Tag Archives: Toxins

Detox For The Holidays Made Safe and Simple

1369381414_83633With the holiday season right around the corner, there is no better time than the present to fortify our diet and cement healthy eating.  Ironically, while healthy eating is our birthright, for many of us it seems like taking the plunge into eating a whole foods-based diet is the equivalent to traveling to some distant land.  But it doesn’t have to be such a scary or foreign experience.

In my work as a functional medicine doctor, my priority is to guide each patient through a safe, simple, realistic, and  pleasurable transition into healthy eating. Because whole foods-based diets remove all the sugary, fatty, chemical-laden, artificial stuff from the diet, they sometimes get called a detox or a cleanse.

Why is detoxification important?

When our bodies become toxic it means that our natural method of ushering out metabolic waste from normal human metabolism, environmental pollution, and what has become known as the Standard American Diet (or SAD) has exceeded the threshold for what the body’s innate detoxification system can tolerate.  With this toxic load, every system in the human body can become affected.  From our head to our toes and everything in between, toxicity makes us sick!

How do you know if you are toxic and need to properly cleanse?

Usually a constellation of complaints help to determine whether or not you are toxic and to what extent you need to cleanse.  Some examples of what might indicate a toxic system are:

  • constipation
  • persistent headaches, muscle aches, and muscle fatigue
  • inclusion of large amounts of swordfish, tuna, shark, etc. into diet
  • mercury fillings and dental amalgams
  • food allergies
  • stubborn weight loss
  • hormonal imbalances and consistent use of hormone replacement such as “the pill” or progesterone cream
  • consistent use of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • skin abnormalities such as acne, rosacea, or eczema
  • a lifetime of consuming the SAD diet

To find out if you are toxic, take a look at The UltraSimple Diet.

How long should you stay on a cleanse? 

Typical cleanses that harness our body’s natural processes for filtering and removing waste tend to be gentle and can therefore  be tolerated for longer periods of time than more extreme protocols.  A safe cleanse is one which doesn’t make you starve yourself or take fancy pills, potions, or expensive drinks.

Safety means allowing the body to do what it wants to do naturally, with a little assistance from some guided healthy eating, appropriate supplements, and relevant lifestyle modifications.  I usually have my patients do a cleanse for 7 days to 6 weeks, or even longer, depending on their particular needs.  Work with a trained medical provider to help determine what length of time is right for you.

How to prepare for a cleanse?

Like we would plan for any big trip to a new destination, we need to prepare, plan, and set out some main goals for our journey.  And by the way, as in all travels, it’s always a good idea to leave some room for the serendipitous excursions to occur.  When handled properly, they can be the best part of a trip!  So how can we plan for a safe and simple detoxification protocol?

  1. Take some basic measurements before you begin to track your progress as you go through your program.  For example, if weight loss is your goal, measure your waist, hips, and record your weight.  If, migraines are an issue, determine the duration, intensity and frequency.  Keep a journal; this will help you in more ways than one!
  2. Make lists!  Organize your pantry, toss out the junk, gather recipes, sketch out weekly menus, make shopping lists for healthy foods you will be eating and formulate a cooking schedule to ensure you allot time to prepare food for the week.
  3. Use journaling as a way to “cleanse” your inner world and relieve yourself of mental and emotional stress.
  4. Gather any supplements you need to take that have been advised for you by your medical provider.
  5. Think about the kind of exercise that will best complement your end goal and plan for it in your schedule.
  6. Detoxification requires you to slow down.  Make sure you fit time for deep relaxation into your plan.
  7. Often, unsavory side effects appear in the initial phase of a cleanse.  Two side effects to look for and keep track of in your journal are:
  • Constipation.  Move those bowels!  Drink plenty of purified water.  Try warm water with lemon first thing in the morning.  Often, taking 300 mg of magnesium citrate is helpful or try an Epsom salt bath.
  • Food allergies or sensitivities.  These can be obvious or obscure.  But chances are, as your body lets go of toxic waste, it will be easier to recognize a hidden reaction to gluten, dairy, soy or any of the other common food allergies.

Common symptoms the first few days of withdrawal from a toxic lifestyle and the SAD (Standard American Diet)

The following symptoms are very common at the beginning of the program and should dissipate within the first few days. Don’t worry, these symptoms are indicative that your body is eliminating toxins and are a good sign!

