10 Ways to Lighten Your Toxic Load


There is almost universal agreement among scientists and physicians that the environmental toxins and chemicals to which we are increasingly exposed are interfering with the immune system’s ability to distinguish self from non-self.

– Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D., neurologist and neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from the forward to The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson-Nakazawa

Toxins are the main reason autoimmune disorders are becoming epidemic. Environmental chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, farmed fish fed GMO corn, soy, and wheat, plastic everywhere, and even arsenic in rice and chicken. Babies born today have an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in their umbilical cord blood.1A Benchmark Investigation of Industrial Chemicals, Pollutants and Pesticides in Umbilical Cord Blood, Environmental Working Group, July 14, 2005, http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newbornsTalk about an unfair start!

According to health educator, Chris Kresser, Toxic burden is determined by two factors: the levels of toxic chemicals and microorganisms that we’re exposed to, and the function of our innate detoxification system. If our exposure to toxins is high and our detoxification system is compromised—due to genetic predisposition, environmental factors, or both—then our toxic burden will be high.”

Nearly half of us have mutations in our detoxification systems; and more than 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released into the US environment each year, including 72 million pounds of recognized carcinogens. Only a small percentage of these chemicals are tested for safety.2The Great Chemical Unknown: A Graphical View of Limited Lab Testing, Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-great-chemical-unknown/ We must protect ourselves proactively from the onslaught. And we’re not just talking about toxins “out there.” We also mean toxins “in here” like toxic gut bacteria, mycotoxins, and negative thoughts and emotions.

Good news: according to Toxin expert, Joseph Pizzorno, ND, founder of Bastyr University of naturopathic medicine, and author of the book, The Toxin Solution, we can reduce 85% of our “non-persistent” body burden in four days just by switching to an organic diet.

Here are ten things you can do to lighten your toxic load:

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    Kick the Sugar Habit

    If you were to make just one change to positively impact your health, you’d be wise to remove added sugar and processed foods, which quickly convert into sugar in your bloodstream. Accumulating evidence shows that sugar plays a lead role in screwing up your metabolism, developing insulin resistance (your pancreas can’t keep up with the demands for insulin), obesity (your body stores excess sugar as fat), type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.3Hypertriglyceridemia, insulin resistance, and the metabolic syndrome, Scott M Grundy, MD, PhD, American Journal of Cardiology, http://www.ajconline.org/article/S0002-9149(99)00211-8/abstract Each of those preventable and reversible disorders puts you at a heightened risk for autoimmune conditions, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.4Role of “Western diet” in inflammatory autoimmune diseases., A. Manzel, et. al, Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014 Jan;14(1):404. doi: 10.1007/s11882-013-0404-6., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24338487

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    Do an Elimination Diet

    Pick a month and commit to following the elimination diet 100%. Remove the top autoimmune triggering foods: gluten, grains, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, beans/lentils, coffee, alcohol, nuts, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers & eggplant). After 30 days, reintroduce each item one at a time and slowly; meaning wait at least 48 hours before introducing a new item. Pay attention to how you feel. If you have gut issues, headaches, aches and pains, or brain fog, you may have a sensitivity to one of these foods. Best to keep it out of your diet for another month and then try reintroducing it again. If you’ve already done this and are still dealing with autoimmune issue, you may want to jump straight to testing. While food sensitivity testing is notoriously hit or miss, two of the best options are ELISA/ACT, which offers reactive lymphocyte response testing, and Vibrant Wellness which offers peptide level testing.

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    Dispose of Chemically-Based Home and Body Care Products

    Home cleaning and body-care products are filled with harmful chemicals like parabens (a preservative), phthalates (found in fragranced lotions, soaps, even toilet paper!), and chlorine (found in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, and your drinking water!). Each of these are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors and carcinogens (cancer-causing). Dispose of these products at a “hazardous waste” drop-off location. A good rule of thumb is to only use products with ingredients you can identify or would eat. For guidance on which ingredients and products are safe and which contain potentially toxic chemicals, consult the Environmental Working Group.

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    Turn Off The Tap

    Most tap water is far from pure, containing numerous chemicals, metals, solvents, herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, arsenic, and even pharmaceutical drugs like anti-depressants.5Fluoride and Other Chemicals in Your Drinking Water Could Be Wrecking Your Health, Dr. Mercola, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/28/fluoride-drinking-water.aspx Filter the tap water in your kitchen and bathrooms to avoid consuming or soaking in these hazardous chemicals. Do your research and make sure the filter gets out chlorine, metals, and fluoride too. Most don’t don’t remove fluoride.

