Everything You Need to Know About Toxins

It’s no secret that the environment we live in today is having a negative effect on our health.

Eighty thousand toxic chemicals have been released into our environment since the dawn of the industrial revolution, yet very few have been tested for their long-term impact on human health. 

From the polluted air we breathe, to the food additives we consume, untested skin products that we lather on, and vast chemical soups that bombard us daily, most people agree that our environment is making us sick.

It can a little depressing to think about!

But if we can become informed then we can make better decisions for our health going forward.

The Effect of Toxins on Your Health

Over time, chronic and daily exposure to toxins add up – like tiny drops in a bucket – contributing to your body’s toxic load, eventually interfering with its ability to function optimally and subsequently leading to harmful effects on your health.

Research is now showing us that toxins play much more of a driving role in creating disease than we realise. According to the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences data, environmental factors cause between 80-90% of all cancers.

When your cumulative toxic burden is left unaddressed, it may lead to health challenges. If you’re struggling with a health condition or unexplainable symptom and you don’t know the root cause – toxic overload may be the culprit.

Chronic toxic exposure can be indicated by such symptoms as:

  • Digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhoea or constipation
  • Mood issues, anxiety, or depression
  • Brain fog or memory loss, attention disorders
  • Asthma or other respiratory issues
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Unexplained pain and soreness

Why Toxins Are Stored in Fat

When toxins enter the body, they will be flagged as intruders. Some of the toxins are eliminated through our body’s natural detox pathways – our sweat, urine and stool – but our body has a limited detox capacity, so what the body is not able to remove, it stores.

Many environmental chemicals are lipophilic, which means they get stored in fat tissue. This is a brilliant defence mechanism our bodies use to prevent toxins from freely circulating, but it’s also not a healthy long-term solution for toxins to be stored in our bodies in this manner, where they gradually accumulate over time and eventually cause disease.

And while the body can burn fat, it can’t burn toxins. So during weight loss or detox protocols for example, these previously sequestered toxins begin entering the bloodstream so they can be expelled from the body, however the process can be uncomfortable. People often feel feverish, achy, irritable, etc. This is referred to as a “Herxheimer reaction” and is also the reason why I recommend using binders to help usher these toxins out of the body. This is why safw and effective detoxification is crucial.

Most Commonly Found Toxins

Here are some of the big offenders:

  • Heavy metals like mercury, lead, radon, bismuth and arsenic. These heavy metals are prevalent in drinking water, some seafood, rice, vaccines, pesticides, preserved wood, antiperspirant, building materials, dental amalgams and paints. Even in trace amounts, heavy metals can pose significant health threats.
  • Bisphenol A (BPA). About 93% of us have BPA in our bodies. BPA sources include plastics, canned goods, meat packaging, and printed receipts. BPA has been recently replaced in many consumer products with other bisphenols like BPS, which studies are showing to be just as toxic.
  • Chlorinated plastics. PVC is commonly referred to as vinyl – and it’s used in vinyl flooring, wallpaper, carpet backing, resilient flooring, siding, window treatments, acoustical ceiling surfaces, upholstery textiles, waterproofing, pipes.
  • Phthalates. Phthalates are a class of chemicals mainly used in scented products to lengthen the life of fragrances and used to make plastics more soft and flexible. Like in toys, plastic bottles, food packaging, shower curtains, blow-up mattresses, carpeting, vinyl flooring, cosmetics and perfumes, candles, air fresheners and sprays. Phthalates affect the reproductive system, contribute to obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities. Most countries do not regulate phthalates.
  • Parabens. Parabens are commonly used as preservatives in skin and cosmetics products including many expensive “anti-aging skin products” and almost all personal care products that contain water. They are also found in store-bought food. It’s a known endocrine disruptor known for mimicking oestrogen, linked to breast cancer.
  • Triclosan. Triclosan is a chemical added to antimicrobial products, and is a known endocrine disruptor that affects thyroid function as well as liver toxicity. It is commonly used in body washes, antibacterial soap, and antibacterial toothpaste, tile and grouts, toilet seats and shower curtains.
  • Mould and mycotoxins. Mould can cause a range of health problems with exposure to only a small amount. Mould grows in warm, moist, indoor areas, and thrives on moisture (humidity and water) and cellulose (wood and paper), thus are most common in showers, behind walls, in crawl spaces and attics. Mould can also be present in foods, like nuts and legumes (especially peanuts), coffee, grains like wheat and corn.
  • Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is commonly found in composite wood products (like particleboard, plywood, MDF, and panelling) as well as manufactured wood products (like desks, bookshelves, beds, kitchen cabinets), car exhaust, industrial pollution, carpets, insulation, paint and varnishes, adhesives, permanent press fabrics and dry cleaning.
  • Pesticides, aka persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These are the most commonly used pesticides in commercial agriculture. According to the EPA, 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides and 30% of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Alarmingly, pesticide residues have been detected in 50-95% of our foods.
  • Flame Retardants. Flame retardants are found not only in upholstered furniture, but in electronics, inside the plastic casings for TVs, computers, etc. They’re often used in insulation, polyurethane foam, carpet cushion, paint, textiles (including children’s pyjamas), furniture, mattresses and electronics. Unfortunately, they do not stick to the materials, but filter into your environment. Flame retardants can cause disruption of the endocrine, reproductive, and immune systems, neurobehavioral toxicity and cancer. Flame retardants are bromide-based chemicals and are almost impossible to wash out of clothing.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a group of chemicals that become gas as room temperature, thus easily bringing gas pollutants into the home from a variety of sources. We call this “off gassing” There are over 400 compounds in the VOC family which have been identified in the home and of these over 200 can be found in carpeting! According to the EPA, VOCs tend to be 5X higher in indoor air than outdoor air, likely because they are present in so many household products.