  • bad breath
  • constipation
  • achy, flu-like feeling
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • hunger
  • irritability
  • itchy skin
  • nausea
  • offensive body odor
  • sleep difficulties (too much or too little)

These symptoms can occur for a number of reasons. First, eliminating food allergies and un-junking the diet causes reactions similar to withdrawal from other addictive substances like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, or heroin. Note: We are often most addicted to the foods we are allergic to! Getting off those allergens can cause a brief, flu-like achy syndrome that may last one to three days. Second, toxins in our digestive tract may make us feel ill if we don’t eliminate them. The best way to get relief from these symptoms is to follow the recommendations below.

How to avoid withdrawal symptoms

Initially, those who consume the most caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, and those who have the most food allergies, will have the most difficulty. Symptoms usually disappear after three to four days. It is best to slowly reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, white flour, and over-the-counter medications (except as directed by your physician) a week or two before you start your program.

  1. Drink at least six to eight glasses of filtered water daily.  Stay away from plastic bottles; glass bottles are okay.
  2. To prevent headaches, make sure your bowels are clean.
  3. Fatigue is normal during a cleanse so allow more time for rest and sleep. To boost energy, exercise for 30 minutes a day.  Walking outside in fresh air is best.  Roll up those sleeves and let the sun hit you with some vitamin D!
  4. Take 1,000 mg buffered vitamin C with breakfast and dinner.  Take 300 mg magnesium citrate at dinner.
  5. Don’t wait until you are starving to eat!  Balance your blood sugar by eating protein-based meals and snacks every three to four hours.  Excellent sources of protein are baked or broiled fish, lean poultry, and legumes such as edamame or black beans.
  6. Heat is a great resource while cleansing as it helps draw out toxins from within.  Try a sauna or a warm bath with Epsom salts for 20 minutes a few times per week.
  7. While safe, these types of cleanses can still be stressful on the body and mind so remember to relax.  Actively engaging your parasympathetic nervous system helps restore your energy which your body needs to replenish itself.  Meditation, deep breathing, or any calming activity is good.
  8. Eliminate all refined sugars, flours, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, or addictive substances.  By allowing certain triggers to stay in the diet the body stays on the vicious cycle of cravings and addictive behavior.  Reset your biology to eliminate all triggers.
  9. Keep a journal and track your symptoms.  You should feel better in three to seven days.  If you do not feel well at this point, please exercise caution and check in with your doctor.
  10. Tune in to your body and listen to the cues it provides.  A cleanse is a great journey to learn more about understanding how to operate your very own owner’s manual!

Originally posted on my site, DrHyman.com

Tips to Avoid Harmful Chemicals and Make Your Home a Healing Space

Δ†In the naturopathic profession, often one of the first challenges a doctor will tackle in working with a new patient is to determine and remove the “barriers to cure” – things that are interfering with the body’s ability to heal. In the past, I’ve written about treatments for common barriers to cure such as insufficient sleep, food sensitivities and seasonal allergies. I’ve learned through many patient experiences that no matter how amazing a medical treatment or how hard I work, a patient will be hard-pressed to truly heal as long as barriers stand in the way.

Often, some of the toughest barriers to remove are allergens and irritants in the home.  Chemical usage in home products has skyrocketed in the past few decades. Everything from laundry detergent to stain-resistant carpets, air-freshener sprays and synthetic-fiber bedding is a source of chemicals that put stress on our livers and immune systems. If you’re not aware of what I’m talking about, here’s a touching video from Healthy Child Healthy World that puts this issue into focus, especially as it impacts children (who are even more susceptible to the negative impacts of these chemicals than most adults).

My mother happens to be a Seattle-based interior designer with a fluency in eco-design and hypo-allergenic products for the home. While visiting her recently, I took some time to ask her for resources and tips she could share for those of us who are looking for ways to create a healthier home environment. The following are highlights from our conversation:

Q: What kinds of materials and treated fabrics are best to avoid in order to minimize chemical exposure?

A: Ideally, avoid anything synthetic. Synthetic materials, such as polyesters and acrylics, contain chemicals that can be harmful.  In addition to the material itself, these types of products are often treated with other chemicals to make them stain-resistant or otherwise “low-maintenance”. Unfortunately, buying convenience can also mean having to live with toxins that can be harmful to health. Terms like “easy care”, “water-repellant”, “no iron”, “anti-cling”, “static-free” and “flame retardant” are all signs that the product may be treated with harmful chemicals.

Q: What are some of the healthiest and least allergenic fibers to look for when choosing fabrics and floor coverings for a home?

