Top Tips to Reduce Daily Exposure to Toxins
Apr 25, 2022
In modern society, exposure to toxins throughout everyday life is almost inevitable: the polluted air we breathe, the pesticide-ridden food we eat, the chemicals we drink in our water, and more.
One of the most important steps to take when supporting your body to detoxify more efficiently and effectively is to reduce toxic exposures in the first place. If we can reduce the heavy burden put on our livers and organs of elimination, then we can help free up capacity of those organs to eliminate the toxins already in our bodies.
Here are some ways you can start reducing your exposure in everyday life:
1. Breathe easy with a HEPA air filter
While the EPA monitors levels for the top six air pollutants, we inevitably breathe in some throughout the day, especially for those living in areas with less-than-deal air quality. Indoor air can also be a source of pollution, with particulate matter from mold, dust, pet dander, smoke, and an array of chemicals floating around.
If you want to clear the air (so to speak), HEPA air filters are a great way to remove pollutants from the air at work or home. They are affordable, usually compact, and something you can easily purchase and plug in (no installation needed)!
2. Filter water for a cleaner sip
Drinking plenty of water each day is incredibly important for our overall health, but not all water is equal. Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic contaminants such as pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals have been found in our water supply around the United States. While these compounds are somewhat monitored and in trace amounts, we can guess that it’s probably not ideal for us to be drinking water with them every single day.
If you want to ensure your drinking water isn’t hiding any unexpected toxins, having a water filter in the home is key. There are a variety of filters you can purchase that vary in price and effectiveness at removing toxins, which you can usually find by looking on each filter’s company website.
Dining out? Think twice or ask before you drink tap water from a restaurant, as it’s likely not filtered.
3. Choose organic food (with a budget-friendly strategy!)
It’s an unfortunate reality that unless we’re buying organic, there are harmful pesticides in the food that we consume. Over time, pesticides have been shown in research to cause hepatotoxicity (liver damage) by interacting with liver enzymes, so avoiding them when possible is key to avoid overburdening our detoxification pathways. From a cost and availability perspective, it’s not always realistic to buy organic food, but there is a handy way to make an informed decision on when to buy organic.
The Environmental Working Group puts together two lists called the “Clean Fifteen” and the “Dirty Dozen.” If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to incorporate organic food into your diet, opt for organic if the produce you’re buying is on the Dirty Dozen list. This produce is more heavily sprayed with pesticides if not organic. The Clean Fifteen fruits and vegetables have the least amount of pesticide residue, so it’s ok to buy the conventional version and save a few dollars while you’re at it!
4. Research personal care products to make an informed decision
Research shows that we absorb up to 60% of anything that is put on our skin, meaning that any potential chemicals from makeup, lotions, shampoo, perfumes and other products are actually getting into our body instead of just staying on the outside.
The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website is a resource where you can search for products and get a rating to see how toxic the product is. This is a super helpful tool for decreasing your exposures, because you can inform yourself about the products you buy and opt for cleaner alternatives in your routine where needed.
5. Choose cleaner household cleaners
Bathroom sprays, countertop cleaners, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, floor cleaners, ammonia, and bleach are common household cleaners, but they can unfortunately release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs can contribute to symptoms such as chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and headaches.
As a clean, worry-free alternative, make your own household cleaners by using different combinations of vinegar, baking soda, salt, and essential oils, among other nontoxic ingredients. These can be very affordable and effective cleaners. If you do feel like your shower needs bleach from time to time, save the bleach cleaners for less frequent deep cleans and use chemical-free alternatives for more regular maintenance.
6. Cook and store your food with cleaner containers
The world has a plastic problem, and not just when it comes to waste. Plastics are known endocrine disruptors, which is a term that means that the chemicals released from plastic mimic hormones and can disrupt our hormone balance when consumed or exposed (this also includes plastic water bottles which can leech estrogenic chemicals!).
Choose glass or stainless steel food storage containers and water bottles for daily use. Like to cook? The non-stick chemicals (PFAS) found on some non-stick pans can affect reproduction, thyroid function, the immune system, and the liver. Much better alternatives for cooking are stainless steel or cast iron. These pans take a little extra care to keep them “seasoned”, but there are easy cooking techniques that you can learn to help these pans act as if they were non-stick but without the health risks.
