1. Different types of toxins and the link to chronic disease
There are no doubts about the importance that good nutrition, physical activity, optimal sleep, social and environmental interactions and the ability to relax have on human health. There is another key aspect to health that is often less considered, and that’s the toxic load. We are exposed to about 100.000 different toxins. They get into our bodies through air, food, water and our skin. These toxins may make you ill. They include heavy metals, like lead, mercury and arsenic; chemicals, like pesticides, fertilizers and plastic BPA; and biotoxins, which are produced by living organisms like bacteria and molds. Toxins can further be divided into two different groups. Exotoxins, which enter the body from the external environment. Endotoxins are instead created within the body as by-products of normal metabolism, digestion etc.
We all have different degrees of endo and exotoxins exposure, but most importantly we have different capacities to eliminate them. Children and elderly are more susceptible to a toxic overload. Young and less young adults may also experience health issues as a consequence of over toxicity. Individual tolerance to toxins exposure can be metaphorized with a glass of water. Your body is the glass and toxins are the water. When the glass is full, if you keep on pouring more water into it, the water will spill out. So, if we add more toxins to an already overwhelmed body, they may not be excreted in an efficient manner. This may most possibly have negative health consequences.
Toxins can furthermore be divided into two more categories: water soluble and fat soluble. Water soluble toxins, like nicotine, vapors and others, if not readily eliminated will be may most possibly stored. Your body may deposit these toxins in your joints, muscles, blood and other tissues. This may be a consequence of poor diet, stress, lack of exercise, constipation and others. Fat soluble toxins, like heavy metals, pesticides and synthetic hormones-like substances, may be stored within the liver, fat cells, bone marrow, the nervous system and the brain. Depending on where in the body these toxins have been stored, they may give rise to very specific health issues. These are the main ones: headaches, acne, skin rashes, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, IBS, hormonal imbalances, low immune system, high cholesterol. Also, chronic fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, neurological disorders and chronic inflammatory conditions can be caused by toxins overload.
2. Detoxification systems
The good news is that your body is equipped with very efficient detoxification mechanisms, which include your liver, kidneys, colon, skin, lungs, lymphatic system and blood. These seven detoxification pathways are constantly and harmoniously working for you 24/7 to rid your body of unwanted and dangerous toxic material.
So, now that you are a bit more familiar with the toxic environment we live in, and the dangers of toxins exposure, how toxic do you think you are?
To find out about your toxic exposure and possible overload, please answer the following questions. As you answer the questions, please add all the “yeses” together and I will meet you again at the end of the questionnaire.
Let’s get started.
Are you a builder, indoors decorator, pharmacist, or your profession exposes you to toxins?
Have you ever taken prescription medicines or over the counter drugs?
Can’t you lose weight or do you gain weight easily?
Are you sensitive to smells?
Are you sensitive to caffeine?
Brush your teeth with conventional toothpaste containing SLS and fluoride?
Have mercury dental fillings?
Get more than one cold per year?
Smoke, ever smoked or exposed to secondary or tertiary smoke?
Feel tired throughout the day?
Have a strong body odor?
Use conventional make-up, beauty products, shampoos, body washes and deodorants every day?
Dye or bleach your hair?
Drink unfiltered tap water or use it for your coffees or teas?
Have wall to wall carpet in your office or at home?
Mostly eat non-organic food?
Wear dry cleaned clothes?
Wear synthetic material?
Eat processed food?
Drink alcohol regularly?
Suffer with acne?
Eat conventionally farmed fish or conventionally raised livestock?
Use public swimming pools?
Live in a big city?
last 10 questions
Drive in heavy traffic or walk or run along busy roads?
Take the underground regularly?
Suffer with PMS?
Use commercial household cleaners?
Have black mold anywhere in your apartment?
Use weed killer on your lawn?
Use conventional cologne or perfume?
Exercise less than once a week?
Have heavy air traffic in your area?
Eat at the restaurant more than once a week?
And the list goes on and on and on I am afraid…
As you can see from this very short questionnaire, it is virtually impossible to escape a toxic environment, no matter how hard we try. Therefore, it takes conscious and constant commitment and knowledge to stay clean and healthy.
So, let’s have a look at your results now:
- If you scored less than 10: you may be already aware of the harmful effects of toxins and may be taking some precautions to decrease your exposure to them. This is very good for you! Well done! You may anyway benefit from periodic cleansing to support a healthy lifestyle.
