Tis the season when shedding some of those leftover winter pounds is on everyone’s mind. Gyms are bustling, personal trainers can again afford to eat (been there done that), and you begin to get nervous about the half marathon a couple of months away that your friend guilted you into signing up for and haven’t yet trained for. It’s great to have different seasons of change and motivations. It’s keeps us from becoming stagnate and bored. A little fear about how you’re going to look in a swimsuit during that trip to Cancun in a few months can be healthy. And, like clockwork, que the fad diet marketers who annoying argue their case like a two-year old in the cereal aisle. What no one bothers to tell you is that weight loss, especially rapid weight loss, can be toxic! Yup, read that statement again. Let it sink in and blow your mind…again. It can make you more unhealthy than the fat you were storing. It can make you sick and contribute to disease. Just hold on. Before you click back to your Facebook feed, let me at least state my case. I promise I’ll provide you with a solution that will leave you happy and healthy.
We live in a toxic world. That’s just the reality of it. Over 15 trillion pounds of chemicals are either manufactured or imported into the U.S. every year. As a result, more than 400 chemical contaminants have been found in human fat. Most toxins that enter the human body get stored in the fat. The more fat you have, the higher toxic load you are likely to have.
So it stands to reason that losing weight would automatically diminish the toxic load on your body, right? An emphatic WRONG! It’s actually quite the opposite.
When researchers measured levels of a specific toxin, chlorinated pesticides, in adults undergoing stomach-stapling surgery, they found startling results. Three months after surgery, participants lost an average of 21% of their pre-surgery weight. However, they also found this was accompanied by a 52% increase in circulating pesticides in their blood. By their 12-month follow-up, these individuals had lost 46% of their pre-surgery weight, but their circulating pesticide levels had shot up 388%!
It’s not good enough to mobilize toxins by losing fat. These chemicals love fat and given the first opportunity, they simply redistribute into other available sources of fat. If you don’t rid your body of these chemicals first, you can do more harm than good. This increased toxic load can also diminish your metabolic rate, making it more difficult to lose any further weight. This may be a contributing factor in why people who lose a substantial amount of weight quickly are likely to regain their weight back within the first year PLUS 10-20%.
In a study at Laval University in Quebec, scientists showed that the rise in circulating toxins during weight loss led to a drop in their resting metabolic rate. The drop was caused by a reduction in the circulating level of the most active thyroid hormone, T3. When T3 levels drop, metabolism slows down making it more difficult to lose weight.
You know that you have toxins in your body already; you want to lose weight, and you don’t want to increase your toxic load. So, what’s the solution?
The first step to reducing your overall toxin load is reducing your exposure. Granted, these chemicals are everywhere. They’re in our atmosphere, mountain peaks, and even found in the blood of Inuit tribes in the arctic. Your exposure may not ever be zero, but that’s not the point. Your body can handle a lot. It’s extraordinary design allows for processing and elimination of these outside invaders. However, if you are overbearing your body with high amounts, sooner or later the body just can’t keep up. The Environmental Working Group recently came out with a list of the top 12 endocrine (hormone) disruptors. These are the most common toxins that affect our health. I will summarizing the details of the list below. You can get more info at: http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors.
- Found in 93% of all Americans tested
- Imitates estrogen
- Linked to hormone related cancers (ex., breast), reproductive problems, early puberty, obesity, and heart disease
- Canned food (found in the inside lining)
- Handling receipts (often coats the thermal paper receipts are printed on)
- Plastics marked with a “PC” for polycarbonate or recycling label #7
- My advice is to avoid all plastics as much as possible. Non-BPA plastics have still been shown to have an estrogen-like response. Choose glass or stainless steel containers instead.
- Formed during industrial processes when chlorine or bromine are burned in the presence of carbon and oxygen
- Can disrupt sex hormone signaling
- Linked to low sperm count and quality, increased cancer risk, and immune system dysfunction
- Animal products (especially highly manufactured) like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.
- Know where your food comes from in general, especially your animal products. Go local as much as possible, so you’re able to visit the farm where these products are made.
- Herbicide used widely on corn crops, and often found in drinking water due to runoff
- Linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty, and prostate cancer
- Non-organic corn products
- Unfiltered water
- Buy organic corn products
- Use a water filter certified to remove atrazine
- See EWG’s buying guide: www.ewg.org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide/
- Platicizers, which are things added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity.
- Linked to increased cell death in cells in the testes, hormone changes, low sperm count and mobility, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid problems.
- Plastic food containers
- Plastic children’s toys
- Plastic wrap
- Recycling label #3
- Some personal care products, especially with “fragrance” listed as an ingredient
- For phthalate-free personal care products, see: www.ewg.org/skindeep/
- Component of rocket fuel
- Contaminates produce and milk
- Competes with iodine in the body, which the thyroid needs to make thyroid hormones
- Non-organic produce and milk
- Unfiltered water
- Make sure you’re getting enough iodine in your diet
- Use a reverse osmosis water filter
6.) Fire retardants
- Known as polybrominated biphenyl esters (PBDEs)
- Found in mattresses, foam furniture, carpets
- Found in the breast milk of humans and polar bears
- Can imitate and disrupt thyroid hormones and lower IQ
- Foam furniture, especially mattresses (where you spend 1/3 of your life)
- Use organic an mattress or place a cover (silicon, etc.) over your mattress; air it out often especially if bought new
- Use an air filter with a HEPA filter, especially in your bedroom to eliminate off-gasing of these materials
- Use a vacuum with HEPA filter
- Avoid carpeting, especially in bedrooms
- Find more tips at: www.ewg.org/pbdefree/
- A heavy metal used in: building construction; bullets and shots; weights; batteries; and solders
- Affects every organ system in the body
- Linked to brain damage, hearing loss, miscarriages, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage, and multiple neurological problems.
