What Are Toxins?Though standard
definitions of toxins include only poisonous substances made by living
organisms (bee stings, jellyfish and mold toxins, for example), modern,
non-technical terms include any poisonous substance that has an ill effect on
the body. With this second definition we can add man made substances such as
pesticides, pollutants, food additives like MSG as well as artificial
sweeteners. Substances from the manufacture of home products (non-stick
cookware, plastic bottles and packaging, stain-resistant carpeting and
clothing), expand the array of toxic substances in our homes. Now add personal
care products that are applied directly to our skin in shampoos and soaps,
lotions and cosmetics and we'll find toxic lead and other heavy metals,
sulfates, petroleum products and plastics that act as neurotoxins, endocrine
disruptors, mutagens (cause DNA mutation), carcinogens (cause cancer),
irritants and allergens (cause allergies), to name a few.
How Can Toxins Cause Disease?Since the list of toxins to which we are exposed is very great over the lifetime of any person, we can't possibly understand the effects of all of the possible combinations of toxins we may have in our bodies. However, we do know that these toxins each on their own are known to cause significant damage depending on the dose of the toxin and the length of exposure as well as a person's health and age to begin with. For children, the mother's toxicity matters as toxins are passed freely from mother to child through the placenta. Scientists are only beginning to make the connections between maternal toxicity and children's health in regards to autoimmune diseases, neurological health concerns and even cancer.
Toxins steal electrons from important nutrients in your body creating free-radicals that cause cell damage. Toxins also interfere with every normal function in the body from the proper firing of nerves to energy release in the mitochondria, from the blood's ability to carry oxygen to the proper functioning of kidney cells to filter and clean the blood. Imagine if any part of any body function is off and not operating properly. At first, a person might not notice much. There could be an inconvenient allergy with annoying symptoms or even an occasional cold. Maybe there would be some difficulty in losing added pounds. Wouldn't that be frustrating?
Signs of ToxicityPeople tolerate many subtle signs and symptoms of feeling off balance and may even call it signs of "aging". The symptoms may include less flexible muscles and joints, hair loss, difficulty sleeping, etc. These signs of aging may in fact be due more to toxicity than to a person's actual age. Gradual exposure to toxins over time is thought to have a cumulative effect in the body. Though the body attempts to rid itself of toxins through normal processes, the truth is that toxins do accumulate in body tissues, hiding in fat, organs, bones and brain. When there are more toxins than the body can handle, the body burden of toxins begins to take it's toll. Sometimes, the damage done by toxins is fatal.
The prevalence of obesity has nearly quadrupled in American children. Overweight children develop a risk of hypertension, gall bladder disease, and some cancers. Toxins such as phthalates and Bisphenol A act as endocrine disruptors which contribute to the obesity epidemic, ADHD, cancer and reproductive issues. Nearly all chronic diseases may be attributed in part to toxins present in the body. Since no one is pristine and even babies are born with a toxic body burden, it makes sense to take steps to become aware of toxins and remove them safely from your environment, food and yuor body.
Types of Disease-Causing
ToxinsMutagenic Toxins-These are toxins that change the
genetic material of cells. Though genetic material changes spontaneously in
cells by other means (natural mutation, aging, diet, etc), toxic substances can
directly damage and alter DNA which may lead to cancer. Radiation from x-rays,
ultraviolet radiation, radon, forest fires and radioactive disasters from
Chernobyl and Fukushima is also mutagenic and known to not only cause DNA
damage, but in many cases, these mutagens are also carcinogens.
Carcinogenic Toxins- These are toxins that cause cancer either with direct acute exposure or prolonged exposure. Toxins in cigarette smoke may be the most famous, but carcinogenic toxins are also found in food, water, air and personal care products. Carcinogens are present in your homes as pesticides, cookware, stain resistant carpet finishes and food containers. Radiation is also carcinogenic. Carcinogens alter cell metabolism or cellular DNA which lead to uncontrolled growth of malignant cells.
How Can Removing Toxins Help With Disease Recovery?A cleaner body has the opportunity to be healthier as all body systems and cells work better. Since toxins interfere with all body functions, removing them safely and efficiently from all parts of the body is critical.
The immune system is designed to attack foreign cells such as bacteria, foreign particles such as viruses and unhealthy cells such as scar tissue and cancer cells. However, if the immune system is not functioning properly in any way due to not being able to recognize foreign substances or not being able to act in an appropriate defensive body response (attacking healthy tissue) it is inefficient and maybe even failing as a disease defense mechanism. A strong and properly working immune system is your best friend when it comes to fighting cancer.
A healthy gut is a strong defense against foreign invaders and infection. Also, a healthy gut helps break down food in order to supply the blood with vital nutrients. Maintaining healthy gut flora is also critical. Toxins interfere with all aspects of proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. If lead is present, for example, calcium cannot be absorbed to make healthy bones.
Sound sleep is also essential to healing and cancer recovery since sleep is the most important time for the body to heal. Heavy metals act as neurotoxins that interfere with brain function, proper muscle control, being able to relax and think clearly and, most importantly, with having a good night's sleep. Removing toxins, then, can provide better relaxation and help promote sounder sleep for healing.
Is Any Level of Toxicity Safe?
Research shows that the average newborn has more than 200 different industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in their blood. Roughly 10% of women carry mercury concentrations high enough for fetal damage. Pregnancy mobilizes fat soluble toxins such as POPs (dioxin, DDT, PCB’s, flame retardants like PBDE’s). These chemicals, present in the mother, become the body burden of the newborn child as they travel across the placenta to the fetus. Since metabolism in the fetus is immature, chemicals become sequestered in the fetal brain.
- Carcinogens, cancer causing agents such as pesticides and
volatile organic compounds from air, water and food.
- Chemicals and heavy metals such as lead and methylmercury are toxic to the brain & nervous system.
- Chemicals such as phthalates (plasticizers) found in toys as well as cosmetics cause abnormal development.
- Pollutants from city air are linked to chromosomal abnormalities in infants in NYC.
Vaccinations- With strong evidence that mercury preservative in vaccinations (thimerosal) contributed to the increased incidence of autism in children, mercury was removed from early childhood vaccines by 2001 but is still used as a preservative in flu shots. Learn about vaccinations from the National Vaccine Information Center.
Personal Care products- Dental amalgam fillings are more than 50% mercury. Thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative is also added to some brands of mascara and other cosmetics, contact lens cleaners, eye washes, etc.
Food- The greatest source of mercury today comes from eating fish.
Environment- Mercury is also prevalent in the environment from coal burning and industrial use.
- Immunotoxicity results in asthma, allergies, cancers and chronic disease
- Neurotoxicity results in cognition, memory, sensory and
- Endocrine toxicity results in reproductive, libido and metabolic impairment, obesity
*Disclaimer- The information on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is not intended as medical advice or to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals. You may wish to consult your physician before beginning or making changes in your diet, nutritional supplementation or exercise program. The statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.