Toxins 101: Are we really that toxic?

I hope this blog finds you well, because things might get a little heavy with the topic of toxins.  Looking back, a common theme of many of my health blogs, circle around the topic of the toxic world we live in.  I think it is time to weave a few thoughts together to grasp a better understanding.  For example, we have discussed water lab studies that have shown trace amounts of: personal care products like fragrances, lotions, sun-screens, house cleaning products, human and veterinary drugs, both over the counter and prescriptions such as anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, antibiotics, sex hormones, and more.  We have discussed air pollutants, toxins in our food supply like pesticides/herbicides and the need to eat organic food, genetically modified foods, additive chemicals in our food supply and their possible negative impact on our health such as sweeteners/coloring/flavoring/etc, toxins in personal care products like shampoo/toothpaste/deodorant/etc, chemicals used for cleaning, bug spray, weed killer, BPA in plastics, etc.  You may be wondering, how does this exposure effect my health?  Well, a partial list would be: headaches, nervous system issues, digestive system issues, cancers, fatigue, brain fog, pain, itching, hormonal imbalance, and much more. 

Before we go any further lets define a term that will likely be new to you, “endocrine disruptor”.  The NIH defines endocrine disruptors as “chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine (hormonal) system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption, including pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT and other pesticides, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A. Endocrine disruptors may be found in many everyday products– including plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides. The NIEHS supports studies to determine whether exposure to endocrine disruptors may result in human health effects including lowered fertility and an increased incidence of endometriosis and some cancers. Research shows that endocrine disruptors may pose the greatest risk during prenatal and early postnatal development when organ and neural systems are forming.”

Now let’s take a look at some interesting findings from some important research.  Unfortunately, I would like to preface this with the fact that not a lot of research money, or grants, is being made available for this topic, so there are a limited quantity of studies and studies are limited in the number of participants.  Unfortunately, due to the cost of doing research, most privately funded research being done ultimately is looking to be used to sell something at some point; or get something approved by the FDA.  With that in mind, I still find this information very helpful in first showing us our exposure to toxins and secondly its accumulation in our bodies.

  • “The Environmental Working Group, in partnership with Rachel’s Network, commissioned five laboratories in the U.S., Canada, and Europe to analyze umbilical cord blood collected from 10 minority infants born in 2007 and 2008. Collectively, the laboratories identified up to 232 industrial compounds and pollutants in these babies, finding complex mixtures of compounds in each infant.”
  • “This research demonstrates that industrial chemicals cross the placenta in large numbers to contaminate a baby before the moment of birth.  Of the 287 chemicals found in newborn umbilical cord blood, 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause developmental problems. The dangers of exposure to these chemicals in combination has never been studied.  We detected 287 chemicals of 413 tested (69 percent) in umbilical cord blood samples from 10 newborn babies, with a range of between 154 and 231 for each child. We found 101 chemicals in all babies tested.”
  • The National Human Adipose Tissue survey, or NHATS, conducted by the EPA, analyzed human fat samples in 1982 and 1987 from cadavers obtained throughout the nation.  This study found that 100% of the samples contained 4 industrial solvents and 1 dioxin.   In more than 90% of the samples there were nine more chemicals.
  • “In the first nationwide tests for chemical fire retardants in the breast milk of American women, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found unexpectedly high levels of these little-known neurotoxic chemicals in every participant tested.”
  • “In the first ever testing on glyphosate herbicide in the breast milk of American women, Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse have found ‘high’ levels in 3 out of the 10 samples tested. The shocking results point to glyphosate levels building up in women’s bodies over a period of time, which has until now been refuted by both global regulatory authorities and the biotech industry.”
  • “Early work on the hormonal basis of prostate cancer focused on the role of androgens, but more recently estrogens have been implicated as potential agents in the development and progression of prostate cancer. “
  • “Your pathology report will include the results of a hormone receptor assay, a test that tells you whether or not the breast cancer cells have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Hormone receptors are proteins — found in and on breast cells — that pick up hormone signals telling the cells to grow.  A cancer is called estrogen-receptor-positive (or ER+) if it has receptors for estrogen. This suggests that the cancer cells, like normal breast cells, may receive signals from estrogen that could promote their growth. The cancer is progesterone-receptor-positive (PR+) if it has progesterone receptors. Again, this means that the cancer cells may receive signals from progesterone that could promote their growth. Roughly two out of every three breast cancers test positive for hormone receptors.”
  • “Eating organic reduces pesticides that are detectable by urine samples.”

To summarize the above points, made by the resources listed below, we can safely make a few generalizations.  Humans store toxins in fat cells; think about that next time you eat a piece of animal fat, and what toxins might be stored in that animal fat and what that fat is going to do to your health.  Umbilical cord blood has been shown to have toxins in it, thus exposing the child to who knows what.  Breast milk has been shown to have toxic chemicals in it as well.  These toxins often mimic, or act like, hormones in our blood, which likely increases our risk of some cancers, disrupting our hormonal balance, and having an overall negative effect on our health.  Finally, we see that eating organic foods reduced a family’s toxins in their urine.  Wow!  Just let all that soak in for a minute.

