Today’s modern world is run on toxicity overload. It’s not just our food that we produce in noxious ways and consume in intemperance. We have created and use technology such as computers, vehicles and even lighting to the point of diminishing returns. Any thing in excess eventually will drain us.
Extra fat on the body can drain our ability to think and even our willpower – all the while, our natural beauty lies dormant underneath layers of fat and inflammation. Detoxifying needs to be a lifestyle if we want to stay energized and beautified.
Foods To Limit: Making Room For Success
You may notice I didn’t say eliminate, which may relieve you. That is because elimination never works. There is a concept of having and not having. When we do things – such as diet – we are attempting to cut off from certain foods, or not have them. When we try to not have something, we always end up unfulfilled – hence the physical hunger that always lurks while dieting.
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Instead, I advise that you limit these foods – you can still have them. Do not make them forbidden; otherwise, they will have a strong hold on you mentally and emotionally. Anything we make forbidden and secretive becomes very important, making us want it more.
What we will focus on later in the article are the foods we can have and want to have. When we focus on these, we are more fulfilled on all levels, especially hunger-wise. If this sounds weird to you, consider a time you did something you wanted and felt unfulfilled afterwards. Did you make the choice for gaining something enjoyable or against something unpleasant?
If you’re detoxing because you hate your body, then you will likely struggle and feel restricted. However, if you are detoxifying for more energy, beauty and personal growth, then the experience will be much more fun and enjoyable.
That being said, the real secret to high-quality health is learning to effectively limit or eliminate what is decreasing your health. Over the next two weeks – as spring blooms – aim to reduce and eliminate these toxins, which are the main culprits of inflammation, brain fog and overall beauty and energy drainers:
These are a type of protein that attaches itself to the sugars that line your cells. They are commonly known inflammatory triggers in the Paleo community. If you don’t already know, inflammation is at the root of all disease; therefore, removing inflammatory foods is a wise choice for staying healthy. When lectins attach themselves to the sugars in your cells, they disrupt the small intestine metabolism and damage the gut lining. This leads to issues like leaky gut.
Not all lectins are created equally. There are thousands of them and they are part of most life forms – most food. Not all of them are toxic or cause gut issues and inflammation. Specific lectins cause gut irritation, joint problems and lead to bacterial overgrowth. Also known as antinutrients; lectins are found most abundantly in nuts, grains, and legumes (beans). The trick is to limit or remove these foods, not all lectins. If you absolutely must consume these foods then reduce the overall lectin load by soaking and sprouting your nuts/seeds, grains, and legumes, and be sure to slow-cook them for longer durations on low heat. Both sprouting and heating reduce the lectin load.
These enzyme inhibitors are found in plants as a natural defense mechanized to avoid being eaten by insects and animals. They function by binding to nutritional minerals such as zinc, iron magnesium, and calcium. This works in a clever way, as us humans and animals need these minerals to be healthy. By binding to the minerals, we get very little nutrition from phytate-rich plants. Therefore, if we eat too many phytates we eventually run low on these crucial minerals and will become ill. Eventually we’re left with the ultimatum of eating them and staying sick or scratching them off our menu. What clever sons of the Sun these plants are.
Like everything else, phytates have their benefit too. They are actually antioxidants, which help prevent other molecules in our body from becoming damaged. The trick for optimal health through the consumption of phytates is the same, balance. Cooking and sprouting help but some phytates foods are not supposed to be eaten by humans, such as grass. That is because we have different gut bacteria than other species like cows, which have two stomachs and plenty of phytate-digesting bacteria in their guts to get the nutrition from these foods. This is why it’s best for us avoid directly eating these foods and instead, consume the grass-fed, pastured animals that do. In this way, we will get the benefits of the phytates-rich foods without the toxins, inflammation and gut issues.