A: The easiest rule of thumb is to stick with natural fibers. Linen, hemp, ramie, and abaca are all natural fibers that are hypo-allergenic and tend to be free from additional chemical treatments. When possible, look for organic textiles, not just organically grown materials, but products that are processed using organic-compliant compounds. Sometime a material will be organic, but then it’s processed with a harsh, non-organic dye and that can defeat the health benefits of sourcing the original organic material.

Q: In general terms, how to you suggest approaching the design of an eco-friendly and hypo-allergenic space?

A: Keep the space free of clutter where dust and allergens can accumulate. Opt for wood or tile floors and avoid carpet. Use natural fibers for window coverings, like wood-based plantation shutters instead of heavy fabric curtains. Optimize air circulation by strategically placing doors and windows to optimize air flow and utilize the air-filtering mechanisms of plants to improve air quality.

Q: Are there certain products, brands and resources you can suggest for people who are looking for products or just want more information on how to make smart choices when it comes to creating a health-promoting space?

A: The following are all great resources to check out:

  • O Ecotextiles is a Seattle-based textile company that creates luxurious fabrics that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable. Not only do I love their products, but they are leading experts on this topic and their website has an incredible amount of information for how to make smart choices for the home.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful chemicals often found in paint and other home-based textiles. This site does a great job of explaining the dangers of VOCs, what products typically contain them and how they can be avoided.
  • Unique Carpets, Ltd. sells eco-friendly floor coverings made from natural fibers that are treated in an environmentally-safe way. If you are looking for floor coverings to soften a space, this brand is a great option to check out.

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A Heavy Metal Detox Juice for Your Next Cleanse

heavy-metal-detox-juice-768x1024Heavy Metal Detox Juice. What? And, no, I don’t mean like the music. Heavy metals, like mercury and lead, can accumulate in your system and cause all kinds of problems. You get them from the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. You can’t avoid them. The problem is that they build up in your system and your body can have a hard time getting rid of them. Heavy metals have been implicated in hormonal imbalances, thyroid problems, neurological disturbances, learning problems, depression and food allergies.

Cilantro –  it’s also called Chinese Parsley, and, when dried, coriander – is a powerful natural chelator. Studies have shown that if you consistently eat small amounts of cilantro, you can reduce the heavy metal load in your system. You can do this in any way you want. Cilantro can be used in a multitude of foods from soups and stews to guacamole or Coconut Chicken with Lime and Cilantro.

One of my ways is to add some cilantro to this Heavy Metal Detox Juice.

heavy-metal-detox-juice-above-1024x768

Ingredients:

  • romaine lettuce – 1 bunch
  • celery – 4 stalks
  • parsley – 1 cup
  • cilantro – 1 cup
  • apple – 1/2 (optional)

Instructions:

Wash your greens thoroughly.

Put them through the juicer.
Drink.

If you find the juice too strong, add 1/2 an apple. That will take the edge off.

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

The Healing Powers of Burgers and Fried Chicken

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 4.10.30 PMCan burgers and fried chicken really be good for you? Yes. But not the Five Guys killer burger—not that kind. It’s burgers and chicken you cook yourself. And why do you need to cook them yourself? Here’s why.

Eating out can kill you, especially if you eat fast food or the addictive processed sugar and fats typically packed into almost every food that is made in a factory. The average American eats 29 pounds of French fries, 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream and consumes 53 gallons of soda, 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners, 2,736 grams of salt, and 90,700 milligrams of caffeine per year. Do we really think we can create health in that toxic food environment?

A young New Zealand woman with eight children recently died after consuming 2.2 gallons of Coke per day, which, by the way, contains two pounds of sugar and 900 milligrams of caffeine (enough to give an elephant palpitations).

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a study that showed life expectancy declining among women in America, especially in the South (the area with the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country). The authors of the study were quoted as being surprised by this data. One Harvard researcher said that trying to figure out why “is the hot topic right now, trying to understand what’s going on.”

Really? Life expectancy drops as obesity, diabetes, and the consumption of junk food, fast food, and sugar soars, and researchers fail to see the connection? It’s not rocket science. And yet, Harvard scientists are perplexed, and the National Institutes of Health spend $800 million each year studying the cause of obesity.

The cause of obesity is complex, to be sure—increased stress, environmental toxins, our sedentary lifestyle, and our sleeplessness as a nation all play a role. But the elephant in the room here is our toxic industrial food supply, specifically sugar. To paraphrase President Clinton, “It’s the food, stupid.”

