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Despite its growing popularity, detoxing is still commonly associated with relatively fringe health circles.

It usually entails the use of “cleanses,” “fasts,” or other extended practices intended to catalyze a massive release of toxins all at once. These practices also usually require a good deal of time, energy, knowledge, and discipline to do safely and effectively. Unfortunately, these requirements make detoxing inaccessible for most people.

Make no mistake, though: detoxifying practices are immensely important for maintaining vibrant health. We live in a veritable sea of toxins, courtesy of our industrial society’s pollutive onward march. You can read about some of the most important toxin sources to avoid here, here, and here.

The moral of the story is this: even if you think you’re living healthily, you still need to help your body detoxify, because just existing in the world ensures that you’re bombarded by toxins on a daily basis.

The accumulation of toxins in your body will disrupt hormones, enzymes, and even metabolic processes, damage your cells through oxidation, and flood you with free radicals. These conditions lead to chronic inflammation, decreased disease resistance, sapped energy levels, and an extended list of long-term health problems.

Days could be spent cataloguing all the correlations between the increased presence of environmental toxins and the increased incidence of a specific disease and disorder. Just to cite one example: glyphosate—the prevalent toxin in Monsanto’s RoundUp pesticide—has been correlated for the development of autism, obesity, gastrointestinal issues, depression, cancer, allergies, Alzheimer’s, infertility, heart disease, and more.[1] And that’s just one toxin with which our body has to cope.

If all that data still doesn’t make intensive cleansing and fasting feel worth the effort, don’t worry…there’s an easier way.

Turn your body into a detoxifying machine

While it’s ideal to set aside time for a conscious and directed detox, you can get most of the job done simply with proper lifestyle design.

The simplest possible practice is to learn about the most dangerous and most insidious environmental toxins, so that you can avoid them. The fewer toxins make it into your body in the first place, the easier your detoxification will be.

Perhaps even more important, though, is the inclusion of detoxifying foods in your diet. Your body is a miraculously designed, self-preserving machine, but it can get bogged down under the weight of our toxic world. Detoxifying foods ensure that it always runs at full capacity, and therefore that it’s able to handle whatever comes its way.

With the help of these foods, the body is able to take care of toxins immediately, so that they’re not allowed to accumulate and cause systemic issues.

So which foods are most detoxifying?

The number of dietary choices available these days can be overwhelming. So, instead of listing a bunch of seemingly unrelated foods, let’s jump into the general principles that can be used as orientation points when planning a detoxifying diet.

First of all, it’s important to remember a clean, simple, and consistently healthy diet is superior to an unhealthy diet with a few detox “superfoods” sprinkled throughout it. When in doubt, just always strive to eat lots of living vegetables and healthy fats and proteins, and to minimize your intake of sugars, grains, and other carbs.

When it comes to prioritizing specific detoxifying foods, it’s helpful to categorize them according to how they aid detoxification within the body. Two of the most easily identified categories are antioxidants and chelators.

Antioxidants protect your body from the oxidizing effects of toxins, which can lead to a proliferation of disease-causing free radicals. We’ve written before about some of the world’s greatest food sources of antioxidants: turmeric, kale and other crucifers, healthy fats like coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, and avocado oil, probiotic sources like kombucha, pomegranate, coriander seed oil, and even CBD, one of the non-psychoactive alkaloids in cannabis.

Chelators help the process of actually removing toxins from the body (antioxidants simply neutralize their harmful effects, rather than removing them). They do so by binding to toxins and heavy metals, which makes it much easier for your body to excrete them safely. Two of the best chelators around are marine algaes called spirulina and chlorella, which are the top sources of chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants).

Lastly, there are some multi-talented foods and compounds that fit into both categories. Raw cacao is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet, and because of its vasodilatory effect, it also helps flush toxins by opening up blood flow throughout the body.

