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The Ins and Outs of Detoxing - 12 Real Strategies You Haven't Heard. And no, this article isn't actually about lemon water!

Should detox be considered as part of a “spring cleaning” in your health plan? Let’s learn more about toxins to find out! The Environmental Working Group ( which is an independent research firm estimates that we have over 700 pollutants in our bodies at any given time. Food for thought: they found over 200 pollutants in infants – scary. It’s the world we live in. We can’t change everything, so we must constantly adapt. Being healthy means that we’re trying to do things better than we did yesterday!

What is a toxin? Simply, it is any type of barrier to our health. It could be chemicals, our thoughts, relationships, and so forth.

As you can see by EWG’s findings, anyone can have a high toxic burden in the body. But the types of people or conditions who are most at risk include:

  1. both men and women who are trying to conceive
  2. compromised immunity
  3. people with nutrient deficiencies
  4. had bariatric surgery
  5. had their gallbladder removed
  6. sufferers of chronic constipation
  7. older individuals (who, by nature, have less lean body mass and lower nutrient status)

The purpose of this article is to bring an awareness (not fear) to toxicity, to answer some of the most commonly asked questions by patients, and to share options for decreasing toxic load on the body ranging from easy to dedicated.

Question: “Well, I don’t work with chemicals, so how could I be exposed to so many toxins?

Answer: The top three sources of toxins in the US today are: air, food, and water.  

Food: new reports indicate that non-organic produce has higher pesticide levels. We can find toxins in our meat as well and higher mercury levels in larger fish. We also have BPA (which is an endocrine disrupter, very similar to BPS or BPAF) in our canned food/beverages. We have significant exposure to “pops” (which are Persistent Organic Pollutants) between artificial sweeteners and our cookware/utensils.

Now that we’ve established the what and how of toxicity, when would you know if you have too many?

  1. Symptoms: Too heavy of a toxic burden on the body will cause stress to our mitochondria (low energy), dysbiosis and enzyme inhibition (poor gut health), genotoxicity (harm our DNA), endocrine interruption (messes with our hormones), and early aging. In fact, the first sign of toxicity is brain fog and fatigue! These same two symptoms are often misinterpreted as adrenal fatigue, which is much less common.
  1. Lab Testing. Symptoms don’t always tell the full story and there are lab testing panels available to clinicians that can look deeper beneath the surface.

After you’ve read this article, please visit this link to take a questionnaire to rate your level of potential toxicity:

I’d like to see your score on “part 1” be between 0 - 14! The last section of the questionnaire elaborates on scoring.

Next I’d like to outline suggestions for you (in order of what I thought to be easier up to the most dedicated) to assist with detoxification.

  1. Switch your soap. In the home, the highest levels of toxins are found in our personal care products! Our skin is the body’s largest organ and it’s a major site for toxin absorption. If you switched just your soap (face, body, hand) – you’d knock out quite a bit! I recommend Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap.
  • You can find more personal care products on EWG’s Skindeep Database.
  • Even if you’re using good brands – still read the labels periodically. Did you know that Colgate recently purchased Burt’s Bees? Or even great, clean companies like Epic Provisions change their ingredients list (the Uncured Bacon bar is no longer Whole30 complaint).
  1. Eliminate Artificial sweeteners from your diet.
    • Don’t use these: diet soda, Splenda, equal, NutraSweet, Sweet N Low, xylitol.
    • Replace with: Spindrift sparking water, Monk Fruit Extract or minimal Stevia for cooking, or Bulletproof coffee.
  1. Try some new cooking tips, such as:
  • Adding Rosemary or Turmeric to your meat to reduce it’s toxicity (see notes below on spices).
  • Top your grilled meats with half an avocado to neutralize the inflammatory effect.
  • Steam your veggies lightly instead of browning them – the “brown stuff” or burnt part is glycolated end product which is associated with faster aging.
  • Eat more color! The more color a food has (like a deep purple eggplant or a bright red pepper) it will have more “good guys” (called antioxidants). Another example is carrots > did you know that purple carrots are 3 times more nutrient dense than the orange or white carrots?
  • If you’re having trouble eating enough COLOR in your diet, enhance the rainbow of organic superfriuts and greens with Phytoganix powder daily.
  1. Begin to switch out your food storage containers to glass. Studies show that within three days of being plastic-free, your BPA levels will decrease by 66%!
  • Also take a peek at your spice rack! Spices only last one year in their ground form. Studies show that some spices, such as Curcumin for lowering inflammation,, can actually turn toxic if stored in plastic. Another study looked at 300 different spices and found that *most* had high levels of mycotoxins. Brands like Frontier or Simply Organics are preferred and regularly available.
  • Remember, glass or stainless steel water bottles are preferred. For hot beverages, a French press or boiled water is preferred to a Keurig machine (all plastic). Drink it in a ceramic mug instead of a Starbucks cup (bleached and chlorinated).
  1. Phase out old cookware that are made from Teflon and aluminum. The preferred materials to cook with are glass or stainless steel. Cast Iron is okay for occasional use.
  1. When you consume fish, choose fish that is “wild caught” (for lower toxicity level) and smaller bodied (like a mackerel or salmon).

