The “Shift”: 4 Areas to Detox in Your Life


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toxins

Someone wise once said, “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never.”  I am sure many of you, like me, can identify with this.

Ignorance is NOT bliss!

Before kids, food was just something that had to be eaten in moderation to satisfy hunger, and the tastier it was the better! I had no concept of vital life force in the food, or the effect food had on my mental state or my individual mind-body energies/doshas. Skin and hair products were to be used to somehow magically impart the clearest skin and the most luscious locks, but somehow what I was putting “into” my body was never held accountable for any of these tasks. In my mind, imparting beauty was the sole responsibility of these superficially applied chemical products. I never took the time to read the labels on them to see how many ingredients were present whose names I couldn’t even pronounce! I didn’t pay attention to the type of cookware we used, the type of utensils we ate in, the tablets we popped in without a second thought for simple ailments, the household products we used, stress management – the list is endless!

So, what is a toxin?

After kids and with the increasing awareness and responsibilities that come with being a parent, my viewpoints have gradually changed. In general, anything that is capable of causing disease when it enters the body is a toxin – the higher the dosage, the higher the toxicity. Anything that is not natural, synthetic or chemical is toxic for the body since the natural intelligence of the body is at a loss when it comes to processing it. The more we ingest such “toxins”, the greater the stress on our bodies which ultimately over time lowers immunity and is the start of diseases over the whole spectrum like allergies to even cancer.

What is the “shift”?

The “shift” is a change in mindset that we need to slowly adopt in order to detox our lives. From the food we eat, to the cosmetic products we use, to the household products we use and to the toxic habits we resist from changing – all need a re-haul, a detox! We are already dealing with a lot more than our bodies can handle in modern living – mental and emotional toxins being ingested through our thoughts and emotions, air pollution leading to toxins making their way in through the air we breathe, pollutants in the water we drink, food with preservatives, GMOs, chemicals, pesticides, contaminants from cookware etc. leading to toxic input from what we put into our mouths to feed ourselves. Some of these are within our control and some out of our control. Daunting as it may seem, we have to start the “shift” slowly and make small but persistent and consistent changes to our lives to consciously reduce the toxic influx that we are continuously subjected to.

Shift in Food Habits

This website has several articles on food and Ayurveda’s view on nutrition. In this article, I want to specifically focus on the potential toxins that we can ingest through food. Pesticide residues and GMOs in crops (read fruit, vegetables, grains etc.), BPA from using plastic ware, Teflon (a synthetic polymer) and other PFCs (perfluorinated chemical “family”) from using non-stick cookware, preservatives to increase shelf-life of numerous store-bought foods, synthetic growth hormones in milk and dairy products, chemical coloring agents in some foods – the list is endless. Also, the list of poisonous unpronounceable chemical ingredients being added to foods these days in the name of emulsification, taste enhancement, fat reduction etc. is just overwhelming! Using organic products as far as possible reduces the risk of ingestion of these toxins considerably, but not completely. Home-made versus store bought or restaurant made is another risk reduction method, albeit tiring and sometimes monotonous, but worth the effort, once you know the potential dangers. Even a reduction, rather than complete abstention is a step in the right direction, in my opinion.

Food Product Options
Sauces,  pickles and condiments
  • Make them in smaller quantities and make them at home.
  • Use natural preservatives like oil, salt and lemon juice to increase their shelf life.
Store-bought snacks
  • Fruits, fruit smoothies, milk, nut milks all make for great snacks in between meals.
  • Other options are to make your own snacks in small quantities at home. In general opt for less deep-fried snacks and more baked or shallow-fried versions of the same.
Fruit, vegetables
  • Organic varieties are your best bet for produce like zucchini, berries, nuts, apples, celery, grapes, peaches, spinach, kale and collard greens, bell peppers and hot peppers, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes.
  • Non organic is okay for avocados, pineapples, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes. Source: HuffingtonPost.
Non-stick cookware Stainless steel or cast-iron cookware
Plastic ware Glass ware or stainless steel ware.
Milk
  • Organic milk in the very least.
  • If possible, try non-homogenized, lightly pasteurized milk from your local farmer’s market.
  • Your very best option is raw, non-homogenized milk, most likely from a herdshare arrangement.
Beverages
  • Avoid commercially available electrolyte drinks since they have a bunch of toxic artificial coloring. Try coconut water instead.
  • Avoid coffee, alcohol and carbonated drinks. Plain old water is ideally the best thirst quencher.
  • You can be creative to come up with your own recipes of all-natural beverages using herbal or fruit ingredients.
Breakfast Cereals and Breads
  • Avoid commercially available breakfast cereals out of a box, even though they say things like “all-natural”, “organic” etc. Opt for other fresh, hot cereals instead.
  • Avoid eating too much of store-bought breads. Opt for homemade flat breads instead, that don’t require yeast.
Canned, frozen, processed foods. Just avoid them and replace with fresh, organic, “real” food.
Yogurt Make home-made yogurt in small quantities for daily consumption using a live culture starter in organic milk.
White Sugar Jaggery, raw turbinado sugar, raw honey (not for infants and small babies) and other natural sweeteners.
All Purpose Refined Flour Whole grain flour

