My life is a detox, and I love it. Yes, you heard that right! When you hear the word “detox”, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Do you think of drinking lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne? Eating only salad greens for a week? Doing a three day juice fast? I think that is what most people think of when they hear the word “detox,” but when I say that “my life is a detox,” I am not implying that I do any of those things.
I remember about 3-4 years ago, I was having a conversation with my dear friend, Liz Wolfe about having babies. Liz has had a profound effect on my life, more so than she knows. She was the first person to inspire me to change up my bodycare routine, and in doing so, I was able to heal the rosacea I struggled with for many years. She is the reason I am so incredibly passionate about pregnancy and birth. She opened my eyes to the harmful effects of conventional mattresses, and kindly explained to me why she would never create a baby nursery for her child right before the baby was born.
I specifically remember that conversation a few years ago about having babies. I had asked her when she thought she may want to have a baby, or if she thought she wanted to have one at all, and she replied, “I want to detox for a year with my husband before trying to get pregnant.” My first thought was, “What? Detox for a year? Is that really necessary? There’s no way I’m doing that. That is way too much work.” I just didn’t get it. I thought the way we lived and ate was enough, and when I thought of a detox, I thought of misery. Not sleeping on a mattress that off-gasses formaldehyde made sense. Purchasing non-toxic baby furniture, and not painting the baby room the month before the baby arrived made sense. Washing my face with oil made sense. But detoxing for an entire year before even trying to get pregnant? Come on. That is overkill. Turns out it wasn’t, at least not for me.
I think of that conversation I had with Liz often, and sometimes I feel like my body is laughing at me for ever thinking it was an extreme measure to take. My body has forced me into living a detox daily. This is something I would have never imagined, and it will only be an added bonus when we have a baby one day, because this is how I have to live my life forever. Let me explain why.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me hashtag some of my photos “#detoxlikeaMTHFR.” I created that hashtag as a joke. In reality you don’t want to detox like a MTHFR, because people with MTHFR (a genetic SNP) can’t properly detox! People with MTHFR have to help their body to gently detox daily. In an effort to keep this post relatively short, here is a fantastic article from Wellness Mama explaining what MTHFR is, and why it is so important! I found out that I have two copies of the 677 MTHFR polymorphism a little over a year ago. This SNP has the most profound effect (negatively) on methylation.
What made me test for MTHFR? Well, I was having more and more increasing anxiety over the course of a couple years, and it became hard to ignore, and was greatly affecting my life. Things that I loved to do were no longer easy for me, or enjoyable. In fact, they became painful. I had to start digging for the root cause. From working with a practitioner, I found out that having a methylation defect can greatly impact your brain chemistry, and lead to a host of mental issues. Anything from depression and anxiety, to schizophrenia. It seemed as simple as if I just took the active form of folate, all of my anxiety would disappear, and I would be back to normal, or even better since I’ve had this issue my whole life. Turns out it wasn’t that easy.
After getting significantly worse since my diagnosis of MTHFR (from opening the floodgates of toxins in my body, and possibly over-methylating at times), a relative asked me, “Don’t you wish you never found out about having MTHFR?” To which I replied, “No. This is so important to know, I will never regret it.” Poor methylation has been linked to a host of issues, which most people do not realize. It increases your chances of infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, which is a scary thing to think about when you want to have a family one day. It is linked to autoimmune diseases, and cancer, among many, many other health issues. I’m not trying to frighten you, but the list is a long one, and it is a big deal. Methylation affects nearly every function in the body. You want to be sure it is working properly.
My MTHFR SNP discovery eventually led me to my diagnosis of mold toxicity and Chronic Lyme Disease. So through this I was able to find my root cause, and have been given the chance to get better. I have impaired methylation (ie: impaired ability to detoxify), and was diagnosed with two conditions that flood your body with toxins when they are active AND when treated (mold and Lyme). Daily detox has to be a big focus in my life.
So maybe now you are thinking, “Okay. That’s cool, but I don’t think I have MTHFR. I was never exposed to mold, and I don’t have Lyme. So why should I care about detox? I feel fine.” First of all, most people (upwards of 85%) have at least one of the MTHFR SNP variants. In our house, 2 out of 2 people have it, and each of us got a copy from both of our parents, which means all 4 of them have at least one copy. It means our future children have a 100% chance of being compound heterozygous for MTHFR, since both of us are homozygous for two different MTHFR SNP’s. Our siblings could also potentially have it. This also means our parents got at least one copy from one of their parents. Do you see where this is going? That’s a lot of people with impaired methylation in our family, and guess what, there is a lot of autoimmune disease in our families, as well as heart conditions, mood issues, and some cancer.
I’m not saying this to shame anyone, especially not our own family members. Look at your own family, and your friends’ families. They look the same, right? The commonly used phrase “this (fill in the blank health condition) just runs in my family” is just a story. There are so many factors as to why people get sick, and impaired methylation can be one of them. The impact of methylation on our health is something that is starting to gain more awareness, and when addressed properly, can hopefully help prevent illness, and keep our loved ones healthy. Even conventional medicine is becoming aware of this, and is able to help women who couldn’t get pregnant, or maybe suffered from multiple miscarriages by switching them from a prenatal vitamin with synthetic folic acid, to one with active folate.
MTHFR aside, here is why detox should be a priority for anyone:
We are bombarded with toxins today. You cannot escape it. Our air is polluted, non-organic produce is sprayed with pesticides, processed and packaged foods often contain a host of harmful and unfavorable ingredients, our tap water contains harsh chemical and heavy metals, beauty products are filled with more toxins than you can count…just look up your favorite body lotion or “seemingly” healthy foundation on EWG.org and you will see what I mean. These products are filled with harsh chemicals and endocrine disruptors. There are an average of 200 chemicals found in the human umbilical cord. Our children are growing up in a world full of toxins, and yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “you are too young to be sick.” Chronic illness is widespread among the younger generations now, even starting at infancy with things like eczema and severe digestive issues.
Indoor air quality is even worse than outdoor air quality. We have synthetic carpeting, stains on hardwood, furniture, and paint that all off-gas harsh chemicals into our air, and for those of us who live in colder climates, that means that toxic air is recycled day in and day out when the windows get closed for winter. Or on the flip-side, for those who live in warmer climates, when the homes are closed up from the heat outdoors. Toxic mold in homes and buildings is becoming a well-known problem. I think when I post about non-toxic paint, or our Savvy Rest mattress people must think I’m nuts, but I repeat: this is a big deal. Our bodies often can’t keep up, so we should try to make avoiding toxin exposure more of a priority, as well as implementing daily detox tools. Anything you can do to help your body is a step in the right direction, even if it’s as simple as drinking lemon water.
So what do these detox tools look like? They are actually things you can do every single day, which feel really good, and are quick, and easy to add into your daily routine. Since this post became much longer than I planned for, I will be back later this week with all of my favorite detox tools to share with you in part 2!