From toothpaste to scented candles, toxic materials are seemingly everywhere. They make plastics more durable. They prolong the life of your favorite shampoo. They make your woodsy cologne smell like a forest full of leather-wrapped pine trees and your coconut body butter smell like, well, coconuts.
Given their ubiquity, it's virtually impossible to avoid toxic materials altogether. In the meantime, your best defense against toxins is to minimize your exposure and maximize your body's natural defenses with detoxifying foods.
How Toxins Enter Your Body
An environmental toxin is any substance causing harm to your body, whether it be minimal damage or to the max. Some toxins are naturally occurring, like those found in certain types of mushrooms, berries, or other plants.
Other toxins are chemical or synthetic substances. For example, the granite cleaner you use to make your kitchen countertops sparkle may include toxins. Many of the items in your medicine cabinet, makeup bag, and shower likely contain hard-to-pronounce, lab-created ingredients, too. And, as we get these on our hands and our foods, they enter our bodies. Yikes!
No matter what type of toxin we're talking about, there are three routes that noxious substance can take to enter your body:
- Ingestion (e.g., noshing on poisonous berries)
- Inhalation (e.g., breathing in fumes from your granite cleaner)
- Direct contact (e.g., slathering your skin with body butter)
So...What Are You Going to do About It?
First, reduce the number of toxic substances you play around with. Swap out chemical-packed skincare, hair care, and cosmetic products for ones to help you look and feel your best using clean ingredients. Can't part with your favorite conditioner? Start by finding alternatives to any products that you work directly into your skin, such as lotions and serums.
It can be pretty hard to go completely chemical-free. But the more toxins you cut from your morning routine, your cleaning regimen, diet, and so on, the lower your risk of adverse reactions. If you can't eliminate a toxin, try to reduce the length of your exposure.
Once you limit your vulnerabilities, your follow-up move should fortify your body's natural detoxification process. That's right: Your body's basically a big, self-cleaning oven fueled by detoxifying foods.
Not sure how to find out what’s in your beauty products? Check out these trusted resources for identifying the dirtiest — and cleanest — beauty and skincare products on the market.
Download the Think Dirty app from the Google Play and Apple App stores. Beauty consumers have used this well-known app to break down ingredient lists for more than a decade.
While the US FDA has only banned 11 chemicals for use in cosmetics and foods, the European Union has banned more than 1300, check to see if your products are EU approved here.1
What is Your Body's Natural Detoxification Process?
Your body relies on six organs/systems for detoxification. You might think of them as the Avengers — if the Avengers specialized in eradicating heavy metals or filtering human blood instead of thwarting intergalactic terrorists. The cleaning crew includes:
- Your liver, which filters your blood and crushes toxins found in food, medicine, and overactive hormones, all while also directing vitamins, minerals, and waste throughout the rest of your body like a cleansing traffic cop
- Your kidneys, which also filter toxins from your blood and jettison bacteria and chemicals
- Your skin, which both serves as your body's bouncer, denying entry to an assortment of toxins and sweats out heavy metals, phthalates, and BPA
- Your lymphatic system, which whisks waste away from your tissues and gives toxic guests the boot
- Your gastrointestinal system, which reroutes toxic materials to your small intestine so they can be eliminated once and for all
- Your respiratory tract, which bids toxins adieu via breath and phlegm
Each of these six organs or systems performs a vital job for your overall health. Still, they're even stronger when working together.
How Plant Based Foods Can Contribute
Your body may be mighty, but that doesn't mean it can't use an assist every now and then. One of the best ways to boost your body's natural detoxification process is by chowing down on a diet rich in fruits and veggies. Check out this quick rundown of 10 all-star detoxifying foods and what they can do to help you live leaner and cleaner.
Leafy Green Veggies
- Reduce inflammation
- Guard against cancer
- Protect against the effects of air pollution
- Stops carcinogens from swinging into action
- Safeguards your DNA
- Turbocharges the detox process as a whole
- Support cancer-fighting cells
- Contain plenty of antioxidants
- Enhances the production of detoxifying enzymes
- May help prevent some forms of cancer
- Improve liver function
- Stabilize blood pressure
- Inhibit stress-related damage to your body
- Aids digestion
- Eases the waste-elimination process
- Helps your body give the ol’ heave-ho to lead, mercury and other toxins
- Uses pectin to remove toxic matter from the blood
- Zaps liver toxins
- Contains detoxifying enzymes that help the liver do its job
- Improves your overall wellbeing thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral properties (amongst several others)
- Basically the Iron Man of detoxifying foods and spices
Eat, Drink and Shop Smarter
Toxins aren’t a 21st-century development — some historians speculate that lead pipes helped bring down the Roman Empire! — but they’re popping up in more products than ever before. Reduce your risk of an unhealthy reaction by limiting your exposure to chemicals and filling up your plate with plant-based foods and beverages that will bolster your body’s natural detoxification process.