Most of my patients think that the toxin exposure is only through food. And yes that is a good answer but you will be surprised that there are so many other ways our bodies are being exposed to toxins.
Let’s look at food first.
With modern ways of agriculture, there are lots of chemicals and pesticides being used in the soil as well as on the plants themselves. These include organochlorides, organophosphates, pyrethroids and benzoylureas to name just a few. Even the animals are being given several chemicals to support their growth and ability to produce more meat and milk. These include antibiotics, hormones as well as chemicals which are present in the vegetation which livestock feed on.
Refined food is deficient as it has been stripped of most of the nutrients, minerals as well as fibre. Processed food is often combined with other chemicals and substances which are added to enhance flavour and taste, increase the shelf life and make the consumer crave for more. These chemicals include emulsifiers, colourings, monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite, carrageenan and sodium benzoate. These are just a few amongst many others and I have not even touched on high levels of salt, sugar and trans fats.
Moving on to other areas related to food which include chemicals involved in preparation of food. The Teflon non-stick lining of the pans, use of aluminium foil or cling film and using plastic Tupperware to heat the food in the microwave. These include chemicals like Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), arsenic as well as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).
Other areas where our body is being exposed to environmental toxins is by the products we use for personal care which often include Phthalates, Triciclosans, various sulphates and parabens. Toiletries and toothpaste are big culprits we use in day to day routine. Not to forget the addition of antimicrobials to mouthwashes and skin products.
Environmental toxins like fumes from the vehicles and increased exposure to them if you live on a busy city road as opposed to an open quiet green area. This is something not all of us can change but what about other things like products used for cleaning households, plastic ware and packaging, plastic toys…and the list can continue.
This list would not be complete without the mention of toxins like smoking, alcohol, vaping and use of addictive drugs. These are more obvious to all of us and hence I chose to mention them at the very end.
So why am I telling you about this?
Exposure to toxins that have been highlighted above has been scientifically proven to have several detrimental effects on our health. This can be seen in the form of:
- Endocrine disruption: which basically means that the various hormones in the body are not able to function properly. This has been linked to early puberty in girls, increased risk of obesity and various other chronic health concerns like high blood pressure, diabetes, fatty liver, gut problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome as well as reproductive problems in both men and women.
- Damaging the gut microbiome: Most of the toxins our body is exposed to has a damaging effect on healthy gut bacteria. There is plenty of evidence to show that a healthy gut microbiome is linked to not just reducing chronic metabolic conditions but also in supporting better mental health as well as improved immunity.
- Risk of cancer: Several of the toxins especially the pesticides, endocrine disruptors and chemicals in processed food have been linked with increase in cancers –mainly blood cancers, prostate cancer as well as lung and colon.
- Increased risk of skin conditions: The toxic burden of the body can affect the skin health resulting in conditions like eczema, pigmentation concerns and psoriasis.
- Mental health: Several chemicals mentioned above can play havoc with our mental wellbeing. Depression, anxiety and the overall risk of dementia can really be reduced by limiting our toxin exposure.
My simple tips to reduce the toxin burden
To be honest we cannot totally avoid exposure to all toxins however following some easy steps can help minimise the load. I would include the following things which I have found useful as part of my own routine-
- Hydration: Aim for at least two litres of water a day. Remember this is what helps remove the toxins from your body.
- Eat real food: Include whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds along with lots of vegetable and fruits. This will help add more fibre to your diet which again is an amazing way to detoxify your body. Try and avoid processed food as much as possible. Aim to cook most of your meals from scratch so you know what is going in them.
- Use ceramic, glass or steel cookware: Avoiding plastic dishes, bottles and Tupperware would help too.
- Eat organic food when possible.
- Check the labels of products: try using products which are phthalate, paraben and BPA free.
- Use natural cleaning products
This can sound overwhelming to begin with but I always feel, awareness empowers us. Even small steps in the right direction can lead to better health.
Have a beautiful week.