Health Advice Paula Owens

With the New Year, many people jump on board with the latest celebrity diet, cleanses, liquid detox diets and extreme fasting, which can be dangerous to your health.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the average American has 116 synthetic compounds in their body. The Environmental Working Group reports that the average newborn baby has 287 known toxins in his or her umbilical cord blood.

According to Mark Hyman, M.D. factors that contribute to toxic overload include:

• Exposure to heavy metals like mercury and lead, petrochemicals, residues, pesticides, and fertilizers.

• Food allergies, environmental allergies, molds, and toxins from molds.

• Eating a standard American diet.

• Mental, emotional, and spiritual toxins — isolation, loneliness, anger, jealousy, and hostility, all of which translate into toxins in our system.

• Medications can sometimes be toxins. Often we need medications, but the reality is that most of us are overmedicated and use medications to treat problems for which there are better solutions, such as lifestyle and diet.

• Internal toxins–things like bacteria, fungus, and yeast inside our gut as well as hormonal and metabolic toxins that we need to eliminate.

Toxic overload happens when a toxic substance is absorbed at a rate faster than it can be detoxified by the detox system. We overload our intestines, liver and kidneys with toxins, alcohol, excess sugar and pollution, which can trigger a number of problems, like constipation, fatigue, or a lack of mental clarity.

Toxic overload disrupts homeostasis, increases risk of disease and makes it very difficult to lose body fat, and feel and look your best. Detoxification is the normal body process of elimination or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph and skin.

The No. 1 factor to reduce toxic load that we have direct control over is our choice in the food we eat and water we drink. Non-organic veggies and fruits heavily sprayed and contaminated with pesticides, conventional animal protein injected with antibiotics and xenohormones, processed and fast foods full of additives, GMOs, HFCS, trans fats, preservatives, wheat, corn, gluten, soy, artificial sweeteners and vegetable oils, and chlorinated and fluoridated water all pose a heavy burden on our bodies.

Other sources of toxic exposure that accumulate in our bodies over time include smog and pollution, EMFs, drinking unfiltered water, mycotoxins, heavy metals, toxic cleaning and personal care products, digestive distress, and emotional toxins.

Be smart: optimize liver and kidney function and you’ll naturally support detoxification, reduce inflammation, lose body fat, super-charge your metabolism, experience less bloating, have healthier looking skin, alleviate constipation, fewer aches and pains, sleep better, increase energy, plus so much more.

Smart Detox Tips

Implement these simple tips to correct problems caused by toxicity, maximize your body’s own detoxification capacity, and safely eliminate toxins stores in your body.

Eliminate inflammatory foods. Start by removing anything that contains trans fats, wheat, and gluten. Gradually remove all items containing vegetable oils, processed soy, sugar, soda, corn, dairy products, high-fructose corn syrup, table salt and artificial sweeteners, which are the very items making us fat, sick and miserable increasing toxic load, creating nutritional deficiencies, digestive dysfunction, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, excess cortisol, risk of disease and stimulate fat-storing hormones.

Stay away from anything called a diet, including the hCG diet. Diets, extreme fasting and many cleanses are a major stressor to the body, destructive to metabolism, shut down the thyroid, cause nutrient deficiencies, hormone disruption, muscle loss, fat storage, and added weight gain once you’re off the diet. The body requires specific nutrients and plenty of protein for the detox process to occur, not starvation, extreme fasting and non-fat dieting.

Eat real food! Opt for organic vs. conventionally-raised and non-organic foods.

• Start by choosing organic grass-fed beef and bison, free-range, pastured poultry and eggs when shopping for food.

• Reduce pesticide exposure. Avoid the EWG’s Dirty Dozen, the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, and always buy these organic.

• Avoid farmed salmon and other contaminated frankenfish.

• Read ingredient labels and familiarize yourself with ingredients to avoid at all costs.

• Avoid antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals, GMOs and xenoestrogens

Eat a variety of chlorophyll-rich leafy greens and plenty of non-starchy vegetables maximize detoxification. Include chlorella and cilantro … potent for detoxing heavy metals. Consuming fresh veggies and leafy greens blended in a Vitamix, Nutri-Bullet or high-powered blender boosts the detoxification process. Include plenty of asparagus, cucumber, watercress, artichokes, parsley and cilantro helpful for water retention and de-bloating.

Drink plenty of clean, filtered water throughout the day. Physiologically, water works as a catalyst to most functions within the body and is important for eliminating toxins, preventing constipation, backaches, headaches, and a neglected nutrient for fat loss.

Drink a cup of water with the juice from a fresh lemon and/or lime first thing in the morning.

Drink teas: Pau‘d Arco tea, Dandelion tea, and Yogi DeTox tea.

Optimize liver function. Foods that are nourishing for the liver include bitter greens like dandelion greens, apples, beets, artichokes, high-sulfur foods (onions, leeks, garlic), cruciferous veggies, parsley, milk thistle and turmeric.