Lifestyle Practices for Supporting Your Liver & Organs of Elimination
Whew! We know that was a lot. The good news is that now you’re equipped with knowledge about how to reduce your exposure to toxins in your everyday life. The other good news is that there are a few practices you can incorporate into your day to help your detoxification pathways move smoothly and get all that junk out of your system.
Hot and Cold Showers
Improve your circulation in the shower! Start with a hot shower then switch to a colder temperature. Heat dilates your blood vessels, bringing your blood closer to the surface. Cold constricts the blood vessels pushing the blood back toward the organs. Going back and forth creates a pumping motion that stimulates healthy circulation of our blood. This is gentle enough to do daily. Make sure to end the shower on the colder temperature for best results!
Dry brushing is another wonderful technique for improving circulation and stimulating the lymphatic system. Gently brush your skin with a dry skin brush in a circular motion toward your heart. This stimulates the lymphatic system to circulate the lymph toward the subclavian veins where it enters the bloodstream and can be further filtered by the kidneys. Dry brushing is also gentle enough for daily use.
Dead sea salt or epsom salt are both great additions to a warm bath. These salts are loaded with minerals which can enter your body through your skin. These minerals are all important for supporting our detoxification pathways (as well as soothing tired muscles). Hot baths can be done daily, but more realistically, a few times a week is sufficient.
Click here to order our Spring 2022 Inside Scoop box, which includes a dry brush and dead sea bath salts.
Saunas are another great option to support detoxification by inducing sweat. While exercise is important as well, saunas can yield a much higher quantity of sweat and therefore can support toxin release via perspiration. Sitting in a sauna 1-2 times a week can be very supportive for detoxification.
While it’s nearly impossible to be 100% toxin free, that’s ok! There are measures we can take to reduce exposure and lower our toxic burden overall, which can make a huge difference in how our elimination organs function and feel.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Air Pollutants
- Study: Indoor HEPA filters significantly reduce pollution indoors when outside air unhealthy
- EPA: Drinking Water Regulations
- Environmental Working Group (EWG): Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce
- EWG: Skin Deep website (for info on personal care products)
- Study: Fragranced consumer products: Chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted
- Note: Manufacturers are not legally obligated by the U.S. government to list all ingredients in consumer products, so it’s important to find companies who are transparent about their ingredients.
- American Lung Association: Cleaning Supplies and Household Chemicals
- Vox: The problem with all the plastic that’s leaching into your food
Dr. Jessica Christie is both a Naturopathic Doctor and a Certified Nutrition Specialist and works with clients all over the U.S. She specializes in helping clients get to the root cause of their symptoms while optimizing health and wellness through nutrition and natural protocols.
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- Drinking water regulations. (2020, August 12). US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/drinking-water-regulations
- Kolpin, D. W., Furlong, E. T., Meyer, M. T., Thurman, E. M., Zaugg, S. D., Barber, L. B., & Buxton, H. T. (2002). Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants in U.S. streams, 1999−2000: a national reconnaissance. Environmental Science & Technology, 36(6), 1202-1211. https://doi.org/10.1021/es011055j
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- Environmental Working Group. (2021). Clean Fifteen™ conventional produce with the least pesticides. Environmental Working Group – Know your choices | Environmental Working Group. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php
- Environmental Working Group. (2021). Dirty Dozen™ fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides. Environmental Working Group – Know your choices | Environmental Working Group. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php
- Brown, H. S., Bishop, D. R., & Rowan, C. A. (1984). The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. American Journal of Public Health, 74(5), 479-484. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.74.5.479
- EWG skin deep® cosmetics database. (2022). EWG. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
- Cleaning supplies and household chemicals. (2020, July 13). American Lung Association | American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/cleaning-supplies-household-chem
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- Terry, P., & Chen, J. (2011). Faculty opinions recommendation of most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: A potential health problem that can be solved. Faculty Opinions – Post-Publication Peer Review of the Biomedical Literature. https://doi.org/10.3410/f.10349956.11165054
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- Per- and Polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) factsheet. (2021, May 7). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/PFAS_FactSheet.html