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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karen F. Miller

Fall Detox and Cleanse: Let It Go!

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

When considering the topic at hand, it is worth revisiting the fundamental concept of detoxification, which commences with the elimination of harmful substances.

Individuals who have experienced prolonged illness or have seen an increase in weight during the COVID pandemic, and are struggling to shed those extra pounds, might find it beneficial to evaluate the state of their surroundings and physical condition for potential detoxification.

To initiate this purification process, the first step is a literal one: home maintenance. For homeowners, this entails regular HVAC filter replacements and periodic air duct cleaning. Due to the contemporary design of energy-efficient homes, the hermetic interiors tend to trap numerous toxins, exacerbating indoor air quality.

Opening windows, when weather conditions permit, and employing appropriately sized air filters for living spaces are essential practices. In a two-story home, for instance, using large filters for the upper floor and equipping the lower floor with a couple of robust air filtration systems is recommended.

Each filtration system is rated based on its capacity to process air, often quantified as the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). A higher CADR implies a greater capacity to filter particles. To achieve three air changes per hour in an 800-square-foot space with 8-foot ceilings, a filtration unit with a rating of 320 CFM or 544 m3/h is required.

When selecting air filters, it is common to encounter filters advertising specific features, such as particle size and the removal of common contaminants (e.g., dust, smoke particles, mold particles). It is crucial to consider the cost and availability of replacement filters, as well as ensure that they are readily accessible.

Once you have established a routine for air purification, turn your attention to items introduced into your living space, which can contribute to indoor pollution. Often, deliveries come with packaging materials (e.g., styrofoam, plastic wrap, rubber) and products (e.g., plastics, rubber components, or shoe soles) that release off-gassing emissions for weeks. Electronics and clothing may contain imperceptible coatings that sensitive individuals can detect by smell. These Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals (e.g., PFAS, fragrance) need filtration. It is advisable to unpack items outdoors or in an open garage or carport and allow them to be off-gas for at least 48 hours.

For instance, when I acquired a new car, I had to park it in an open garage with the windows down for weeks. Even months later, especially on hot days exceeding 75 degrees Fahrenheit, I could still detect residual odors.

The second common source of toxins we encounter is water. Recently, I invested in a whole-house water filtration system, which has been a significant improvement. I can now use tap water for various purposes without the need for boiling or an additional countertop filter. Overall, my well-being has improved considerably since adopting cleaner water.

If you lack a whole-house water filter system, consider exploring this option, perhaps as a holiday gift to yourself. Look for Black Friday deals online and obtain quotes from plumbers for installation costs before making a purchase.

Our bodies are exposed to toxins not only through the environment but also through personal care products and food consumption.

I recommend consulting the EWG.org (Environmental Working Group) website, which offers valuable insights into the ingredients found in items like shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, cosmetics, and other products that come into direct contact with our skin or clothing, which then touches our skin.

In general, products containing fragrance should be avoided, as they often contain phthalates, known carcinogens. Fragrances can also trigger allergies, leading to symptoms like wheezing and rashes. To reduce toxicity in daily life, opt for fragrance-free cleaning and personal care products.

EWG also offers handy apps that you can use while shopping, and there are numerous other apps available for similar purposes. These apps can assist you in making informed choices based on your specific shopping needs.

For those concerned about the safety of their food, EWG's Food Scores app allows you to scan barcodes and receive product ratings. Additionally, the organization publishes an annual list of the "Dirty Dozen," which includes foods with the highest pesticide levels, and the "Clean 15," which highlights foods with lower pesticide levels. The Dirty Dozen app is also available.

The debate over the value of organic foods continues, but it is important to note that certain pesticides, like glyphosate (as declared by the International Agency for Research on Cancer - IARC), are likely carcinogenic and linked to various diseases. Notably, despite concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers glyphosate safe, even for unborn babies. This discrepancy in safety assessments was underscored by Bayer's $10 billion settlement in 2020 regarding multiple cancer lawsuits linked to Roundup, a product containing glyphosate.

Researchers often overlook the cumulative effects of exposure to multiple toxins, including the chemicals combined with glyphosate in Roundup. According to my Environmental Medicine textbook, the usage of glyphosate on GMO crops in 1974 amounted to 1400 thousand pounds, while in 2014, it reached a staggering 276,425 thousand pounds, with Roundup's formulation containing "inert" ingredients shown to be over 1000 times more toxic to humans than glyphosate alone.

Potential consequences of Roundup exposure, as detailed in Clinical Environmental Medicine, encompass cardiotoxicity, DNA damage, endocrine disruption (affecting estrogen receptors, thyroid function, and hormone production enzymes), lowered liver enzyme levels (Cytochrome P-450 enzymes), lymphocyte damage (associated with lymphoma), and red blood cell damage. Additionally, one of Roundup's surfactants, POEA, inhibits the aromatase enzyme (involved in estrogen production), disrupts mitochondrial function, and even at low concentrations, inhalation in rats led to symptoms like gasping, watery eyes, reduced activity, weight loss, and lung irritation, along with gut dysfunction.

Some noteworthy facts include the absence of glyphosate in the CDC's extensive database on chemical and metal exposure among US residents and the limited testing of glyphosate in public water in the Atlanta area.

Studies have indicated that rats fed Roundup-Ready corn and soy developed mammary tumors, while male farmers exposed to Roundup were twice as likely to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Glyphosate exposure was also associated with a 60-80% increased risk of melanoma and more than double the risk of multiple myeloma.

In conclusion, adopting a cleaner lifestyle begins with addressing the quality of your air, water, and household products. Transitioning to organic and locally sourced foods can further reduce exposure to toxins. For those seeking a more rigorous detoxification process, the elimination of meat and certain fish high in mercury is recommended. Choose low-mercury fish options for a safer dietary choice.

While the information presented may seem overwhelming, it is important to remember that detoxifying the body can lead to improved functioning and overall health. If you are interested in pursuing a more comprehensive cleanse, consider reaching out to us for a consultation or refer to the guidelines provided in a previous post.

(Please note that the data referenced here is sourced from nrdc.org.)


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