Yet another antinutrient, oxalic acid forms in plants to protect them from predation, similar to the function phytates serve. They are found most abundantly in raw cruciferous vegetables such as kale, chard, spinach and broccoli. They are also found in buckwheat, black pepper, parsley, poppy seeds, amaranth, beets (especially green tops), chocolate (don’t worry), nuts, beans, and most berries. I know that is quite the list, I promise there are still foods you can eat. Oxalates are most commonly known to cause joint and muscle pain. When consumed, they bind to calcium in the blood and form tiny, sharp crystals. If oxalates form in the labia, they can even cause painful vaginal sex for women.
To get around these disastrous affects of oxalates, it’s best to soak and sprout your foods using acid such as apple cider vinegar or lemon. Steam and cook your cruciferous veggies such as kale, and be sure to discard the water. Even better would be to ferment these foods (sprouting is a form of fermentation). If you’re eating a raw food diet I especially suggest fermenting these foods. This process maintains the enzymes that cooking destroys while making them easier to digest – like cooking does – and actually increasing the nutrient load. If you haven’t tried fermentation then check out the article I wrote previously here.
4. Mold Toxins
The final major class of toxins in most of our diets is the mold. Also known as mycotoxins. Most people look fragmentally at the caloric value of their foods not thinking twice about the hidden molds in their foods – silently wreaking havoc on their health. It could be because they are particularly hard to identify, as they are invisible and most food doesn’t come with a fancy label indicating the mold content. Molds damage the body slowly over time, and the more you eat, the more harm they do. If you’ve never had an experience with mold exposure then you likely think I am crazy.
Personally, growing up with a weak immune system living in very harsh environments I became increasingly sensitive to environments. To this day I can intuitively and physically feel when an environment is toxic. My energy dips, my breathing becomes shallow and I become incredibly fatigued. It takes no more than walking outside of a damp building into fresh air to notice a dramatic difference. I visit Chicago often for work and I am still amazed at how much my energy and attitude changes when I return to the woodsy fresh air in Michigan after a day in the windy city. In addition to moldy environments like subway stations, basements and other damp oxygen-depleted areas, there are foods that contain high levels of mold. At the top of that list are coffee, milk, soy, wheat, corn, peanuts, fruit, cashews and cacao beans. Basically, any mass-produced crop where the products are sitting for long periods of time in damp factories and bins before consumption.
Getting around mold toxins is tricky and not as clear-cut as the other common toxins. That is because it’s hard to see the difference in one batch compared to another – unless of course there is visible mold growing. For example, one bag of nuts may be perfectly fine while the next contain enough mold to make you faint, even if you can’t taste it! For starters, eliminating these common moldy foods is wise. From there, choosing quality foods from here on out is key – go first class with all you put in your body.
Food and Lifestyle Hacks: Out With The Bad, In With The Good
By eliminating the aforementioned toxins from our lives, we will immediately begin to feel better. Magical things happen when we remove the things that diminish the quality of our lives – we have room for doing what matters most. You see, life works in very specific ways. Time fills space for time allotted. In other words, we can fill our stomachs (and lives) with whatever crap we put there. However, we can only eat so much. Therefore, a quality life intrinsically comes down to making quality choices.
Now that you’re working to detoxify the bad out of your life, here are a few smart choices to start making over the next few weeks to balance your body, heal and help rebuild a new you:
1. Eat more fat
If you’re new to the Paleo community then this might come as a shocker. If not, then this is nothing new. For my new friends, allow me to melt away your dietary dogmas briefly. I’ll start with a question, “how is your thyroid?” or better yet, “how is your energy?” If your energy levels are anything less than great, then you might be one of the 80% that has gone undiagnosed with low thyroid. Our world is filled with stressed-out people eating all the wrong foods. As a result, people have thyroid problems and other hormone-related issues.