I just returned from China where they are experiencing the same chronic diseases and obesity we find in the West because, on every corner, at every turn, our industrial food culture has permeated their world—KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, Coke, Pepsi are everywhere. Today, China has the most type 2 diabetics in the world. Yes, they have more people, but their diabetes rate is about the same as that of the United States: about 10 percent. Thirty years ago, I traveled to China and saw only one overweight woman, and she was riding a bicycle. In 30 years, the rate of diabetes there has gone from one in 150 to one in 10, and now, one in five people above the age of 60 in China are diabetic—and 60 percent are not even diagnosed. Obesity and diabetes are rampant there, increasing at a far faster rate than in the United States, and this shift can be tied directly to how fully they have embraced our processed, industrial, high-sugar diet.

I am the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and we were asked by the Chinese to come and teach their physicians how to deal with lifestyle-related chronic disease. A group of us went to show them how to return to their traditional ways of using food as medicine.

It’s sad that a country in which food has long been considered medicine—with specific care taken to include special foods with healing properties at every meal—would need to relearn this knowledge. In fact, the word for “take your medicine” in Chinese is “chi yao,” which means, “eat your medicine.” We went to a special restaurant where everything on the menu was chosen for its medicinal properties, including all sorts of exotic fungus and plants and animals like sea cucumbers.

But we don’t need to eat funny-looking plants and animals with weird textures and tastes to eat our medicine. In fact, we can start with burgers and fried chicken.

I recently did a segment on The Dr. Oz Show during which I demonstrated how to use food as medicine, cooking recipes from my new cookbook, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. I carefully selected healing, medicinal, blood sugar-balancing ingredients, disguising them as our favorite foods.

It might surprise you that burgers and fried chicken can be healthy, but keep in mind, my versions of those foods have stealth healing properties. All the recipes in my cookbook contain medicinal foods. They are medicine, but they don’t taste like medicine, because at the end of the day, if they did, no one would eat them. But they are made from real, whole, fresh food cooked from scratch, and they taste amazing. To help you truly understand how food is medicine (not just like medicine but actually real medicine), I have analyzed two recipes from my cookbook that we demonstrated on The Dr. Oz Show.

Sweet Potato Burgers (on page 114 of the cookbook)

Here are the ingredients, along with information on how each affects your health and your biology:

  • Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids, which is reflected in their orange color. Their phytonutrient properties help with weight loss by increasing adiponectin, a fat-reducing, insulin-balancing, anti-diabetes hormone made by your fat cells.
  • EVOO, also known as extra virgin olive oil, is a phytonutrient superfood. It contains oleic acid and dozens of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory polyphenol compounds that lower blood pressure and promote health. They also contain good monounsaturated fats.
  • White beans contain good plant proteins, fiber, and magnesium. The fiber helps lower your blood sugar.
  • Curry contains turmeric and other anti-inflammatory spices. Obesity and diabetes are inflammatory conditions. Turmeric is nature’s ibuprofen. It also prevents cancer and dementia (both related to diabesity).
  • Almond flour contains protein, fiber, magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fats. It helps lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, prevents diabetes, and promotes weight loss. People who ate more almonds have been shown to reduce their risk of diabetes significantly.
  • Avocado contains phytosterols, which are fats that lower cholesterol. They also contain omega-3 fats (ALA), as well as carotenoids, selenium, and zinc. Avocado has eight grams of fiber in one cup and is very low in carbs. The fats in an avocado help you absorb all fat-soluble antioxidants, just like the carotenoids in the sweet potato do. Avocado also contains these special seven-carbon carbohydrates that help to lower blood sugar.
  • Tahini is made from sesame seeds, which contain a special fiber called lignan (seamolin and sesamin) that lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. It is very high in magnesium and calcium, containing over 30 percent of your daily needs in just one quarter of a cup. It is the best source of dietary calcium (far better than milk).
  • Lemon zest contains limonene, which boosts liver detoxification, and the lemon juice contains anti-cancer bioflavonoids.
  • Garlic contains 1,2-DT (1,2-vinyldithiin), which is an anti-inflammatory sulfur compound that can inhibit the number of fats cells that form in our body. And it can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and is a natural antibiotic.

Not bad for a burger!

