When discussing environmental toxins, the term environment refers to everything in our surroundings outside of the body. While ecological issues often refer to nature, that is just one aspect to consider when discussing environmental toxins. It’s incumbent on us to consider the impact the external environment can have on our internal bodies.
What we do know is that chronic exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals adds to what is known as the body’s “toxic burden,” or “body burden.” This refers to the total accumulation of toxins in your body, precisely the number of chemicals stored in your tissue at any given time.
When your system is exposed to too many heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, or other toxins, it becomes fatigued and loses its ability to flush them out. This leads to illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, fibromyalgia, hormone imbalance, and infertility, to name a few. All About Environmental Toxins
Let’s Review Some Toxins
Bisphenol A (BPA) – An industrial chemical used to make PVC plastics, flame retardants, plastic food and drink packaging, kitchenware, the inner coating of cans and jar lids, water bottles, electrical and electronic goods, electronic storage media, and marine and car coatings.
Tips that can help to minimize BPA exposure
- Look for a BPA-free label on foods and packaging
- Avoid plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7
- Buy and store foods in stainless steel or glass
- Use fresh, frozen, or dried products
- Avoid microwaving foods in plastic containers
- Do not wash plastic containers in the dishwasher or use harsh detergents on them.
- Choose wooden toys instead of plastic.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. They are commonly found in plastic food containers, children’s toys, and makeup products. Learn about clean makeup products
To reduce exposure to phthalates, start by avoiding plastic food containers, children’s toys, and plastic wrap made from PVC, which has the recycling label #3. Products include shower curtains, raincoats, toys, and furniture. It’s essential to read cosmetic and personal care product labels carefully. Avoid products that list added “fragrance” since this catch-all term sometimes means hidden phthalates. See how your products rate: www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Heavy Metals Trace amounts of heavy metals naturally exist in our bodies. However, increased exposure can pose significant health threats. Lead and mercury are the most frequent causes of heavy metal poisoning. Lead can cause neurological, gastrointestinal, kidney, and bone marrow toxicity and neurodevelopmental defects.
Mercury poisoning can be marked by headaches, low back pain, weakness, fatigue, and tremors. Lead sources include paint and gasoline, while mercury sources include dental and medical equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, amalgam fillings, and seafood.
Tips for reducing lead and mercury
- To reduce your exposure to lead, find out when your home was built. If yours was before 1978, woodwork or other surfaces could be covered with lead paint. Call an expert if you wish to remove lead paint; don’t try to do it yourself.
- A good water filter can also reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water. Learn more about Berkey Water Filters
- Beware of tuna, which can contain high levels of mercury. Eat seafood lower on the food chain, and if you take a fish oil supplement, be sure to purchase a brand with a reputation for purity.
Particle Pollutions can range from dust, mold, and fungus particles to chemical compounds from fuel emissions. The number one source of air pollution in many cities is automobile emissions. However, the landscaping industry accounts for up to 10 percent of air pollution in the United States. The gas leaf blower has been identified as “one of the worst offenders,” depositing 30 percent of its raw gasoline back into the air.
Countless studies have been done on the effects of particle pollution on health. Common effects include wheezing and coughing, shortness of breath, and lung tissue swelling, which can contribute to the development of heart and lung disease, asthma attacks, and lung cancer.
Steps you can take to reduce particle pollution
- Swapping gas-powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and weed whackers for electrical
- Taking public transportation or carpool whenever possible to lessen your contribution to environmental pollution
- Checking fuel-burning furnaces, water heaters, and gas ranges in your home annually to make sure exhaust systems are adequate.
- Preventing mold from growing in your home by monitoring humidity levels (especially in your basements and bathrooms) and addressing water-stained areas.
Steps and precautions to protect your health from environmental toxins
1) Maximize your phytonutrient intake by eating whole, real foods, such as broccoli, bok choy, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Foods high in antioxidants like dark, green leafy veggies and berries, as well as garlic and onions, can help your body detoxify.
2) Avoid plastics at all costs. This one can be tricky as we’ve become a society heavily reliant on plastic. Use stainless steel water bottles and glass containers for storing leftover food. Instead of buying water in plastic bottles, install a filter at home.
3) Detox your home with natural, simple products. Try making your own cleaning and body care products.
4) Exercise or hit the sauna. The more you sweat, the more toxins you can remove from your body.
5) Take high-quality supplements to support detoxification. Look for multivitamins containing zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin B Complex.
Environmental toxins are downright dangerous. Ongoing research findings report their ability to feed cancer cells, interfere with glucose and cholesterol metabolism, and induce insulin resistance. They also have been identified as a culprit for obesity through multiple mechanisms, including inflammation, oxidative stress, mitochondrial injury, altered thyroid metabolism, and impaired central appetite regulation. It’s crucial to know your level of risk when it comes to environmental toxin exposure. Part 2 of the series will discuss toxins in the home and their effects on your family. Chronic Illness and Environmental Toxins
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