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Food For Thought: How Toxins May Affect Weight Loss

Let’s talk toxins.

The word “toxin” is a rather broad term, covering both toxins that are created from normal bodily functions (internal toxins) and those from outside sources, like pesticides, industrial chemicals, mercury and more (external toxins). Our bodies were brilliantly designed to deal with a certain degree of toxins, eliminating them through our kidneys and liver, but modern times have exposed us to many more toxins than we were built to deal with– leading to over-burdened organs, illness, and weight gain.

[source]

Today, I’d like to specifically focus on how toxins affect our attempts at weight loss. As I understand it, toxins that enter our body are stored in our fat cells–> that’s how our bodies protect our vital organs! (It’s also why belly fat is considered more dangerous than lower body fat, because it’s stored so close to those precious organs.)

In a study titled “Energy Balance and Pollution by Organochlorines and Polychlorinated Biphenyls,” published in Obesity Review in 2003, researchers concluded that pesticides and PCBs (from industrial pollution) poison our metabolism when they are released from stored fat tissue. [source]

In other words, when we start to lose weight and dissolve body fat, those stored toxins are released back into our bodies and slow our metabolism… stalling weight loss right along with it.

[source]

In one of my favorite books, UltraMetabolism, Dr. Mark Hyman explains that 63 scientific studies have explored the link between chemical toxins and obesity. Among those studies, researchers found that toxins, specifically pesticides and PCBs, interfere with many aspects of metabolism including disrupting hormone levels, blocking thyroid receptors, stressing liver function, and damaging the mitochondria and their ability to burn calories after weight loss. Toxins may also damage hormone signals, affecting our very important hormone leptin– which is responsible for telling your brain that you’re full!

So, these toxins can wreak havoc on our body’s two key metabolic organs –the liver and thyroid– as well as damage our energy-burning factories– the mitochondria. On top of that, they may impair leptin’s signals to your brain, making you hungry all the time.

No wonder losing weight is such a challenge! It also explains why it’s harder to keep it off, thanks to a slower metabolism.

After reading some of these results, one might assume it’s just safer to keep the body fat. Why risk re-toxifying ourselves when we lose it?

Luckily, there are steps we can take to send those pesky toxins packing!

1. Minimize your exposure to toxins. Eat more organic foods, drink filtered water, use air filters, keep houseplants, and reduce or eliminate the use of toxic household cleaners and body care products.

2. Sweat it out! Exercise and saunas are both great ways to work up a sweat, and excrete pesticides and heavy metals through your skin. (Saunas were used to help detoxify the workers at Ground Zero after 9/11.)

3. Eat foods that help you detoxify. Recommended are cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, kale, and cauliflower, green tea, dandelion greens, cilantro, garlic, citrus peels and cocoa. (<– I’ve got that last one covered!)

4. Make sure you’re eliminating regularly. It may not be very lady-like to discuss, but having one to two bowel movements a day is essential for moving waste out of the body. Pure water enemas can be helpful in this department, if needed.

Though excess toxins remain a universal problem, I hope we will all find a way to reduce our exposure and eliminate them we can! I think our waistlines– and overall health– will thank us.

Reader Feedback: Are you concerned with toxins? If so, what steps do you take to reduce your exposure?

23 comments to Food For Thought: How Toxins May Affect Weight Loss

  • Great topic Megan! Like you said, there are so many environmental toxins that we don’t have direct control over, so I think it’s really important to at least minimize our exposure by changing diet. Luckily I love most of the detoxifying foods (except for dandelion – I’m not such a fan of that unless the greens are hidden with lots of other things in a smoothie!) so I think I’ve got that one well-covered. Very interesting about the toxins being re-released into the body when we burn fat though… I didn’t know that!

  • I love cilantro citrus peels really how do you eat those?!

  • Great post! There are so many toxins in our foods that we have no idea about, its pretty scary actually. When I was underweight also my nutritionist told me lots about leptin, and a lot of people who don’t recover from an eating disorder fully can actually end up overweight in the long term when they don’t consume enough calories, because the leptin levels get so disrupted that a lot of the time people won’t know when they are full, which makes them go back to the disorder and can actually promote weight gain. Our bodies are such amazing things and its crazy how many factors can influence them. I’m pretty good with making sure I get enough detoxifying foods and exercise as well.