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    Pass On Plastic

    Most plastic bottles and storage containers contain BPA (Bisphenol-A) and phthalates, known endocrine (hormone) disruptors. According to the National Institute of Health, Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.” Store your water in glass or stainless steel containers, and never heat food in plastic storage containers. Did you know that even  “paper” cups you get for coffee and tea are lined with plastic? Carry your own stainless steel containers or use ceramic mugs.

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    Remove Hidden Mold

    If you have had any water damage in your home, you may have a mold problem and don’t know it. Common places that mold grows include window sills, under sinks, in the washing machine, and inside the HVAC system. Scientific research connects mold exposure with various health conditions including memory loss, headaches, autoimmune conditions, and cancer.6http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/03/molds-making-you-ill.aspx Learn more about the dangers of mold and how to deal with it in this article by Chris Kresser.

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    Lower Your Mercury Load

    A study by researchers from the University of Michigan claims that even at levels considered to be safe, mercury exposure may be hazardous to health, raising the risk factor for autoimmune disorders among women of childbearing age. Dr. Patrick Kingsley, the UK’s leading expert on Multiple Sclerosis (MS), reports that of the nearly 4,000 patients he has seen, only five didn’t suffer from mercury poisoning.7Multiple Sclerosis – Poisoning in Slow Motion, What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY);http://www.wddty.com/multiple-sclerosis.html What can you do to lower your risk and reclaim your health? Minimize consumption of big fish like tuna, swordfish, and orange roughy, avoid unnecessary vaccines, and explore having your silver amalgam (which are 50% mercury) fillings removed safely by a holistic dentist.

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    Find and Treat Hidden Infections

    Growing scientific evidence indicates that chronic infections from bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi may be the primary environmental trigger for autoimmune disease.8Infections and autoimmunity: the multifaceted relationship, Sfriso, P., et. al.; March 2010, Journal of Leukocyte Biology, vol. 87 no. 3 385-395, http://www.jleukbio.org/content/87/3/385.full According to Lee Cowden, MD, board certified cardiologist, and teacher of integrative health, the key to recovery is to strengthen the resistance of the host. Strengthening resistance means getting your immune system in good fighting shape. That entails getting toxins out of the body which may be impairing your body’s resistance, and adding in nourishing lifestyle practices to unburden or rejuvenate your immune system.

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    Catch and Release Negative Thoughts and Emotions

    Often the biggest source of our stress is our own mind. Research shows that we have about 60,000 thoughts each day and most are negative. Worrying, catastrophizing, mind reading and all-or-nothing thinking are examples of distorted, negative thinking. The antidote is to become aware of your thoughts and challenge the unproductive, distorted ones.

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    Turn Off Stressful Media

    Most news exists to do one thing: sell advertising. And even the advertising itself, like drugs with their endless lists of unwanted effects, can be stressful. As they say, “the more it bleeds, the more it leads.” Did you know that scary movies and sad music negatively impact your nervous system?9Neural correlates of fear-induced sympathetic response associated with the peripheral temperature change rate.,Yoshihara K, et. al., Neuroimage. 2016 Jul 1;134:522-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.04.040. Epub 2016 Apr 19., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27107469 Make a conscious choice to watch and listen to positive news, comedies, and uplifting music, particularly in the evening.

What will you do today to lighten your toxic load?

Take good care!

P.S. Want my personal help beating an autoimmune condition? If you live in the continental U.S. (except NY due to state laws) and are ready, willing, and able to invest in your best health, I offer Functional Medicine Total Health Transformation Programs over Zoom. I collaborate with skilled naturopaths who are expert in resolving root causes like hormonal imbalances, gut disorders, chronic infections and toxic burdens which are almost always part of the autoimmune puzzle. Together we provide comprehensive, customized treatment plans, and collaborative, caring support. If you are ready to beat autoimmune and reclaim your best life please book a 30–minute consultation with me to gain clarity, confidence, and explore the possibility of working together.

Photo by Aditya Saxena


  1. Thank you for your informative information re immune diseases. I’ve Sjogrens and under active thyroid and orsteoarthritis in my knee. I’m wondering if you know snot someone in Melbourne Australia who has the same input as you do to help folk? Bye for now. Pam Evans.

    • Pam, what are you doing to reverse the Sjogren’s and hypothyroid? Thankfully, these conditions are reversible!

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