Nutritionist informs about benefits of detoxing, harmful products to avoid

When you hear the word “detox,” you may picture someone making drastic cuts to their daily diet or participating in extreme and unsupervised fasting. Nutritionist and Wellness Coordinator Heather Carrera wants you to think otherwise. 

Carrera hosted a Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development workshop called “Detox to Reveal Your Best Self” in the MacVittie College Union on April 2. The GOLD program offers unique workshops like this one to help students develop real life skills for the future. 

To kick off the workshop, Carrera defined a toxin as anything capable of causing damage to tissue when entering the body, suggesting that people should detox to clear the body of any toxins. According to Carrera, the stereotypical idea of someone living on a diet of only green juice for a week isn’t the ideal form of detoxing—it can even harm the essential organs necessary to have a successful detox. 

“I think of a detox as two things,” Carrera said. “You’re either trying to limit the amount of toxins coming into your body, or you’re trying to help your body’s detoxification organs work more efficiently to get toxins out more quickly.” 

When tested, some babies were found to have more than 232 different toxins in their blood at birth, a number that can exceed 700 in adulthood. Toxins like lead, arsenic, BPA and mercury, along with food-based toxins that come from pesticides and GMOs, can lead to a variety of health problems. 

People may need a detox if they struggle with allergies, an autoimmune disease, have trouble sleeping or focusing, menstrual disorders, depression, skin problems, pain syndromes, weight loss and more. 

Environmental toxins are pretty much everywhere, but there are ways that they can be avoided. For example, tap water can be a source of heavy metal contamination. People should try to get a water filter for their sink and showerhead to reduce the amount of zinc, copper and chlorine being transferred into the body, according to Carrera.

Carrera also advised that people update their kitchenware, plastic bottles and Tupperware containing BPA as well as their non-stick pans which can cause bodily harm if they contain BPA.

“Just because something is labeled as ‘BPA free’ doesn’t mean it is safe to use,” Carrera said. “In some cases, it is replaced with a chemical that’s very similar to BPA. It’s much safer to use glassware.”

Personal care products like facial creams, hand soap, tampons and deodorant can also contain dangerous chemicals and toxins. Anything people put on their skin can be absorbed into the bloodstream, so it’s important to look at labels before purchasing skincare products. Avoid words like aluminum, parabens, phthalate and SLS. 

Aside from ditching unsafe and chemical-filled products, it’s also essential to eat properly to help detox organs. The gut, skin, lungs and kidneys are major organs in need of detoxification.

Detoxing is not a crazy diet. Simply eating as organic as possible and removing dirty foods from your daily caloric intake is enough. The Environmental Working Group publishes an annual list of produce with the highest pesticide residue, and an alternative list of 15 clean foods. According to the EWG, strawberries, spinach and kale are the top three most contaminated foods while avocadoes, sweet corn and pineapples are the safest. 

Protein is vital to improving detoxification pathways. Grains, herbs, spices and teas can also help. Try abstaining from processed foods, alcohol and caffeine. Don’t take medication like acetaminophen unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

Detoxing by eating right and avoiding harsh chemicals is a good way to support the body’s vital organs. As spring begins, it is a great time to expel all those toxins that have accumulated over the winter. It’s a way to feel happier, healthier and more toxin-free than ever before.