When it comes to weight loss and optimizing health, we often focus on calories in and calories out.  In reality, multiple variables that can lead to weight gain and affect weight loss are frequently overlooked, such as hormones, food sensitivities and toxic overload.  

Over the last 5 years detoxes and cleanses have become extremely popular, yet, often remain misunderstood. Different health professionals have differing opinions about them leaving many people confused.  Research shows that certain chemicals act as “obesogens” by altering a person’s metabolic processes, predisposing and contributing to continued weight gain. Understanding how the body naturally functions is essential to understanding why toxins contribute to weight gain, fluctuation and difficulty losing weight.

Water Soluble Vs. Fat Soluble Toxins

The human body is designed to continuously and naturally remove unwanted toxins.  There are two types of toxins that can enter the body: water-soluble and fat-soluble.  While the blood, kidneys and lungs naturally eliminate water-soluble toxins, fat-soluble toxins such as heavy metals, environmental pollutants, pesticides, plastics, preservatives, food additives and other environmental chemicals must enter the body and be converted to their water-soluble counterparts prior to being eliminated.  The liver plays a crucial role in this process but if the digestive system and detoxification are not functioning optimally, toxins find their way from the liver to the blood, fat cells and brain where they can be stored for years.

Physiology 101:

In order to truly understand how toxins are stored in fat cells, it’s important to understand how the body’s natural elimination process works.  When we eat and digest a meal, both nutritional and toxic fats get transferred from the stomach into the small intestines, where bile is secreted from the liver and gallbladder.  Within the small intestines exist millions of small “hairs” known as villi and lacteals.  They work simultaneously to sweep the gut, emulsify fats and help them absorb via Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue (GALT).  GALT surrounds the intestines, absorbs lacteals and takes the absorbed fats back to the liver where good fats are used to make energy, cholesterol, hormones and brain cells and toxic fats are processed for elimination.

 If the lympathic system becomes congested and when the detoxification pathways in the liver and large intestine are not functioning properly, the body begins to store the toxic fats rather than remove them. Toxic fats get sent back into blood circulation and eventually become absorbed into fat cells throughout the body and stay stored for many years causing free radical damage and cellular degeneration while also affecting metabolism, leading to insulin resistance leading to abdominal weight gain.

Signs of Toxic Burden:

  1. Bloating and indigestion
  2. Fatigue
  3. Headaches
  4. Joint pain
  5. Weight gain
  6. Fuzzy thinking and difficulty concentrating
  7. Constipation
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Foul-smelling stool
  10. Sinus congestion
  11. Gas
  12. Heart burn
  13. Food cravings
  14. Water retention
  15. Rashes and other skin disorders
  16. Puffy, dark circles under the eyes

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What Does Your Poop Have To Do With It?

The primary role of the large intestine is to eliminate unwanted toxins from the body through Bowel Movements.  A healthy person typically has 1-3 sausage-like bowel movements per day.  When a person is constipated, toxins become reabsorbed, reenter blood circulation and eventually become stored in fatty tissue.  There are many factors that can contribute to constipation and addressing bowel health is essential to detoxification and weight loss.  

Common Causes of Constipation:

  1. Dehydration
  2. Poor diet
  3. Inactive lifestyle
  4. Hypothyroidism
  5. Certain medications (i.e painkillers, antidepressants, some iron supplements, antacids)
  6. Intestinal inflammation

If constipation is an issue, start by making simple changes.  Increase water intake to 8-10 glasses of water a day, incorporate more fibrous vegetables into your diet and remove refined sugars and processed foods and add some form of physical activity.  Consider food sensitivities (LINK “food sensitivities” TO: http://torontoweightlossclinic.ca/are-food-sensitivities-making-you-fat/), have your blood or saliva tested for thyroid function and review all medications and their side effects.

Strategic Detoxification:

According to the latest CDC report, every person who participated in blood testing for toxin exposure was found to have a host of nasty chemicals including flame-retardants and Bisphenol A, a hormone-like substance found in plastics, stored in fatty tissue.  The best way to remove these toxins is strategically, with the help of a medically guided program and healthcare professional.  Naturopathic Doctors, Holistic Nutritionists and Functional Medical Doctors are extremely knowledgeable in different detoxification protocols and can determine which one is specifically best for you.

Be aware: not all detoxes are appropriate for everyone so avoid going to a health food store and picking up any random cleansing kit.  This may leave you feeling worse than you started! You will require a thorough assessment to determine which area or areas of the body need to be addressed so that a specific supplement protocol can be prescribed.

Small Changes Make Big Differences:

Before you see a healthcare provider, consider what small changes you can implement on your own.  Firstly, reduce your exposure to toxins found in foods by removing any processed, pre-packaged and boxed foods as well as alcohol and caffeine.  Eliminate refined sugars, additives, sweeteners, preservatives, artificial flavoring, food colouring and dyes.  By sticking with organic, plant-based whole foods instead, you reduce the toxic burden on the liver and intestines.  The next step is to review all cleaning and personal hygiene products such as chemical-ridden soaps, lotions and beauty products and opt for natural alternatives where you can.  

How Detoxification Facilitates Weight Loss:

A medically guided detoxification will help you identify and get rid of specific toxins, address imbalances in the digestive system and get the livers natural detox pathways working effectively. Toxins stored in fat cells get pulled out and enter the blood stream, get reabsorbed by the intestines and re-enter the liver.  The liver can then convert fat-soluble toxins into their water-soluble counterparts and effectively eliminate them through urine, sweat and breath. Subsequently, strategic dietary changes can facilitate fat loss, maintain muscle mass and result in long lasting weight loss!

Sources:

http://lifespa.com/remove-toxins-from-your-fat-cells/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279464/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25509564

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25646073

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18799442

http://drhyman.com/blog/2012/02/20/how-toxins-make-you-fat-4-steps-to-get-rid-of-toxic-weight/
http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/19/is-there-toxic-waste-in-your-body-2/

Image Sources:

https://wecanoilit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/The-relationship-between-toxins-and-fat-storage.png

 

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Naturopathic Doctor
Contributor to The Hearty Soul.