The next recipe is fried chicken. I call it “unfried” chicken. Click here to check it out!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

3 Easy Ways to Green Your Health for Summer

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 12.39.58 PMIf you’re like most people, a little voice inside your head has probably been telling you for a while that it’s time to get back to a more natural way of living and take a more serious look at the toxins in your everyday life. Even so, you may feel confused about the simple, practical things you can do to minimize your exposure and maximize not only your health, but your contribution to a cleaner planet.

What if I told you that making small, simple changes in your everyday routine could make a huge impact on your health and well-being, as well as the health of our planet?

Studies are coming out frequently about how everyday chemicals in our bodies are resulting in health problems like learning disabilities, autism, cancer and infertility. Often, the impact chemicals have doesn’t show up for decades, like with tobacco, for example. What is also unclear is what happens inside our bodies when we come into contact with different chemicals from lots of different sources. What are the risks for us and our children? Don’t wait to find out! You can do something today, right in your own home. Become aware of what goes IN you, what goes ON you, and what SURROUNDS you.

IN You: Your drinking water

If you think the water coming out of your tap is clean and health-giving … you’d be mistaken. In 2008, an investigation by the Associated Press showed that America’s tap water is contaminated with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including antibiotics, pain medications, antidepressants and sex hormones “in significant quantities.” Scientists are concerned that, even in small concentrations, these drugs could harm us over time because water is consumed in such large amounts every day. Our bodies may be able to deal with a big one-time dose of a chemical, but if a small amount is consumed continuously over years … no one really knows what can happen to our health.

Green Tip #1:
Play it safe: Buy a water filter and fill up your own reusable metal or glass water bottles at home. Get off plastic bottles. 8 out of 10 plastic water bottles used in the U.S. become garbage or end up in a landfill, contributing to global warming.

(To check your local water quality, go to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s site at www.nrdc.org and then go to “What’s on Tap”? You should be able to access your community’s Annual Quality Report, or you can ask your water utility company for a copy of its annual water quality report.)

ON You: Your personal care products

Most of us use at least 10 cosmetic and personal care products a day and according to the Environmental Working Group, people apply an average of 126 unique ingredients to their skin daily. No one really knows what happens in our bodies when we repeatedly expose ourselves to minute amounts of synthetic chemicals from a variety sources. Another way to absorb chemicals in our personal care products is through the mouth. When a drug like nitroglycerine is administered for a heart condition, it is given under the tongue for fast absorption. So are natural homeopathic remedies. So what happens with your toothpaste?

Green Tip #2:
Switch one thing you use most often in your bathroom. Your toothpaste, for example.
Chemicals like fluoride, saccharin, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan and acetylpyridium chloride are in there. Switch to a natural brand that doesn’t contain these chemicals.

SURROUNDS You: Your household cleaners

If you’ve ever walked down the household-cleanser aisle at the market and your eyes began to burn or your nose became irritated, it’s because common cleaning products contain chemicals that can be more dangerous than the germs themselves. Every time your children roll around on the carpet or your pets lick crumbs off the floor, they are being exposed to noxious chemicals. Don’t make the assumption that if it’s on the grocery shelf it’s been tested and is safe. Most of us, unwittingly, buy products for our home with ingredients that are either poorly studied, not studied at all, or are known to pose potentially serious health risks. Of the roughly 17,000 chemicals found in common household products, only 3 in 10 have been tested for their effects on human health. Why? Because the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require manufacturers to test household cleaning products before they appear on store shelves.

Green Tip #3:
Use hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and baking soda to clean your home. Fill one spray bottle with a 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide and a second one with vinegar. Spray one right after the other. Use it to wipe kill salmonella and bacteria on counter tops, appliances, and cutting boards. Do the same for the shower to kill bacteria and viruses. Use baking soda instead of commercial abrasive cleaners. Put it in a grated cheese container made of glass with a stainless steel top that has holes in it, and just sprinkle it on the surfaces and scrub.

***

Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom®, is a syndicated radio talk show host, former president and co-owner of The Learning Annex, Certified Build It Green® healthy home makeover specialist, and holistic health educator, who eliminated a sizable tumor in her chest without drugs or surgery. She’s author of the bestseller, “Super Natural Home,” endorsed by Deepak Chopra, Ralph Nader, Peter Coyote, and Dr. Joe Mercola. Visit her at www.supernaturalmom.com 

Originally published December 2011

5 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality and Your Health

 

Kairos ~ 151It probably doesn’t surprise you that poor air quality affects lung function, upper respiratory function, breathing, and can create a host of allergy problems. However, if you are like most people, you don’t automatically think that spending time in a smog-heavy city like Los Angeles could be a risk to your heart. While researchers have known for years that poor air quality and cardiovascular disease (the number one cause of death in the world) are connected, they have only recently started understanding how much that relationship impacts our health.