(Related: The Facts About Fat)
Did you know that saturated fat and cholesterol are the building blocks for all of our hormones? Whether you are overweight, tired, fatigued or just plain stressed out, you likely could use some hormonal help. Foods high in saturated fats are key for rebuilding your energy. This is huge because health is, at the most fundamental level, energy. Without energy, the body won’t detoxify or heal. One of the most important steps in regaining health is regaining energy. While detoxing, be sure to add healthy sources of saturated fat to improve your metabolism, boost your energy, and aid the body in cleansing. Good sources are avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, and kefir (preferably raw), as well as meat and organs from pastured animals.
2. Ferment your foods
At first, you may want to eliminate fermented foods as they are higher in histamine and can trigger allergic reactions and influence neurotransmitters that cause headaches. However, not all fermented foods are created equally. Raw fermented foods have a much different effect on the body compared to, for example, soy sauce, commercial yogurt or beer. The ingredients matter, as well as the process. Again, reference my earlier article for tips on fermentation. That being said, properly fermented foods are the staple of any good detox regime or diet. Our gut biodome is truly the center of our health. The functions our gut bacteria (probiotics) serve range from influencing hormones, aiding the liver in detoxification, keeping us thin, and digesting our food. At their core, healthy people have much different gut bacteria than sick people. Probiotics have become a popular topic but before you run out to get a bottle of pills consider this tip. The bacteria that make us sick or healthy can’t be bought in pill form, they are simply too complicated of a species. Maybe in the future, but I don’t know if humankind will ever outsmart nature.
(Related: 7 Signs Your Gut Bacteria Are Out of Whack)
The good news is that we can alter our gut bacteria with the food we eat. Foods rich in polyphenols serve as food for healthy gut bacteria. They are found in brightly-colored vegetables and even more abundantly in fermented colored vegetables such as raw sauerkraut. Two other fermented foods that contain a lot of polyphenols are coffee and chocolate! See, I told you not to worry! There is one kicker, though: when choosing chocolate and coffee, it’s fundamentally important to go for top quality. My favorite sources are Bulletproof Coffee and Organic Cacao. Both are carefully inspected to be free of molds and mycotoxins. Not to mention, they taste amazing. Adding these fermented foods to your diet will do wonders for turning your body into a detoxification machine.
3. Support the liver
All pain is broken communication. If there’s pain in the body, there is broken communication in that area from the rest of the body. Consider a broken bone as a simple example. If you break the bone in your arm, there will be intense physical pain. The nerve endings are no longer communicating with the body and sending pain as a signal or red alert. If you want to enhance your body’s function and ability to detox, you have to clear up the communication system in your body. One way of doing this is by aiding the liver – one of the main detoxification organs of the body and central control units. When bile is produced by the liver and passed onto the gallbladder it signals the body to detox. Bile helps break down and absorb fats; therefore, the amount of healthy bile your liver can produce is of major concern in weight loss and detoxification. Most toxins are stored in fat and the function of bile is to break down those fats and stored toxins. Once broken down they can be bound to antioxidants and detoxifying agents in the digestive tract.
If the liver is burdened there won’t be sufficient bile to bind to and excrete toxins, which leads to toxicity in the body. The liver detoxifies in two stages. One way to aid the liver in detoxification is by consuming healthy fat. When consuming fat, the liver is signaled to produce more bile, which helps eliminate more toxins. Think of this like changing the oil of your car. Other ways to aid the liver are by consuming bitter foods such as ginger, turmeric, lime, lemon, burdock, and dandelion. Fermented foods are also great liver-aiding agents. Things that wreak havoc on the liver and should be avoided are lack of sleep, anger, processed food, excessive fructose consumption, drugs, alcohol, excessive caffeine, pasteurized dairy, and excessive protein consumption – basically, any sort of toxic or obsessive behavior in excess can put too much of a burden on the liver.
Remember, your organs are constantly working to cleanse all the substances we take in. Our bodies serve us constantly and take us through this journey of life. As my mentor says, “clear body, clear mind.” I would like to add, “clear mind, clear life” – taking care of our bodies and treating them with care through optimal, loving lifestyle choices is one of the first steps toward creating a charmed life.