Weight Loss Releases Dangerous Toxins

Oh boy… we all know that too many Americans are overweight, which is leading to an epidemic of diabetes and heart disease. Now comes a new study cautioning that losingweight causes the release of dangerous toxins in our bodies. Can you beat that?

To help make sense of this finding, I placed a call to Walter J. Crinnion, ND, author of Clean, Green & Lean, a new book on a diet that helps people detoxify while losing weight. He is chair of the environmental medicine department at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona.

Dr. Crinnion told me that the human body stores pollutants and other poisons (such as pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls/PCBs) in adipose tissue (fat)… so an “unintended consequence” of losing weight is that these dangerous substances are set loose in the body, where they can, ironically, make people very sick. In fact, they even can contribute to some of the diseases that people try to escape by losing weight.

I asked Dr. Crinnion for advice on how to lose weight while also safely ushering toxins out of the body rather than just recycling them through the bloodstream. But first, I want you to know a little more about why and how losing weight actually can set you up for such serious health problems.

Diet Releases Pollutants

In the September 2010 issue of the International Journal of Obesity, a study from two Korean universities reported that weight loss is associated with higher blood levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) — endocrine disruptors in pesticides and solvents that accumulate in our bodies and contribute to higher rates of cancer, nervous system disorders and reproductive damage. Investigators compared weight changes (self-reported) in 1,099 adults with changes in their POP blood levels, as measured in the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They found that the greater the weight loss over time (in this case, 10 years), the higher the blood levels of POPs. Those who lost a lot of weight had pollutant levels about 50% higher than participants with big weight gains. Those who experienced short-term weight loss also had higher levels of POPs, but to a lesser extent. Other studies have noted similar effects, Dr. Crinnion told me.

Not only that:The newly released circulating toxins also can make dieters feel tired, confused, headachy and nauseous. This is most especially true for people who are middle-aged or older, because fat-soluble toxins have “bio-accumulated” over years and years.

What To Do?

Don’t take this as a reason not to lose weight if you need to — rather the solution is to lose weight in a safe way, simultaneously shedding pounds and toxins.

Most important is to avoid diets that promise quick weight loss, counsels Dr. Crinnion — these also lead to quick release of toxins into your system (and a propensity to regain the weight back) compared with a more measured approach. Dr. Crinnion recommends balanceddiet plans that encourage slow but steady weight loss, a strategy that allows the body to gradually adjust to metabolic changes, more efficiently cleansing the body of the accumulated poisons.

Here is what to do if you want to rid yourself of excess weight and accumulated toxins… limit uncomfortable side effects such as headaches and fatigue… and protect yourself against serious chronic illness.

  • Lighten your incoming toxic load. As important as what you eat is what you refrain from eating. Avoid refined sugar (found in many processed foods, including baked goods, breakfast cereals, salad dressings)… avoid fatty, nonorganic dairy and meat, which are teeming with fat-soluble toxins… and, above all, avoid farmed salmon! According to Dr. Crinnion, it is among the worst sources of cancer-causing PCBs.
  • Support your liver. Your liver is in charge of toxin elimination, so cleanse and protect it by taking supplements such as dandelion root, burdock, milk thistle and vitamin C. Work with an expert, such as a naturopathic physician, to determine appropriate supplements and dosages for you.
  • Bulk up on fiber. Fiber promotes the elimination of fat-soluble toxins through your stool. Good sources include brown rice and organically grown artichokes, beets, broccoli and cabbage. Also helpful is to take a rice bran supplement — try Clean Phase CGL-Detox by Gaia or MetaFiber from Metagenics, both available online.
  • Take chlorophyll — it’s another effective detoxifier. Try blue-green algae such as spirulina and chlorella, seaweed or wheatgrass juice, all excellent sources of chlorophyll.
  • Flush toxins from your body. Drink three or more cups daily of antioxidant-packed green tea. A 2007 National Cancer Institute study revealed that green tea boosted the body’s production of detoxifying enzymes by as much as 80%.
  • Take a sauna to sweat out toxins. First dry-brush your skin with a loofah to unclog pores … then spend 20 to 30 minutes in a sauna to release toxins through perspiration. Another way: Use a loofah and then take hot baths or showers followed by brisk rinses with cold water. However, Dr. Crinnion advises first equipping your showerhead or bathtub spout with a chlorine filter to protect yourself from yet more exposure to toxins. These are available at plumbing supply stores and online, including at Amazon.com.

Within weeks of adhering to a sensible weight-loss plan with detoxification, you should not only begin to lose weight, but also to enjoy more energy and strength, less digestive discomfort and a clearer mind. You’ll lose pounds and poisons at the same time… and it’s worth the extra effort.