by Beth Heller, MS
Every other day a new food achieves “stardom” for its ability to clear toxins from the body. While there’s an element of hype to the detoxification craze, science supports the assertion that lifestyle, nutrition and environmental factors impact our body’s ability to manage the chemical load of daily life. In fact, much of what is understood about our body’s detoxification processes comes from pharmacology, the study of drugs. With the expanding understanding that food contains bioactive compounds with real physiological functions, it’s time to view food as more than just calories.
Fertility patients know that their food supply, personal care products and material environment are filled with chemicals that enter the body and can wreak havoc. In particular the common steroid compounds present in pesticides, plastics and agricultural products, not to mention medications create added stress on reproductive function. Making targeted diet- and lifestyle-changes to support detoxification processes certainly cannot hurt, and in fact may benefit hormone-dependent, fertility related conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
But it’s hard to know where to start. At Pulling Down the Moon, we feel the most important take-home message is that your body, when properly tended and cared for, can absolutely manage the toxins in your environment. Implementing this three-part strategy of exercise, good nutrition choices and environmental “clean up” will reduce your exposure to toxicity and bolster your body’s ability to operate.
Exercise : Blood is pumped through vessels to the liver for cleaning, but the fluids that bathe the rest of our body’s tissues simply slosh about until they finda a way into the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system, in turn, relies on the mechanical action of muscles to circulate. It’s not the most efficient system, especially if an individual lives a sedantary life. Exercise supports detoxification through the mechanical action of muscles and the compression of tissues. Yoga, in particular, offers a diversity of movements—folding, twisting, extending, inverting – that create a comprehensive mechanical stimulus that encourages fluid movement. Yoga also improves digestion and elimination with poses such as “wind relieving pose” that massage and stimulate the digestive system.
Nutrition : Certain compounds in the foods we eat help stimulate production of enzymes necessary for the detoxification processes that take place in the liver. Other foods provide the vitamins, minerals and other molecules necessary for these biochemical processes. Foods higher in soluble and insoluble fiber promote optimal elimination. Other foods, like factory-raised meats, milk with added hormones, alcohol and processed foods with added colors, stabilizers and preservatives, create an excess chemical load. Understanding how your body processes chemicals and toxins can help you make dietary choices that support rather than suppress your body’s ability to maintain optimal health and hormone balance.
Environmental : Limiting the use of personal care products, and choosing minimally processed, minimally packaged foods will lower your body’s chemical load. Not only are processed foods devoid of nutrients, they often come wrapped in plastic or stored in BPA containing cans. Watching what you breathe, too, is important. Skip the cigarettes, obviously, but also air-fresheners and scented candles that use chemicals instead of essential oils.
Looking for more information about optimal health, fertility and hormone balance? Contact us for a phone or in-person nutrition consultation today!