Why a Detox is Important
Even though most conventional obstetricians and family doctors are not discuss detox with their patients, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have actually published a paper regarding the impact of environmental toxins on women's health and on the health of the baby.
The bottom line is that there are many chemicals and toxins in our environment, food, home and personal care products that are not well studied (although many too have been studied and are definitely known to be toxic) that may deleteriously impact reproductive and infant health. A few examples include:
- Pesticides-In one year alone, more than 1.2 million pounds of pesticides were used in US agriculture. Pesticides have been implicated in the following: reduction in IQ levels, impaired neurodevelopment and decreased perceptual reasoning starting at 12 months through childhood, impaired growth of the fetus and decreased birthweight and height, increased susceptibility to testicular cancer, increased incidence of childhood cancers such as leukemia.
- Solvents-Found in paint, but also in many everyday items like detergents, nail polish, some medications, food containers, dyes, dry cleaning and printing ink. Solvent have been implicated in the following: increased rates of endometriosis and miscarriage, spontaneous abortions.
- Bisphenol A-In the last few years, there has been a huge drive in removing Bisphenol A from water bottles and water containers. However, it is still a part of the lining of many canned goods and even some stainless steel water bottles. Bisphenol A is linked with recurrent miscarriages and aggression and behavioral changes especially among female children.
- Other chemicals frequently encountered that have been linked with fertility, pregnancy and childhood problems include formaldehyde (famously present in baby shampoos such as Johnson and Johnson and numerous organoflourides and organophosphates.
Do Detox's Really Work--Evidence for Proven 5 Day Detox Plans
The simple answer is yes, detox's work and there is evidence that even a short detox protocol is able to reduce toxic burden in the body.
One of our favorite studies was done collaboratively by the University of Washington here in Seattle where our clinic is and by the School of Public Health of Emory University in Georgia. In this study, they were able to show that even a 5 day organic diet significantly and dramatically reduced pesticide levels in children. This study was done very scientifically because the researchers measured for pesticide/metabolite levels in the urine before and after the dietary changes. In this study, everyday food staples in the children's diet including fruits, vegetables and grains were substituted with items bought from organic food store. In the study sample, they found that non-organic peaches, nectarines, grapes and apples had some of the higher levels of pesticides. On the other hand, non-organic broccoli and celery, had lower levels of pesticide.
Another study showed that a 5-day vegetarian diet in adults reduced the levels of antibiotics and phthalates in their bodies. Presumably, the antibiotics and phthalates exposure came from non-organic meats (because chicken, pork and beef livestock may have been given antibiotics as part of agricultural practices). In this study, not only were the levels of antibiotics and phthalates in the body reduced, but a marker of oxidative stress in the body was also reduced. What we can infer from this is that antibiotics and phthalates DOES cause oxidative stress in the body and that removing these toxins improves the function of the body.
Briefly Discuss How A Detox is Done
At the most basic level, what we encourage all our patients at our clinic to do is to eat more healthfully because food is an area where we can be exposed to a lot of chemicals that are ingested into the body directly.
- We encourage patients to eat organic fruits, vegetables, meats, healthy grains, nuts and oils as much as possible. We recommend minimizing processed foods, heavily packaged and canned goods (because cans are lined with Bisphenol A).
- Sometimes, eating all organic is not possible because of lack of access to organic stores or because of the burden of expense. We ask our patients to prioritize by picking vegetables that have low pesticide residues such as cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli and to avoid foods that seem to have higher pesticide residues. For a more complete list of the "Clean Fifteen" and the Dirty Dozen, go here.
- We also encourage patients to use natural home cleaning products and to encourage the use of safe chemicals in everyday cleaning situations. This may include using non-toxic or more natural dishwashing soap, body soaps and lotions, toothpates, cosmetics and make-up, baking soda and vinegar.
We also highly recommend using herbs, supplements and botanical formula's to help with the detoxification process. These programs are designed with specific concerns. Sometimes, we use herbs that support the liver, sometimes more of the kidneys (these are our body's main detoxification systems) and often both.