“I don't drink nor smoke and those events are many times senseless. I'm not a smoker because I don't think putting smoke into your body is quite the thing to do. As for alcohol, I think it tastes awful. Don't know why anyone should want to drink the stuff.” — Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee is one of my favorite idols of all time. He’s known to everyone as a martial artist and his huge role as a Hollywood movie star. But not many would recognize him as a philosopher and also as a health conscious person. Indeed, we can avoid putting junks into our mouths like smoking and alcohol. But even if we avoid them, and on top of that, watch what we eat, we are not completely out of the woods, because we are surrounded by toxins and pollutants everyday. From the pesticides we eat that are being put on our food to the latest gadgets and gears, it seems obvious that toxins and pollutants are everywhere.
Pollution has entered our food chain because our waste is accumulating in the ocean where it is eaten by the sea creatures we eat. These contaminants include plastic materials and dangerous heavy metals. Our soil is more toxic than ever due to industrial wastes pouring into rivers and streams. Soil pollution leads to mineral deficiency absorbed by the plants we eat, which leaves us with deficiency in essential minerals. Cellular phone radiation damages and breaks living DNA and causes leakage of the blood-brain barrier allowing toxic to damage brain tissue.
Could you imagine that the life we are living in is actually constantly bombarded by pollutants? And it seems that these consumer products, such as packaged food, and modern technology are being promoted as safe and convenient.
Convenient it may be, but safe it is not.
Watch Out for BPA!
Our food is contaminated with toxic chemical from plastics and other chemicals. Unfortunately, chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), formaldehyde, phthalates, and toxic flame retardants are changing our chromosomes at the cellular level causing infertility, asthma, obesity, heart disease, and even cancer. Estrogen mimicking chemical such as BPA can cause breast cancer for women. Of course, the link between excess estrogen and cancer has long been established in medical research. That is, a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is directly linked to her lifetime exposure to estrogen - both natural and synthetic estrogen. For men, these chemicals can cause prostate cancer, reduced penis size and testicle.
BPA is found in the interior coating of aluminum soda cans, metal food packaging, and other products, including the large polycarbonate water bottles delivered to your homes. A recent study by the University of Washington showed that humans are currently exposed to BPA through food and drink and many other consumer products including receipts. Yes, you read that correctly.
The study reveals that BPA damages at the cellular level three generations at once; a pregnant mother, her unborn fetus, and if that fetus is female, that fetus’s future offspring. A visit to your local fertility or IVF clinic would prove how many women have suffered difficulties getting pregnant.
Not only fetuses, but infants and children are vulnerable to BPA as well because their reproductive organs are still developing. This means pregnant women and children should reduce their exposure to BPA. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently banned BPA in baby bottles and drinking cups. Alas, this is clearly not protective enough as the most damage can occur in utero though the mother's exposure.
Besides BPA, other plastic component materials such as phthalates - often found in PVC pipes and medical devices including plastic IV bags and tubing - and styrene, which is a chemical found in polystyrene foam, synthetic rubber, cooking utensils, plastic food wrap, insulated cups, and plastic bottles, are both known animal carcinogen, and also, possible human carcinogen - a hormone disrupting reproductive intoxicant, and it migrates easily into food and drinks when containers are heated or come into contact with hot food, acid (lemon or tomato), and fats or oil.
A study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency conducted in 1982 found that 100% of Americans tested had styrene in their fat tissue. It is alarming this could happen in a regulated country such as the United States. Can you imagine how much worse it would be in a developing nation such as China, where regulation is still at its infancy?
BPA and other plastic ingredients can be found almost everywhere. However, we are not entirely powerless in dealing with this complex issue. When we’re educated about the consequences and dangers of these chemicals, we can make better choices to protect our family from the dangers of consumer-based toxins. The immediate solution we can do today is to limit our exposure to any kind of plastic materials, non-stick pans, canned food and beverages. Instead, use glass jars to store food, and replace cutleries with metal fork, spoon, and chopsticks. We may also naturally reverse the effects of BPA by consuming superfoods such as probiotics, fermented foods, and black tea, as outlined in the upcoming section on detoxification.
A Little Note on Deficiency
Do you know that no matter how many calories people eat all over the world, they are in fact, chronically under-nourished? Around the world, soils are mineral deficient. In turn, they produce mineral deficient plants and livestocks. Even a healthy diet is lacking in important minerals the body needs. These important minerals are magnesium, selenium, and zinc. They are important because the body can’t produce them.
