Train hard and make sure you do some serious sweating to detoxify the body and prevent disease. Research shows that people who perform regular intense exercise detoxify more heavy metals through a variety of mechanisms than the less active population, and sweating is one of the best ways to regularly remove toxins.
Recent media reports have incorrectly suggested that helping the body to detoxify is not necessary, and that sweating won’t remove toxins. They’re wrong. The bad news is that everyone must support the body’s natural detoxification by any reasonable means because we are constantly and overwhelmingly exposed to heavy metals, petrochemical toxins, and pollutants that mimic hormones. The good news is that if you eat right, train hard, and make sure you sweat regularly, you can significantly improve the detox process.
When sweating, the body eliminates minerals, toxins, and heavy metals from the blood and the skin tissue. Just as you lose the beneficial electrolytes magnesium, potassium, and sodium through sweat, you also cleanse the body of cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic, and other metals. All these heavy metals are confirmed carcinogens that can cause significant damage to the body including the central nervous system, endocrine, cardiovascular, and immunological systems. Toxic overload affects brain function and in children, it has been linked to a lower IQ and dysfunctional behavior.
A new analysis in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health looked at all the data to date regarding the removal of the heavy metals arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat. There is abundant evidence that all four of these metals are excreted when we sweat, and in some cases sweating is a more effective method for removal than via the urine.
This is important because urinary detoxification of heavy metals is complex, puts stress on the liver, and requires an abundance of various compounds. For example, zinc and vitamin E are necessary to remove arsenic via the urine. Therefore, regular heavy sweating from exercise or a sauna can take the load off the liver.
The benefit of using an intense sweating practice is supported by reports that it will enhance excretion of other dangerous toxins such as persistent flame retardants and BPA. For example, sweating was used to help New York City rescue workers detox following the 9/11 disaster when they were exposed to high levels of pollutants and heavy metals.
Researchers note that with greater toxic exposure, the heat regulatory mechanisms of the nervous system are affected, resulting a failure to sweat readily. They suggest a “detox” diet, supplementing with nutrients that boost the body’s natural detox system, taking niacin to assist with vasodilatation, brushing the skin to encourage excretion of toxins, and exercise prior to sauna use. Ample hydration is necessary, but with persistence, “patients do eventually start to sweat,” which is a sign that the nervous system is beginning to improve and the body has started to detoxify.
To learn about how the body’s internal detoxification system works, with dietary and nutritional strategies for supporting it, please read the article Do Antioxidants Work?
Sears, M., Kerr, K., et al. Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.