Step 7: Identify & Remove Toxins That Limit You
By: Dave Asprey
July 12, 2012
I’ve had a lifelong battle with toxins. More like a war really. When I say toxins, I’m not just referring to pesticides or hazardous waste. A toxin is anything that damages the body.
Toxins can be from food (wheat, legumes, etc.), the air, water, mold, clothing, or for some, even your cell phone. I won’t be able to cover every possible toxin in this article, but I’ll show you how to identify and remove the most common and damaging.
One of the first ways I started biohacking was with a game called FreeCell. This is a simple online game you can play where you match squares. I played the game for several weeks to establish a baseline, then I started testing. I was looking for a way to track how certain foods affected my brain function. A few weeks of trial and error revealed that two days after eating wheat – my score dropped significantly.
I soon moved on to more advanced ways of tracking my mental performance, but this was a great start. After I eliminated numerous food toxins like wheat, legumes, and aspartame, I still felt there was something wrong. I was eating the equivalent of a paleo diet (the term and community didn’t exist back then), but there were certain foods that still made my joints hurt and my head throb.
After more research, I uncovered numerous other food toxins, the biggest of which were mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are damaging compounds produced by various species of mold. They can cause cancer, heart disease, kidney and liver failure, insomnia, stunted growth, miscarriage, and decreased brain function. Mycotoxins are also probably behind the mystery of high LDL cholesterol on the paleo diet (more on that in later articles).
Mycotoxins aren’t just found in food. Mold from drywall, plumbing, and any source of rot can produce mycotoxins. There are hundreds of other toxins, but this article is already long enough. Now I’m going to give you the quick reference guide for identifying and removing toxins.
Look for mold/mildew in and around your house and workplace.
Mold is sometimes hard to find, or goes unnoticed. Showers, toilets, and other areas with lot of moisture are a good place to start. Drywall and plaster can often get moldy if exposed to moisture. Older houses generally have more mold due to poor ventilation and leaky plumbing.
There are many other toxins besides mold in most buildings. Look for new carpeting, ventilation ducts, computers, and cell phone towers. I’ll talk more about why later in this article.
See if you’re allergic to mold.
This is something it took me years to figure out. Everyone has some allergy to molds, but for some people it’s almost life threatening. I grew up in a house with mold, so I’m especially sensitive. I’ve been known to hallucinate after eating a few bites of fresh corn that was contaminated with mycotoxins. While everyone should avoid mold as much as possible – it’s wise to see just how much of a reaction you have.
Review your current diet.
Most toxins come from your food. If you read step 1 in this series and are following a Bulletproof Diet, you’ve eliminated 99 percent of all food toxins. A regular paleo diet is a great place to start, but it still has more toxins than most people are aware of. If you aren’t getting or maintaining the results you want on paleo, you may not be able to handle the toxin load. You may find through more experimentation that you get even better results going Bulletproof. If you aren’t eating Bulletproof, start.
Eat A Bulletproof Diet
This is best way to get rid of toxins guaranteed. Not only does it avoid toxins from food, it also helps you remove toxins stored in your body’s tissues. The high fat diet teaches your body to access body fat stores. With a little intermittent fasting – you can remove a lot of toxins that would stay trapped in your cells. When you lose weight (if you need to), you may also release toxins from fat cells, some people have reported feeling a little under the weather before feeling amazing when they first switch over, this may be why. Others go straight to feeling better.
Grass-fed meat is one of the most important parts of the diet. Check out the posts on grass-fed meat to learn why (1, 2, 3). Please be careful to choose high-quality chocolate and coffee as these are other possible sources of mycotoxins. Even though I’ve posted about how to find mold free coffee on your own, so many people have asked me so often where and how to buy it, that I did some research and created Upgraded Coffee and Cacao Butter.
Cook your foods at lower temperatures. Incorporate water into your cooking whenever possible and use low temperatures. Do not use a microwave or fry. Cooking foods at high temperatures, especially by frying can cause formations of a compound called acrylamide, which may be linked to cancer.
Drink clean water and avoid plastic bottles.
Public water contains of fluoride, chlorine, and other nasty chemicals. Bottled water is okay in small amounts, but the BPA can be a problem with prolonged use. A report from the CDC found BPA in 92.6% of adults. When you remove BPA containing items from your diet for just three days, you can reduce your BPA levels by around 66%. Canned food and shopping receipts are also sources of BPA.
Well water is a safer option over bottled water. If you can’t get a well, install a water filter (for the sink and shower).
Avoid air fresheners, new plastics, and harsh cleaning agents.
If it’s synthetic and has a strong smell – it’s probably toxic. New cars, carpets, and plastic clothing should either be washed or left to air out before you use them. Check out Rodale.com for alternative deodorants and cleaning products.
Protect yourself from EMF’s.
Electronic devices like cell phones and laptops produce electromagnetic radiation. This kind of radiation may damage sperm quality, cause headaches, behavioral problems, disturb sleep and for some cause skin irritation. While the research is conflicting, the World Health Organization thought it prudent to establish a project to study EMF’s for health concerns, like an increase in certain kinds of cancers. Here are eight ways to avoid EMF’s
- Install EMF filters in your house.
- Hold cell phones/laptops 10-20mm away from your skin at all times.
- Turn your cell phone on “airplane mode” when it’s in your pocket.
- Use a headset or ear buds for speaking.
- Use an anti-EMF case like Pong for your iPhone, Android, or Blackberry.
- Keep your cell phone at least one inch from your skin while talking.
- Avoid using your cell phone when the signal is weak.
- Use a different side of your head to talk on the phone to disperse the radiation across both sides.
There are many other ways to reduce toxin exposure, you may find these are very effective and simple.
There are some supplements that can be extremely effective at removing toxins.
This is a naturally occurring compound that your body makes in small amounts. In supplement form, it aids in the removal of heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, excess estrogen, and metabolic byproducts. It also helps lower LDL cholesterol.
Spirulina & Chlorella
These are two kinds of blue-green algae that are extremely effective at binding and removing toxins from your body. They work well for detoxing from heavy metal exposure which is often a problem if you eat a lot of seafood. I take a handful of chlorella tablets every time I eat tuna or other high mercury fish.
This works well if you’ve eaten something you probably shouldn’t have. It also helps with the removal of toxins that would otherwise keep circulating throughout your body. If you know you’ve been exposed to a large number of toxins and want a quick fix, I highly recommend taking activated charcoal.
Toxins are a very real and dangerous threat. If you’ve been doing everything right in terms of diet, sleep, and stress, and you still do’t feel like you’re performing optimally – you’re likely suffering from toxin exposure. It may also be that you are performing better than you ever have, and still have room to increase your performance even more. The steps I just laid out are 80 percent of what you need to solve this problem.
In what ways do you think toxins may be effecting your health? What other toxins do you think go unnoticed? How do you identify and remove toxins?