Here are a couple of recent findings that might surprise you:

1. A study released in April showed that high levels of air pollution increase the development of atherosclerosis – a condition where artery walls thicken and a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

2. In addition to developing thickened arteries, breathing polluted air can immediately increase your blood pressure and keep it there for up to 24 hours. This prolonged hypertension is also a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

There is no denying the serious effects of polluted air on our bodies, especially our hearts. But unfortunately, air pollutants are all around us and they don’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Common causes of air pollution include exhaust from cars, buses, and planes; use of fossil fuels for power or heat; gas and vapors from industrial businesses; chemical pesticides used in agriculture; and various indoor pollutants such as chemicals, smoke, and other substances.

While scientists have not yet figured out how to remove these pollutants from the environment altogether, there are things we can do to improve the quality of air we breathe indoors. Here are a few ideas that you can implement to keep you and your family healthy.

5 Tips to Improve Air Quality:

1. Save energy.

While trees help with outside filtration (one reason it’s so important we protect them), as individuals, we should do our part to lower outdoor pollution by saving energy. Make sure you turn lights out when you leave a room, take public transportation or carpool when possible, and walk or ride your bike to your destination (plus, you’ll get some good exercise too).

2. Keep indoor areas ventilated.

It’s also important to increase the quality of your indoor air. According to the EPA, the average American spends 90% of their time indoors and indoor air pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor pollutants. Since indoor areas are typically enclosed spaces with low ventilation, poor indoor air quality can be a serious health concern. Increasing ventilation with fans and keeping windows open, as well as investing in an air cleaner, will help.

3. Don’t smoke or use toxic cleaning products. 

The best way to decrease indoor air pollutants is to reduce or eliminate source pollutants (I know, a no-brainer right?). Some common culprits include cigarette smoke, toxic cleaning chemicals, and gas emissions from carbon dioxide and radon. Luckily, you can easily address these issues by not smoking inside your house (and not allowing anyone else to either), using eco-friendly cleaning products (they’re super easy to make), and regularly checking carbon dioxide and radon levels.

4. Be a smart traveler.

Of course, reducing and eliminating indoor air pollutants becomes harder when you have less control over your indoor environment in places like your work, restaurants, and hotels. Luckily, many states have laws banning smoking in public locations and in some offices. You can also talk with your employer about using eco-friendly cleaning supplies or investing in an air filtration system.

If you’re traveling in a city with high air pollution, ask your hotel to give you a non-smoking room as far away from the smoking rooms as possible. Also find out if they use eco-friendly cleaning products or have air filtration systems in their rooms. Some hotels, such as the MGM Grand Hotels in Las Vegas, offer special air filtration features to support guests’ health and wellness. The Stay Well rooms rooms have an advanced HEPA-standard air purification system designed to reduce allergens, toxins and pathogens. It’s important to choose facilities that regulate indoor pollutants while you are away from home.

5. Eat right, exercise, and don’t stress.

While we should all do our best to reduce air pollution in our environments, many of the toxins are simply out of our control. So beyond merely regulating what is going on in your external environment, take measures to bolster your internal defenses against poor air quality. Activities like eating healthy, exercising, and practicing stress reducing techniques will reduce the negative effects air pollution can have on your heart health.

The quality of the air we breathe (both inside and outside) affects everyone — ourselves, our children, our pets, and our neighbors. While air quality is a serious 21st century world problem, you can do your part to improve air quality and keep you and your family healthy and strong.

 * * *

18154748891333272199Are you ready for a healthy Vegas vacation?

The first of their kind in the world, Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand in Vegas are furnished with a number of amenities designed to maximize health, wellness, and relaxation. From dawn simulator alarm clocks, to state-of-the-art air and water purification systems, to aromatherapy, Stay Well rooms provide an unprecedented opportunity to have a healthy travel experience — even in Las Vegas. Designed by real-estate pioneer Delos Living, in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Deepak Chopra, Stay Well will change the way you think about travel and hotel rooms. Learn more or book your reservation here.

 

Photo credit: Angélique Hayne

The Best Way to Detox – 4 Delicious Recipes

Liver-detox-juice-1024x768I have always stressed the importance of detoxifying your body. This post is to help you to really understand what it is. Detox 101 so to speak.

