The Reality of Our Toxic Modern Life: We are living in an unprecedented time in human history where we are constantly exposed to toxins in our air, water, food, homes, and workplaces. These environmental exposures contribute to our overall 'toxic load', increase chronic inflammation in our bodies, and impair our body's natural ability to fight infections. So what can we do about it? Read on for simple, practical tips for boosting detoxification pathways that anyone can start doing TODAY!
What is Toxic Load?
Toxins are either consumed from the environment (via the lungs, skin, gut) or produced internally (e.g., excess production or accumulation of hormones like estrogen).
On average, approximately 90 toxins are floating around in the bodies of the general population. Not only do we not yet know the synergistic effects of multiple chemicals in the body at once, there is now scientific evidence mounting that micro doses of toxic compounds are contributing to hormone disruption, cellular damage, and chronic illness, too.
So you may have low levels of dozens of different toxins regarded as “safe” in your body, but if they all affect the same cellular mechanisms, pathways, or tissues, the synergistic effects are a problem.
It is no longer a question of IF we are exposed, but how much and is our exposure causing symptoms of cellular damage or disruption?
Toxins circulate in our blood stream, some accumulate in our tissues (e.g., bone and fat), and depending on the compound - they may be very difficult to ever eliminate in our lifetime.
Persistent vs. Non-Persistent Toxins
What makes a toxin persistent?
highly fat soluble
bioaccumulation over time because half-lives are so long they are not quickly eliminated (half-life: the time required for the concentration of a substance in the body to decrease by half)
Persistent: heavy metals (mercury, lead), PCB’s (banned industrial chemical), Dioxins (byproducts of industrial manufacturing), DDT (banned insecticide), PFOAs (teflon, stain and water resistant treatments on fabrics), PBDEs (flame retardants)
Non-Persistent: herbicides, pesticides, solvents, plastics, phenols
Examples of half lives of common chemicals (in your blood):
PCBs: 10-15 years (farmed salmon & other farmed fish - from contaminated feed)
Methyl Mercury: 60-70 Days (tuna, swordfish, halibut, walleye, perch, bass)
Organophosphates Pesticides: 2-7 Days (inorganic fruits and vegetables - especially the dirty dozen)
Toxin exposure and toxic load is associated with:
chronic inflammation :(
cell/tissue damage and decreased function
allergic reactions and hypersensitivities: food and environmental
mitochondrial damage, oxidative stress, & fatigue (all environmental toxins are mitochondrial poisons)
neurological symptoms: brain fog, decreased cognitive function, diminished coordination
mood disturbances: anger, depression, anxiety
immune-suppression: increased susceptibility to infections (viral, fungal, bacterial) and cancer
sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction
changes in appetite, weight gain, and bowel function
autoimmunity: against thyroid, muscle, brain, neurons, GI system
hormone disruption & estrogen overload
Estrogen overload is becoming more and more common in both men and women in modern culture, so supporting the liver in bio-transforming and eliminating excess estrogen is vital to health.
Common causes of excess estrogen also negatively impact detoxification
environmental toxin exposures
nutrient-poor diets high in calories
excess weight gain (fat cells act as hormone glands and produce excess estrogen)
microbiome dysbiosis (not enough of the good bacteria and too much of the bad)
chronic stress & inflammation
compromised detoxification or liver health
Signs and symptoms of excess estrogen:
PMS & menstrual irregularities
Mood swings, depression, anxiety
Uterine fibroids & fibrocystic breasts
Loss of sex drive
Association with cancer, some autoimmune conditions, and thyroid dysfunction
Infertility and sexual dysfunction in men
Detoxification is your liver’s ability to bio-transform toxic substances into less toxic, water-soluble compounds that can be eliminated from your body, as well as, the process of releasing stored toxins in fat and bone tissue to also be processed and eliminated.
Energy (ATP) made by your mitochondria
Vitamins, Minerals, & other Many Other Co-Factors
Adequate Nutrition (especially antioxidants, protein, & fiber)
Proper Cellular Hydration
Efficient Kidney and Digestive Function
Factors that affect your toxic burden that are OUTSIDE OF YOUR CONTROL :(
Age when you were exposed
Current age (bioaccumulation over time)
Genetics - polymorphisms (changes to our DNA) contribute to the differences between people in how they react to or eliminate toxins
So What Can You Do to Support Detox Pathways?
Lifestyle factors YOU CAN CONTROL :))
Current State of Health
Body Mass Index: fat stores more toxins and produces more hormones
Nutritional Status: detox requires a complex mix of nutrients & cofactors available from whole foods
Awareness to reduce exposure to toxins
Top 10 Lifestyle Tips to Support Your Liver & Detoxification
Eat a nutrient-rich, whole food diet high in plant foods, fiber, antioxidants, and protein to provide all of the necessary nutrients to keep your detox pathways running on high gear.
Move your bowels every day to prevent toxin recycling back into your bloodstream. Stay hydrated with filtered or natural spring water, consume rice bran fiber (brown rice) and green veggies or powders (containing chlorophyll) to shuttle toxins out of the body.
Promote alkaline urine by eating a plant-based diet with plenty of greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, and beans. Acidic urine tends to recycle toxins back into the blood! Reduce excess protein at each meal and reduce/eliminate refined grains and sugar that both promote acidity.
Get 30-60 minutes of movement every day to promote bowel movements, lymph and blood circulation, and mitochondrial health.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Reduce stress and promote the relaxation response.
Use steam or infrared saunas regularly.
Daily dry skin brushing & epsom salt baths.
Quit smoking, curb recreational drugs, and moderate to no alcohol consumption.
Targeted, high-quality supplements to enhance detoxification
Want More Guidance & Support?
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I look forward to walking with you awhile on your healing journey.
We'll stop and smell the wildflowers. Smile a lot. And wander down the road less-traveled.
Be Well & I'll See You in the Wild,
Angela Juhl, MS, CHWC, CYT
Master of Science in Human Nutrition & Functional Medicine
Wellcoaches™ Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Wild Woman Project Circle Leader
Certified Yoga Teacher
Wild at Heart was founded on the mission: to take a stand against unsustainable cultural norms by empowering others to (re)align their lifestyles & mindset with nature for healing an array of mind.body.heart & soul (im)balances and (re)kindling a soulful relationship to the natural world...for themselves, their loved ones, our communities, and our beautiful planet.