- If your score is between 11 and 20, then your exposure to toxins is quite high and you may possibly suffer from some of the symptoms related to toxins overload. If this is you, please consider a full body cleanse to start with. You may also want to change few of your dietary habits and engage in moderate physical activity.
- If your score exceeds 20, then your toxic load is very high and you may be at risk of developing some chronic disease, if you have not already. If you are within this group, and you believe to have been for many years, I will definitely recommend to seek professional advice on how to perform a safe and effective cleansing program, especially if you have never done a cleanse before, suffer from a chronic disease and are on medications.
4. How can Nutritional Therapy help:
As I said above, if your score to the questionnaire was over 20 “yeses” and there are pathologies or symptoms present, I will definitely recommend you seeking advices from an experienced Nutritional Therapist, who can assess your present and past health and medical history and guide you through an effective and safe full body detox.
Before you start cleansing, you should adopt strategies to drastically decrease your toxins exposure in a first place, because the idea is to remove the toxins that are stored within your body and not new ones coming in:
Reduce toxins exposure:
- Buying as much organic food you can afford.
- Avoid conventionally farmed fish and livestock products, especially if processed like cured meat.
- Reduce refined carbohydrates products like cakes, biscuits, pasta, pizza, bread and added sugar.
- Please use a water purifying system, possibly the best investment ever.
- Please use a shower head filter.
- Reduce amount of alcohol and prefer bottled beers to drought.
- If you are a smoker, please be aware of the people around you and please consider giving up smoking for good. Smoking is also one of the leading causes of cancer and cardio-vascular diseases. If you live in the UK, the NHS can help you here.
- Invest in more natural and chemical free toiletries and other beauty products, which you will use only when necessary anyway, no point of putting some deodorant on if you know you will spend time home or if you will go to bed straight after a shower.
- Use natural washing up, laundry and household cleaning products.
- Use gloves and open the windows when cleaning the house.
- Avoid going to the swimming pool.
- Get rid of mildew and black mould in your home. If you have problems with condensation, look into investing into a good dehumidifier. This is the one I use myself, which also has air purifying technology.
- If driving in heavy traffic, keep your windows closed and AC off, not to suck in toxic fumes. Avoid driving in traffic as much as possible anyway.
- Do not run or jog next to busy roads.
- Cars fumes are more concentrated at low street levels, so please be aware that your child will be more exposed to these gasses.
- If you are a builder, decorator or similar, please wear adequate protection all the time.
Few cleansing ideas:
You can try with salt inhaling therapy to promote optimal lungs health.
Engage with exercise regularly.
Drink at least 1.5 litres of good quality water.
Eat more of cruciferous and leafy green vegetables, rocket and watercress, onions and garlic, turmeric, fruits and vegetables, and gluten free grains.
Methylated vitamin Bs complex needed to regulate homocysteine cycle and serve as methyl donors required to support methylation during Phase II of the liver detoxification pathways.
more on cleansing
A liver support supplement may promote liver function and elimination of toxins, BUT you must make sure that it is safe for you to take and that you have regular bowel movements for toxins to be readily eliminated from the body.
From time to time you can enjoy a sauna if you have no contraindications to it.
Chlorella is a single-celled green algae that grows in fresh water and due to its high yield of chlorophyll is thought to be a natural detox/cleanser, especially of heavy metal.
Often spend time in untouched nature.
If you are overweight or know that your body maybe very toxic, I will also consider taking some glutathione while going through a cleansing protocol. This is because fat tissue is been used by the body to trap toxins in, which will be released into blood circulation once you start losing weight. These toxins may have an oxidation activity, which may damage our cells membrane and DNA. Glutathione is a potent free radical scavenger, plus helps directly liver detoxification by recycling vitamin C, transport of heavy metals outside the cell and it is vital to make toxins water soluble for readily elimination via the kidneys.
This is a good start!
5. Final thoughts
I firmly believe that the human body, given the right environment to live in, the right food to feed on, clean water to drink, good rest and positive social interactions will thrive, live happily, and possibly disease-free. When things will start degenerating within this perfect healthy scenario, the human body will activate its defense mechanism and find ways to overcome illness and keep you healthy. Disease may anyway occur if we have been making the wrong dietary and lifestyle choices and our living environment has become unbearably unhealthy for a long period of time. The development of chronic illness may definitely be a consequence of extended toxic exposure, but augmented by poor dietary choices, high stress levels and other lifestyle factors.
Author: Cristiano Percoco, BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy
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