Have you ever heard the term “Blue Zone”? A while back, a National Geographic expedition set forth to uncover the secret to longevity. In their quest, they found 5 small towns scattered worldwide where people consistently live to be over 100 years old. These Blue Zones are considered the healthiest communities in the world, where “individuals have the capacity to make it well into their 90s and largely without chronic disease”.*
SO what do they have, or don’t have, that gives them this edge? It’s what they don’t have…TOXINS! So, while we can focus on living a healthy life and eating right, exposure to environmental toxins can dramatically impact our overall health and longevity.
It should be no secret that the world we interact with daily is rife with toxins (and is becoming more toxic with time). Scientists and researchers continually reveal new invisible drivers of disease in the form of toxic chemicals found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the products we use on our skin and in our homes. These sneaky, hidden chemicals have the ability to infiltrate cells, which can damage body function and alter health. Day-to-day chemical exposure places a high burden on the body. Once overloaded, the body can shift from a healthy state to a diseased state.
The researchers who studied the Blue Zones uncovered evidence-based common denominators believed to slow aging and contribute to a long, healthy life. These common dominators are centered around living in an environment that encourages natural movement, purpose, an active downshift of stress, not overeating, eating plants, and positioning oneself with loved ones and a community that supports healthy behavior. Since we cannot all live in Blue Zones, how do we infuse Blue-Zone living into our personal lives and communities? Ultimately, it comes down to choosing a less toxic way of living and supporting the body’s ability to detoxify toxins.
Although toxins are a big part of our reality (especially for those of us living in urban areas), there are many things we can do daily to reduce our individual toxic burden. Making a choice to prioritize clean living and mental health is a big reason why Blue Zones have a leg up on the rest of the population regarding health. To minimize toxic overload on the body, it’s important to look at all the aspects of one’s personal life where toxins can infiltrate, and seek to reduce exposure. Start with filtering air and water, eating organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, pasture-raised food sources, and looking at your cooking, cleaning, laundry, and personal care products, while being aware of pesticides and herbicides sprayed in and around your house.
Given an increasingly toxic environment, improving one’s ability to neutralize and excrete toxins through detoxification is important. Toxic infiltration in the body can cause damage in different ways. The most notable ways are oxidative damage, DNA damage (cellular damage), and endocrine disruption (mimics hormones causing hormonal dysregulation). The liver is the primary organ responsible for processing toxins. From a nutritional perspective, improving liver detoxification and boosting cellular antioxidants are the places to start when addressing toxic burden. Eating foods high in sulfur (if you are not sulfur sensitive) can naturally nourish the liver and support detoxification. These foods include garlic, onions, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, eggs, broccoli, and cauliflower. Increasing anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric or curcumin, spirulina, herbs (cilantro and rosemary), spices like cinnamon, and Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of nuts and fatty fish will support lowering inflammatory processes created by toxins. Additionally, eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables daily helps provide antioxidants to nourish cellular health. Lastly, lifestyle additions like sauna, dry brushing, lymphatic drainage, and exercise (sweating) can further encourage improved detoxification.
Guide to Clean Products
Cookware – Non-stick (Teflon), aluminum, and copper cookware can all leach toxic chemicals into food. Choose non-toxic cookware such as cast iron, carbon steel, stainless steel, or ceramic.
Household Cleaning Products – Many mainstream cleaning products contain several chemicals. To reduce your toxic load, use natural organic products with fewer ingredients.
Try these brands:
Personal Care Products – Choose organic and natural products for personal care needs.
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Alba Botanic
- Aspen Natural Skin Care
- Dr. Alkaitis
- Earth Mama Organics
- Beauty Counter
- True Botanicals
- Ilia Beauty
- Jane Iredale
- Juice Beauty
- Voya Skin Care
- RMS Beauty
Food – Choose whole foods that are organic, Non-GMO, and grass-fed foods whenever possible. Use the Environmental Working Group resources to select foods with fewer chemicals.
Sunscreen – Check out the EWG’s Sunscreen Guide to find a list of safe sunscreens.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a powerful resource that has spent decades researching products for both health and the environment. Use their website to cross-reference products and find clean, safer options for yourself and your loved ones.
Contact us at BeWell Associates to identify your exact nutritional needs and support improvement in body function and detoxification. We use several functional tests to help identify nutritional deficiencies, metabolic health, detoxification capacity, toxins or heavy metals impacting body processes, hormone dysregulation, and gut function. From the data gained through functional testing, our clinicians create personalized programs to improve health. Make those positive “BlueZone” choices for yourself and your loved ones!
- Buettner D, Skemp S. Blue Zones. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016;10(5):318-321. doi:10.1177/1559827616637066 ↩︎