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Step 7: Identify & Remove Toxins That Limit You

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I’ve had a lifelong battle with toxins.  More like a war really. When I say toxins, I’m not just referring to pesticides or hazardous waste.  A toxin is anything that damages the body.

Toxins can be from food (wheat, legumes, etc.), the air, water, mold, clothing, or for some, even your cell phone.  I won’t be able to cover every possible toxin in this article, but I’ll show you how to identify and remove the most common and damaging.

One of the first ways I started biohacking was with a game called FreeCell.  This is a simple online game you can play where you match squares.  I played the game for several weeks to establish a baseline, then I started testing.  I was looking for a way to track how certain foods effected my brain function.  A few weeks of trial and error revealed that two days after eating wheat – my score dropped significantly.

I soon moved on to more advanced ways of tracking my mental performance, but this was a great start. After I eliminated numerous food toxins like wheat, legumes, and aspartame, I still felt there was something wrong.  I was eating the equivalent of a paleo diet (the term and community didn’t exist back then), but there were certain foods that still made my joints hurt and my head throb.

After more research, I uncovered numerous other food toxins, the biggest of which were mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are damaging compounds produced by various species of mold.  They can cause cancer, heart disease, kidney and liver failure, insomnia, stunted growth, miscarriage, and decreased brain function. Mycotoxins are also probably behind the mystery of high LDL cholesterol on the paleo diet (more on that in later articles).

Mycotoxins aren’t just found in food.  Mold from drywall, plumbing, and any source of rot can produce mycotoxins.  There are hundreds of other toxins, but this article is already long enough.  Now I’m going to give you the quick reference guide for identifying and removing toxins.

Identify Toxins

Look for mold/mildew in and around your house and workplace.

Mold is sometimes hard to find, or goes unnoticed.  Showers, toilets, and other areas with lot of moisture are a good place to start.  Drywall and plaster can often get moldy if exposed to moisture.  Older houses generally have more mold due to poor ventilation and leaky plumbing.

There are many other toxins besides mold in most buildings. Look for new carpeting, ventilation ducts, computers, and cell phone towers. I’ll talk more about why later in this article.

See if you’re allergic to mold.

This is something it took me years to figure out.  Everyone has some allergy to molds, but for some people it’s almost life threatening.  I grew up in a house with mold, so I’m especially sensitive.  I’ve been known to hallucinate after eating a few bites of fresh corn that was contaminated with mycotoxins.  While everyone should avoid mold as much as possible – it’s wise to see just how much of a reaction you have.

Review your current diet.

Most toxins come from your food.  If you read step 1 in this series and are following a Bulletproof Diet, you’ve eliminated 99 percent of all food toxins.  A regular paleo diet is a great place to start, but it still has more toxins than most people are aware of.  If you aren’t getting or maintaining the results you want on paleo, you may not be able to handle the toxin load.  You may find through more experimentation that you get even better results going Bulletproof.  If you aren’t eating Bulletproof, start.

Remove Toxins

Eat A Bulletproof Diet

This is best way to get rid of toxins guaranteed.  Not only does it avoid toxins from food, it also helps you remove toxins stored in your body’s tissues.  The high fat diet teaches your body to access body fat stores.  With a little intermittent fasting – you can remove a lot of toxins that would stay trapped in your cells.  When you lose weight (if you need to), you may also release toxins from fat cells, some people have reported feeling a little under the weather before feeling amazing when they first switch over, this may be why.  Others go straight to feeling better.

Grass-fed meat is one of the most important parts of the diet.  Check out the posts on grass-fed meat to learn why (1, 2, 3).  Please be careful to choose high quality chocolate and coffee as these are other possible sources of mycotoxins.  Even though I’ve posted about how to find mold free coffee on your own, so many people have asked me so often where and how to buy it, that I did some research and created Upgraded Coffee, Chocolate powder, Vanilla, and Cacao Butter.

Cook your foods at lower temperatures.  Incorporate water into your cooking whenever possible and use low temperatures.  Do not use a microwave or fry.  Cooking foods at high temperatures, especially by frying can cause formations of a compound called acrylamide, which may be linked to cancer.

Drink clean water and avoid plastic bottles.

Public water contains of fluoride, chlorine, and other nasty chemicals.  Bottled water is okay in small amounts, but the BPA can be a problem with prolonged use.  A report from the CDC found BPA in 92.6% of adults.  When you remove BPA containing items from your diet for just three days, you can reduce your BPA levels by around 66%.  Canned food and shopping receipts are also sources of BPA.

