Health is one of the best gifts we can give to our future children. Our babies’ health starts far before we actually become pregnant with them, and our health is a major contributor to their health. What we choose for ourselves, we choose for them.
Our personal toxin exposure is one of the biggest factors to consider and aim to reduce when planning for a healthy and happy baby. Through this blog series, we want to empower you to take charge of your and your family’s health in three steps. Dr. Leah Gordon, one of Needed’s trusted advisors, will help you better understand the toxins in your environment, how you can reduce your exposure, and how to support your body’s toxin elimination. Here is what you can expect:
- What are they?
- Where do they come from?
- Why do they matter?
- 5 tips to do so
- Learn the organs of elimination
- Tips to detox each one
Part Three: Eliminate Current Toxins in Our Bodies
How do we eliminate current toxins?
Unclog the drain
This is where we want to help open up or unclog your figurative “drain”. We do this by supporting the main organs of elimination for detoxification: bowels, kidneys, skin, liver, lymph, lungs, and mind. Below is a simple and valuable tip for each to help in this process.
Bowel movements are one of the major ways we eliminate toxins. This should be happening at least once a day. It’s healthy to poop 1-3 times a day. When we don’t eliminate often, the toxins from our environment -- and the waste our body naturally makes -- backs up and often gets re-circulated into our system, harming our health.
To help with daily bowel movement, make sure you have plenty of fiber in your diet. On a daily basis, women under age 50 should aim for 25 grams, and men should aim for 38 grams of fiber. If you are over 50 years of age, 21 and 30 grams, respectively, are recommended. Great sources of fiber include vegetables, oatmeal, fibrous fruits, chia and flax seeds, and psyllium husk.
Fiber and water are best friends so when you eat fiber, you need water too. If you are eating plenty of fiber, but are still not having a bowel movement, make sure your water consumption is adequate.
The other way we flush out the majority of chemicals and toxins is by urinating often, with the help of our kidneys. Our kidneys act as a sophisticated strainer. When we drink water, our blood is filtered through the kidneys. Nutrients we need stay in our body, and ones that are harmful leave the body through urination. Drinking plenty of clean water ensures that toxins are pushed out.
The best thing to do is to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of clean filtered or spring water daily. For example, if you are 140 pounds, you would need 70 ounces of water daily.
Bonus tip: Ditch plastic water bottles. Plastics are a huge source of toxins that disrupt our hormones, so stick with glass or stainless steel as much as you possibly can.
Our skin is our largest organ. As much as it absorbs toxins, it can also release toxins. Sweating is a wonderful way to do this. We often think of sweating as a bad thing when, really, it’s critical to a healthy, well functioning body. It’s especially helpful for the toxins that naturally dissolve in water.
Strive for a weekly practice of sweating, either through rigorous exercise or a sauna. Always consult with your doctor prior to doing vigorous exercise or using a sauna.
Many of us are familiar with the fact that we have blood vessels circulating all around our bodies, but did you know we have another system of vessels that exist outside of our blood? It’s called our lymphatic system, and it helps to fight infections and eliminate toxins. Unlike our blood vessels that pump naturally on their own, our lymphatic system relies on our muscles to contract to move the lymph along, or on physical stimulation to move them along.
To help reduce toxins through our lymphatic system, you can do a daily dry skin brushing practice. The other way to stimulate lymphatic movement is to contract certain muscles in your exercise routines to help move the toxins through your system & eliminate them.
Our lungs are another major organ of exposure and elimination, meaning we can absorb a lot of toxins through breathing, and we can get rid of a lot of toxins through breathing. If you have ever smelled someone’s breath after they consumed something, such as alcohol, the odor is actually a toxic substance your lungs are eliminating through breathing.
One of the best ways to encourage lung detoxification is to take deep belly breaths every day. There are many deep breathing exercises, so choose one that works for you. Just remember that the more intentional you are with allowing the breath to release toxins, the better results you’ll have. Try breathing in for 5-8 seconds and breathing out for 5-8 seconds with your hand on your belly 3-5 times. Do this as often as you can or at least once a day.
Our liver is an organ that helps to break down, process, and package chemicals, so that they can leave the body. In order for it to do this, it needs very specific nutrients.
To function properly, the liver needs a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as folate and vitamin B12. Certain amino acids, found in foods that contain protein, are also necessary, along
with sulphur-containing foods that contribute to glutathione, which is essential for optimal liver detoxification. Foods containing sulfur include eggs, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
Eating a whole food diet rich in colorful fruits, vegetables, and clean protein, as well as taking a comprehensive prenatal, are wonderful ways to ensure you are getting the proper nutrients you need for liver support.
This last organ may not be one you think of, but it is a source of toxins and medicine just the same. Stress is one of the most potent and damaging toxins there is. This is especially true in pregnancy. The more we can reduce our stress and find joy and gratitude, the more our entire body shifts from being bathed in damaging hormones to those of health and healing.
I recommend having a daily gratitude journal that you fill out each morning or night. Once you start paying attention to all of the little things to be grateful for, you will notice life seems a little brighter. This is incredibly helpful for stress reduction and healing, in general!
After taking these steps--understanding toxins, reducing toxic exposure, and eliminating toxins from your body--you will be on a great path toward a healthy and happy pregnancy and baby!
And remember, throughout this journey, it’s important to practice compassion and be kind to yourself. It’s an unfortunate fact of life today that we are exposed to a variety of chemicals and toxins on a daily basis, and it’s ok that we won’t be able to avoid them all 100% of the time. Our bodies are designed to help get rid of toxins; we just get to help it out however we can.
The best thing we can do is to become aware, feel empowered in making better choices, and know that all of our individual choices add up and will impact our planet in a larger way. Focus on sharing this knowledge with others and living a life full of kindness, reduced stress, and gratitude.
Wishing you health on your own preconception journey.
Dr. Leah Gordon, ND