Sauna Detox: The Toxin Connection to Autoimmunity
Avoiding exposure to toxins is nearly impossible. They are in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the air we breathe. Even if you live a very “clean” lifestyle, you’re still exposed to thousands of toxins daily. The good news is there are ways to reduce your exposure to toxins and flush them out of your body. My favorite way to flush out toxins is a sauna detox with my Sunlighten infrared sauna.
The effects of toxins on our bodies are complex. After all, thousands of chemicals are out there, and we’re just beginning to understand how they work on the body–not to mention how they work in conjunction with one another. We know that a heavy toxic burden puts you at greater risk of developing an autoimmune disease.
I will tell you how to reduce exposure to toxins and the benefits of a sauna detox using infrared light therapy. First, let’s discuss the toxin-autoimmunity connection.
Toxic Triggers for Autoimmunity
Taming the toxins is the third pillar of The Myers Way®, my science-based proven method for overcoming autoimmune disease. Each exposure to toxins adds to your body’s toxic burden. Think of your body like a cup and toxins like drops of water: if your cup is already full because you have a leaky gut, a poor diet, infections, and stress, those small, cumulative toxic exposures cause that cup to overflow. You’re pushed down the autoimmune spectrum into full-fledged autoimmune disease when it does. There are a few theories as to why:
- One thought is that certain toxins, especially heavy metals, physically damage your tissues. Your immune system no longer recognizes these damaged cells as part of your body and attacks them, thinking they’re foreign invaders.
- Another theory is that the damage inflicted by toxins elicits an inflammatory response from the immune system. The constant assault of chronic exposure puts the immune system on high alert. It begins attacking everything–including your tissues.
I don’t want you to feel hopeless because there is a solution. Yes, you get constantly exposed to toxins. However, you can use these prevention and detoxification strategies to lighten your toxic burden and help get your immune system back on track. In just a minute, I will tell you about these strategies, including a sauna detox. Let’s talk about how we get exposed to toxins.
The truth is that you are exposed to thousands of toxins every day, even if you don’t live in a polluted area or work in an industrial job. Toxins are in the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, the clothing you wear, your beauty products, cleaning products, and the cookware you use daily. The disheartening truth is our government has approved them and said they are safe.
As of right now, there are about 80,000 registered chemicals for use in the US, and every year about 1,700 more are quickly approved in less than a month and with little to no testing. Our government leaves it up to the company to do the testing and tell us it’s safe.
And if a product contains five ingredients, they test each separately for safety–not all five. These chemicals do wind up inside your body, and here’s how they get in:1
We Breathe Them In
Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, where some pollutants are five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. There’s pollution outside your home, too, and toxins can quickly build up in your body when you are constantly breathing them in.2
We Eat And Drink Them
The Standard American Diet (SAD) contains animals raised with artificial growth hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, and pesticide-treated produce. Studies suggest that dietary intake of pesticides accounts for most pesticide exposure, especially in infants and young children.3
More than half of your body is composed of water, which means your water quality is tied to your health. Chemicals from plastic, heavy metals, and other pollutants can get into your body through your drinking water or your skin when you bathe. Toxins in plastic can also leach into the food and beverages you eat.
We Absorb Them Through Our Skin
Both beneficial and harmful substances that come into contact with your skin get absorbed into your bloodstream. This includes the chemicals in cleaning products, soap, makeup, and lotions, as well as pollutants and heavy metals in water.
We Wear Them
Manufacturers make your clothing so that it stays drier, wrinkle-free, and lasts longer. However, the trade-off of better-performing clothing is that it often comes with a chemical cocktail filled with toxins, including solvents, AZO dyes, formaldehyde, PFAS, phthalates, and ammonia.
It may seem like a little bit of exposure here and there, yet each exposure contributes to your body’s toxic burden pushing you farther down the autoimmune spectrum.
What is the Solution?
The two main toxin-taming strategies are prevention (i.e. using toxin-free cleaning products) and detoxification (i.e. sauna detox). The first step is to prevent the toxins from getting in your system in the first place.
You may not have control over everything, but you do have control over your home. I focus my efforts on keeping my home as toxin-free as possible. I use non-toxic cookware and eat only organic food. Here are four ways you can reduce the toxic burden in your home:
- Clean your air. I recommend getting a HEPA filter for your office and home. I use air filters from AIRDoctor®.
- Clean your water. I recommend installing water filters on your shower taps and sinks. I have a full-house filtration system. You’ll also want to avoid plastic water bottles — even BPA-free plastics.
- Buy clean food. Eat organic whenever possible. It can be costly, so at the very least, opt for organic meats. I also recommend using glass food containers, as they are toxin-free and don’t contain phthalates or BPA, so nothing is leaching out of the glass into your food.
- Buy clean body products. These days, so many personal care products get manufactured with hormone-mimicking chemicals that get absorbed through your skin. After years of frustration looking at face washes, wrinkle creams, moisturizers, and thousands of skin care products that contained toxins, I created my own. If it’s too overwhelming to replace your body products with cleaner options all at once, consider replacing one item at a time over the next several months.
