By Carly Fraser - Excellent Natural Health Advocate & Researcher
Losing weight might not be as simple as going to the gym and eating right.
Scientists have recently discovered that environmental toxins that enter our bodies through the foods we eat and products we use in our homes might be keeping us fat.
The human body is designed to continuously and naturally remove unwanted toxins. But if the digestive system, liver, and kidneys are not functioning optimally, these toxins will quite literally embed themselves in fat cells where they can be stored for years.
Understanding how to eliminate toxins from fat cells could be the very thing required to shake those stubborn few pounds.
But how do you eliminate toxins from fat cells?
Let’s first look at why your body stores toxins in fat, and what you can do about it.
Why Does Your Body Store Toxins in Fat?
In the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), conducted a program called the National Human Adipose Tissue Survey (NHATS).
They found that all human fat samples contained traces of four industrial solvents and one dioxin. Nine more chemicals, including three more dioxins, were found in more than 90 percent of the fat samples, and on average, 83 percent of the samples had PCBs (1✓).
Dioxins are a group of toxic chemical compounds that include chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (CDDs), chlorinated dibenzofurans (CDFs), and certain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They are formed during combustion processes such as waste incineration, forest fires, chlorine bleaching of pulp and paper, smoking, and herbicide manufacturing (2). They can also get into drinking water.
There are two types of toxins that can enter the body:
- Water-Soluble Toxins: toxins that are easily flushed out of the body via the blood, lungs, and kidneys.
- Fat-Soluble Toxins: toxins that must be converted by the liver to become water-soluble, prior to being eliminated.
Fat-soluble toxins include heavy metals, environmental pollutants, pesticides, plastics, preservatives, food additives, and other environmental chemicals.
If our detoxification organs, like the liver, kidneys, and digestive tract, aren’t functioning optimally, these fat-soluble toxins can stick around in our bodies for years.
How the Liver Removes Toxins From the Body
A healthy-functioning liver produces bile that is later stored in the gallbladder. Every time you consume fats, bile from the gallbladder is used to help digest them. Bile is also used for eliminating worn-out red blood cells and certain toxins from your body.
When you’re digesting food, both nutritional and toxic fats get transferred from the stomach into the small intestines, where bile is secreted from the liver and gallbladder.
In the small intestine, there are millions of small villi and lacteals, finger-like “hairs” that simultaneously sweep the gut, emulsify fat and send toxic fats to the liver for processing.
If this pathway malfunctions at any time in a person’s life, the body stores toxic fats instead of removing them.
Gut-Associated Lymphatic Tissue
The Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue (GALT), which surrounds the entire intestinal tract, is the very beginning of the body’s lymphatic system. It is here that these small micro-villi and lacteals absorb and process both nutritional and toxic fats. Nutritional, or good fats, are used to make energy, cholesterol, hormones, and brain cells, while toxic fats are processed for elimination.
If the lymphatic system becomes congested, and if the detoxification pathways in the liver and large intestine are not functioning properly, the body starts to store toxic fats rather than remove them.
Toxic fats are then re-circulated in the blood, and eventually, get absorbed into fat cells throughout the body. These toxins can be stored for many years, causing free radical damage and cellular degeneration. They interfere with the metabolism and can lead to abdominal weight gain.
Signs of a congested GALT include:
- Holding extra weight around the belly
- Skin irritations or itching
- Joint stiffness
- Swollen hands and feet
- Elimination concerns (constipation or diarrhea)
- Occasional headaches
These toxins not only lead to unwanted weight gain, but they can also cause diabetes (3✓).
Once inside the body, these chemicals can interfere with our ability to balance blood sugar and metabolize cholesterol. Over time, this leads to insulin resistance, and eventually, diabetes.
As you can see, ridding these toxins from our bodies is of utmost importance if we’re wanting to feel and look our best.
How to Eliminate Toxins From Fat Cells
Food allergies, excessive body weight, poor diet, and high-stress levels all contribute to poor toxin removal. There are many small changes you can implement on your own to make big differences.
Try out the following suggestions to help your body flush out toxins naturally:
While the word ‘detox’ might seem a little daunting, it isn’t as scary as you might think. Our bodies naturally detox every day. Supporting that system is what you need to do to enhance the process and keep things running smoothly.
Detoxifying your liver periodically can help it from becoming too congested. You can take a variety of different herbs like dandelion root and milk thistle, or go on a juice cleanse, integrating liver-supportive juices.
In addition to herbs and juices, try to aim for at least 3-4 liters of filtered or spring water daily. I emphasize filtered or spring water because tap water is loaded with chemicals. Your kidneys are responsible for flushing waste from the blood, so by hydrating your kidneys, you’ll enhance the toxin elimination process each time you pee.
Additionally, you should always try your best to opt for organic over conventional foods and clean your home with natural products. The more toxins you expose yourself to, the harder your body needs to work to eliminate them.
2. Eat Well
Eating well is another major component of keeping your body toxin-free. Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods to up the fiber content in your diet. You want enough dietary fiber in your diet to absorb your bile.
Eliminate any processed, pre-packaged, and boxed foods as well as alcohol and caffeine. Eliminate refined sugars, additives, sweeteners, preservatives, artificial flavoring, food coloring, and dyes. Respect sensitivities to foods like gluten and dairy, which have the ability to cause even more inflammation.
Fruit, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, and herbs, as well as nuts and seeds, are all great choices and are full of important nutrients.
If you’re really having trouble with constipation, again, drink those 3-4 litres of water daily (optimally 20-30 minutes before a meal). Also, taking a daily probiotic, or sprinkling 1-2 tablespoons of flax on your food every day can greatly help with the elimination process.
3. Get Fit
Keeping active is another great way to prevent toxic overload. Sweating will help your body expel toxins through your skin (our single largest organ of elimination). If you have access to a sauna, this is even better, as it facilitates a heavy sweating body response, which eliminates toxins at a faster rate.
The more you move, the more you stimulate the lymphatic system, as well as your cardiovascular system. So not only will moving benefit toxin removal, but it will keep you young and healthy.
Consider activities like walking, swimming, rebounding, yoga, jogging, dancing, or anything else you love doing to keep active. Aim for 30 minutes at least four times a week.
Stress is the leading cause of inflammation in the body. Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which temporarily shuts down our digestion. This interferes with the exchange of fats and nutrients in your GALT.
Practice different calming techniques like art therapy, mindfulness breathing, meditation, yoga, or listening to this song.
I personally like to do intentional breathwork, as the lungs help oxygenate the brain and body. Breathing deeply can also help open areas of the lungs that might otherwise be clogged from years of shallow breathing.
When I do breathwork, I like to sit with my back on the floor so that my legs have room to relax on the edge of a couch or bed. I then place one hand over my chest and one hand over my belly, and focus on breathing only with my belly. You can feel with your hands whether your chest is moving or not. Try to get your breath to raise only your belly so that your chest remains flat. Breathe in for 10 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, then release for 10 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, and repeat. Do this for 5-10 minutes a day.
If you’re struggling to lose weight despite exercising and eating well, toxins may be interfering with your metabolism and fat-burning processes.
When fat-soluble toxins cannot be removed by a clogged detoxification system, they linger in the body for years, causing issues with fat gain, fatigue, diabetes, and more.
By supporting your detoxification system, eating better, sweating more often, and stressing less, you can help eliminate the toxins that may be holding you back from reaching your top health goals.