And vitamin C is another miracle worker. It works as an antioxidant in its own right, and also helps the body synthesize glutathione, the most powerful endogenous antioxidant. While it’s not technically a chelator, it optimizes so many of the body’s natural detoxification systems that it deserves to be in this “jack-of-all-trades” category.[2] While it’s fairly easy to get vitamin C from foods, you can supercharge your detoxification and defense systems by supplementing with higher doses—just make sure to take plant-extracted vitamin C rather than synthetic (it’s very difficult for your body to process most synthetic vitamins, and you end up excreting most of them in your urine).

Keeping your system balanced

By eating a clean diet that consistently includes both antioxidants and chelators, you’ll be tapping into the innate intelligence of healing foods. This intelligence allows you to optimize your body’s own cleaning potential, so that you can avoid the “detox, re-tox” cycle that many of us get stuck in.

Unless you live in an extraordinarily unpolluted area that is equally insulated from toxic consumer products, you might still have to undertake a detox regimen from time to time, in order to keep your system in tip-top shape. But awareness of the toxin sources to avoid, coupled with a little dietary discipline, will go a long way in helping you live a healthy and radiant life unhindered by toxins.

 


References

[1] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/09/monsanto-roundup-herbicide.aspx

[2] http://besynchro.com/blogs/blog/9393529-why-detoxing-matters-the-best-simple-detox-strategies

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sneaky_toxin_sources

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world free of manmade toxins? A world in which clean water, pure air, and optimal health is more important than profit margins and short-term schemes?

A world in which everyone holds themselves to the same high standard of accountability? A world in which you can trust that you’re not constantly surrounded by hidden sources of toxins?  

I’d like to think we’re on our way there. Unfortunately, though, that’s just not the way things are at present.

Staying healthy is a full-time job these days—mostly because we always have to be on the lookout for unwitting toxin sources.

Personal care, diet, and fitness obviously play an essential role, but even if you’re playing all your cards right, your health can still suffer considerably because of environmental toxins.

Below, you’ll find a list of unexpected toxin sources to avoid at all costs.

Don’t be overwhelmed; just take action, one step at a time. Start by removing just one toxin source from your life, and build up from there. This process should be empowering, not paranoia-inducing.

Let’s start with the basics…

Processed foods. It’s hard to take three steps in a grocery store without bumping into processed foods. Any product that is even a single step removed from its natural form should be considered processed.

Processed foods are designed to be overstimulating and addictive.[1] Creating such “designer junk foods” destroys nearly all the nutrients its ingredients may have contained. Synthetic vitamins and nutrients are sometimes added after the fact, but these are a poor replacement at best, and toxic at worst.

And to top things off, processed foods are filled with destructive substances like high-fructose corn syrup,[2] preservatives, colorants, artificial flavors, and texturants.

Many chemicals like this that have been deemed “safe” by the FDA in the past were later found to have deleterious effects on the body. The FDA will only ever investigate chemicals that they believe pose a serious danger—so just know that you’re rolling the dice by consuming any of them.

Non-organic produce. Organic products have been all the rage for years now, but because of the high price that they command, it can be tempting to justify the purchase of more affordable, non-organic food.

How bad could it possibly be?

Pretty bad, unfortunately.

Evidence is mounting that the pesticides and other various chemicals that are sprayed on conventional produce are adversely toxic. A widely published study claiming that there is little difference in the healthfulness and safety of organic and non-organic produce is now being harshly criticized and overturned.[3]

And don’t think that you can just wash off these noxious chemicals either—many of them are absorbed by the plant’s internal structures. In the case of GMO foods, toxicity is incorporated into the plant at a genetic level.

Unwashed produce. Even some organic produce is contaminated with pesticides and other toxic chemicals, so be sure to wash everything before eating it.

The most effective method is to submerge your produce completely in room temperature water, and then lightly scrub each item.

Avoiding dietary toxins

This probably isn’t anything you haven’t heard before.

If you’re already avoiding non-organic and processed food, excellent. Here’s some dietary toxin sources with which you may be less familiar, though…

Mycotoxins in wheat and corn. Here’s a shocking statistic of which very few people are aware: a large percentage of the grains available in the U.S. has been exposed to toxic mold (because it’s nearly always stored in commercial silos for long periods of time).[4]

When wheat and corn is exposed to mold, dangerous byproducts called mycotoxins are developed. Even though cooking will normally destroy any mold that’s present, the mycotoxins will remain intact.

