5 tips for clean living year-round

Last time, I talked about some of the reasons why restrictive, quick-fix “cleanses” and trendy detox products go against common sense and lack scientific evidence. Your body naturally and continually does detox on its own, without any gimmicks. That is the primary purpose of the liver, for example, which is the biggest organ in the body. Plus, clean living happens day after day, year after year, over a lifetime.

So today, I thought I’d give you some additional guidelines about how to approach clean living over the long haul.

  1. Go organic

Obviously, organic farmers do not use pesticides on their crops or soil. Yet some studies show that environmental toxins are so widespread, they can even contaminate organically grown foods, depending upon where they are grown and what is going on around them. In fact, the USDA Pesticide Data Program has consistently found that the vast majority of foods on the market contain pesticide residues. So the advice to “go organic” isn’t always as safe as it sounds. Growing your own organic garden in the backyard may be the safest and healthiest option.

If growing your own garden isn’t realistic, see the June 2016 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. You will find a list of fruits and vegetables that carry the heaviest pesticide burden. Put these items on your “organic-only” list. (Subscribers can download and view this issue for free on my website. And if you’re not already a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.)

2. Support a healthy metabolism

Your best defense against chronic exposure to environmental toxins is a well-nourished, well-functioning metabolism. Other organs have metabolic functions above and beyond their primary physiologic functions. My colleague at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Alfred E. Fishman, discovered all the non-respiratory metabolic functions of the lungs, for example, back in the 1960s.

A healthy liver continually breaks down toxic compounds and residual pesticides that get into the blood. Then, your kidneys safely eliminate them from the body. I suggest keeping whole foods in your diet that support these organs. Some foods to help support liver function include: avocados, beets, cruciferous vegetables, grapefruit, green tea, leafy green vegetables, lemons, turmeric, and walnuts.

Foods to support healthy kidney function include: bell peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, onions, apples, blueberries, cherries, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, eggs, and fish. The B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, also support healthy kidney function. Dandelion is another powerhouse in terms of supporting kidney function.

Overall, keeping your body well-nourished and maintaining healthy digestion is the best way to deal with toxins.

3. Protect your lungs

Your lungs get rid of toxic gases like carbon dioxide, as well as other toxic volatile chemicals that get into the blood. But you can help them function optimally by limiting your exposure to sources of toxins that are within your control.

So — avoid harsh chemicals for cleaning, such as bleach. Instead, use vinegar and baking soda. Also, avoid heavy perfumes. Instead, opt for essential oils to add a pleasing scent.

The FDA finally banned some toxic ingredients commonly added into personal care products, such as triclosan. But until that ban goes into full effect, you still need to read labels on personal care items.

Finally, keep the windows open in your house from time to time to let in fresh air and release the harmful toxins that can accumulate in the stale air.

4. Consider chelation therapy in extreme cases

The human body can eliminate relatively low levels of toxic chemicals and heavy metals over time. But if you’re exposed to a large enough dose of toxin, you will typically suffer from acute symptoms that will need to be medically treated.

Serious, symptomatic heavy metal toxicity can be treated with chelation therapy.

Chelation therapy uses an FDA-approved drug called EDTA. This drug removes heavy metals, such as lead, from the bloodstream and tissues. It works by chemically trapping the heavy metal so it can be eliminated in the urine.

A qualified doctor must administer chelation therapy by infusing EDTA directly into the bloodstream. Doctors often add other beneficial nutrients to the infusions as well.

For more information about chelation therapy, see the January 2013 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter.

5. Slow down and relax

Research shows therapeutic massage and acupuncture can help support health and relaxation. Spending time outside in Nature also helps you slow down and take time to focus, relax and rejuvenate. Stress itself creates metabolic byproducts that are toxic.

So — if you’re feeling the need to “detox,” don’t expect to find it in a bottle. Or attempt to achieve it in a weekend cleanse. Look around you and look inside. As former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop used to tell me, sometimes the “tincture of time” is the best medicine of all.