Well water is a safer option over bottled water.  If you can’t get a well, install a water filter (for the sink and shower).

Avoid air fresheners, new plastics, and harsh cleaning agents.

If it’s synthetic and has a strong smell – it’s probably toxic.  New cars, carpets, and plastic clothing should either be washed or left to air out before you use them.  Check out Rodale.com for alternative deodorants and cleaning products.

Protect yourself from EMF’s.

Electronic devices like cell phones and laptops produce electromagnetic radiation.  This kind of radiation may damage sperm quality, cause headaches, behavioral problems, disturb sleep and for some cause skin irritation.  While the research is conflicting, the World Health Organization thought it prudent to establish a project to study EMF’s for health concerns, like an increase in certain kinds of cancers. Here are eight ways to avoid EMF’s

  1. Install EMF filters in your house.
  2. Hold cell phones/laptops 10-20mm away from your skin at all times.
  3. Turn your cell phone on “airplane mode” when it’s in your pocket.
  4. Use a headset or ear buds for speaking.
  5. Use an anti-EMF case like Pong for your iPhone, Android, or Blackberry.
  6. Keep your cell phone at least one inch from your skin while talking.
  7. Avoid using your cell phone when the signal is weak.
  8. Use a different side of your head to talk on the phone to disperse the radiation across both sides.

There are many other ways to reduce toxin exposure, you may find these are very effective and simple.

Supplements

There are some supplements that can be extremely effective at removing toxins.

Calcium-D-Glucarate

This is a naturally occurring compound that your body makes in small amounts.  In supplement form, it aids in the removal of heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, excess estrogen, and metabolic byproducts.  It also helps lower LDL cholesterol.

Spirulina & Chlorella

These are two kinds of blue-green algae that are extremely effective at binding and removing toxins from your body.  They work well for detoxing from heavy metal exposure which is often a problem if you eat a lot of seafood.  I take a handful of chlorella tablets every time I eat tuna or other high mercury fish.

Upgraded Coconut Charcoal

This works well if you’ve eaten something you probably shouldn’t have.  It also helps with the removal of toxins that would otherwise keep circulating throughout your body.  If you know you’ve been exposed to a large number of toxins and want a quick fix, I highly recommend taking activated charcoal.

Toxins are a very real and dangerous threat.  If you’ve been doing everything right in terms of diet, sleep, and stress, and you still do’t feel like you’re performing optimally – you’re likely suffering from toxin exposure.  It may also be that you are performing better than you ever have, and still have room to increase your performance even more.  The steps I just laid out are 80 percent of what you need to solve this problem.

In what ways do you think toxins may be effecting your health?  What other toxins do you think go unnoticed?  How do you identify and remove toxins?

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  • James Clarke

    Hey I work at a waste transfer facility. Im exposed to an orange smelling chemical sprayed from the ceiling to keep the smell down. I looked it up and it sais mild irritant, but i constantly get it on my skin, and in my eyes or mouth if I look up at the wrong time. Also there is tons of dust constantly in the air. A magnetic siagn fell into some water recently and came up covered in metal dust… Ive started using a reusable mask at all times but I feel the damage is done. And to top it off the building is about 150 yards from 5 rows of high voltage power lines. I believe cell phone radiation would be insignificant compared to the radiation from these power line.

    I feel like I am starting to loose my energy and I can’t wake up fully energized recently. Do you have any ideas or suggestion. I started taking kelp for the iodine to help with the radiation. Im gonna look for activated charcoal too. Any help would be great. And luckily I only have to work here for a month longer.

    Thanks,

    James

    • http://twitter.com/bulletproofexec ???ds? ???p

      James, you’re taking years off your life. I’d carefully ask OSHA about getting the area tested. It can’t be safe.

      Glutathione will help, lots of vitamin C too. But it’s like peeing on a forest fire really. Wear long sleeves to keep that crap off your skin too.

  • Creatureg

    What is a good brand of Activated Charcoal?

    • Dave Asprey

      It doesn’t mostly matter. You want acid washed coconut charcoal extra fine.

      • http://twitter.com/BadAssPaleo Ben Morgan

        Hey Dave. How much activated charcoal should I take if I think I need it? I bought a granulated brand: Multavita acid washed charcoal. Not capsules. Should I just mix a TBS or so in water and wash it down? Thanks!

