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The Need for Safe Detoxification – Part One

I often emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle when it comes to both preventing disease and treating illness. However, it is important to recognize that toxic overload is a major contributing factor of declining health and the development of chronic disease. Avoiding toxins and optimizing your detoxification pathways are a key component to staying healthy.

In this first in a two-part article, I want to cover common sources of toxins and action items that you can take to avoid them.

Toxic overload may sound far fetched, but we are inundated with toxic chemicals. We are exposed to toxins in all of the following:

  • Agriculture – pesticides, herbicides, and hormones
  • Household – building materials, paints, cleaning supplies, cookware, flame retardants (in furniture, children’s clothing, etc.)
  • Personal Care Products – perfumes, cosmetics, sunscreens, and hair dyes
  • Industry – heavy metals, radiation, and pollution
  • Food – GMOs, food dyes, artificial flavorings and sweeteners
  • And many, many more including PFAS in pizza boxes, clothing, cell phones, and non-stick cookware (and so many more)
This abundant use of chemicals has drastically changed the chemistry of the environment in which we live. For example, in the year 2000 alone, more than 4 billion pounds of chemicals were released into the ground, threatening a portion of the soil, in which we grow our food, and the natural underground water tables that supply some of our drinking water. Over 260 million pounds of chemicals were also discharged into surface waters such as lakes and rivers. Nearly 2 billion pounds of chemical emissions, from cars and industry, were pumped into the air we breathe. A grand total of over 6.5 billion pounds of chemical pollutants are released into the environment we eat, breathe and live in–all in just one year. And that is just our environment.
Air Pollution

Many of us have assumed that, because these chemicals are so ubiquitous, they must be safe. This is unfortunately not true. In fact, there is so much that we don’t know and don’t understand about the more than 80,000 chemicals used daily by millions of Americans. It is estimated that only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals have been tested for safety.

To compound the problem of our toxic environment, we have refined away much of the nutritional value of our food and replaced it with artificial colorings, preservatives, flavorings, conditioners, etc. This poor quality diet, combined with extensive use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, may have predisposed many of us to experience a kind of “internal” pollution. Internal pollution negatively impacts many aspects of our overall health, by inhibiting absorption of nutrients and really not allowing for adequate intake of nutrients, decreasing the functioning of the immune system, and slowing down the natural detoxification processes in the body.

The cumulative effect of all the toxins in our environment has a devastating effect on our health. Chemical toxins have different effects on our bodies.

  • Toxins poison our enzymes. Enzymes drive the function of the manufacturing of molecules, production of energy and creation of cell membranes.
  • Toxins displace minerals. For example, by displacing calcium, toxin accumulation can lead to bone loss.
  • Damage to organs
  • Damage DNA– especially phthalates, benzene, pesticides, and improperly detoxified estrogen. This increases the rate of aging and tissue degeneration.
  • Modify gene expression – turn off or on genes resulting in expression of diseases.
  • Damage cell membranes which control the communication into and out of each and every cell in the body.
  • Disrupted cell signaling may influence the ability for cells to absorb glucose or for muscles to relax.
  • Interfere with hormones – inhibit, mimic, induce, or block hormones. Many chemical pollutants poison insulin receptor sites on our cells. Others are obesogens (causing obesity).
  • Toxins impair ability to detoxify.

Our health is suffering from this toxic soup. We are dealing with a disturbing increase in a variety of diseases from autism, allergies, depression, cancers, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders, to name a few. Effects of this daily chemical onslaught vary from minor to major, depending on where you live and work, the water you drink and the food you eat, the products you use, and, of course, your terrain- your overall health and how well you detoxify.

The first step in cleaning up our internal environment is trying to minimize our exposure. It may seem, with more than 80,000 chemicals on the market, completely impossible to avoid toxins. And you are right- there are some chemicals that are simply unavoidable. But there are many that you can avoid. The best place to start is with your food, water, your personal care products and indoor environment.

Detox with food

Food – Chemicals are found predominantly in conventionally grown and or GMO produce, grains, meats, dairy, and in farm-raised fish. Processed foods, foods with artificial colorings and sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup should also be avoided.

Water– at least 10% of US public water supplies is contaminated with arsenic. Drinking water also often contains higher than safe levels of mercury, pesticides and herbicides, and other contaminants.

It is really best to use a reverse osmosis filter and then remineralize your water, or use a solid carbon block filter at both your drinking and your bathing sources.

Personal care products – we use so many different combinations of products on a daily basis: toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, soap, lotion, deodorant, sunscreens, perfumes, and make-up, etc. Cosmetics often have parabens, mercury, lead, “fragrances” and other additives that make them toxic to wear. The Environmental Working Group found ingredients certified by the US government as “known or probable carcinogens” in one of every 120 cosmetic products on the market. These toxic ingredients are found in the blood and body tissues (including the breasts) of nearly every adult.

Try cutting back the number of different products that you use in a day. A great place to start is by cutting out anything that has a perfume or fragrance, and you can also think about using 


products that have minimal ingredients and that are organic. This is not a perfect solution, but it will cut down on the chemical content. My favorite resource is the Healthy Living App by the Environmental Working Group. You can scan an item by barcode and they will tell you how safe it is. Unfortunately, so many chemicals have not been studied and the effects are unknown, leaving the EWG and us guessing at the safety of our products. Also, keep in mind that this app can tell us the safety of one specific product- not the combined effect of the many products you use together.

Detoxifying cleaning products

Indoor air quality – An enormous amount of toxin exposure is from indoor air contaminants such as household cleaners, air fresheners, off-gas from carpets, furniture, paints, etc. Most of these items have chemical fumes that are indeed toxins and can contribute to cancers and other health problems. Fragrances are a huge health risk. Natural fragrances like essential oils are generally safe, but please avoid any other fragrance- in personal care products and household products as well. Air fresheners, along with smelly candles, also add toxins to your indoor air.

Replace cleaning products with food-grade items such as vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. Open your windows often to circulate fresh air into your home. Add broad leaf house plants to every room in the house- they are great air filters. Use non-ionizing air filters to filter toxins and fine particulate matter from your home.

This information is quite daunting and frankly, depressing. Awareness is the first step to making informed decisions. It is best to pick a few things from this article that seem doable for you and make small changes over time. Doing so will have a positive effect on your life and the lives of our families.

Stay tuned for my next article where I will talk about how our bodies detoxify and the best ways to support your detoxification system.

Call me today to if you have any questions about safely detoxifying or to schedule your appointment today!


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