Did you know that toxins in the environment and in your home can cause you physical stress?
In Weekly Wellness Week 3 we discussed stress and the physical and mental issues that come along with chronic stress. This week I want to discuss the environmental stressors we place on our selves everyday without realizing it. We are exposed to toxins and chemical poisons every day without realizing it. Every time you clean with those store bought cleaners, wash your hair, put on makeup, wash your clothes, drink water, breathe the air around you, and sleep on a mattress you are exposed to organisms and chemicals that are slowly building up in your system causing your body a lot of stress.This stress is from your body either protecting its self from these toxins, or from trying to cleanse its self and remove the harmful chemicals from your body. Most research done on chemical exposure is based on rating how harmful one chemical compound is independently from others1. Rarely are whole formulas tested for safety. That means that shampoo you are using for dandruff had individual chemicals in it that are approved for use on humans, but no one has tested its safety with those 20 ingredients combined. Although these chemicals are “safe” in small single doses they are also not tested for prolonged use. How often do you shampoo? Daily? Then you use conditioner with similar chemicals in it. Don’t forget your hair care products and make up. Those toxins that are “ok” in small doses are then quickly building up on your body on a daily basis.
Where are these chemicals coming from?
- Conventional cleaning products (for more information read this)
- Conventional body care products like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, perfume, hair care, makeup (How toxic are your products? Check here)
- Furniture and mattress off-gassing from fake materials and fire retardant (see a personal story of how this made one woman very ill here and how this could be linked to SIDS deaths here)
- Water (Is your tap water trying to kill you?)
- Agricultural byproducts (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, petroleum based fertilizers,Dioxins) “Environmental exposure of humans to agrichemicals is common and results in both acute and chronic health effects, including acute and chronic neurotoxicity (insecticides, fungicides, fumigants), lung damage (paraquat), chemical burns (anhydrous ammonia), and infant methemoglobinemia (nitrate in groundwater). A variety of cancers also have been linked to exposure to various pesticides, particularly hematopoietic cancers. Immunologic abnormalities and adverse reproductive and developmental effects due to pesticides also have been reported. The health effects associated with pesticides do not appear to be restricted to only a few chemical classes. Therefore, enhanced efforts are needed to control or eliminate human exposures wherever possible.”2
- Air Pollutants: Carbon monoxide, Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone, Lead, Particulate Matter, Cigarette smoke “Exposure to air pollution is associated with numerous effects on human health, including pulmonary, cardiac, vascular, and neurological impairments.”3
- Plastic: BPA, Phthalates, Polypropolyne
- Indoor air pollution:
What symptoms are associated with chemical and toxic exposure?
All of the symptoms caused by chemical and toxic exposure can be explained with other health impairments, which is why it is so hard to know if you are reacting to a chemical or having a non related health issue.
The most common signs of toxic exposure are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore/itchy throat
- Ear infections
- Joint aches/pain
- Leaky Gut
- Inability to lose weight
A lot of people are extremely sensitive to chemicals and toxins in the environment and have something known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.These people are highly sensitive to the smallest chemical exposure and commonly need medical intervention when in the presence of toxins and chemicals. I personally have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. I cannot be near anyone wearing perfume or cologne. My lungs seize up and I need an inhaler instantly. I have a similar reaction to most household cleaners. I broke out in hives after shopping at IKEA from all of the off-gassing in the store. This is a terrible thing to live with, especially since people who have no chemical sensitivities are unaware of the problem and rudely wear GOBS of perfume or hairspray in confined spaces, like airplanes. Some people have no issues with chemicals in everyday life until one day they have reached their toxic threshold and become sensitive to everything. It varies from person to person.
How do I avoid and remove these toxins from my life?
There is no way to completely remove all toxins from your body or your life. The average human in the United States has 700 foreign chemicals in their body. This does not mean we can not reduce our chemical exposure and negate some of the toxic effects.
Waste, unwanted chemicals, and toxins are removed from your body a few different ways.
- Skin: The skin is your body’s largest organ and is highly efficient at removing wast, toxins, and chemicals from the body through the pores and sweat glands. Anything you put onto the skin will be absorbed into the blood stream so be careful to use only non toxic, chemical free substances on your skin. A lot of skin issues like cystic acne are caused by stool build up in the bowels. Proper cleansing and movement within the bowels has a direct effect on skin health.
- Liver: filters the blood to remove large toxins, synthesizes and gets rid of bile full of cholesterol and other fat-soluble toxins, and the live enzymatically eliminates unwanted chemicals. The liver makes chemicals fat or water-soluble deciding whether to store harmful substances in the fat or to filter it through the kidneys to be excreted.
- Kidneys: Filter salt, toxins, water and chemicals from our bodies to be eliminated through urination. Kidney disorders create an imbalance in the body and insufficient kidney filtration leads to health issues such as gout and heart disease.
- Bowels: The bowels eliminate bulk waste from the body. If the bowels are not clean and working properly (read at least 1-3 healthy bowel movements a day, #4 on the brystol stool scale) then it is retaining toxins. The liver can not function optimally with blocked toxic intestines.
- Lungs: The lungs are how our bodies expel carbon monoxide from the body. Proper breathing can drastically increase the availability of oxygen in the blood.
If your body is not able to quickly remove dangerous toxins from the system it will safely store these toxins in fat cells.This keeps the excess burden off of your filter organs, but causes a lot of trouble when you try to lose the fat. When the body releases the fat from the cell the toxins then unload into the system causing even more stress on your organs.
Ways to reduce toxic load:
- Eat clean real food. Organic vegetables and organic or pasture raised meat are the cleanest foods you can eat. Any conventionally raised food will increase your toxic load exponentially. (More on this next week)
- Stop using conventional body care products. Read my posts on homemade bath and body care and keep following for more great ideas on how to detoxify your beauty routine.
- Clean with natural cleaning products that you can make your self. See my great inexpensive recipes that WORK here and laundry solutions here.
- Dry skin brushing is a great way to open up your pores and allow your skin to eliminate toxins. Read more here.
- Drink purified water. Read more about the health benefits of water here.
- Do deep breathing exercises like these.
How do you reduce the toxic and chemical load in your life?
1Understanding the human health effects of chemical mixtures”. David O Carpenter, Kathleen Arcaro, and David C Spink Environ Health Perspect. 2002 February; 110(Suppl 1): 25–42. 2Human health effects of agrichemical use. Weisenburger DD.Hum Pathol. 1993 Jun;24(6):571-6 Source Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha 3Effects of Air Pollutants – Health Effects– EPA
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