        • http://www.confidentfuture.com.au/ Lloyd

          Ben: In a video of Dave’s he suggested 10 capsules of activated charcoal taken 3 times a day. Specifically useful when eating a meal you haven’t prepared at home (such as a restaurant meal) to ward off problems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristie.b.davis Kristie Brockway Davis

    yep, I’m working to identify toxins/molds in my environment and diet & it’s a long process. I suspect I have problems with almost everything on your list. I’ve worked up to being ‘functional’ over the past few years; ‘bulletproof’ will take a while longer.

    I’ve worked at a corn processing plant part time for over 5 years & figure the amount of mold/aflatoxins are bothering me. (I’m a lab tech & used to test for them . . . . only ever found trace amounts of mycotoxins – parts per billion). Not nearly as bad as James C – but I also need to find a different job. Tough to know your job’s making you sick.

    There’s a new local food co-op just starting in my area, so local producers have a single place to advertise. I’m looking forward to this program getting started, since I just found several sources of grass-fed beef, goat and even bison and elk along with the vegetable farmers.

    Excellent article, I’ll definitely be referring back to it.

    • Dave Asprey

      What mycotoxins did you test for? Very curious given the prevalence of fusarium in dried corn products.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kristie.b.davis Kristie Brockway Davis

        fumonisin, DON and aflatoxin. DON – I forget the name for that, I always abbreviated. Hmm, now I”m curious about fusarium. I stopped testing about a year ago & the plant just does a quick aflatoxin test when the trucks come in.

        • stacy

          How do u check for the type of mycotoxin? My doc did the shoemaker blood labs and I have two of the worst HLA genotypes and other markers

  • http://twitter.com/rhiarti Rhiarti

    Out of interest, how effective are filter jugs at dealing with tap water? That or bottled water in plastic bottles are basically my only two options…

  • Daniel Popowych

    Great article Dave, as usual. On the subject of brainwaves. Are there any techniques to access delta brainwaves while sleeping and if so, will sleeping with delta brainwaves (1-4 Hz) be bulletproof sleep and allow for less sleep (say 2-4 hours per night) while still being healthy?

  • Tom

    Great article. What about:
    WIFI, FM signals?
    How do you take the activated charcoal? On empty stomach? How much?

  • Kenneth Bruskiewicz

    Hey Dave,

    There were some interesting anti-toxin strategies that you committed to earlier on in your experiments, and I’m wondering if you still endorse those. Olive Oil + Grapefruit Juice was one of them; I’m wondering if you would still put that option on the table for people, or if these solutions that you have outlined overrule this possibility.

    I’d also like to voice deep appreciation for your work on the Bulletproof Exec, Dave. It’s unlike anything out there, in the best way possible.

    • Kenneth Bruskiewicz
      • Laura Grace

        Kenneth, the link you posted makes me want to try it much more. No, the compound doesn’t seem to affect stones but it absorbs red dye and bile? Perhaps it will absorb and then flush toxins as well…

  • http://chrisgonzalesart.blogspot.com/ ChrisG

    Mold is nasty. I do some home improvement in my business. If you’re buying a house in a place with cold winters, look carefully for signs of frozen pipe repairs. Especially true where water is used in the heating system. Check the attic for roof leaks. If the laundry room is on an upper floor look for damage where a water feeder hose might have burst (common).

    People will frequently repair water damaged areas superficially and the spaces between the wallboard can remain moldy indefinitely.

    Houses dry out differently too. My current apartment is on sandy soil and gets full sun. It’s an old building with lots of drafts… so despite years with a leaky roof it is bone dry with no mold anywhere. The worst house I saw was in a stand of big pines. Always in shade, damp pine needles everywhere… that place never dried out.

    And if your basement has any dampness at all..do not store anything paper or cloth in it. I really distrust basements with regard to mold.

  • http://twitter.com/joshkitlas Joshua Kitlas

    Dave – I love what you’re doing-expertly researched content with top of the food chain thinking and justification. I am a MSc student rearing up for the final stretch and have been helped immeasurably by your findings. I have more than enough energy to handle the schoolwork, exercise and job search. So much has changed, for the better of course, and I was only able to change it because, well, your methods make SENSE.