Magnesium has a major role in reducing inflammation and regulating the energy production cycle. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and auto-immune disorders.
A powerful antioxidant and essential for healthy immune function, selenium is one of the most important minerals for detoxification, particularly of heavy metals. Unfortunately, modern farming methods and depleted soils mean that selenium is at very low levels in our food chain and deficiency seems to be the norm.
Zinc is an important mineral for regulating immune function and deficiency is particularly common in men. Zinc is also essential for skin health, appetite regulation, and hormonal balance. However, there is a catch 22. In order to absorb zinc properly, your body must already have sufficient levels to properly produce and release hydrochloric acid in your stomach. Zinc absorption is further hindered by the high levels of copper in our water and food. Both copper and zinc compete for absorption. Alas, copper is more readily absorbed.
Unfortunately, because of the body’s inability to produce these essential minerals and the deficiency amongst common foods, the best way to avoid insufficiency is through mineral supplementation atop consuming mineral-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, various nuts, and natural meats.
Excessive Metal Leads to Toxicity
On the flip side of deficiency is excess, particularly, excess of toxic minerals and heavy metals. Several studies have linked heavy metal toxicity - including cadmium, mercury, and lead - to be incredibly common. Heavy metals are cumulative toxins present in our food chain, homes, and environment. Heavy metal exposure are usually incrementally small, but it happens day by day, leading eventually to high toxic level. It is worth noting that heavy metals are naturally occurring elements, and sometimes needed by the body. However, it is the accumulation within the body that is causing concern.
The most common heavy metal found in the human body is mercury. Mercury toxicity can affect the entire system in the body. Cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, nervous system, digestive system, and respiratory system are all negatively affected by high levels of mercury. Mercury is found in fish - such as mackerel, swordfish, and tuna - as well as pharmaceutical and industrial byproducts. You should also be in the lookout for mercury exposure if you’ve had your tooth filled with dental amalgams since there is no significant difference between biting on your amalgam and mercury snacking.
Do you remember the last time you breathe in fresh air that is totally pure and clean? Certainly, I can’t even remember. Almost every block you walk through, you’re bound to inhale cigarette smokes, dusts, or other pollutants. Whether you’re a current, active, or passive smoker, you’re at significant of cadmium toxicity. Even if you’ve never been around smoker, you’d also be inhaling cadmium since it is also found in car exhaust fumes, burning plastics, and coal-fired industry. What's worse, cadmium is also present in the food chain through soil contamination in potatoes and leafy greens.
Lead is a natural metal found in the air, soil, water, homes, and even in cosmetics. Lead is dangerous because it spreads in your body and causes damage to fetuses and children. It can also affect every organ and system, especially the brain. When the body is exposed to lead, it enters the bloodstream. From there, it is stored in your organs, tissues, bones, and teeth.
Due to their natural toxicity, your body will rapidly remove heavy metals and other toxins from the blood and store them in fat and other tissues. This makes detecting contaminants quite difficult through blood testing, as high levels will only show for a short time after exposure.
Thus, we need to be proactive in removing them through several detoxification protocols.
Here are some ideas:
1. Eat natural foods - Consuming natural products can significantly cut down your exposure to toxic substances. Natural produce, dairy and meat are grown or produced without the aid of pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. Be sure to read the label next time you shop at the supermarket.
2. Superfoods - There are hundreds of superfoods out there. The point is not to be a collector, rather to keep a supply of what is readily available at your convenience. Personally, I always keep a various mix supply of superfoods I can get my hands on. They do change from time to time. Here’s what I have on my pantry at the moment:
- Beet root: Besides good for the digestive and cardiovascular system, beet root is also highly nutritious, rich in antioxidants and photochemical compounds, and a potent anti-inflammatory.
- Chlorella: Excellent supplement to flush out heavy metal. Best taken right before you do your coffee enema to aid the detoxification process (more on coffee enema below).
- Black Garlic: Contains a high amount of amino aids as well as antioxidants to boost the immune system. I like to take them when I see some symptoms of flu or fever.
- Chia seed: This seed is great for toppings and also rich in omega-3, protein, and antioxidants.
- Coconut oil: Besides its health benefits, coconut oil is great for oil pulling to get healthier teeth.
- Probiotics: Fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, and kefir break down toxic substances such as BPA and pesticides in the gut so they can be cleared out through the bowels.