Mycotoxins sap your energy, suppress the immune system, interfere with nutrient absorption, and disrupt metabolic and hormonal functioning in the body.[5]

While reducing (or even eliminating) your consumption of wheat and corn can be a difficult task, it’s really the only surefire way to protect yourself from mycotoxins.

And in case you still need some convincing, there’s a whole host of other reasons why you should banish wheat from your diet.

Damaged fats. Fats have gotten a bad rap in the past. Recent dietary fads (like the Paleo Diet) are starting to get the right idea, though—that the right kind of fat is incredibly healthful.

While whole books could be (and have been) written on this subject, here’s the basic gist that you should keep in mind: a fat becomes toxic when it is unstable, and thus becomes damaged and oxidized by the heat of cooking. The fats that are prone to this damage are called unsaturated.

The unsaturated fats that you’ll want to avoid (usually in the form of cooking oils) are as follows: corn oil (which can also contain mycotoxins, as explained above), canola oil, sesame oil, and anything else generically labeled as “vegetable oil.”

Stick with oils that contain lots of saturated fat, like coconut oil, palm oil, butter, and ghee.

Avoiding household toxins

And then there’s the myriad of toxin sources that surround us within our own homes. Here’s some of the biggest offenders, as well as some suggestions for how to neutralize them…

Plasticware. By now, you’re probably aware of the pitfalls of plastic.Even plastic products that are marketed as “non-toxic” are a gamble. Plastic contains many other chemicals besides those that are now considered toxic. Just because a company labels a given chemical as “non-toxic,” it doesn’t mean that future research won’t reveal the contrary.

So play it safe, and use as few plastic products as possible.

If you can’t eliminate plastic entirely, at least minimize your risk by not heating or freezing any plasticware (which accelerates the process of chemical leaching).

Never put plasticware in the dishwasher. Doing so will leach all those nasty chemicals and then redeposit them on all your other dishes!  

Furniture. A staggering percentage of mattresses, couches, and pillows contain flame retardants that have been shown to cause cancer and birth defects.[6]

High levels of these ridiculously toxic chemicals have been detected in people’s blood, which confirms that they easily enter the body when our skin is in contact with these household items, and even when we breathe the dust in our houses.

The process of “detoxifying” your house by replacing all your toxic furniture is certainly a daunting (and expensive) one. Just be aware of these dangers, and take one step at a time to clear your living space.

Start small: at least replace your pillows, then tackle the larger, more expensive pieces of furniture when it’s possible to do so. Isn’t your health worth the time and the cost?

Cleaning supplies. Taking one whiff of most cleaning supplies on the market is enough to confirm that they’re full of toxins. After years of coating our counters and tables, washing our clothes, and “freshening” the air in our house, these toxins accumulate to very dangerous levels.

And don’t believe everything you hear about “green cleaning products” either. Some of the top eco-products on the market still contain chemicals with demonstrable adverse effects.[7]  

Even seemingly inoffensive dryer sheets are bad news. Nearly all of them contain a whole host of terrible chemicals that cause burning skin, respiratory irritation, anxiety attacks, and irritability—like formaldehyde and chloroform, just to name a few that you’ve probably heard of.[8]

So always do your homework before purchasing any cleaning product. Better yet, read this article to learn how to make your own (it’s easy, I promise).

Creating your own sanctuary

Avoiding these toxin sources will have a huge effect on your health.

We may live in a toxin-laden world, but we shouldn’t just sit back and let ourselves be bombarded. Awareness is always the first step. Let the information that’s been presented sink in, and then start to take measures to protect yourself, bit by bit.

 


References  

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22016109

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23594708

[3] http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/120-a458

[4] http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/321551/aer828h_1_.pdf

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12857779

[6] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es303471d

[7] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/simply-green-washing-are-you-using-toxic-cleaner

[8] http://www.lifenatural.com/dangers_of_laundry_dryer_sheets.htm

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The word “chocolate” is derived from the Aztec word chocolātl, which means “food of the gods.” We’ve preserved this phrase in the species name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao (theo means “god” and broma means “food”).