I am sure you are concerned of your own levels of toxicity, and are likely asking “how does the body get rid of these toxins?”  The short version is through our liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph and skin.  In an attempt to make a broad over simplification, most of the time we discuss the elimination of toxins we are really talking about the liver.  Our current understanding of the liver detoxification process is in two phases: first collecting the trash and secondly taking the trash out.  There are key nutrients to support this process such as: B vitamins, folic acid, glutathione, antioxidants, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, sulphur, amino acids, and more.  Please understand I am not suggesting going out and purchasing these nutrients, I am just attempting to show the complex biochemical pathways involved in the detoxification process.  Additionally there are certain genetic variants that have been discovered in a particular gene that will cause some people to not be good detoxifiers.  Our body’s natural detoxification is something we all take for granted, our body is more complex than we fully understand, and does some awesome work every day. 

Now, ask yourself this one question, what is your #1 asset?  If you answered your 401k, your home, your boat, your money, well you are wrong.  Without health what good are any of those things.  So, now that we have established that our health is our #1 asset, what do you base your health on?  If you answered how you look and feel, you are again wrong.  Basing your health on how you look and feel can be misleading.  Many times people find out they have cancer when they feel “fine”, or often the first sign of cardiovascular disease is a heart attack, or stoke, and by that time it can be too late.  Do you just put a piece of tape over your car’s check engine light? No, of course not, that is just the wrong solution for the problem.  We need to find the right solution to fix the problem as to why the light came on in the first place.  So, we need to find the right solution to our health problem.  Here is the problem….we know better how to take care of our cars, for which we will own many in our life time, than we know how to take care of our own vehicle, our body, for which we will only own one.  We need to base our health on the facts. 

Do you think eating good clean organic foods can provide the fuel for health and healing with less toxicity?  Do you think your emotions play a roll in your health (for example how is your digestion when you are stressed)?  Is your structure a part of your health?  If you answered yes to all these questions then great now you understand the philosophy behind getting healthy.  As a chiropractor we are educated in health and healing without drugs or surgery by supporting the body’s innate God given ability to heal and want to thrive, by addressing your structural health, emotional health, and nutritional health.  

There are two paths.  One path leads to increased health, the other to increase risk of disease.  What path are you on?  The path you are on boils down to the choices you are making.  We can’t keep putting toxins in, on, or around our body and expect no consequences.  So what are you going to choose to do differently? When will you start?  When will you take action?  Many people have good intentions, but few people take the first action and implementation steps and stick the course and finish strong.  How? How will you achieve your health goals?  Who? Who will help you, guide you, and hold you accountable?  The journey of health is a lifetime commitment, not a destination.   If you don’t take action today where will you be in 10-15 years?

Here are few easy steps to consider today:

1. Limit exposure to toxins by eating organic, growing your own food, swapping to less toxic cleaning products

2. Nourish the body to support its ability to eliminate toxins by eating real unprocessed foods

3. Keep a healthy level of percentage body fat

4. Don’t take your body’s innate ability to detoxify for granted, consider supporting the organs and pathways for proper function with supplements and foods like the cruciferous vegetable family

5. Get checked by a health care profession who focuses on health care, not sick care

6. Make sure you have daily bowel movements to get the trash out

It is important that we focus on the rules of health, not the exception to the rule.  Everyone has that distant relative who eats bacon and pizza, drinks alcohol daily, and smokes a pack of cigarettes daily and lived to  be 90+ years old; but they are the exception to the rule, an outlier.  The majority of people will not be an outlier. 

References

  • http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns/detailed-findings Body Burden: The Pollution In Newborns: Detailed Findings. 
  • U.S. EPA. National Human Adipose Tissue Survey (NHATS). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., 747-R-94-001, 1994.
  • http://www.ewg.org/research/mothers-milk-0 Mother’s Milk Toxic Fire Retardants (PBDEs) in Human Breast Milk
  • http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/glyphosate_testing_results Glyphosate Testing Full Report: Findings in American Mothers’ Breast Milk, Urine and Water.
  • http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/ . Endocrine Disruptors.
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3134227/ . Estrogen action and prostate cancer.
  • http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/hormone_status . Hormone Receptor Status .
  • High Desert Living article “Water…It does your body good!” July 2009 Page 30.
  • https://www.coop.se/PageFiles/429812/Coop%20Ekoeffekten_Report%20ENG.pdf . Human exposure to pesticides from food.
  • http://www.ewg.org/research/minority-cord-blood-report/bpa-and-other-cord-blood-pollutants . Pollution in Minority Newborns: BPA and other Cord Blood Pollutants

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