- Red Korean Ginseng: This is great as an energy booster and overall hormone regulation.
- Black tea: Found to reduce BPA toxicity. Drink loose leaf - black tea has many other health benefits besides reducing BPA.
- Chinese herbal mix: I keep different kinds of Chinese herbs prescribed by my TCM practitioner.
3. Yin-Yang method - According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), each food has an energetic property of yin or yang. These are thought of as complimentary pairs that are constantly shifting in relationship to one another. When eating, we absorb yin (cold) or yang (hot) energy from the foods we eat - and that medical conditions are manifestations of these yin-yang imbalances. Thus, we can heal ourselves by correcting our imbalances with the appropriate yin-yang foods. For example, someone who has high blood pressure or skin rash is a signal that his or her condition is affected by too much heat (yang) in the body. According to TCM practitioners, the best solution would be to consume cool or cold foods that promote yin energy. Similarly, if one suffers from fatigue, depression, or muscle ache, these conditions arise from too much cold (yin) in the body. The solution: eat warm or hot foods that promote yang energy. If you are interested in learning more about how yin-yang foods can help you, speak to a TCM or holistic practitioner who can take you even further in identifying the foods that are healthful for you.
4. Alkalizing foods - The body must balance the blood's pH levels at a slightly alkaline level of 7.365 in order to function properly. When a person ingests food to break down for fuel, the digestive and metabolic process transforms it into a substance which is either acidic or alkaline. Unfortunately, the typical diet is a deadly one, consisting primarily of toxic and acid-forming foods like processed sugars, artificial sweeteners, refined grains, conventionally produced meats and dairy, and hidden genetically modified organisms. This puts the body into a highly acidic state. Hence, the need to consume more alkalizing foods in order to balance. Garlic, peppers, wheat grass, apple cider vinegar, green leafy vegetables, and lemons - just to name a few. My daily approach: I consume a shot of apple cider vinegar alongside with wheat grass juice upon waking up every day.
5. FAR-Infrared sauna - An infrared sauna is different from the steam saunas at your local gym or spa. The temperature range for an infrared sauna is typically between 110-130 degrees Celsius, which is significantly less than a steam sauna. Infrared sauna heats the body from the inside out, allowing the heat to penetrate more deeply. This kind of sauna therapy has been used by many doctors, including chiropractor doctor, Dr. David Jernigan. He said, “In the realm of assisting chronic and frequently occurring infectious illnesses, infrared sauna therapy is a vital part of any good treatment program. This is because of its ability to detoxify the body of heavy metals and toxins that are locked up in the fat cells.” Researchers also found that the “induced sweating” effect of sauna is one potential method for elimination of BPA. A 30-minute infrared sauna session improves circulation, reduces pain, calms you down, and assists your body with detoxification.
6. Coffee enema - Coffee taken orally goes through the stomach, raises blood pressure, and effects the liver by shutting down bile ducts. It also causes digestive problems on some people. However, when you inject coffee into the rectum, it serves a very specific purpose. That is, lowering serum toxin by stimulating the liver to release toxins. Coffee enema also has a definite effect in removing free radicals in the colon. Many enzymes in the small intestine and liver are responsible for neutralizing various tissue toxins, ammonia, excess nitrogen, and free radicals.
7. Epsom salt baths - Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate. It has a relaxing effect on the nervous system and muscles. Not only does this mineral-rich salt reduces pain and inflammation, but it also boosts detoxification capabilities of both the skin and the liver thanks to the compound sulfate. Sulfate draws out toxins through the skin and cleanses the liver by enhancing the production of bile. This simple and relaxing bath also aids a better sleep at night.
8. Lymphatic drainage massage - The lymphatic system helps eliminate our body’s waste and toxins. A healthy, active lymphatic system uses the natural movements of smooth muscle tissue to do this. However, damage can cause fluids to build up in your lymph system and lymph nodes. A lymphatic massage is a gentle pressure technique used to move the waste fluids from the damaged area. You need to be trained in performing lymphatic drainage, so please consult with your medical professional if a lymphatic drainage massage is something you’d like to incorporate into your detoxification plan.
9. Dry skin brushing - Dry brushing your skin improves blood circulation, stimulates hormones release, and firms the skin. By increasing the circulation to the skin, you’re helping your body to discharge metabolic waste, removing dead skin, and allowing your skin to breathe. Dry skin brushing also stimulates lymph drainage, similar to lymphatic drainage massage. Stimulating the lymphatic system aids the body’s detoxification process. Thus, doing both can provide greater benefits, including improved appearance.
