My heart is broken for our planet and the suffering many are enduring.
In this article, I'm sharing some tips to stay healthy during this time. I also send regular newsletters with helpful science-based tips if you wanted to stay in the loop on integrative health.
The first rule of toxicology/detox is always exposure reduction. So, check the AQI in your area and if the air quality is poor, please stay indoors and keep the windows closed.
What is 'poor air quality? Well, it depends on your health status - for some, 50-100 may trigger asthma or cardiac events whereas other people can tolerate 150+ with little outward symptoms (even if there are no outward symptoms, there may be internal inflammation and oxidative stress going on, so please do keep an eye on that AQI and manage your activities accordingly)
Take a look at this chart below from the EPA. I personally avoid being outdoors if the AQI is above 100. If I have to be outdoors, I try to wear an N95 mask or P100 (make sure it is fitted properly and use a new one every day. People with lung and heart conditions need to check with their doctor before wearing N95 or P100 as these can make it more difficult to breathe).
Check the air quality index in your area here.
We now have evidence in the scientific literature linking air pollutants like PM 2.5 (from wildfires, and also vehicle exhaust, cooking, industrial processes, etc) - with many chronic diseases like cardiovascular, lung diseases, increased risks of stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, adverse birth outcomes, and even diabetes. So even if it may not 'smell bad', if the AQI is poor, avoid being outdoors, especially at a time when lung and immune health is paramount due to the coronavirus threat.
Simple actions can go a long way:
- Take off your shoes when you come inside, this will reduce the tracking of particulate matter into your home.
- Vacuum with a sealed HEPA filter and wipe down surfaces with a wet rag (i.e. damp dust) regularly (1-2x a week). I recently invested in a Sebo E3 as it's a sealed system with a HEPA filter.
- avoid fragranced products: no scented candles, or air fresheners and swap out household cleaners for non-toxic ones (I like and use Branch Basics (platefulhealth 15% off)
- Make sure to cook with the range hood ON as cooking, particularly at high temperatures can generate PM2.5. If you don't have one, consider investing in a portable air filter (see below)
- Make sure you have recently replaced your HVAC filter at home (these should be ideally changed 2-3 months or so, sooner if you have allergies/respiratory conditions) - Look for a MERV rating as high as your HVAC system can handle, based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. (The higher the MERV the better the filtration, however, high MERV filters can cause issues with the HVAC so check your HVAC manual. Ideally, you want a MERV around 13, or more if your unit can tolerate it).
- Last but not least, consider getting a CARB-certified portable air filter with a high CADR score for smoke.
I personally use AirDoctor to filter my indoor air - and have 3 of them - SAVE up to $300 via my affiliate link.
These little machines have helped us with so many symptoms and kept our indoor air clean for the last 3 fire seasons in California because they have GREAT CADR scores, especially the large AD5500, which has an excellent CADR score of 550 for smoke (it's my favorite because it's the quietest and most powerful).
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This is particularly important if you know your natural detoxification systems may be suboptimal due to genetic variations like MTHFR, GSTM-1.
What I'm sharing below is for education only and not to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before starting new supplements and making lifestyle changes.
- Drink lots of filtered water - unless you have heart or kidney diseases, aim for half your body weight in pounds, in ounces of water. e.g. if your weight is 130lb, aim to get 65oz of water throughout the day. If you exercise, sauna, or sweat, add more to that. My favorite water filters are linked on my website shop.
- Eat antioxidant-rich foods - focus on getting in different colors of the rainbow + plenty of fiber.
- Make sure you are pooping 1-2 times a day - this is a major way by which pollutants leave our bodies.
Variety is important, and I want to highlight:
4) Getting enough magnesium and zinc - sources include; leafy greens, nuts/seeds, cacao, pumpkin seeds, and supplement if necessary but consult a health care provider before use. Zinc can tip our copper balance, so I don't like long-term supplementation. Epsom salt baths are also a great option to obtain some magnesium transdermally, and I also sometimes take Optimal Magnesium by Seeking Health (code: DRVIV2023 for 10% off).
5) Get enough B vitamins including folate - which are needed to support detoxification - leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and legumes (if you eat meat, liver is a super nutrient-dense source) - speak to your doctor if you need a supplement as some people need specific forms of B vitamins. I personally supplement with a methylated B complex every day.
6) Increase your intake of Vitamin C. Smoke, especially the ultrafine particulate matter causes widespread inflammation. Antioxidants can help counter some of the oxidative damage that leads to inflammation. Food is always the preferred source e.g. berries, bell peppers, camu camu, kiwi, but I also supplement when I can't get enough from my diet or if there is an increased demand. I like liposomal Vitamin C because it is absorbed better. Here's what I take because it also comes with another antioxidant powerhouse, Elderberry, and doesn't require refrigeration. Another brand that does not need refrigeration is LivOn Labs.
7) NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) is a precursor to glutathione (a master antioxidant). It can provide detox and lung support. (I personally use Seeking Health NAC (Code: DRVIV2023 for 10% off). I also like Mindbodygreen's Daily detox (platefulhealth 15% off first order) which has a combination of NAC, selenium, vitamin C, milk thistle, and reduced glutathione)
8) Glutathione is not for everyone, some people have side effects, and we don't know how much oral glutathione gets to the target tissue... I prefer to support my detox organs with nutritional support that helps my body make glutathione instead (as above). However, if I was to take glutathione, I personally like the Quicksilver or Readisorb Liposomal Glutathione
9) I also like to support my liver with herbs when the environment is particularly taxing: Milk thistle, Dandelion root, Burdock root, and turmeric are some favorites. This tincture (code: platefulhealth) combines all these herbs in one place and tastes good, and I often take it when traveling, because it is taxing on the liver.
10) If I start to feel congested, or the smoky days persist and my lungs feel like they need supporting, I sometimes use this tincture with lung-supporting herbs.
10) If you have a sauna, use it if you don't have medical contraindications. If you don't have access to a sauna, take an Epsom salt bath instead and get sweating! I have had my Clearlight wooden sauna for 5 years and love it (Discount Code: Platefulhealth). I use my sauna 2-3x a week and more if I have had high environmental toxin exposures. Studies show that environmental toxins like heavy metals can be found in sweat.
11) Avoid things that tax our detoxification systems e.g. alcohol, inflammatory foods, and fragranced products. We want to take the load off our liver and kidneys so they can focus on getting rid of the air pollutants that do enter our bodies.
12) SLEEP - prioritizing sleep can support our defenses against environmental threats. I know it's easier said than done... but letting go of that which is out of your control is important in situations like these. Stress is toxic for our health too. Remember that we have detox organs, and if we support our detox organs, our bodies are resilient.
If you want to take a deeper dive with me on how to support your detox organs the RIGHT way, check out my signature course - DETOX RIGHT