Avoid OTC and Rx drugs, and go easy on the booze. Excessive alcohol consumption disrupts blood sugar, causes hormonal imbalances, dehydration, is estrogenic, toxic to the liver, stimulates appetite, and adds inches to your waistline.

Eat smaller meals. Always eat breakfast that includes an organic protein source. Those who consume a diet deficient in protein have trouble detoxifying environmental toxins/pollutants.

Minimize electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. Remove all electrical devices from your sleeping area including your cell phone; avoid using electric blankets and electric heating pads; avoid using your laptop on your lap; don’t carry your cell phone in your pocket or on your hip; stop using the microwave oven; switch out fluorescent light bulbs for incandescent bulbs. If you live near power lines, consider moving. Use salt lamps in your home and office.

Breathe deeper. Practice at least 2-5 minutes of slow diaphragmatic breathing daily. Deep breathing supports toxin elimination, reduces stress, increases energy, composes the mind, improves mood, enhances appearance and positively changes physiology on a cellular level.

Yogic breathing helps clear out carbon dioxide from the lung tissue, stimulates the organs of digestion and can, over time, retrain the diaphragm to move freely.

Don’t eat after 8 p.m. Evening is the time for your body to rest and detox, not digest food. Eating too close to bedtime can disrupt sleep, create digestive distress, inhibit production of growth hormone, and minimize the detoxification process.

Sleep, rest and relaxation is crucial, especially during any detox process. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Optimally, be asleep by 10 p.m. and awake by 6 a.m. The body repairs physically and psychologically during sleep. This is a time for your body to balance hormones, repair tissues and regenerate.

Schedule rest and relaxation without feeling guilty. Get a daily dose of sunshine (vitamin D). Indulge in a warm bath with Epsom salts and a relaxing essential oil such as lavender. Schedule a massage or sauna, which increase the release of toxins.

Ditch toxic cleaning and skincare products. Switch to more natural cleaning products such as white vinegar and baking soda. Use organic, non-toxic skin care products void of chemicals. Swap out your plastic storage containers and plastic water bottles for glass or other eco-friendly materials. Replace Teflon cookware with stainless steel, ceramic or other eco-friendly cookware. Use non-fluoridated toothpaste.

Optimize gut function, healthy digestion and elimination, which are fundamental requirements for optimal health.

Keep a food journal, which is especially helpful during a detox helping to identify trigger foods you may be sensitive to and cause digestive flare ups. Another bonus: research shows that those who journal what they eat tend to lose twice as many pounds and make healthier food choices.

Dry skin brushing before you shower stimulates your lymphatic, immune and nervous systems, improves circulation, and allows for greater removal of toxins.

Saunas, especially infrared saunas, accelerate the release of toxins.

Soak in a tub. Add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup sea salt, 3 cups Epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup bentonite clay to pull out toxins.

Practice yoga, Qigong and rebounding. Rebounding (bouncing) on a mini trampoline is extremely beneficial for every cell and organ in the body.

Yin-style yoga and various yoga poses including twists, legs up the wall and downward dog naturally encourage detoxification, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Lose body fat. Toxins accumulate in fat. Losing excess body fat causes fat cells to shrink, which results in the release of fat-soluble toxins.

Dissolve toxic relationships. Form win-win relationships. Determine who is trustworthy and displays character traits of integrity, honesty and authenticity. Associate with like-minded positive people who support you. Enjoy relationships that nourish your soul and make you feel good. Be cognizant of your environment and who and what you spend time with as it greatly impacts your mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

Clear out clutter and old stuff in your home that you no longer use and are taking up space. Go through your kitchen and remove food items that are making you fat, sick and miserable.

Detox your mind. Thoughts are extremely powerful in healing the body, mind and spirit. Nourish your mind with positive thoughts and information. Turn off the news. Minimize time spent with energy vampires and negative people. Generating positive emotions and thoughts is essential to detoxifying your mind. Practice positive affirmations daily. Let go of anything or anyone that pulls or puts you down. Every day, list 5 things, people or events you’re grateful for in a gratitude journal. Change your thoughts and you’ll change your life.

Identify any underlying cause of toxicity including toxic heavy metals, Candida, parasite infections, mycotoxins, and estrogen dominance.

Honor the process of detoxification. Whenever dietary changes are introduced, and depending on your toxic load, one can experience what is called a healing crisis where they feel worse before better. Symptoms may include frequent bowel movements, headaches, fatigue, or skin breakouts. These symptoms subside in a couple of days. Honor the process and listen to your body.

Everyone can benefit from a detox!

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of two books, “The Power of 4” and “Fat Loss Revolution.” She is a nutritionist and fitness expert with more than 25 years of experience, and creator of “21 Days to a Leaner, Healthier You,” an online exercise and fat-loss program. Visit Paula at

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