    As I have been reading the blog I have been listing the supplements you mention in a spreadsheet I put together and am tracking the data/info you have been sharing including: Supplement, Dose, Form, Time Taken, Recommended Brand, Alternate Brand, what the supplement Aids, supplement currently Taking, does the supplement aid the Brain, Advanced Biohacking Supplements, is the supplement OTC, is the supplement Bulletproof, Reference, and Alternate Supplement 2.

    I thought some folks might benefit form this so I threw it in a Google doc and it can be found here:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AnlFZjvwM3JUdGQ5Uk4xZmtLeEhxOWM1SC1GYXB2ZWc

    • http://www.facebook.com/charity.kennedy Charity Kennedy

      Hi Joshua! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for sharing this spreadsheet. I am new to the BP site and started the BP fasting yesterday after months of urging from my brother. I have been reading various blog-posts and listening to the podcasts for a few weeks now and was starting to get a little tied in knots over all the information, particularly about various supplements. I was thinking I needed to start organizing all the info into a single spot for myself to make it easier to reference and more digestible. Enter your post and spreadsheet. :) I started one for the Rapid Fat Loss Protocol supplement recommendations (I believe is also recommended when doing the BP fasting protocol, per a comment & answer on the BP fasting page). I need to complete it and then will post. There are a few included on that list you may want to add to your doc, reference it here if that interests you http://www.bulletproofexec.com/rapid-fat-loss-protocol/. Thanks again for sharing your efforts to save the rest of us some time. :)

    • Justin Klenk

      JOSHUA – You da man.

      Love making spreadsheets, it’s a disease – but this is the most valuable one I’ve seen in… I can’t even remember. How incredibly and densely helpful – got it in Evernote now, at the pharmacy/grocery/etc.

      Thanks.

  • http://primalascendance.blogspot.ca/ Jason Blanchard

    Hey Dave, what is your opinion on cleaning products? what would be the best options when cleaning up the house ex:sink,bathroom,tables etc.. thanks in advance!

    • http://www.facebook.com/Tracy.Bradley1 Tracy Bradley

      I use baking soda (great for scrubbing the tub, sinks, toilets etc), vinegar and water, sometimes vinegar and hydrogen peroxide one after the other in places like garbage bins. For dusting, the best thing is simply a damp cloth. Floors get hot water and Dr. Bronner’s soap, or just hot water. TIP: you can keep drains clean by putting a tbsp or two of baking soda down the drain, then pouring vinegar in and plugging the drain. Lots of fizziness! Won’t clear clogged drains, but is good maintenance.

  • http://loesungslabor.com Alexander Schwarz

    Dave, thanks for this great series. I started collecting it into a readlist. That worked until part 5 but not with 6 and 7. Would be great to conveniently read offline. Any idea what might be different with parts 6 and 7? Here’s the list: http://readlists.com/2929507e/

    • Dave Asprey

      Weird! Will check.

  • http://twitter.com/ysabet elspeth

    A quick tip – one of the best things I’ve found to get rid of mould on (non porous) surfaces and clothing is white vinegar. Mix it with a bit of hot water, and it makes a cheap, effective, and non toxic cleaner. If you are ultra sensitive to gluten, make sure it’s derived from spirits or wine, instead of malt. I often put 1/3 cup in a laundry load – for bonus points, it also functions as a fabric softener.

    Also, for women – be careful of your cosmetics. They’re on

  • Jeff M.

    Dave, how do you feel about NAC or taurine as an antidote to MSG sensitivity/toxicity? Or a liver cleanse program to eliminate the sensitivity altogether?

    • Dave Asprey

      Have tried all of those. Liver cleanse helps but is not a panacea. NAC is nothing compared to the liposomal glutathione I use and recommend. ?

  • http://www.confidentfuture.com.au/ Lloyd

    Hi Dave. Currently living in Thailand and the tap water is deemed as unsafe to drink in the area I currently live in. All water is regularly delivered in crates of plastic bottles that I am almost 100% sure are not BPA free. A crate of 24L of water costs 40 baht (About $1.30 US or 18 cents a litre). My alternative is purchasing water from a convenience store like Tesco or 711 but it still comes in plastic bottles and costs 14 baht a litre (42 cents a litre). At double the cost it doesn’t seem like it is much better. If you were in my situation what would you be inclined to do?

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  • BjarteBakke

    Great piece Dave. I enjoy your structured approach, clear recommendations, and links to more detailed information. Keep up the good work and do let me know what you think of my own 2-week eating experiment at http://www.rethinkingtruth.com

    Regards from Norway!