Shift in Cosmetic Products

Did you know that the skin is the largest organ of the body? Whatever we apply to the skin is absorbed by the pores and does get assimilated into the body. Toxins like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, toluene, triclosan, PPDs (many of which are banned in most European countries) are lurking in most commercially available skin and hair products. In Ayurveda, it is said that one should only put on the skin that which one would deem fit to eat! So, solutions could be to go natural as much as possible and use herbal, natural products and remedies instead of synthetic products.

Cosmetic Product Options
Body Wash, Body Lotions,  Shampoos, Conditioners
  • Opt for Sulfate, Paraben free products that are predominantly made out of organic and natural ingredients.
  • Use herbal products like mung flour, gram flour etc. for cleansing the skin and ingredients like hibiscus, shikakai etc. for the hair.
Hair Dyes
  • Use natural hair dyes like good quality henna, hibiscus leaves etc.
Hot Irons and Hair Dryers
  • Use the hair dryer on a normal or no-heat setting.
  • Towel, air or sun dry for a natural look!
Anti-frizz serums for the hair
  • Try using a small bit of regular oil on wet hair for a natural way to tame the frizz!
Face Packs and Hair Masks
  • The options are endless when using simple, herbal products from the kitchen. Ingredients like gram flour, amalaki, sandalwood, turmeric, milk are great for skin. Ingredients like fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, hibiscus leaves, henna etc. are great for hair.
Perfumes
  • Use natural scents like lavender, jasmine, rose, sandalwood etc. and avoid the synthetic ones.

Shift in Household Products

Next, the household products we use on a daily basis to wash dishes, clothes and clean the house are another source of toxins. Buy more “green” products that are plant-based and don’t have harmful, synthetic chemicals in them.

Household Product Options
Laundry Detergent Natural detergents like GreenShield or Eco Me (both available on Amazon) are good and don’t contain hazardous phenols, chlorine, phosphates etc.
Dishwasher Detergent and Cleaning supplies Avoid products that contain phosphates, sulfates, triclosan, ammonia etc. Use plant-derived products without harmful chemicals e.g. Eco Me.

Shift in Mental Habits

Last but not the least, we need to work at eliminating toxins originating from our mind and emotions. Negativity, anger, hatred, rage, if not dealt with in a timely manner can lead to toxic build-up that can affect the body’s organs and subtle body channels, further aggravating the situation. Self-awareness, acknowledgement and acceptance of the negative emotion, letting go of unhealthy thought patterns, deep introspection, dealing with the issue instead of ignoring it are ways to reduce toxic overload due to our emotions and thoughts. Techniques like yoga, meditation and breathing/pranayama are also great for bringing about holistic well-being and calming the monkey mind in particular.

Habits Options
Sleeping in late on a weekend morning/Sitting on the couch watching TV Get up and move – dance, walk, run, play something!
Complain about all the problems in life/Stress out silently about things to do Do some yoga or breathing exercises/pranayama or meditate!

Note: The above table is just a template – I’m sure each of us can fill up several pages of text for habits that we can change for the better! 🙂

The “shift” is a gradual process – so celebrate the small victories in your journey and keep persevering to continue forward making further progress. It all adds up!

Choose wisely and live well!

 

photo credit: live w mcs via photopin cc


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