What are Toxins?

Toxins are chemicals or poisons that are known to have harmful effects on the body. The presence of these toxins in the system are the root of most disease. Cancer, skin rashes, depression, inflammation, weight gain, joint pain, neurological dysfunction, and so many more, can all be caused by toxic build-up.

Toxins are all around us – in the food, air and water. They cannot be avoided. Our bodies, however, are built to handle them. Like a well-run factory, the kidneys, lymphatic system, and liver all work together to bind and sweep these toxins out of our systems.

Lucy_chocolate
So, if our bodies deal with the toxins why do we need to worry about them? The problem is that, in the modern world, we are exposed to more toxins than our bodies can process. It reminds me of one of my favorite “I Love Lucy” episodes, where Lucy and Ethel are working at a chocolate factory. The conveyer belt starts moving too quickly. Lucy and Ethel get overwhelmed and panic. They end up shoving chocolates in their mouths, shirts, and hats.

This is much like what happens in our livers when it gets bombarded with more toxins than it can handle. It becomes overwhelmed and can’t do its job properly. The liver becomes congested and we feel sick.

Detoxifying foods assist the body to sweep the toxins out of our systems. For example, orange vegetables contain beta carotene which the liver converts into Vitamin A. The liver uses it to help move toxins out of the body. Think of it like adding more workers to the assembly line.

Just as some foods help speed up toxin removal, others – such as processed foods, fried foods, red meat and dairy – are obstacles to this process. They clog up the detox pathways and make the body’s job harder because they give it more and more work to do. Instead of adding more workers to our assembly line, they distract the ones we’ve got with other jobs.

Detox: Critical to Healthy Living

We choose detoxifying foods because we need to. Just like anything that is overworked, the body can get burned out. We lose focus and energy, and we gain weight. That is when disease starts to creep in.

We all love to eat the foods that are bad for us. And once in a while, especially over the holiday season, we do. Cookies anyone? We detox to give the body some extra assistance so that it can do its job, which is to keep us healthy. Take care of your body so that it can take care of you.

Here are my top detoxifying recipes:

Angelina Jolie Got a Double Mastectomy – Should You? 10 Alternative Preventive Measures.

Angelina Jolie arrivingSo, Angelina Jolie got a double mastectomy as a preventative measure, in order to reduce her risk of breast cancer.

Should you do the same?

Angelina apparently had a particularly strong genetic tendency as well as a strong family history. Angelina made a brave choice that may have been the best one for her, but it is worth careful consideration around whether this preemptive strike is the right choice for any woman who carries the BRCA1 gene.

Genetic risk is real, but epigenetics has the potential to trump genetic risk. Epigenetics literally means “on top of genetics.” Epigenetic “tags” sit on top of our genes and turn them on and off. These tags are influenced by our experiences and environment. What we eat, how much stress we undergo, and what toxins we’re exposed to can all alter our genes. We are not at the mercy of our genes as much as they are at the mercy of our diet and lifestyle choices.

Here’s an example that should strike hope into our very souls: Dr. Dean Ornish has conducted research that found a vegan diet caused more than 500 genes to change in only three months. How? Epigenetic tags turned on genes that prevent disease and turned off genes that cause a variety of illnesses, including breast cancer, heart disease, prostate cancer, and other illnesses.

I think the term “Holistic Medicine” has been used so much that it has almost lost it’s meaning. What might be a better term is “Context-Driven Medicine.” Our bodies—our hormones, organs, tissues and systems—do not act in a vacuum. They respond to our environment and thoughts. Thought creates biology. So does environment. When we are afraid, our chemistry changes. When we inhale pollutants, our
chemistry changes. Conversely, when we enjoy whole food, fresh air, good company, and feed ourselves inspirational thoughts and ideas, we affect our thoughts, emotions, environment, epigenetic tags and, ultimately, our genes.

So what about mammograms?

Prevention is different from early detection. Early detection doesn’t stop breast cancer from arising. Prevention does. When we better our lives, our breast health can improve in response.

