Digestion : How to Counter the Harmful Effects of Toxins on Your Body

Cheryl Chaffee

It is no surprise that research is finally documenting the harmful effects of man-made chemicals in the environment. Environmental toxins are substances which are absorbed into the body through environmental contact, typically through inhalation or contact with the skin. Chemicals like benzene, phenol, pesticides, PCB’s, stain repellants, flame retardants, formaldehyde and diesel exhaust are being shown to cause cancer, asthma, reproductive disorders and childhood developmental disorders. These chemicals, and other toxic substances such as lead and mercury, can be found everywhere around us, in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, in our household cleaning products, even in the bedding and carpeting inside our homes. Short of living in a bubble, what can we do to protect ourselves from these hidden environmental menaces?

Go Organic

Whenever possible choose organic fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and dairy products. Not only are the organic foods you eat free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, reducing the amounts of these substances entering your body, they also help to protect the environment by ensuring that the soil and water are not being contaminated either. Organic textiles such as cotton and hemp are used to make chemical free clothing and linens which are soft and beautiful and won’t cause toxins to absorb into your skin.

Choose Environmentally Friendly Products

Earth-friendly and biodegradable personal care and cleaning products are becoming more widely available in stores and through mail-order. Typically made without dyes or synthetic fragrances, these products won’t leave chemical residues on your clothing, dishes, kitchen counters or skin.

Try a Diet Detox

Many Nutritional Therapists recommend periodically detoxifying the body by either fasting or adopting a detox diet for a short period of time. This gives your body a respite from all of the unnatural food substances, sugar overload, allergens and excess consumption we subject it to. A typical detox diet lasts from 2-14 days, during which you may only consume organic fruits, veggies and plenty of fresh water. Especially beneficial for the liver, kidneys, circulatory and digestive systems, the detox diet aims to flush the built up toxins out of your system.

Visit the Natural Pharmacy

Many products are on the market to support the body’s natural detoxification process. Detoxifying herbs are available in capsule form, teas and tinctures. These products can be taken without modifying your diet, or combined with a fast or detox diet for maximum results. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before taking herbs, supplements or radically changing your diet.


Beaulne,M. and Lorincz, T. “Connecting the Environment and Children’s Health,” The Chronicle Herald.ca, December 1, 2006.