How To Detox Your Space & Body At The Same Time

Internist By Cynthia Li, M.D.
Cynthia Li, M.D. graduated from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and has practiced internal medicine in settings as diverse as Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Francisco General Hospital, to St. Anthony Medical Clinic for the homeless. She currently serves on the faculty of the Healer’s Art program at the UCSF School of Medicine, and has a private practice in integrative and functional medicine. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and their two daughters.
How To Detox Your Space & Body At The Same Time

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Here at mbg, we're partial to eliminating toxins in every way we can. That's why we love the new book by Cynthia Li, M.D., Brave New Medicine, as she identifies toxins in everyday places that can negatively affect our health. One of these places that needs a detox to ensure a healthy body is the environment in which we live. According to Li, home is truly where the heart is. For Li's tips on how to simultaneously detox the home and body, you'll want to check out the excerpt below.

Detoxifying the house.

Here are some ways to clean up your home environment. Consider making these changes slowly but surely rather than all at once so as not to overwhelm yourself or your family: 

1. Choose organic produce and meats whenever possible. (See the resources below for prioritizing produce.) 

Image by Trinette Reed / Stocksy

2. Shop at a farmers market if available. 

3. Use stainless-steel and/or ceramic cookware. Avoid nonstick pots and pans. 

4. For food storage, use Pyrex glass containers or recycled jars. Avoid storing or heating food in any type of plastic container. Also, choose beverages in glass bottles over aluminum cans when available. 

5. Filter chlorine from your drinking water, as well as other chemicals and pollutants. For good-quality basic water filters, go to 

6. Use an air purifier in your home and office to reduce allergens. 

7. Remove dust by using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, and vacuum often. Avoid sweeping as a regular way to remove dust, as this can aerosolize mold and other dust, which may carry pollutants. 

8. Wash hands with warm water and Castile soap. Avoid artificial fragrances, antibacterial soaps, and harsh astringents. 

9. Use biodegradable cleaning products or diluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide for cleaning and disinfecting. Avoid chlorine bleach. 

10. Reduce/eliminate plastics that off-gas—anything that smells "chemical," like vinyl shower curtains and synthetic carpets and padding. 

11. Use paints and other solvents that are low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) products. 

12. Choose personal care products with essential oils over synthetic fragrances. 

Image by Avery Klein / Unsplash

13. Choose couches that aren't sprayed with flame retardants. 

14. Reduce electro-pollution from EMF. Put your Wi-Fi modem on an overnight timer so it automatically shuts off during sleeping hours. Remove electric appliances that are close to the bed. Never wear your cellphone on your body. Keep your phone in airplane mode when not in use. 

15. Go beyond your own home. Support policies that promote cleaner alternatives. A healthier planet depends on healthier personal choices, and healthier individuals depend on a healthier planet. 

My favorite resources:

EWG: Wondering which foods to buy organic? Which personal health care products are healthier? Which safer insect repellents actually work? EWG is a nonprofit advocacy group with practical guidelines for everyday living.

Because Health: An at-a-glance compilation of science-based tips, guides, and expert advice to create a healthier future for you and your communities. 

Collaborative on Health and the Environment: Wondering how to get involved at the community level and beyond? Shifting the responsibility onto governmental agencies and industries reduces the responsibility for the individual or family. CHE (Collaborative on Health and the Environment) is an international association of scientists, health professionals, activists, policymakers, and community folks working together to review the latest science. There are searchable databases for chemicals, diseases, and symptoms. 

NRDC: An environmental action group focused on a variety of environmental policies. 

EPA: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a comprehensive pollutants database. 

• For more resources, see my website. 

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Detoxifying the self.

And here are a few tips to clean up the inner environment of your body. Because you are what you eat, drink, breathe, touch, and that which you cannot eliminate. 

The basics. When I use the term "detox," I'm not referring to high-end spas or extreme juicing fasts, which can strain your budget and harm your body. Detoxification is simply the body's innate capacity to filter and eliminate unwanted substances that would otherwise build up and contribute to chronic disease. Several organs assist us with this process (the skin, gut, immune system, lungs, and kidneys), although the primary organ responsible is the liver. 

The deeper story. Your individual capacity to detoxify depends on multiple factors: (1) your genes, (2) your cumulative exposure to environmental pollutants, (3) the health of your gut, (4) regular elimination by the gut (stool) and kidneys (urine), (5) the availability of key nutrients for the liver, and (6) your age. 

What to remove (or reduce)? 

1. Personal exposures through more informed choices (per above). 

2. Overall environmental exposures in your communities, by advocating for industries to use safer alternatives (see resources below). 

What to restore? Your body's innate detox processes. 

Here are 10 steps to do so: 

1. Do a lemon juice cleanse. First thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything (before any medicines or supplements), squeeze the juice of one fresh lemon, dilute with room-temperature, filtered water to your preference, and drink. Wait 20 minutes before eating or drinking anything else. Do this daily for three to four weeks. 

2. Eat your broccoli. Compounds in the Brassica family—kale, collards, beets, cauliflower, cabbage—boost your liver's detox enzymes while providing other nutrients and antioxidants. Steam them, boil them, or mix them into a smoothie. See No. 9. Heal the gut for specifics on a detox diet. 

3. Remember your protein. Amino acids like glycine boost your liver's detox enzymes, and cysteine is a necessary cofactor for the proteins that detoxify heavy metals. Bone broth, beans, and wild, oily fish are good sources. 

4. Increase your fiber. Aim for regular bowel movements, one or two times a day. Good sources of fiber: nonstarchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, flaxseed meal, and beans. Fiber supplements like psyllium or rice bran are alternative choices (around 30 grams per day plus plenty of water), as are prebiotic supplements (different from probiotics, these are the fibers that feed healthy gut flora).

Image by Marco Govel / Stocksy

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