How to Reduce Your Toxic Burden


In my previous blog post, I told you about the many sources of toxins in our lives. I’m sure you were as surprised as I was at how long the list is! It’s astounding to think of how many chemicals we are exposed to every day, many of them as a result of increased “convenience” in our lives. Can you believe it? Our desire to make our lives easier is likely contributing to the toxicity-related symptoms and chronic conditions we live with every day. Ugh.

The good news is that our bodies are incredible detoxifying machines, and our complex detoxification pathways are constantly working to remove the chemicals that get in. But given the innumerable sources of toxins in our lives, we would do ourselves a world of good by giving ourselves a break from as many toxins as we can!

Before we get to my recommendations for reducing your toxic burden, fair warning that the list is long, as I’ve tried to make it as comprehensive as I can. However, there’s no need to freak out. Rather, remember that you don’t have to do all of them all at once. Pick the 5 or 3 or 1 that you can do immediately, perhaps picking the few that will have the biggest impact because they are your biggest source(s) of exposure. When you lock in those changes (no matter how big or small), tackle a few more changes. If you keep taking these one at a time, you’ll steadily reduce your toxic burden and give your body the space it needs to detoxify and heal.

Alright, now that I’ve given you permission to take this at the pace that’s right for you, here are the ways that you can reduce your toxic burden:

Food & Beverages

  1. Drink plenty of filtered tap water or water bottled in glass containers.
  2. Consume plenty of fiber.
  3. Avoid all artificial and “natural” sweeteners. (In an ideal world [whatever that means], we’d not have any sweeteners at all, but avoiding the highly processed and laboratory-created ones is the most important.)
  4. Avoid fast food, because of what is in the food and all the forms of plastic that it’s packaged in.
  5. Reduce your intake of highly processed foods and the associated chemicals. Read every label to pick products with the fewest chemicals possible.
  6. Avoid or reduce your intake of fish high in mercury such as predatory and long-living fish like tuna, swordfish, shark, and orange roughy.
  7. Avoid or reduce your intake of conventionally raised meat, poultry and eggs, and farm-raised fish. Choose grass-fed meat, organic and pasture-raised poultry / eggs, and wild-caught fish.
  8. Avoid genetically modified (GMO) foods. In the U.S., that generally means soy, corn and canola unless it is specifically marked organic. This would include products made from soy, corn and canola including oils, soy saucy, soy lecithin, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Note that genetically modified produce may have a five digit (rather than 4 digit) PLU sticker code beginning with the number 5; unfortunately, this is just a guideline for food producers so the only way to know for sure that it is not GMO is to buy organic.
  9. Buy milk and other dairy products from cows not treated with rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone).
  10. If you choose to drink, buy wine in bottles and not boxes.
  11. Choose protein powders and other supplements that are not contaminated by heavy metals (ex: arsenic in rice protein, mercury in fish oil). If the information isn’t clear on the product label, call the manufacturer and ask about their results for heavy metal testing.
  12. Consume plenty of nutrients to support your detoxification pathways.
  13. Do not drink coffee or other hot beverages through disposable plastic lids or straws.
  14. Drink from steel or glass containers as much as possible, especially hot beverages. Keep this in mind for the reusable bottle you carry with you all the time.
  15. As much as possible, buy and store food and beverages in glass, metal or paper containers. (This includes avoiding plastic bags, when possible.) If you must by something in plastic, pick a product whose packaging is “less” toxic.
  16. If buying canned foods, choose ones that are in BPA-free cans.
  17. Do not freeze beverages or other liquids (like soups) in plastic bottle.
  18. Do not microwave food in plastic or Styrofoam containers. Use glass only.


  1. Poop at least once every day.
  2. Break a sweat every day through exercise or sauna use.
  3. Seek “alternative” healthcare therapies such as acupuncture, massage, chiropractic work or dry brushing.
  4. Replace personal care products with cleaner versions. This includes shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, shaving cream, deodorant, toothpaste, face potions, perfumes and cosmetics. (If you don’t know where to begin, check out the EWG’s top tips for safer products.)
  5. Quit smoking and using other tobacco products.
  6. Don’t use recreational drugs.
  7. With guidance from your doctor, seek ways to reduce your intake of medications, including over-the-counter and prescription.
  8. Consider having amalgam (silver, gray or black) fillings replaced by a biologic dentist who is specially trained in preventing mercury toxicity. If you grind your teeth and/or the fillings are on the grinding side of your teeth, I encourage you to really think about this.
  9. Seek ways to mentally detox.

Household and Miscellaneous

  1. Keep your house clean of dust.
  2. Resolve any sources of mold in your home. Note: it may be hidden in air vents.
  3. Replace non-stick cookware with iron, stainless steel, glass and/or porcelain.
  4. Replace any ceramic cookware or dishware that is chipped.
  5. Use chemical free products in your home, including (but not limited to) soaps, detergents, cleaning products, insecticides and weed killers. This includes avoiding chlorine bleach for household or clothes cleaning.
  6. Buy non-bleached paper products such as napkins, toilet paper, coffee filters. and tampons / pads.
  7. Purchase a quality air purifier for your home.
  8. If you have clothing dry cleaned, remove the plastic bag as soon as you get it home to allow the air-born chemicals to dissipate.
  9. If you live in an older home, consider replacing any lead-based paint that is present. And when you do paint, use low VOC paint.
  10. Avoid items made in China from brightly colored plastic (usually children’s toys and plastic dishes).
  11. Replace older plastic blinds.
  12. When buying new furniture or rugs, choose fabric / material that has not been stain- or fire-resistance treated. (Consider if your kids’ mattress is treated to be fire resistant and he/she is sleeping on it every night.)
  13. Buy clothes, sheets and towels made with organic material.
  14. Turn down receipts and other “slick” papers (like boarding passes, tickets, luggage tags, etc.)¬† as much as possible.


Whew! That’s a lot of potential actions to take, and you may feel like I just put a whole bunch of things on your to do list. But, don’t feel like you have to tackle all of these today. You will still be a successful, go-getter, even if you just start thinking about how you can reduce your toxic burden. Making these changes one (or two or three) at a time will still reduce your toxic burden.

Oh, and if you think of any that I left out, please comment below and let me know! I’d love to expand this list further so I can get even more sources of toxins out of my own life!


Image by jackmac34 via pixabay.

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