- Old paint
- Unfiltered water
- Popular whey protein shake supplements
- Some children’s toys made outside the U.S.
- An element used to strengthen alloys of copper and lead; used in several electronics,; used in the production of pesticides, treated wood products, herbicides, and insecticides
- Linked to skin/bladder/lung cancer, diabetes, protein wasting, immune system suppression, osteoporosis, growth retardation, and high blood pressure.
- Unfiltered water
- Popular whey protein shake supplements
- A naturally occurring metal that mostly contaminants our air and oceans through burning coal.
- Most significantly found in seafood
- Linked to poor brain development in newborns, menstrual cycle irregularities, hormone signaling, and diabetes.
- large ocean-dwelling fish (tuna, swordfish, etc.)
- Choose more freshwater fish or fish who spend less time in the ocean (salmon)
10.) Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
- Found in non-stick cookware
- Found in 99% of Americans tested
- Some forms have been found to be completely resistant to biodegradation
- Linked to decreased sperm count, low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease, hormone imbalances, and high cholesterol.
- Non-stick cookware
- Water resistant coatings on clothing, furniture, and carpets
11.) Organophosphate pesticides
- Neurotoxic chemicals designed to kill pests by targeting their neurological systems
- Linked to changes in brain development, behavior, thyroid hormone levels, low testosterone levels, and fertility
- non-organic produce
- See the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists developed by the Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.org/foodnews
12.) Glycol Esthers
- Common in solvents in paints, cleaning products, brake fluid, and cosmetics
- Linked to small testicle size, lower sperm count, infertility, asthma and allergies in children
- Products with 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME)
——HELP YOUR BODY——
If your body is overburdened by these toxins, there are some relatively simple and easy things you can do to help your body better process and eliminate them.
1.) START WITH THE BASICS:
- Clean your life up!
- Eat clean food (mostly local and organic). These foods will have a higher concentration of nutrients (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc.) vital to help your body process toxins.
- Drink clean water. As you’ve read above, many of these toxins have contaminated our water supply. Invest in a good water filter and try to drink close to half your body weight in ounces.
- Breath clean air. The incidence of asthma and respiratory related illnesses continue to skyrocket each year. Of course, these occur in higher rates in urban areas where pollution is worse. At the least, use an air purifier with HEPA filter in your bedroom. Avoid exercising outdoors on days when pollution ratings are above normal (generally very hot or very cold days).
- Get more sleep!
- I know, this sounds simple and you already know you should be sleeping more.
- Face it, most of us are too stressed and sleep too little. This is a perfect storm for decreasing our body’s ability to recover and repair. The CDC estimates that 30% of Americans get 6 or less hours of sleep per night.
- In a study published in 2013, scientists demonstrated that healthy adults who got around 6 hours of sleep per night changed the way over 700 different genes were expressed, most of which had to deal with inflammation, protein damage, and immune system dysfunction.
2.) GOOD QUALITY MULTIVITAMIN:
- I’m not going to drop any names here, but I’m sure you’re probably aware that all multivitamins were not created equal. The supplement industry is like an Elvis convention in Las Vegas…there’s a lot of energy, lights, and cameras. When it’s all said and done, they’re just not the real deal.
- Invest in a good quality multivitamin. Most of us, despite our best efforts, don’t consistently eat like we should. A good multi will help cover any nutrient deficiencies that might arise otherwise.
- You get what you pay for. Be prepared to pay more than the cost of a couple of lattes for a good multi. It’s ok. Invest in your health!
- Utilize your body’s largest detox organ, your skin!
- If you want to detox, the BEST way you can do this is by sweating. Utilizing saunas can be helpful, but there’s no substitute for grinding it out on the trail or gym.
- Find a way to do this daily. Habits are made by repetition. You can’t establish an exercise habit by just going to the gym 2 to 3 times per week.
4.) GOOD QUALITY DETOX FORMULA:
- If you want names for this one, you’ll have to contact me. This really is dependent upon your situation, medications, and health risks. Just know that there are a LOT of scammers out there riding the coat-tails of the “detox” fad. Get professional help for this one.
Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Slow weight loss, especially when you’re supporting it with things to help your body detox, is safer and more productive in the long run. If you consistently lose no more than a pound per week, you’re more likely to keep it off 2 years after you lose it. That’s the idea, right? Plus, think about the big picture. If you lose a pound per week, after one year, that’s 52 pounds! You did it a way that didn’t increase your toxic burden (which could lead to many other health problems) and you’re more likely to keep it off because you made healthy habit changes.