Here are some simple (but sometimes hard to hear) tips to support breast health:

  • Avoid alcohol. There is not safe level of consumption. For a good summary of this, check out this video. We like to drink alcohol for relaxation and, in some cases, to support heart health, but there are better, more effective ways to support heart health without increasing the risk of cancer.
  • Eat lots of veggies. Changes in diet may prevent 30-40 percent of cancer cases, or 3 to 4 million cases annually. Veggies protect against many types of cancer by enhancing cancer-protective capacity, deactivating carcinogens and blocking tumor development.
  • Have an exercise routine that is right for you.
  • Avoid too much coffee, especially non-organic. Coffee seems to have an affinity with breast tissue and women with sensitive breasts around their period might do well to avoid it.
  • Breastfeed! This increases circulation in the breast tissue. Women who nurse have lower risks of breast cancer. This decreases the potential for stagnation in the breasts. When we are not breastfeeding we can increase circulation in our breasts by massaging them on a regular basis.
  • Avoid the use of antiperspirants. They don’t allow the release of waste products from the local area.
  • Breathe deeply. This opens the chest area and reduces stress.
  • Eat organic, when possible. Especially meat and dairy, if you consume them. They concentrate pollutants that act as bad estrogens and are carcinogenic.
  • Avoid environmental pollutants. If you happen to be in an environment that is polluted from off gassing of carpets, paints, plastics, construction materials, etc. maybe fill the room with houseplants. They help to purify the air.
  • Don’t smoke. Please.

There’s more information on breast health and why all these things are important in Chapter 13 of my book Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life.

What’s in your lipstick? Poison. (infographic)

All morning, my Facebook feed has been inundated with links to a disturbing new infographic about the toxic ingredients in our personal care products. Lead. Aluminum. Heavy metals. In baby shampoo.

FACT: Adults are exposed to an average 126 chemical ingredients daily through the use of personal care products. 61% of top-brand lipsticks contain cancer-causing heavy metals, 82% of children’s shampoos contain formaldehyde, and 89% of ingredients in products currently sold on the market have never been tested for safety.

Surprised? Not me. I stumbled into this information on the web a couple years ago, on a blog called No More Dirty Looks. I was so aghast at the findings of those clinical studies when I read them that I tossed out every make-up product I owned. I wondered why it wasn’t being talked about on Good Morning America, in the New York Times, on Capitol Hill for heaven’s sake. I thought of all the women in my family who had died of cancer. I felt betrayed. Why hadn’t I been told?

As a woman, I feel like I’ve been taught my entire life that first appearances are everything: You have to wear mascara to be professional, lip gloss to make you feel sexy, a mask on your face to be beautiful. I remember as a young child sitting inside my mother’s bathroom sink, watching her apply thick black coats of paint to her long lashes. “Whatcha doing, momma?” She smiled. “Putting on my face.”

This issue isn’t just relevant to women, either. If you wear deodorant, use shaving cream, wash you hands with soap… sorry guys, it effects you too. Without regulation, companies can to some extent put whatever cheap, nasty preservatives into personal care products they want (the FDA requires testing on the products, not ingredients). This especially important for parents to know, as the developing bodies of children are even more susceptible to the negative effects of ingesting these toxins.

The first step in making any significant personal or societal change, in my opinion, is awareness. Become aware of your own beliefs about beauty, about the ingredients in products you purchase, about the ways companies treat the workers they employ. And then take action, choose a path that will bestow greater health and wellbeing to yourself (first) and the community at large. Maybe that means purchasing organic, fair-trade personal care products. Maybe it means reducing the number of products you use to a bare (pun intended) minimum.

I’m struck by the fact that this topic is very much a 1st world issue. What a luxury it is that we even be outraged about the toxic ingredients in our personal care products, that we can afford to lather body creams and eye shadows on our skin to begin with. Perhaps this is an opportunity for us to acknowledge that and consider how the development of the products impact people who aren’t so lucky. It’s not just what’s in those products that matters. I’m more concerned with how they’re produced (forced labor, toxic work environments, etc) and the cultural conditioning that tells us they’re necessary to begin with.

I began this blog with a fact, I leave you with a suggestion for action. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

ACTION: Read through the infographic below, then check out Skin Deep, a website that provides safety ratings for 63,509 products on the market. Know what’s in the products you’re using, then let your dollars be your vote.

Thanks to Mind Body GreenDr. Frank Lipman for sharing this informative infographic from cosmetologyschool.org

VIDEO: How Are Your Cosmetics Affecting Your Health?

From the makers of the Story of Stuff…

The Story of Cosmetics: The Ugly Truth of "Toxins In, Toxins Out"

New groundbreaking animation about the deadly  chemicals in personal care products.

Click here to help get toxic cosmetics of shelves.

To your health,

Kim Duess

You-Be-Healthy.com
Twitter.com/kduess
Facebook.com/youbehealthy

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