Unraveling the Mystery: The Link Between Toxins and Weight Gain, Fatigue, and Brain Fog

Many women complain about struggles with fatigue, weight gain and brain fog. Why is this so common? Primary care and naturopathic Doctor Dani Lockwood shares her take: that we are full of toxins that bog down the body and make it impossible to feel good. Here’s how to change.


When new female patients first come to visit our office at Terrain Wellness, they often arrive with very similar questions. Inevitably, there is always one variation of the following:

How do I lose weight?
Why has my metabolism slowed so much?
How do I keep from gaining weight so easily?
Why am I so tired all the time?

Most women have been told that they need to ‘balance hormones”, “eat healthy”, “de-stress,” “exercise,” or “sleep more,” in order to feel better.

And while these are all important factors that are foundational to good health, they often fail to address a hidden problem.

Whether your issue is losing weight or trying to regain the energy to do the things you “used to do,” the common denominator that most traditional doctors don’t understand is toxins.

What are toxins and why are they bad for me?

Have you ever seen a pipe after it’s been clogged? This is what our gut looks like after years of toxic food, chemicals and overgrowth of pathogens. We live in a toxic world, and our bodies are quite literally full of trash.

There are only so many years that our bodies can keep up with this before they slow down. Our low energy is telling us to “slow down” because the body is trying to detoxify and cannot keep up with the overload.

For example, let’s look at common toxin found in many urine test results looking for residual BPA from plastics. A 2018 study on plastics found that in bottled water (regardless of the brand), out of 250 bottles tested from 9 different countries, 85% of the bottles tested had 10 or more particles of plastic per liter of filtered water.

Plastics are everywhere and they are messing with our hormones, making us susceptible to not only weight gain, but immune dysfunction and cancer.

And plastics are only one type of toxin we are exposed to on a daily basis. The list goes on-and-on: pesticides, synthetic solvents, toxic flame retardants from new clothes and furniture. All of this has to be processed by our bodies.

So how do toxins show up and wreak havoc on our lives? Here’s a case study to give you a visual.

Meet Lana. Lana is a 50-year-old executive at a multinational engineering firm.

Lana first came to Terrain Wellness two years ago with complaints of “hormone imbalance and thyroid issues.” Comprehensive blood testing revealed that Lana had severe b-vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to heavy periods and long-standing gut issues.

Her tests also showed she had an overactive thyroid. She was tired all the time, even when she was able to get 7-8 hours of sleep. She was also totally wired when she tried to wind down to go to bed.

After investigating and stabilizing all the foundations, Lana felt much better but still tired. She was still having difficulty getting the energy to work out consistently and felt she still had a stubborn 15 pounds of extra weight that would not go away.

We decided to run a comprehensive total toxin burden urinary panel to see what might be in the background preventing her body from proper detoxification and the ability to clear pathogens such as mold, yeast and parasites.

What we found astonished Lana. She was riddled with plastics, pesticides, mold and parasites. Despite eating a mostly organic diet and avoiding household chemicals, her body was showing a heavy toxic overload.

We started Lana on a detoxification program that utilized supplements called binders that are specifically formulated to pull out toxins without removing vital vitamins and minerals. The results were nothing less than miraculous.

Within 3 months, Lana started waking rested for the first time in 10 years. Her brain fog cleared within 6 weeks, and once she passed 8 weeks worth of parasites, she reported feeling the same energy she felt in her 20’s! Lana has gone on to lose 20 pounds of weight and is loving waking up 3-4 times a week with the energy to lift weights.

So how did those toxins get there?

With expressions like “rise and grind” or “hustle” being common especially in corporate and entrepreneurial environments, it’s no wonder we are stressed, exhausted, and in pain.

When we are stressed, we can’t digest. We cannot readily switch from our “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system into our “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system.

Our digestion process becomes sluggish, we stop drinking water, sleeping, moving and taking deep breaths because we are “too busy.” Well, these are our main detoxification pathways. If we cannot poop, pee, sleep, sweat, and breathe, we are not eliminating toxins.

If we are not eliminating toxins, we get clogged, hangry and full of brain fog. When we are “too busy” we are also making decisions like choosing fast food over home-cooked meals, which keep us inflamed, full of carbs and sugar cravings and low in energy.

This leaves us unable to eliminate the toxins we are all exposed too, not producing the proper gastric juices to kill off pathogens we are exposed to and starving for real nutrition to repair the damage.

Simple Tips to Clear the Body of Toxins

Drinking water helps to flush out toxinsAre you now saying “ok, Dr. Dani, I’m ready to detox. How do I do it?”
Here are my basic rules for detoxification and a balanced life:

  • Drink clean water. Buy a filter that has been tested to clear out pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs and heavy metals from your water.
  • Sweat at least 3 times per week for 30 minutes each time. Either using an infrared sauna or through rigorous exercises.
  • Move your body, especially jumping exercises and squats. Every woman over 40 years old needs to lift weights and build muscle. Even simple trampoline jumping for 10 minutes per day can be a wonderful work out, support healthy joints and move our lymphatics to help clear toxins.
  • Remove all plastics, as many as you can think of from your everyday world. Bring your own cup to your favorite coffee shop to avoid plastic-lined disposable cups.
  • Eat organic, or better yet, meet with your local farmer at a farmers market and find out what they do to eliminate the pesticides and toxins in their farming practice.
  • Feed yourself. No one likes a hangry person. Eat protein at least 20-30 grams as your first meal. Get your blood sugar started on the right foot.
  • Take mini breaks every two hours while working, to move around and stretch your body.
  • Limit your work day, choose a quitting time and stick to it. I promise the work will still be there in the morning. Instead go spend time with your family, breathe, and laugh. Teach yourself how to have fun and relax again.
  • Pray and/or meditate every day. Even if it is for 10 minutes, start your day by connecting yourself to a force bigger than yourself and ask for guidance on how you should schedule your day. You would be surprised at how much better you feel, and how many things you can accomplish through spiritual practice.
  • Sleep. Get rid of toxic blue lights from your phones and computers and switch to reading an actual book with actual pages at bedtime. Ideally, all electronic devices should be out of the bedroom or at a minimum all wi-fi should be disconnected anywhere in a sleeping environment.

Finding a Practitioner to Help

Working with a licensed practitioner to support you is a good next step.

Look for a practitioner who has an insatiable curiosity, who listens to you, validates your concerns and knows how to deliver results. Your doctor should also be a very good teacher and be willing to investigate multiple options in order to find solutions that are individualized to your particular body and life circumstances.

Find someone who is confident but who is also open to listening to your concerns. Giant egos need not apply. Look for someone who is actively doing their own work and practicing what they preach.

Finally, find someone who you can trust. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your doctor the good, the bad and the ugly, they are not the healing partner for you. Only through complete honesty can you measure where you are and work towards steps to get where you want to be.

Dr. Dani Lockwood

Terrain Wellness

Dr. Lockwood is a primary care physician and naturopathic doctor in the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. She is the owner and lead clinical physician at Terrain Wellness, an integrative medical clinic with locations in Portland, OR and Camas, WA. Terrain Wellness focuses on investigative medicine, where clinical inquiry into the real cause of illness leads to solutions and results in getting back to health freedom. Dr. Dani can be reached through her clinic’s website, terrainwellness.com. From her website, you can also access online education and individualized health coaching programs.

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