‘Detox’ is a trendy topic these days. We hear a lot about toxins, our toxic load and the need for detoxification. The popular press often depict it as a quick fix for losing a few pounds or gaining more energy, or just feeling a bit healthier. But the whole subject of toxic load and the need to detoxify our bodies is so much more than this.
So, what are toxins and how might they affect your health?
A toxin can be defined as ‘any substance or environmental influence that affects your metabolism and physiology in a manner that results in some form of chronic illness’.
Here a just a few of the many conditions associated with the build up of toxicity in our bodies
- Metabolic syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Chronic fatigue
- Frequent migraines
- Auto-immune disease
- Fertility issues
- Menstrual irregularities
Some more subtle signs of toxic damage include
- Changes in mood, anxiety
- Changes in energy levels – either up or down, but especially fatigue
- Changes in weight, appetite and bowel function
- Changes in temperature regulation – sweating or flushing
- Alteration in hair growth
- Changes in skin condition
- Changes in libido and sexual function
- General muscular aches and pains
- Inability to concentrate
What causes some people to manifest symptoms, whilst others go apparently unscathed?
It is all about how we as individuals, or rather our bodies, manage the balance between exposure to toxins and their removal from our bodies. We all have a different make-up and constitution and our genetic predisposition will affect the way we deal with chemicals, compounds and hormones.
Our environment and lifestyle will determine the amount of exposure to different toxins. The more an individual is exposed to toxins in their world, the greater the load on their organs of detoxification. If those organs are compromised in any way then symptoms will appear and health will be affected.
These days no one is immune!
A recent study by the environmental working group (EWG) found:
“One hundred and seventy one industrial compounds, pollutants and other chemicals, (including those linked to immune system damage, birth defects and developmental delay) plus an average of fifty six carcinogens (cancer causing compounds) were discovered in blood and urine samples taken from a sample of volunteers.”
That’s 227 different foreign substances that we are carrying around in our bodies!
Each year more than 4 billion pounds of chemical compounds and pollutants from plastics, pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, medications, and other sources are released into our air, soil and food and water supplies. [Welshons, et al. Endocrine 2006; 147:556-569]
4 billion pounds? – that’s an awful lot of chemicals on the loose.
Environmental contaminants have been shown to be involved in the following health problems:
- Birth defects
- Immune system defects
- Reduced IQ
- Behavioural abnormalities
- Cardiovascular disease
- Altered metabolism
- Hormone imbalance
- Specific organ dysfunctions
Is it any wonder that cancer now affects one in two men and one in three women at some point in their lives.
Our diet provides both environmental and natural toxins. For example in our food we find;
- Petrochemical residues from agricultural practices of fertilisation and pesticide use
- Mercury from industrial waste is found in fish
- Lead in water
- Polyaromatic hydrocarbons from charred meat (barbeque food is especially dangerous)
- Trans fats from processed vegetable oils
- Naturally occurring plant toxins such as aflatoxins, (which occur as a mould) in such foods as peanuts, rice, millet, corn, wheat etc. or solanine which is found in potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.
Think about it – most of the food in our supermarkets is wrapped in plastic
The total toxic assault on our bodies can come from many sources. Here are the main ones:
- Xenobiotics – these include insecticides, herbicides, drugs, chemical solvents etc
- Infections – bacterial, fungal, viral, parasites
- Physical – electromagnetic pollution, wifi, radiation
- Lifestyle – alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise
- Mechanical dysfunction – nasal problems, poor gut and intestine function
- Hormonal interference – steroids, contraceptive medication, excess cortisol
- Emotional factors – stress, belief systems, trauma
So as you can see for most of us our toxic load is likely to be substantial. To detoxify our bodies, especially when we have a chronic or life threatening illness is going to take more than a few days following a ‘detox’ program. Even if you are in apparently good health now, you should be aware of the ticking toxic time bomb, and be taking steps to neutralise it.
Detoxification needs to be well thought out, supervised and a lifelong practice of good habits if you wish to preserve your health.