There is no doubt that the world we live in today is extremely toxic. Never before in human history has the planet and the life on it been exposed to so many man-made chemicals. When you start to dig, the statistics are mind boggling and pretty depressing. Estimates from the European Chemicals agency suggest that there are more than 144,000 man-made chemicals in existence, and the US Department of Health estimates 2000 new chemicals are being released every year. Some toxins come from fairly obvious sources like pesticides, industrial wastes, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. Others sources are more insidious, like air fresheners, laundry detergent, dental fillings, plastics and even fish. Certain cancers, some brain disorders, diseases of the blood, and imbalances of hormones have been linked to toxins building up in the body.
While this sounds like a grim picture, there are simple things you can do in order to decrease the toxic load on your body. Here are my three suggestions to empower yourself to stay healthy in a toxic world.
1. Test yourself - Testing can make you aware of your level of exposure to many toxic chemicals and compounds. At my office, we conduct testing for volatile organic compound or VOCs (benzene, ethyl-benzene, xylene, etc), heavy metal testing for mercury, arsenic, cadmium etc., and testing for mycotoxins from mold exposure. Some tests use blood, some use urine, and others test the hair, depending on what compound is being tested. In my opinion here's who should be tested:
anyone who has a significant known exposure to any toxin, i.e. works with chemicals, lives near an industrial park, etc.
anyone who has unexplained fatigue
anyone with a neurological or autoimmune disease
anyone with a decline in brain function
anyone with chronic unexplained pain
anyone with any chronic illness
anyone with amalgam fillings
2. Minimize your exposure - While we can't completely avoid all toxins in our environment, there are many things that we can do to minimize our exposure to them. The simplest place to start is in the home. It's estimated that indoor air pollution may be up to 10x more toxic than outdoor air pollution, and these toxins can easily be avoided. Sources of this indoor pollution include cleaning supplies, paint, fire retardants on mattresses, air fresheners, perfumes, and fragrances. Start by taking a look at your cleaning supplies. Don't be fooled by the slick commercials, fancy packaging, and fragrances. The majority of cleaning supplies are horribly toxic and full of VOCs and other chemicals. There are many healthier and just as effective alternatives. Check out these great products to safely clean your home. Also ditch those air fresheners that plug into the wall or that you spray to "clean" the air. Again, full of VOCs.
You can also limit exposure by eating organic produce. While it's nearly impossible to completely avoid pesticides and herbicides, choosing to eat organically grown fruits and vegetables will make a big difference. Some fruits and vegetables have higher pesticide levels than others. Each year the Environmental Work Group releases their list of the "dirtiest" and "cleanest" fruits and vegetables. Here's the 2018 "Dirty Dozen". Make sure to always buy them organic.
Sweet bell peppers
The "Clean Fifteen" have the least amount of pesticide residue so they're a bit safer, but I still recommend buying them organic if possible.
Sweet frozen peas
If you can't easily find organic produce, make sure you are cleaning your fruits and vegetables effectively to remove the chemicals. Here's a good blog post that describes how.
And finally, I recommend using a quality air filter in your home. While there are quite a few fantastic products out there, I recommend EnviroKlenz. Their filter is very competitively priced and it will safely remove toxins, VOCs, particulates, mold toxins and many other hazardous compounds from the air. More information can be found here.
3. Maximize your detoxing ability - Thankfully, our bodies have the amazing ability to eliminate a lot of the toxins to which we are exposed. Detoxing pathways in the liver transform toxins and move them into our intestinal tract for elimination. In order for this process to work effectively, the liver needs to have the right nutrients (anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, etc.) and the intestinal tract must be healthy and strong. For many of my patients, these functions are not always working as well as they should and/or there is so much toxicity that these systems of detoxification are overwhelmed. Improving these functions is foundational to health and is a major part of how I help my patients. Please set up an appointment to discuss your unique situation and needs.
We can't live in a bubble, so we will inevitably be exposed to toxins. How well we handle them will determine the state of our health. By understanding your exposure, taking steps to minimize it, and working to improve your ability to effectively clear the toxins, you will set yourself up to live a healthy and balanced life, even in the midst of our toxic world.