Read time 4 minutes
By Annaliisa Kapp, nutritionist and wellness expert, Vancouver.
We all know that eating more fresh food, including vegetables, fruits, and herbs, is beneficial to our health. Sadly, most of us aren’t aware of the toxins like pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that come along with our food or the impact that they can have on our health and the environment.
Toxins, like the chemical sprays on our food, are any compound that has a detrimental effect on cell function or structure and undermine/stress our organ functions.
They interfere with important metabolic and glandular reactions and can affect our health in many ways. Some can negatively affect the friendly bacteria in our gut, interfere with DNA synthesis, block enzymes that the body needs to function normally, mimic our natural hormones, and even block vitamin and mineral absorption.¹
We are exposed to pesticides daily through inhalation, ingestion, and contact through the skin or eyes. And unfortunately, even washing your produce can leave behind pesticide residue. Worldwide pesticide production has increased at a rate of about 11% per year, from 0.2 million tons in the 1950s to more than 5 million tons by 2000.²
You might be thinking, aren’t our bodies come equipped with a detoxification system that would eliminate toxic waste? Absolutely! This system includes the liver, gut, skin, kidneys, and lungs. The liver, our main detox organ, has two detoxification phases. The Phase 1 pathway leads to the production of toxic free radicals, which then the Phase 2 pathway converts to more harmless water-soluble substances. Each phase needs a combination of different nutrients and antioxidants to support this process. If Phase 1 is overactive and Phase 2 is sluggish for any reason, we run a risk of build-up of the toxic intermediate products from the Phase 1 pathway, which can be harmful to our health. Thus, we need to ensure that we are reducing our exposure to toxins, and better equipping our body with nutrients needed to eliminate toxins.
What can we do to reduce our toxin load?
1. Consider doing a whole food cleanse once or twice a year
This is when we focus more on organic plant-based foods and reduce the amount of red meat, processed food, alcohol, and sugar we consume. Doing a cleanse helps by improving and optimizing the function of your body’s own detoxification systems so it can neutralize and eliminate toxins from the body. Our increasingly toxic environment can leave our bodies overburdened and the major detox pathways (liver, digestion, skin, etc..) become compromised or inefficient. The resulting poor digestion, colon sluggishness and dysfunction, reduced liver function, and poor elimination through the bowels, kidneys, respiratory tract, and skin all add to increased toxicity. Toxicity can contribute to symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, skin issues, depression, chronic headaches, and hormonal imbalances. Over time lead to chronic illness, such as autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, neurological dysfunction, like Alzheimer’s disease, and various cancers³.
2. Source food from trusted farmers and grow your own
We have the greatest control over what goes into our bodies when we consume most of our food from farmers that take into consideration the health of the soil and the environment. Using growing methods that are following the certification regulations ensures that there are no toxic chemicals used to grow your food. A 2015 study funded by the EPA found that consumers who often or always bought organic had significantly less insecticides in their urine, even though they ate 70 percent more productive than people who bought only conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.⁴ When you grow your own food, you are even more in control of the environment and growing method, which guarantees the least amount of toxins. Growing your own food also ensures the highest nutrient content of your food, as some nutrients, like vitamin C, start to dissipate as soon as the food is picked. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that supports the body’s detoxification process and immune function. The highest amount can be found in foods such as peppers, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli and broccoli sprouts, and berries.
3. Eat foods that directly support your detoxification processes
As mentioned earlier, we have specific detox organs that are responsible for the elimination of toxins. These organs need certain nutrients in order to convert the toxins into a water-soluble substance and then excrete them from the body via the elimination organs. For these processed to happen safely and effectively, we need certain foods that contain the phytonutrients and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) used in these processes. Great examples of everyday herbs you can use for this purpose would be rosemary, cilantro, basil, and parsley. Other foods like broccoli sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, garlic, and turmeric also have a beneficial effects.⁵
It’s more important than ever to support your body, and the environment, due to the added stressors of heavy toxin use. You can start by adding more organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables into your diet daily and take control of how many toxins you’re allowing into your environment.
- Roberts, T. (2016, December 15). We Spend 90% of Our Time Indoors. Says Who?. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/blog/we-spend-90-our-time-indoors-says-who
- Curkin, C. (2021, January 7). How Home Design and Architecture should adapt to a Post-COVID World. Retrieved from https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/interior-designers/a34918038/architecture-home-design-after-covid-pandemic/
- Retrieved from: https://www.oliverheath.com/biophilic-design-connecting-nature-improve-health-well/