10. Light exercise - Vigorous exercise induces sweating. However, sweating with exercise is not so much detoxifying because the sympathetic nervous system is activated during exercise, so the amount of toxin removal is minimal. Extreme endurance sport should also be avoided because it not only suppresses your immune system, but also increases lipid peroxidation; a free-radical mediated chain induced by oxidative stress, causing cell damage (You can ask Google for more research on lipid peroxidation). If your looking to exercise for health, stick to light activities such as jogging, cycling, and swimming. Here’s what Bruce Lee’s had to say on the therapeutic benefits of jogging: “Jogging is not only a form of exercise to me, it is also a form of relaxation. It is my own hour every morning when I can be alone with my thoughts.”
Bonus: water fasting - Fasting has been used from ancient text such as the Bible to Seneca to modern day cancer treatment. Fasting is a form of cellular cleansing. When we fast, the body begins to effectively removes waste products. How does fasting remove toxins? When you forgo food for anywhere from 16 to 36 hours at a time, the body activates a cellular process called autophagy. When autophagy is turned on, the body is clearing out all old, junky proteins and cellular parts where the body stores many of the toxins it absorbs from the environment. It allows the body to most effectively remove waste products. Remember, the body is designed to fast; we do it every night. Aside from detoxification, fasting also stimulates growth hormone. In my experience, fasting has vastly improved my blood work, especially glucose homeostasis, insulin sensitivity, and HGH level. I also fast when I'm about to get sick, so that my body uses all of its energy to repair itself, instead of digestion. It is a great result from just “doing nothing”. I will have a seperate write-up on fasting because this topic is too extensive to cover over a short summary.
Disclaimer: I must emphasize this is MY detoxification plan. Please consult your health practitioner before beginning any detoxification protocol.
The purpose of this outline is to improve my overall health and well-being. I have no intention of becoming a superhero or a mutant whatsoever. I do them because “when our detoxification system is overwhelmed, is overloaded,” said Dr. Mark Hyman MD, “that’s when we start getting symptoms and get sick, but it may take years of accumulated stress and toxins to get to that point.” And neither do I wish to get to that point.
- Start the day with a shot of apple cider vinegar and wheat grass juice to help alkalize the body.
- Drink at least 8-10 glasses of clean filtered water with lemon each day.
- Consume natural produce, animal products, and grass fed meats to eliminate food toxins. I’ve also eliminated gluten, white sugar, and dairy.
- Implement dry skin brushing as well as lymphatic drainage massage to assist with the elimination of toxins through the lymphatic system.
- FAR-Infrared sauna 1-2 times a week.
- Coffee enema 4 times a week.
- Detox bath once a week.
- Stop eating after 12 noon. I start eating around six in the morning. This gives me an 18-hour fasting window. I usually would do this type of fast for a few months before proceeding to a longer duration water fast.
- Juice concoction mix as needed. Juice fast is not only a viable option before attempting longer duration fast to slowly slow down the digestive system, but also to open and restart the digestive tract after the fast.
- Light to moderate intensity exercise. I watch my breathing and heart rate to monitor the intensity.
- Massage, acupuncture, Chinese herbal brew, tai-chi, and meditation to help my body relax, reduce soreness and inflammation. I don’t like boring routines, so I mix these procedures day in and day out. Different schedule every day.
- Daily magnesium and zinc supplementation.
At the End of the Day...
We live in an ever changing world. Tools and knowledges that are old testament must be renewed to combat more sophisticated “mouse traps.” If we adhere to outdated methods, we will only be fooled. Certainly, some will think luck is a factor that exists in life to combat uncertainties. I think that luck diminishes once we add “lifestyle.” That said, we should tailor our detoxification program according to each individual needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
At the end of the day, you could have unlimited resources, implemented numerous tools and protocols, and would still have a great chance of getting sick. For the sake of living the good life, don't do these protocols because you have to. Implement them because you enjoy inserting them as part of your daily living.
Of course, you might be perfectly happy sipping beer, smoking cigarettes, and stuffing your gut with Big Macs and Doritos chips, benevolently trusting them to give you good health and allowing yourself to live life to the fullest. In that case, just relax and enjoy the ride. You don’t need to do anything about it.