  • smokesmd

    there is also an App for Android called Tawkon (free) it is the unique official application that measures the radiation on your phone (it suggests you to use headphones when making a call)
    it scared me because in my university its full of PC’s, and whenever i want to make a call, there’s always the radiation signal..
    its in university, i can’t imagine how high the level is in companies where there are bunch of PC’s in the office.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stuart.tett Stuart Tett

    What kind of water filter do you recommend. I rent in San Francisco and they use chloramine (instead of chlorine) which can’t be removed with standard filters. And they also use fluoride.

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  • Eric C

    Ive heard Dave talking lots about mycotoxins, are all mushrooms really that bad? I know lots of people take them and even heard of the wonderful effects of reishi or lions mane for example, its ability to induce NGF and growth of areas of the brain… any thoughts?

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  • Kris Burgess

    I know that this is a really late post compared to the last one, but I was wondering about plastic, supposedly-refillable, waterbottles, like Nalgene and CamelBak. Do these water bottles leach BPAs? Even though the companies say that they do not? Does that mean we should use metal or glass water bottles?

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  • Adam J

    I have food-allergies and I learned that drinking a lot of pH-adjusted water (alkaline) will help against this because allergies are caused by a hyper-active immune system, mostly caused by immunizations. Drinking much water before and after meals helps me against the swelling of the throat I am subject to.

    Please, do not school me about allergy-treatments because I have to the doctor and hospital at least a dozen times and they admit they can’t do anything except give you some cortisone and adrenaline for allergic reactions. The problem is these are constant with me and with anything I eat.

    This has helped me. Thank you.

    • carmin marie

      i used to have a lot of food allergies myself and after giving up on western medicine i went the homeopathic route and finally got relief! found the cause of my allergies (stressed out liver) but it changed my life. the treatment was the “bioset” program but i have heard that “NAET” is just as good if you can find either close by. look for an ADVANCED practitioner in your area. i got desensitized to foods, molds, numerous other things.. even my dog! it was absolutely life changing.

      • Adam J

        Well, what actually helped me was supplementing with L-Glutamine.
        Have a nice day!

  • stacy

    Which brand of spirulina or other microalgaes do u recommend? There have been some concerns about mycotoxins and neurotoxins in algae, so I’d love to know which are bulletproof!

    Thanks!!!

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  • turtle

    How long do I need to take supplements to remove toxins – 1 month, 2 months? What is the best indicator to tell when I’ve removed most of the toxins from my body?

  • Laura Grace

    I can’t believe you don’t call out the microwave study specifically. I had to go hunting to figure out why you are so opposed to microwaves. I found it though and am definitely on-board…

    For anybody else on the fence about using microwaves: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17995763

  • Alice

    I am scratching around my thighs everytime after I eat some foods and mostly I am suspecting bread. I thought it was hazelnut butter so I threw it away then I thought it’s eggs and didnot eat them.But I ate bread and still itched now I know I have toxins I am trying to drink lemon water and vegetable juices mostly beetroot.
    Oh I’ll try some of the above tips.
    Thanks.

  • Love&light

    I’m looking improve my oral health
    I’m trying a remineralizing tooth power
    Bentonite clay and activated charcoal.
    Do you or anyone have input on this ?

  • Fusarium_Sanitarium

    Hi, I just wanted to add that (having recently found out) that immunosuppressive drugs (most of them) are made from toxic mold, which is why they lower the immune system. I had a surgery ten years ago that was a 7 hour, intensive GI procedure. I was given just such drugs to keep my body from reacting to the surgical tools being used. Recently, I found out my family is living in a house with very bad mold underneath it. I have been experiencing the effects much worse than the others. My doctor told me that I am more sensitive now to mold from using the immunosuppressive drugs with the surgery. Its good to know, but something that could have been more useful back when I was recovering from the surgery, to know going forward. It’s interesting what details get left out.

    In case it has been a similar mystery for anyone else, I just wanted to share what I learned and am dealing with.

  • Osama Valentino Khan

    This was indeed the best article that compiles everything. Loved it. According to me going vegan one or twice a week in a month also helps to remove toxins from the body. Eating healthy is surely the best way but water also plays a major role in removing toxins completely.

    So i would say Consistency is the only way out,

    great article.

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