by Mila McManus MD
If you eat or breathe, you are introducing toxins into your body. It’s been almost 4 years since we addressed this in our newsletter and felt that it was a great topic to revisit.
The toxins we are ingesting and inhaling relate mostly to our diet, lifestyle, and the quality of air we breathe. Ridding our bodies of toxins requires, above all, avoidance of them. It’s much easier, more effective, and much more efficient to decrease your toxic load by avoidance than by trying to rev up detoxification with supplements, saunas, and chelation therapy (treatment for heavy metal toxicity). You can reduce your toxic load by up to 85% if you clean up your diet, don’t smoke, and purify the air in your home. A study done on non-exposed people (i.e. people not known to have been exposed to a particular toxin through their work, etc) showed an average of 91 toxins in their bodies, at least 50 of which were carcinogenic, and others that cause birth defects and/or are toxic to the nervous system, endocrine (hormone) system, and immune system. Scary, huh ?!
The Basic Toxins we carry:
- DDT (a pesticide banned in 1972 that persists in the environment)-sources include fish from the great lakes, and plants grown in contaminated soil.
- PCBs (eg. dioxins)-sources include fish (especially farmed salmon), butter, meat, fluorescent light fixtures, coolants and lubricants for electronic transformers.
- Parabens-sources include shampoos and conditioners, moisturizers, hair care products, shave gels, cosmetics, personal lubricants, sunscreen and tanning lotions, deodorants, toothpastes, food additives, and topical and parenteral pharmaceuticals.
- Phthalates -sources include adhesives, plastics, detergents, flooring, cleaning products, cosmetics, shampoos, perfumes, aerosols, paints, lotions, air fresheners, lubricants, medications, medical bags and tubing, nail polish, and false fingernails.
- BPA- sources include air, dust, water, food and beverage containers, canned vegetables, toothpastes.
- Solvents-sources include, oil, gas, paints, nail polish, adhesives, cleaning agents.
- Chlordanes (pesticides)-have been banned for 20+ years, but are still found in contaminated soil (and therefore whatever is grown in it), and homes treated for termites.
- Organophosphates (pesticides)-food crops, livestock, pet collars, grass, stored grains.
- Heavy metals (e.g. mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium)-sources include fish, shrimp, cigarette smoke, amalgam dental fillings, contaminated air we breathe.
- EMF – Electromagnetic Fields are a newer concern due to the dramatic increase in the use and exposure to electricity in the last 50-100 years. They are found naturally in our environment such as in lightning and in the earth’s magnetic field. The human body also uses EMFs to allow messages to flow through the body’s nervous system. Powerlines, electrical wires inside of walls, medical testing equipment such as X-rays and scanning devices, video display terminals, electrical appliances, buried electrical lines, cell phones, computers and literally anything that plugs in or recharges through electricity are examples of the explosion of the use and reliance on electricity. While no scientific data has offered definitive answers about the health risks involved in chronic exposure to EMFs, it is not unreasonable or illogical to believe that increased and chronic exposure to EMFs are potentially having a negative impact on our health and wellness. It is a form of pollution to which we are subjected every day which our ancestors did not experience.
Visit Environmental Working Group www.ewg.org to learn about environmental toxins in your community, and get news updates on politics, farming, etc, as it pertains to your health. EWG staff experts scrutinize government data, legal documents, scientific studies and their own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions. Their research brings to light unsettling facts about which you have a right to know.
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ is a database where you can discover what toxic chemicals are in your cosmetics, lotions, and sunscreen products.
http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ATSDR serves the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances. This is an excellent database to research various toxins, including sources and health effects. You can also search on this site to find out how close you are to toxic sites, such as chemical companies, dump sites, and chemical spills, for example.
I feel that it’s also important to mention genetically modified organisms as a source of toxicity. Genetic modification, also known as biotechnology, is the alteration of the genetic makeup of organisms such as plants, animals, and bacteria. GM products include medicines, vaccines, foods and food ingredients, feeds, and fibers. Read our article about this here.
Another great resource is a book called Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things by authors Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie.
While there are many toxins that will be difficult to avoid, you can make lifestyle choices about what you eat, wear, drink and eat out of, what you put on your body or expose it to, how you keep your living and working environment clean which can all help to dramatically reduce your exposure to toxins. Take charge, become more educated and work to remove as many unnecessary toxins from your life as possible. See Nancy’s Nutrition Nugget in this month’s newsletter for more help in detoxifying and minimizing toxic exposure.