A high body burden—buildup of toxins—can lead to retained weight and decreased mood. Learn more about the relationship between detoxification and physical and mental health.
Getting your internal detoxification back on track can help you bring your body and mental state into balance, Jeffery Morrison writes. He puts together a detoxification program for a healthy body and brain in Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind (Hudson Street Press, 2011). Learn more about how toxins affect health and are linked to weight gain and stress in this excerpt from the book’s first chapter.
Buy this book in the Mother Earth Living store: Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind.
By understanding how your body is intended to work, you can begin to identify if you are currently suffering from a toxic exposure. Just as chemical exposure affects body burden, your current health can also affect how well your system can detoxify. Three main areas to consider are the relationship between weight, stress, and genetic susceptibility to past exposure.
There’s a lot of speculation as to why people have difficulty losing weight, ranging from the foods we eat, to changes in metabolism, to current health status. I’ve found that there is a distinct relationship between body burden and holding on to extra weight. Often people have difficulty losing weight because their body is toxic. The relationship between weight gain and toxic exposure is particularly straightforward: the more toxins you get exposed to, the more toxins you store. When toxins overwhelm our ability to detoxify, they are stored in fat cells, specifically the type that is difficult to get rid of through dieting alone. The storage system for toxins actually works in much the same way that excess calories are stored as body fat.
Another possibility is that the body stores toxins in fluid, which is why some people have persistent fluid retention and swelling. Once the body has created these toxic fat cells or swellings, it’s not so willing to release them. A toxic body may intentionally hold on to excess fat or fluid to prevent being re-exposed to the toxins as they pass out of the body. In other words, our own body is protecting us from the toxins that we’ve accumulated by holding on to excess weight rather than risk re-exposure. Imagine you do a big cleanup in your yard after a rainstorm and end up with a great deal more garbage than usual. You may decide to store all the trash bags in the garage until the garbage collectors come to take them away. However, what if the roads are blocked and the garbage collectors can’t get to your house? The garbage piles up and becomes difficult to manage, making it increasingly difficult for you to get your car into the garage. When we can’t remove toxins from our own body, they begin to pile up in the same manner, eventually affecting our health.
Interestingly, people who do not have a buffer of extra fat but are exposed to chemicals often experience worse outcomes and more toxic effects than people who might be a little overweight. Just imagine what happens to your very lean friend if he gets exposed to chemicals. Since there is not enough body fat to accept the toxins, they end up getting deposited in the site of the next highest fat content, the brain. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that thin patients who visit my practice tend to be more sensitive to chemicals, fragrances, or other environmental exposures and more apt to develop difficulty concentrating and experience memory changes.
Another reason why we gain weight during times of poor detoxification has to do with how the body deals with a toxic overload. When you’re overloaded with chemicals, the body transfers its energy away from burning calories and puts that energy into its detoxification response. The body literally doesn’t have the energy to burn calories. But on the flip side of this, when we reduce the exposure to chemicals, our body is better able to focus on getting rid of the excess fluid it has been retaining and to start burning the fat where the toxins are stored, and thus to lose weight.
The last link between weight gain and poor detoxification is the food we choose to eat. We require food as our energy source. The more nutritious the food, the better our body will work. The more calories a person consumes, the more chance there is for the body to start storing fat. If we can select our calories from nutrient-rich foods that are free of toxins, then our body will receive the best nutrient intake and we may feel satisfied with fewer calories. Many people find they are unsatisfied from eating the highly processed standard American diet. This could easily change when you choose to eat, for example, fruits and vegetables that are locally grown using organic practices that ensure the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in the soil are transferred to them.
However, keep in mind that weight loss does not necessarily correlate to an instantaneous decrease in toxicity. Toxins can either stay in the tissue they were in, but become more concentrated, or they can circulate around the body and be deposited someplace else. It all comes down to how well the liver and kidneys are able to process them. If the detoxification routes are closed, then toxins are not going to move out of the body. That’s one of the reasons why we try to combine weight loss and detoxification in this program, so that not only will you shed pounds, you’ll shed toxins.
Stress results from a complex interaction between the demands of the outside world and the body’s capacity to adapt to them. Unfortunately, regardless of a person’s innate mental or physical capacity, normal stressors can eventually accumulate to the point that they become overwhelming.
Stress can develop from both physical and emotional sources. Simply put, toxins can cause physical and emotional stress. And when the body is under any type of stress—either from toxins or other aspects of your life—it becomes distracted from one of its main goals, which is to focus on detoxification. Signs and symptoms of chronic stress can include the following:
• difficulty concentrating
• high blood pressure
• irregular menstrual cycles
• irritable bowel syndrome
• low libido
• memory changes
• muscle aches
• recurrent infections
• tension headaches
• weight gain
Once you can get your internal detoxification back on track, your body will be better able to manage one of its main sources of stress and, by so doing, stress levels will naturally decrease, and you will see the improvement of many of these symptoms.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind by Jeffery Morrison and published by Hudson Street Press, 2011. Buy this book from our store: Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind.
Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!LEARN MORE