The cacao tree has been one of the planet’s most well-loved plants for ages. Long before the days of Hershey’s and Nestle, chocolate was a commodity valued on par with currency—Spanish traders even called it “black gold.”

The Aztecs hit the nail on the head with this one. While it’s difficult to find anything healing about modern milk chocolate bars, buried beneath all that sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and toxic milk is a superfood of unparalleled potency.

Freed of all the unhealthy additives with which it’s usually combined, cacao is a veritable panacea (especially when synergized with other superfoods—which we’ll talk about later in this article).

The world’s tastiest way to cleanse the body

Chocolate is well-known for its antioxidant capacity. Even processed cacao powder (or dark chocolate over 70%) boasts an impressive antioxidant profile.

  • Cocoa powder is rich in antioxidants. However, it was thought that these molecules were poorly digested and absorbed due to their large size
  • New research revealed that your gut bacteria breaks down and ferments the components in dark chocolate, turning them into anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit your health
  • Beneficial gut microbes including Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria “feasted” on chocolate, creating anti-inflammatory compounds that may reduce inflammation of cardiovascular tissue
  • A wide range of accumulating scientific research has linked chocolate consumption to over 40 distinct health benefits

But the real magic happens with raw, unprocessed cacao—this miraculous powder contains over 300 compounds that enliven, heal, and supercharge the body. It contains up to 86% more antioxidants than processed cacao or dark chocolate, and 20 times the antioxidants of blueberries.[1]

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It’s even packed with protein, an ideal balance of calcium and magnesium, sulfur, carotene, and other health-supporting vitamins and minerals.

All these healing and balancing compounds make raw cacao powerfully anti-inflammatory and immune boosting. It’s been shown to help with joint and muscle pain, decrease the incidence of illness, lower LDL cholesterol, improve heart function, and reduce cancer risk.

And the best part? It makes you feel amazing.

Mother Nature’s perfect feel-good food

There’s nothing better than a food that is amazing for your health and makes you feel awesome. Perhaps this is why the Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gifts of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom.

Chocolate already has a reputation for the blissful mood it can induce, but raw cacao takes things to another level entirely. It contains much higher levels of theobromine, phenethylamine, and anandamide, all of which are easily destroyed by the high-heat processing used to prepare cacao for use in chocolate.  

Theobromine is a cardiovascular stimulant. Unlike caffeine, which taxes the adrenal system and results in a nasty crash, theobromine provides long-lasting, sustainable energy by strengthening the heart, dilating blood vessels, and increasing blood flow.

The result is a warm rush of vitality and well-being that permeates the whole body, and a pleasant mental stimulation that makes the mind as sharp as a tack. These effects (and more) make theobromine an excellent treatment for depression, fatigue, and brain fog.

This sustainable stimulation is improved even more by phenethylamine—which triggers the release of the dopamine, norepinephrine, and feel-food endorphins—and anandamide—which is the chemical responsible for the “runner’s high” (the root word anand means “bliss” in Sanskrit).

And here’s the kicker: the blood flow and metabolism stimulation triggered by these chemicals ensures that all of raw cacao’s healing antioxidants are pushed deep into the body’s tissues and absorbed optimally. Keeping your body and mind in tip-top shape has never felt so good.

But here’s the one catch: finding the right source of raw cacao can be tricky.     

Finding the ideal source of raw cacao

You won’t get all of the benefits listed above just by chowing down on chocolate. Most commercial chocolate products are chocked full of sugar and other health-sapping additives, and they very rarely use raw, unprocessed cacao.

You even need to be careful with raw cacao powder. Large plantations leave cacao beans fermenting outside for days, during which time they can pick up toxic molds that end up contaminating their final product.

Only select micro-plantations take the necessary precautions by fermenting their high-quality cacao beans in a clean, indoor environment.

You’ll never look at chocolate the same way again…and you’ll come to understand just how accurate the phrase “food of the gods” really is.


References

[1] http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cacao.html

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