Are You Toxic?

On a daily basis, the average North American is exposed to thousands of potential toxins – in the water we drink, the food we eat, in the air, at our workplaces, and through the many products we purchase and use in our homes. It has been estimated that since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, more than 80,000 toxic chemicals have been released into our environment. And according to the Environmental Working Group, the average newborn has close to 300 known toxins in their umbilical cord blood.

It is not surprising then that many scientists are sounding the alarm on the consequences to human health. But just how toxic are we, and what can we do about it?

That’s not such an easy question to answer. Each of us is biochemically and genetically unique, with a greater or lesser natural ability to expel toxins from our body. Our liver, the second largest organ in our body, serves this function, helping to remove waste and detoxify the body to keep us healthy. By being aware of the sources of toxins, and minimizing your exposure to them, you will help reduce your toxic load, making it easier for your liver to do its job.

Sources of toxins

Some of the many potential sources of regular toxin exposure include:

  • Western diets that emphasize white, sugary and processed foods with chemical additives, as well as conventionally farmed meats containing antibiotics (and in some countries, hormones)
  • Heavy metals – mercury in amalgam dental fillings and fish; lead in some costume jewelry and drinking water from old lead pipes; petrochemicals; residues; pesticides; and fertilizers
  • Household cleaners, grooming products and makeup containing parabens, phthalates and other harmful chemicals
  • Food allergies, environmental allergies, molds and toxins from molds
  • Some pharmaceutical medications, such as acetaminophen, which specifically contribute to liver damage
  • Internal toxins such as unfriendly bacteria, fungi and yeasts

It is also important to think of other types of “toxins” or stressors that can build up in the body. These may include unprocessed emotions, such as feelings of isolation, jealousy and hostility.

Signs and symptoms of toxicity

When too many toxins accumulate in the body, overload can result, appearing as vague or specific symptoms. These can include: allergies; headaches; fatigue; sleep problems; memory problems; muscle aches and joint pain; gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation; sinus congestion and postnasal drip; water retention and weight gain; skin problems including psoriasis and eczema; and hormonal imbalances. Over time, toxic overload can contribute to a range of chronic, degenerative and autoimmune diseases.

How to detoxify

Thankfully, there are many steps you can take proactively to reduce your toxic exposure and enhance your body’s innate ability to detoxify:

  • Identify and take steps to eliminate or minimize the household toxins you are exposed to on a daily basis. Replace chemically-laden products with natural brands or make your own from simple recipes readily available on the internet.
  • Drink pure, filtered water.
  • Eat clean, detoxifying food – a mostly plant-based diet with 8 to 10 servings of colorful organic vegetables and some fruits is ideal. Add in garlic and onions, which may help increase sulfur in the body to aid the detoxification process.
  • If you eat animal products, ensure they are organic or naturally raised without the use of hormones and antibiotics
  • Optimize your gut health by eating a variety of fermented foods and supplementing with a comprehensive probiotic.
  • Exercise regularly to keep the lymphatic system.
  • Sweat at least three times per week – through exercise, and if possible, an infrared sauna.
  • Minimize or eliminate your use of stimulants, sedatives and pharmaceutical drugs.

If you are concerned about your health and have symptoms that may indicate toxicity, consult a qualified health professional who can develop a detoxification plan that’s appropriate for you. A good detoxification program can aid the body’s natural cleansing process, allowing your organs to rest, stimulating the liver to help flush out toxins more efficiently, providing the body with the nutrients it needs and restoring wellness.

NEX Wellness Naturopaths in Burlington and Naturopaths Binbrook offer environmental pollutant testing, diet and lifestyle counseling, as well as glutathione IV therapy for heavy metal toxicity.