  • […] (or lack of it)? It’s a viscious circle, detoxing, toxins, weight loss, weight gain, etc. Here Detoxinista sheds some light on the subject. For more personal info, contact […]

  • Marbara

    I recently became aware of chemical – free cleaning products when I went to a Norwex party. Cleaning with water and microfiber cloths will keep the chemicals out of your home! I liked them so much i signed up to sell them to get the word out that there is an alternative that is healthier for everyone! http://Www.marbarastivers. Norwex.biz

  • Robyn

    Great topic and good info thankyou…I love alll those foods as well. I also drink plain hot water once or twice a day and oil pull(coconut oil), and dry brush.

    • hannah

      Can you explaing what “oil pull” means, and what it does?
      Thanks in advance.

      • Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice, where you put about a TBS. of oil (like coconut or olive) in your mouth and pull it through your mouth/teeth for about 15 to 20 minutes (not swishing), and then spit out and start your day. The pulling activates enzymes and the enzymes draw toxins out of the blood. The oil must not be swallowed, for it collects those unwanted toxins.

        It’s thought to be helpful for numerous conditions, including migraines and headaches, gum disease and teeth whiteneing, arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease and more.

  • Sherry

    I have never heard of ” oil pulling ” and I’m a daily reader on healthy eating, cooking, raw foods, etc. Interesting!!! If you can’t swish it in your mouth, how do you pull it through?

    • I first heard of oil pulling among the raw food community a few years ago, and have yet to try it– the idea of swishing oil in my mouth for that long sounds challenging!

      When they say not to “swish,” I think they just mean that you’re supposed to be pulling and pushing the oil between your teeth in a specific manner, not just however you feel like doing it. There’s tons of information out there on the subject, if you feel like looking into it! :)

  • hannah

    After reading for the last hour or so, I’m going to try it. If it’s what it’s cracked up to be, the claims, and the possible benefits are great enough to make me very curious.

    It sounds awful, like I’ll have a gag reflex. But maybe not, for I haven’t read anyone speak of that problem. Anyway, it can’t hurt, and I have the sunflower, sesame, and exvirg coconut oils, all organic, so I’m psyching myself up for tommorrow morning.

    Among other pages, I went to: http://bobm288.hubpages.com/hub/Health_Benefits_of_Oil_Pulling_ and: http://www.oilpulling.com/FAQ.htm

  • Kelly

    What do you think about clay bentonite? I’ve heard it’s good for detoxifying, and I have tried it and could feel it, but I’ve also heard it’s harsh on the body….?

    • I only take clay bentonite when I’m feeling sick. I use Sonnes #7, I find it helpful in fighting a cold! However, I would never take it regularly, as I’m not sure the body could keep pushing it through without extra assistance (like enemas and gravity colonics).

  • Dianna

    Oil pulling, I had forgotten about that. I did it a few years ago and it wasn’t too bad. I am gonna start it again now that you all reminded me. I first read about it on a site called earthclinic.com. I do the apple cider vinegar with the mother for gurd, and varicose veins, works wonders for me. Like everything else it may and may not work from person to person. Really like this site for day to day real living. Recommended you to my 8 sisters and 2 brothers 2 days ago. 4 have already visited.

  • Michelle

    I saw your recipe for yummy broccoli and was wondering what is Evoo?? Thanks

    • Megan

      EVOO = Extra Virgin Olive Oil. However, this is a very old recipe and I actually prefer cooking with coconut oil now! It’s delicious, either way.

  • Joyce

    How do you use ACV for varicose veins?

  • Jean

    I’m wondering if, since going from a typical crappy American diet to a solid month of juicing, and all around Clean eating (and giving up coffee and soda), this is why I’m not losing weight. I don’t have a lot to lose, maybe 10-15 pounds, so it doesn’t come off easily (like if I was really overweight), but I can’t figure it out. Doesn’t matter, even if I don’t lose weight, clean eating is it for me from here on out! Thank you for such great “sweet” recipes to make this possible, I couldn’t have come this far with out the Peanut butter choc chip blondies or paleo choc chip cookies to lean on a bit!

  • Check your cosmetics & personal care! They can be loaded with toxins that are slathered on your bod!
    Find natural personal care & makeup at appleblossomnatural.com. :)

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