You’ve probably heard about toxins – it’s in our environment and our bodies, and it’s bad for us. But unless you live in the jungle and severely limit your contact with modern society, it’s almost impossible to not come into contact with toxins. Almost every living thing produces some sort of waste product, and of course there are manmade toxicants, some of which are bad for us. These include things like pesticides and chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used in electronics.
Where are toxins stored in the body?
Our bodies are not only exposed to environmental toxins, we also ingest them – that’s how they get into our bodies. Many of these toxins attach to our fat cells. This means that any food item containing fat is contaminated, which pretty much includes anything at the top of the food chain like meat and fish. And what we eat them, the toxicants end up in our fat cells.
While you do sweat out toxins, it’s only a miniscule amount that doesn’t impact the amount we ingest daily. And you may think that because toxins live in our fat cells, losing weight would help – but it’s not the case, because it would only mean that your remaining fat cells will be more concentrated with toxins.
How do you get rid of toxins?
The best way to limit your body’s toxin level is to prevent getting them ingested in the first place. This means sticking to a diet that doesn’t have a lot of fat – a plant-based diet is naturally lower in lipids and toxicants. But our body also has ingenious ways to get rid of toxins, and we have to nurture them.
Our skin: Our skin has a microbiome composed of bacteria, fungi, and yeast that serves as a barrier that protects us from organisms that can cause infection or inflammation. One layer underneath is an epidermal layer made of keratinocytes which serve as natural antibiotics, killing pathogens and toxins.
So the simple answer to how to get rid of toxins is to have healthy skin. This includes preventing excessive UV exposure, and keeping your skin moisturised (dry skin isn’t a strong barrier). Scientists suggest using thick, oily moisturisers rather than thinner lotions with a high water content, and the simpler the product, the better.
Our kidneys: Our kidneys are responsible for filtering our bloodstream by removing toxins and sending them to the bladder. It processes both natural body waste — acid, urea, and metabolic waste — and heavy metals you may ingest, like mercury and lead, and foreign substances. Toxicants that aren’t stored in lipids (like BPA used in plastics), can also be excreted through your urine.
To help your kidney remove toxins, simply staying hydrated is the healthiest thing to do.
What about health supplements and the like?
The best formula for detox is keeping hydrated, both inside and out. Although there are plenty of products out there that tout themselves as detox regimes, there’s no need to go that far.
Many people think using herbal detox supplements is good, but since they’re not medicine, they’re not regulated. And just because they’re plants, it doesn’t mean they can’t produce some of the worst toxins.
Your body is a well-oiled machine, and as long as you’re moisturising, eating well, and drinking plenty of water, you don’t need to do anything extra to ‘detox’.