is the CEO of your body. When you’re mentally holding onto stress or anxiety, it can be equally difficult for the body to let go and release toxins. If you can’t tell by now, your body needs your support to lessen your toxic load.
I’ve found breathing incredibly effective in reducing stress while increasing focus and mental clarity.
Tip: Wim Hof is my go-to source for all things breathing-related.
If I’m being honest, I royally screwed up this part of living a healthy lifestyle for a long time. But you guys – it’s never too late for you. And this practice has made such a difference in my life! (Plus, it’s free and takes less than 10 minutes a day.)
A few years ago, I started experimenting with intermittent and extended fasting. I began with circadian fasting (limiting eating to the 12 hours between sunrise and sunset).
I’ve always been someone who eats breakfast the moment I wake up, enjoys snacks in-between meals, and grabs the last bite to eat right before going to sleep.
So I won’t lie – adopting circadian fasting was a challenge for me at first. I had spent the last ten years of my life working to better understand what to eat but hadn’t given much thought to when to eat.
After about a month of circadian fasting, I decreased my eating window little by little. Eventually, fasting for 16-18 hours per day became the norm. I truly can’t overstate how impactful this has been for my health.
Fasting (the ultimate elimination diet!) gives your body a break from digesting and breaking down food to focus on detox and repair. This does wonders for your toxic load.
When you fast, autophagy is activated and growth hormone is stimulated, kickstarting better health on a cellular level. Autophagy is fascinating – it’s a natural response to fasting, where your body clears old, junky proteins and cellular parts.
This analogy about how fasting works really resonated with me:2
“You need to get rid of the old stuff before you can put in new stuff. Think about renovating your kitchen. If you have old 1970s-style lime green cabinets sitting around, you need to junk them before putting in some new ones. So the process of destruction (removal) is just as important as the process of creation. If you simply tried to put in new cabinets without taking out the old ones, it wouldn’t look so hot.
So fasting may in some ways reverse the aging process by getting rid of old cellular junk and replacing it with new parts.”
– Dr. Jason Fung
Fasting is an extremely powerful health intervention to reduce toxic load. Your body will thank you. In addition to intermittent fasting, I’ve personally done some extended fasting protocols under the guidance of a specialized functional health doctor to further reduce my toxic load.
The results have been nothing short of amazing.
Note: If you’re pregnant, this may not be suitable for you and the baby. Consider consulting your doctor first.
5. Get help.
If you’re confused about where to start or unsure about your toxic load, I’d recommend finding a natural-minded healthcare practitioner.
In addition to the steps above, my doctor walked me through various tests and guided me on a 3-month supplement-based detox protocol.
On your own, reducing your toxic load can feel overwhelming – if not impossible. That’s why I recommend finding a team that’ll be behind you every step of the way + point you in the right direction.
These aren’t the only ways to reduce your toxic load, but they’ve made all the difference for my health. Ultimately, it’s up to you how you want to implement your detox practices.
Start Reducing Your Toxic Load Today
The most rewarding part in this journey of reducing my toxic load was realizing how much I COULD control. There are more ways to detox than you might think initially – many are free, enjoyable, and beneficial for your whole-body health.
I certainly don’t claim to be a doctor or know what will work in your personal circumstances, but I felt called to share a bit about my journey. I hope these tips are helpful or inspire you to do more research and see if any of these interventions feel right for you.
Here’s the best advice I can give you: Don’t be hard on yourself. Take it day by day. Self-compassion is crucial in reducing your toxic load.
If you’re interested in learning more about detox or have implemented any of these practices (or another), please reach out. I’d love to hear about your journey.
- Dr. Hyman | Helpful or the Latest Fad? The Truth About Detoxification
- Dietdoctors.com | Dr. Jason Fung, MD
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