Seafood Guide: or


Seafood Shipments to the Midwest through Vital Choice. 

  1. Utilize physician-quality nutrients to help toxins leave the body. The nutrients required to help the liver detoxify are extensive, but examples include Zinc, Selenium, and B6.
  • My favorite well-rounded product is a powerful medical food powder called UltraClearRENEW. Begin with just ½ scoop of powder (mixed with 4oz water) daily for a slow start. Please consult with your functional medicine practitioner or nutritionist to continue.
  • Many of our toxins are excreted from the body through feces. Get your gut working optimally with UltraFloraBalance probiotic. 
  1. Take a detox bath weekly.  Detox expert Dr. Tricia Paulson suggests using 1 cup of Epsom salts in a warm bath. Optional: add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar.
  1. Clean the air. Add air filters to your bedroom (which is the most impactful place to start working on air quality). You could also consider hypoallergenic bedsheets or mattress cleaning. Eliminate candles, air fresheners, and Glade plug ins.
  1. Encourage toxins to leave the body through sweat (if medically appropriate). A study by detox expert Dr. Jeff Morrison advises to use a sauna (preferably Infrared but a steam room worked well too). When you begin to sweat, stay in for only 8 minutes. Then, you need to shower to prevent toxins from reabsorbing into the skin. Deanna Minich, author of Whole Detox, adds that we should use a binder drink post-sauna such as Chlorella and Spirulina (search for Douglas Lab’s Chlorella Plus here) to help toxins leave the body.
  1. Complete a 10 or 28 day Clear Change Program with your healthcare provider.

Don’t do a “liver cleanse,” “colon cleanse,” “juice fast,” or “master cleanse.” Why? Briefly, because you MUST consume plenty of calories during a program (because detoxing is hard work to the body!) and protein is the very first thing that “turns on” the switch for the liver to begin. Nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are key for a complete two-phase liver detoxification too. Without those elements - these are not detoxes and are not resets.

L) Emotional Detox. We all have stress – but how do we deal with that particular toxin? Do we allow it to have power over us and slowly poison us? Here are some resources about mindfulness and emotional wellness:

I hope this article brought awareness (not fear) of toxins in our modern lifestyles and helped you brainstorm a few simple yet impactful things you might try! What was something you read that was new or you felt excited to try? And what one thing can you try today?

And - Don’t forget to take the symptom questionnaire! 

Dr. Kristen Halland is a chiropractor with specialty certifications in acupuncture and functional medicine nutrition. She has enjoyed serving the northwest suburbs of Chicago since 2010 from our Hoffman Estates, IL location alongside her Integrative Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, massage therapist, chiropractic colleague, and a great support team! Dr. Halland enjoys blogging about natural treatments, staying modern and accessible with virtual appointment access for her patients, and her podcast, The Nutrition & Lifestyle Review.

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