Increase Your Toxicity IQ

When it comes to toxicity, the more you know, the less toxic you’re likely to be. Once you’ve taken stock of the toxins in your life, there are actionable steps you can take to minimize further exposure, detox and create a less toxic home and lifestyle, ultimately leading to a reduced toxic load and better health!

Step 1: Remove non-essential toxins from your environment, like non-stick cookware, antiperspirants.
Step 2: Replace these items with safer alternatives, like cast iron pans and non-toxic deodorants
Step 3: Reduce exposure where removal of toxic exposures is not possible. For example, choosing fruit that you can peel off the skin, eg a banana
Step 4: Avoid future exposure by making safer purchasing decisions. Research items before making purchases, to make sure you know ingredients and whether there are safer, less toxic alternatives available.
Step 5: Detoxing!

10 Simple Steps to Enhance Detoxification

Proper detoxification is so essential for health that you need to start enhancing your body’s ability to detoxify today. Here is how to do it:

  1. Drink Clean — Drink plenty of clean water, at least eight to ten glasses of filtered water a day.
  2. Eliminate Properly — Keep your bowels moving, at least once or twice a day. And if you can’t get going, then you support this with some bowel moving protocols. This can include taking two tablespoons of ground flax seeds with water before bed. Or supporting bile production with some choline rich foods.
  3. Eat Clean — Where possible eat organic produce and animal products to eliminate the toxins, hormones, and antibiotics in your food.
  4. Eat Detoxifying Food — Aim for 8 to 10 servings of colourful fruits and vegetables a day, particularly family of the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, collards, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi) and the garlic family (garlic and onions), which help increase sulphur in the body and help detoxification.
  5. Minimise Drugs — Avoid stimulants, sedatives, and drugs, such as caffeine and nicotine, and try to reduce alcohol intake.
  6. Get Moving — Exercise five days a week with focus on conditioning your cardiovascular system, strengthening exercises, and stretching exercises.
  7. Avoid the White Menace — This includes white flour and white sugar.
  8. Sweat — Sweat profusely at least three times a week, using a sauna, steam, or a detox bath.
  9. Relax — relax deeply every day to get your nervous system in a state of calm, rest, and relaxation.
  10. Supplement — Support your toxin elimination with a good toxin chelator and toxin binder. I love Cellcore HM-ET for this. Check out all my favourites here

Food that’s help detoxify

The good news is that there are foods that can actually help our bodies produce more detoxifying chemicals that can help the liver to better do it’s job of detoxifying. Here are foods you should include (and also, don’t forget to cut back processed, packaged and artificial foods) to help your body keep itself clean.

  • Onions: Onions are not only tasty and flavourful, but they are also a source of sulphur-containing nutrients that help our livers to produce detoxifying enzymes.
  • Beets: Beets contain loads of nutrients including betacyanin that may help the liver to produce more detoxifying enzymes.
  • Pineapple: Pineapple contains bromelain, a nutrient that may help to promote digestion and may also help to cleanse the colon.
  • Artichokes: Artichokes contain a nutrient called silymarin that’s an antioxidant that helps liver process toxins. Artichokes also contain another nutrient, cynarin, which is an acid that supports liver’s ability to break down fatty foods.
  • Apples: Apples contain pectin that helps our bodies remove food additives and metals from the system. Apples also contain quercetin that may help to promote production of detoxifying enzymes by the liver.
  • Parsley: Parsley contains nutrients that can help stimulate production of bile that is key for the detoxification process.
  • Broccoli & cabbage: Broccoli and cabbage are members of the cruciferous vegetable family that contain sulphur-containing nutrients that can help the liver to produce more detoxifying enzymes.
  • Citrus: Citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges contain vitamin C- that may help to clear the digestive tract and also promote cleansing of the liver too.

My favourite Non-Toxic Items

Cookware - There are many options of stainless steel, cast iron or ceramic appliances. I love Scanpan, Le Crueset, and WMF.

Plastic Bags - Use compostable bags alternatives. I use ecopak which is available in your supermarket.

Deodorant - Replace your deodorant with a non-toxic version like Brutal Truth or Schmidt's

Cleaning and Laundry - Use non toxic choices such as EcoStore, XtremeClean and Enjo

Clothing - Choose natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, bamboo, and wool. Avoid polyesters which are made from plastic.

Skin care - Avoid parabens, preservatives, fragrances, mineral oils and other nasty toxins in many skin care products. Replace with natural alternatives. My faves are: Dermaviduals, Dr Hauschka, MediK8, Paulas Choice, and Only Good

Fragrances - Use a natural alternative such as Neat Natural Little Petal- you will feel like you are walking down a garden path…delish!

To listen to my podcast where I discuss this in more detail tune in at www.vinka.co.nz