Once you have reduced the toxins exposure in your home, the next step is to remove the toxins from your body. There are several ways to do this, including a sauna detox with infrared light.
Once you have toxins in your body, you must get them out. Your body is constantly working to eliminate toxins by naturally producing glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s biggest detoxifier. However, constant toxin exposure depletes glutathione levels quickly. I recommend supplementing with extra Glutathione or N-Acetyl-Cysteine (a precursor to glutathione) while your body is trying to remove toxins, especially if you are already on the autoimmune spectrum.
You’ll also want to drink plenty of water and do something that will make you sweat the toxins out. Whenever I need to detox my body, I love to sweat in my Sunlighten infrared sauna. An infrared sauna detox has several benefits.
Benefits of a Sauna Detox
Infrared sauna therapy comes with several benefits, as I outline below. While traditional saunas rely on humidity to heat the room around you, infrared saunas heat your body directly by emitting wavelengths of light that you immediately absorb. Localized heat sent to the source means tolerable temperatures and a quicker, deeper sweat. Let’s discuss a few benefits of a sauna detox with infrared light.
Relaxation is more important to health than most people realize. While some stress is unavoidable, chronic stress can contribute to various health conditions such as leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, heart disease, and autoimmunity. Infrared sauna therapy promotes relaxation by helping to balance your body’s level of cortisol, your body’s primary stress hormone. The heat generated by the sauna helps relax muscles and relieve tension and stress throughout the body.
Sweating is one of the best ways to detox your body. Every time you sweat, you flush out the toxic substances and heavy metals we encounter daily. Infrared sauna therapy promotes this process by using what experts call a heavy metal detox protocol to mobilize specific toxins nearly three inches below the surface of your skin. Rather than simply heating the air to draw out toxins, infrared saunas heat your body from the inside to expel them from deep down.
Sweating is one of the best ways to detox your body. Every time you sweat, you flush out the toxic substances and heavy metals that we encounter in everyday life. Infrared sauna therapy promotes this process by using what experts call a heavy metal detox protocol to mobilize specific toxins nearly three inches below the surface of your skin. Rather than simply heating the air to draw out toxins, infrared saunas heat your body from the inside to expel them from deep down.
While sweating out calories might sound too good to be true, the heat generated by an infrared sauna causes your heart rate to increase. As your heart rate increases, so do the calories you burn.
During a sauna detox session, your body’s temperature increases. The body has to work hard to cool itself, increasing the blood flow and heart rate. Much like moderate exercise, this helps your body burn calories and supports healthy weight loss. This can be a practical lifestyle choice for those who cannot participate in traditional exercise programs.
The short wavelengths of near-infrared light (NIR) can reach more profound levels of your skin and remove toxins such as dead skin cells, oils, dirt, and bacteria. Additionally, increased circulation and oxygen delivery to injured or damaged areas helps with cell turnover, reducing the appearance of scars.
As the heat from infrared saunas increases your core body temperature, your blood vessels constrict and allow for healthy blood flow. Consistent infrared sauna sessions cause your blood vessels to dilate. The volume of their inner lining reduces, increasing the circulation needed to maintain healthy blood pressure.
This reaction is similar to how your body responds to low or moderate exercise. Infrared saunas replicate a cardiovascular workout by raising your heart rate and increasing your circulation. Since your heart is a muscle, each activity strengthens and helps it deliver more oxygen to your body’s cells.
Heating your body to its core triggers it to release the toxins clogging your pores; with each sweat, you’re detoxifying your body and promoting clear, soft, and healthy-looking skin.
Is a Sauna Detox Right for You?
A sauna detox is a great way to get all the benefits of using an infrared sauna. I have a Sunlighten infrared sauna in my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Sunlighten saunas utilize a patented Solocarbon® heating technology. They are the only far infrared sauna on the market clinically shown to lower blood pressure, raise core temperature, and aid in weight loss.
Many amazing health benefits come with using an infrared sauna. In general, infrared saunas are safe for most people. You should talk to your functional medicine physician if you have a medical condition on medications or implanted devices.
A review of Infrared sauna therapy found some side effects, such as heat discomfort, dehydration, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and nausea. However, in most cases, the side effects were mild.
I suggest starting with 10-15 minute sessions at 100-130 degrees Fahrenheit and gradually working up to 40-minute sessions. If an infrared sauna is unavailable, yet you have access to a traditional sauna, you can still achieve some degree of detoxification with 10-20 minute sessions at 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Final Word
Most of your detoxing takes place in your liver, so the goal is to support your liver during detoxifying. Your body’s biggest detoxifier is glutathione, so I recommend supplementing with extra glutathione or N-Acetyl-Cysteine while trying to excrete toxins to accompany your sauna detox.
There has never been a more relaxing way to achieve optimal health than a sauna detox. With the help of infrared sauna therapy, all these health benefits and more are just a sweat away.
- Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals Update. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015.
- What are the trends in indoor air quality and their effects on human health?. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2021.
- Organic Diets Significantly Lower Children’s Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides. Kathryn Toepel, Chensheng Lu, et al. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2005.
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