Saturday, March 14, 2009

How to rid your body of toxins (the old fashioned way)

I've talked in a few posts about toxins and how I believe they are a key component in why I got cancer. I think of it as a three-legged stool, with environmental toxins, poor diet and lifestyle, and genetics all contributing.

There are no quick fixes. It takes decades for cancer or other chronic diseases to take hold. It takes years, at a minimum, to detoxify. This can seem daunting, like you need to do everything perfect forevermore. But Rome wasn't built in a day.

Where do you start detoxifying? Add one new good practice to your roster. Once that good practice becomes habit, add another. Don't try to change everything suddenly. They're like collecting pebbles on a beach. You don't start your walk with all the pebbles collected. You collect them as you go.

Here's what I do to shed the toxins. Some are big things, which take dedication and practice, and others are easy to add to your daily routine.

1. Meditate. Mental toxins are just as damaging as the pesticides in your salad (perhaps more so). Meditation helps remove mental toxins. There are many kinds of meditation. Some are religious, but the what I practice is non-denominational. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. (You don't have to cross your legs like a yoga-master!) Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Feel it come in and go out. When thoughts comes along, which they do, observe them. Usually they go away, then you can go back to focusing on your breath. Do this for about 10 minutes, ideally every day.

2. Exercise. The important thing here is that it be something you like so that you will stick with it. I do CrossFit because it is interesting, challenging, and free. The other important thing is that exercise make you sweat. Sweating removes toxins.

3. Apple cider vinegar. Pour a splash of ACV in a glass and fill with filtered water. Do this morning and night. You can almost feel it sucking the toxins out. Make sure that the ACV you buy is raw and contains the "mother" or the cloudy vinegar starter. Oh yeah, filtering your water removes toxins.

4. Eat well. Good nutrition does two things. First, it gives you the nutrients you need to be healthy. Second, it displaces junk food. This isn't difficult stuff. If you want to detoxify, start by stopping the toxins coming in.

5. Sauna. Remember what I said about exercise that makes you sweat? Sweating in a sauna helps, and it's great fun too. Ask any firefighter who gets all sooty after a good fire. You can smell the junk seeping out of your pores for days afterward, and a sauna is one of the best ways to accelerate that process. But you don't need to be a firefighter to benefit from the sauna. It doesn't have to be terribly hot, just make sure you stay in long enough to get a good sweat going. I like to extend my saunas with cold showers (or jumps in the lake), up to an hour or more.

6. Sleep. At least 8 hours a night. I prefer 9 or more, but that's hard with a baby in the house. Your body removes toxins during sleep. Imagine if you did everything else perfectly, but you didn't sleep! You'd still be completely toxic!

7. Be nice. To others and to yourself. Being mean is being toxic.

8. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect. Don't beat yourself up for things you did in the past. Resolve to do your best in the future.

9. Avoid sick people. They will make you sick, and you can't shed toxins while you're fighting a bug.

Can I find any more cliches? The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Life is a journey, not a destination.

If you're not doing the basics (eat well, sleep well, exercise well), then you will not be ridding your body of toxins. All the other things will be of no use if you haven't got the basics down. Build the walls and roof on the foundation. You can build great walls and a great roof, but if you put them directly on the ground, your house will rot and fall as surely as if you built it with shoddy materials and workmanship.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

How to avoid pesticides in produce

We've all heard about the connections between pesticides in our food and cancer. Now I don't blame pesticides for what happened to me, but I do believe it was a contributing factor. With that in mind, I found the Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce from the Environmental Working Group. It ranks 43 fruits and vegetables for their residual pesticides. For instance, Anna has been very adamant about buying organic onions, but it turns out they have a very low residual pesticide level! We should have paid more attention to apples and lettuce!

Anna and I try to avoid pesticides by buying organic, local and free range. We could do a lot more, but some of our produce is organic and much of our meat is free-range, grass-fed, and hormone/antibiotic-free. (Check out our beef source at Golden Beef and our local farm at Dalew Farms.) And when we get back to Temagami this summer, I'm sure I'll get digging in the garden there again!

The photo above is last summer's garden in Temagami.

While we're talking about pocket guides, here's another one you should have. It's the Sustainable Seafood Guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It lists best choices and seafood to avoid, based on contaminant loads and the sustainability of the fishery.

On another note, Patricia asked about a colon cleanse. I have never done one. Having seen the inside of a number of colons during my surgical rotations as a paramedic student, I believe the notion that we store up a bunch of gunk in there that needs to be flushed out is, well, bunk. Colon cleanses even made the Mark's Daily Apple Top Ten Health Scams. Here's some more info I found, from colon cleansers can rob you of essential nutrients. With gluten and lactose intolerance already robbing me of the nutrients I need to fight cancer, I don't need something else sucking them away! Thanks for the question though!

Mom, how was the coconut-beet soup?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Coconut beet paleo recipes

I'm going to try to post here a bit more often. After I finished chemo the post count dropped like my platelet count after chemo. Why? Because blogging made me feel like I was still sick. Despite the front I kept up, when I was on chemo I felt like shit. Blogging made me feel like I was still on chemo, so I didn't want to do it. I don't feel that way anymore, so I'm back.

Cancer and chemo changed me for the better. Most obvious to me and everyone else is a new attitude toward food. Before I put something in my mouth (or in the shopping cart), I ask myself, "Is this going to nourish me?" Usually that means 'nourish my body,' but sometimes it means 'nourish my soul.' They're not always one in the same.

With that in mind, I'm going to share some of my favourite online recipes. Often, when dinnertime rolls around, I look in the fridge and see what we've got. Then I enter those things in Google, plus the words 'PALEO RECIPES,' and see what pops up. The results can be surprising, tasty, and always interesting. Try it sometime, it's fun!

One of my best finds used the words COCONUT and BEET, believe it or not - Coconut beet borscht from Catalyst Athletics. Robb Wolf's page is a great source for meal ideas (check out some of the others on the left, like this one for a brussels sprout and bacon stir fry).