We are bombarded with toxins at every turn, as countless news stories point out. Smoke in the air, chemicals in the water, dangerous elements in our body products, in our toothpaste, in the food we eat every day. How do we cope with what appears to be the inescapable reality that just being alive seems to put us at risk in our modern society?
Well, we have to moderate what we can, eliminate what we must, and make our daily lives as safe as we are able. How does this work when it comes to food?
There are many diseases that develop as a result of ingesting certain kinds of foods with toxic elements and by the creation of toxic byproducts in the body that result from eating those foods. We have to start by increasing the elements in the diet that provide the most nutrients to our body and decrease or eliminate the most dangerous offenders to our health.
Where do you start to eliminate toxins?
Animal products contain a high amount of toxic elements, which can be multiplied depending on the chosen cooking method. Here are some of the known disease-promoting elements found in animal products:
HCAs: Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) are compounds that are created when meats and other foods have been cooked at high temperatures. These compounds have been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.
PAHs: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when chemicals are released in grilling or smoking food over items like coal or wood. The byproducts are linked to increased incidences of certain cancers, as well as kidney and liver damage.
Mercury: This is probably a familiar term to anyone who enjoys seafood. Mercury is an element that collects in oceans, lakes, and streams. In the water, mercury turns into methylmercury, a neurotoxin found in most fish in at least small amounts.
Dioxins: These chemically related compounds are considered to be one of the most dangerous of the environmental pollutants. Tests have shown that these toxic elements accumulate in the fat tissues of the body and can remain there for over 10 years. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones, and cause cancer. They are found especially in dairy products, meat, fish, and shellfish. More than 90% of exposure to dioxins is through the food chain.
Hormones and Antibiotics: These elements in the food chain have been utilized for years to promote growth in animals in general, and milk production in cows. It has been suggested by some doctors that the use of antibiotics contributes to the increased amount of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and is contributory in intestinal illnesses, cases of salmonella, and other bacterial illnesses. It has been suggested that growth hormones are linked to cancers, such as breast and uterine cancer, and developmental problems in children.
So, what can we do to reduce our toxic load?
One answer is to increase fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. Plant-based “superfoods” are key. Here is how they can help:
These super foods contain (among other health promoters): chlorophyll, the well known plant pigment giving these veggies the spectacular lovely dark green hue. Chlorophyll has binds to mutagens and carcinogens and blocks them from doing DNA damage. The most active and effective members of the green kingdom are cruciferous vegetables: kale, collards, broccoli, watercress, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, arugula, and many more. Enjoy these powerhouse veggies raw or cooked.
Berries are the most super members of the fruit family. On the topic of berries, Dr. Joel Fuhrman says, “Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients – they are among the best foods you can eat. Their vibrant colors mean that they are full of antioxidants, including flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins—berries are some of the highest antioxidant foods in existence. Berries’ plentiful antioxidant content confers both cardio-protective and anti-cancer effects, such asreducing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, preventing DNA damage, inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, and stimulating of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline.” Enjoy all types of berries for their delicious taste and their health benefits.
Fiber is found only in plant foods. The body operates best with a good amount, and we need plants to provide it. Fiber helps to keep us feeling full, lowers cholesterol, keeps us “regular,” and can assist in reducing the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Fiber binds to toxins, and because it promotes good digestive health, it can help speed those toxins right out of your system. Fiber is not an option for good health; it is a requirement. If you haven’t been eating many fiber-filled foods, start slow and work up. Here are some of the highest fiber foods to incorporate in your diet: beans, legumes, broccoli, berries, whole grains, flax and chia seeds, dark leafy greens, and nuts and seeds. Add some of these foods to your daily diet for increased health.
One last note about animal products:
If you are going to eat meat, the most healthful preparation method is water-based, such as steaming or boiling, rather than the high heat, dry cooking methods or frying.
While toxins may be the inevitable result of living in a modern society, there are ways to decrease or eliminate some of those agitators. Increase the most healthful and nutrient dense foods to help counteract the negative effects of our daily intake.
Here is to your continued health and wellness!
To learn more about eliminating toxins, schedule a free session with Ida or one of our other expert nutrition coaches.