But what of the toxins you’ve already accumulated?

For these, we must detox.

Unfortunately, the word detox has been co-opted by the wellness industry, which for all of its positive aspects, is financially fuelled at least in part by selling you on the notion that you are inadequate.

But you aren’t inadequate.

Your body actively detoxifies itself, and there are powerful dietary and lifestyle tools that you can use to support (and even boost) this process.

Keep Plants Around You

Plants don’t just make our spaces more inviting; they clean the air.

The air-purifying ability of plants was originally studied for their utility on space stations where they could help produce fresh, clean air for our astronauts.

Dr. Bill Wolverton details the plants that are most effective at removing various chemical vapours.

According to his studies, these are the top ten plants for cleaning the air in your home or office, rated for their efficacy and ease of maintenance:

  • Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens—recently changed to Dypsis lutescens)
  • Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
  • Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
  • Rubber plant (Ficus robusta)
  • Dracaena Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig”)
  • English ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
  • Ficus alii (Ficus binnendijkii “Alii”)
  • Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”)
  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)

Keep plants in your home, and if you spend extended bouts of time in any one location.

Make sure that you have plants in your “personal breathing zone,” defined by Dr. Wolverton as six to eight cubic feet around you.

And note that some of the above plants are toxic if ingested by dogs or cats, so inquire with your supplier to find out which are safe if you have pets.

Sweat Like Your Life Depends on It

Skin is a major detox organ, and when we sweat, we release significant quantities of the countless hormone-disrupting and cancer-associated chemicals.

These include flame retardants, heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, aluminium, and cadmium, and plastic conditioners like phthalates and bisphenol A.

Of note, the quantities released through sweat are frequently higher (and sometimes much higher) than what we release via urine, the “usual” means of day-to-day excretion.

Exercise is one way of inducing sweating, but so is using a sauna.

Whether you prefer a dry sauna or infrared, choose one that you can safely sit in long enough to sweat, and remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after, since sweating also causes you to shed important trace minerals and electrolytes.

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are among our most powerful detoxifying foods, each containing several compounds that help your body both sequester and purge toxins, including heavy metals.

These naturally bitter chemicals which aren’t necessarily vitamins or minerals can prime the body’s detoxification system, upregulating chemicals like glutathione (the body’s master detoxifier) that can disarm and ultimately purge environmental pollutants.

Keep in mind that they tend to be more abundant in organic produce.

Cruciferous vegetables in particular are a powerful tool for detoxification.

When we chew kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, radishes, or Brussels sprouts (all examples of cruciferous vegetables), our teeth break apart the plant’s cell walls.

This causes a chemical called glucoraphanin to combine with another, called myrosinase.

The enzymatic marriage gives birth to a new compound: sulforaphane.

Toxic to insects, sulforaphane elicits a defense response in humans, activating enzymes that help you neutralize and excrete environmental toxins.

Cooking inactivates myrosinase, which is required to create sulforaphane.

Certain gut bacteria can convert some of the remaining glucoraphanin to sulforaphane, but you can take matters into your own hands with a simple and powerful hack:

  • add 1 gram of mustard seed powder (about half a teaspoon) to your veggies after cooking.
  • Mustard itself is a cruciferous vegetable, and it therefore contains myrosinase.
  • By adding the powder, you regain the ability to produce sulforaphane (plus, it’s tasty).
  • Try to incorporate both raw and cooked crucifers.
  • Or give young broccoli sprouts a try: they contain up to one hundred times the sulforaphane-producing capacity of adult broccoli

Cruciferous vegetables also contain other compounds that are directly involved in detoxification, including cyanohydroxybutane and diindolyl-methane, or DIM for short.

Both of these compounds are involved in your body’s detoxification processes no expensive juice kits or cleanses are required.

Load Up on Nutrient Density

Choosing a varied array of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits and vegetables, will not only help avert deficiencies, it will give your body the tools it needs for a counterstrike against various toxins.

Choose foods like dark leafy greens and other fibrous veggies (kale, spinach, and arugula, for example) that are high in antioxidants as well as essential minerals, which may reduce the uptake of heavy metals from the digestive tract.

Eat the Smelly Foods

Cysteine is an amino acid that provides sulphur, a smelly molecule that happens to be crucial for your body’s detox pathways.

Foods rich in this compound include all high-protein foods beef, fish, poultry, eggs, and vegetables such as broccoli, garlic, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, watercress, and mustard greens.

Cysteine is important as a “rate-limiting” precursor to the synthesis of glutathione, your body’s master detoxifier.

This means that you can only produce as much glutathione as your cysteine supplies allow.

Whey protein (a popular sports supplement) also happens to be high in cysteine.

One 2003 study found that whey protein increased intracellular glutathione and protected prostate cells from oxidation-induced cell death.

Making some of the changes I recommend may seem daunting at first, but keep in mind that you only need to do this once.

You can also integrate these changes over time, but I always advise the “one and done” approach.

And though the initial investment into what you’ll be replacing them with may seem substantial (i.e., flame retardant–free furniture), keep in mind that, like buying a bunch of spices for an exotic recipe, you’ll have them for a long time.

It’s an investment in living a Genius Life.

However, this wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide to the countless potentially dangerous chemicals (that could fill volumes).

I hope it helps you to think more critically about the modern environment.

And, of course, eliminating the aforementioned toxins from your environment can protect you and your loved ones as the science continues to evolve.

If you suspect poisoning by any of the above compounds, be sure to consult with your doctor.


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