Are You Toxic?

Naturopathic medicine holds that through process of cleansing we can support our own natural ability to renew, regenerate, and heal. This season as you remove dust, clutter and excess from your homes why not also try removing toxins. The payoff is good for you and the long-term health of the environment.

A toxin is simply defined as a chemical substance that is harmful to living bodies. Toxic substances have been linked to many chronic illnesses such as cancer, endocrine, and immune disorders.

About 400 synthetic chemicals can be found in the average human body. Since World War II, 80,000 new synthetic chemicals have been released into the environment, but less then half of these have been tested for potential toxicity to adult humans. This leaves a lot of unanswered questions and concern about the safety of these substances. With the lack of health data on these chemicals it makes sense to be proactive about limiting our chemical exposure, and in the spirit of “Think Globally Act Locally”, we can start at home.

How am I exposed to toxins?

Exogenous environmental toxins enter the body through food, air, water and personal/consumer products. Environmental toxins include:

pesticides (over 350 are in current use)

Endogenous Toxins may be produced in our bodies from imbalanced bacteria and yeast in our GI tract, bile acids, inflammation, and liver metabolism. If not eliminated properly these substances lead to the symptoms of toxicity.

Are you toxic?

Toxins are ubiquitous in the environment and accumulate in our body tissues, therefore anyone could have a level of toxic substances in their body that causes harm. If you work in an industry that involves the use of chemicals, or have a history of exposure to harmful chemicals you may have an even increased toxic load in your body. You may accumulate toxins if there is constipation, kidney dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies or genetic variations in detoxification enzymes.

Some Signs and Symptoms of Toxicity

What can i do to lower my toxic exposure?

You need to take action on two levels. Step one is to lower your input of toxins. Step 2 is to improve elimination of toxins from your body.

STEP 1- Elimination of Toxins from your environment.

Environmental toxins exist in our air, food, water personal care and consumer/home products. The following guide will help you become familiar with the origin of environmental toxins and alternative options.

Air Pollutants

Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. The level of organic pollutants is a stunning 2-5X’s higher indoors than outdoors.

Sources of indoor Air Pollution

Some of the main chemical classes found indoors are:

Action Steps to Reduce Indoor Air Pollutants

1. Research and evaluate the products you currently use.

For household products, start with the Household Products Database provided by the National Institute of Health. http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/ . This website provides health and safety data, a list of ingredients, and the product manufacturers Material Safety and Data Sheet (MSDS) for various household products such as cleaning and automotive products. You can research individual chemicals in your products by using Environmental Working Group’s chemical index at http://www.ewg.org/chemindex. Both of these websites are provided free of charge.

II. Additional Steps

  1. Look for products with green seal and green guard. http://www.greenseal.org/ or http://www.greenguard.org/ certification.
  2. Buy vintage or salvage furniture to avoid new product off gassing
  3. Open windows once a day
  4. Use upholstery and drapes products made with natural foam made from tree sap, and fabric finishes with non-toxic soy compounds.
  5. Mattresses- Do your homework as many mattress companies claim to be green but actually still use chemical flame retardants and disinfectants.
  6. Dry clean less. Instead spot clean stains, air out, and lint brush. Some dry clean garments can be washed in cold water. Air dry cleaned garments out of the plastic before wearing. Air out in the garage or outdoors.
  7. Use air filtration, and vacuum with a HEPA filter unit
  8. Varnish unfinished surfaces such as the underside of counters or unfinished furniture with urethane clear coat that locks in formaldehyde.
  9. Use household plants that filter toxins. See related article in this newsletter
  10. Have your home tested for mold if you suspect a problem. Note on household dust: Chemicals in and around your homes wind up in your indoor dust. Remove dust when you vacuum with a HEPA filter to ensure total elimination.

PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS

Personal Care Products have virtually no safety regulations. Neither the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) nor any publicly accountable institutions has evaluated 90% of personal care products for safety.

Action Steps for Healthy Personal Care Products

Go to http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com - a service provided by the nonprofit organization the Environmental Working Group. Here you will find safety data evaluated from 50 toxicity and regulatory databases for specific brand products including makeup, skin care, hair care, eye care, nail care, baby care, oral care and fragrance. This resource gives you specific safety concerns by the ingredients in your products and provides an overall evaluation of the safety of your product.

WATER POLLUTANTS

Many of us proudly strive to achieve our 64 oz. of fresh clean water a day. But are we doing more harm than good? Toxins enter our body through our water from 3 main sources, the bottle we drink from, the pipes our water runs through, and chemical residues in the water from treatment, or those not cleared by the water treatment.

Depending on your municipal water supply some of the contaminants that you may find in your water even after water treatment include chlorine, chloramine, fluoride (additives), lead, nitrates, plasticizers (phthalates), synthetic pesticides, metals, microbes, and pharmaceutical medication.

Bottled water isn’t necessarily much better than water coming from the faucet. While, regulated by the FDA, rules exempt water that is packaged and sold within the same state. This is the scenario for 60-70 % of water sold in the United States.

Plastic bottles also pose a potential health risk, leaching potentially harmful compounds into the water that we drink. Bisphenol-A, a chemical compound historically used in plastic water bottles as well as many other consumer products, has been shown to mimic estrogen and has been associated with health conditions such as hormone-related cancers and diabetes. Plastic bottles are made from a petroleum product called hydrocarbons. Their production has been linked to global warming and environmental pollution. Plastic water bottles also take years and years to degrade, adding mountains to our landfills. Transportation of bottled water uses even more fuel and causes more pollution. Action Steps for Clean Water For those who are most interested in affordable, clean drinking water, filtered water from the tap may pose the best option. Be sure to store drinking water in a substance that will not contaminate the water. Of course, there are many options for water filtering.

The most common filtration options are:

Boiling -- Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most harmful bacteria and parasites. It won’t remove lead and chloramines however and boiling concentrates inorganic impurities such as nitrate and sulfates.

Carafes (such as Brita) – Carafes are inexpensive and improve taste. The best carafes can reduce lead and organic chemicals but they won’t filter out chloramine or remove pathogens and fine sediment, if you have those in your water. Be aware that replacement filters can add significantly to the cost of using a carafe.

Faucet-mounted - Cheap and easy to install yourself. Do only a fair job of removing lead. Filters must be changed often.

Countertop – Easy to install yourself, large capacity.

Under-sink filter -Similar to countertop filters, but don’t use counter space. May need a plumber to install.

Reverse osmosis systems - Highly effective against the widest range of contaminants, including industrial chemicals, lead, nitrates, and toxic metals. The downside is that they are expensive, cumbersome, slow, and waste large amounts of water during the filtration process – about 5 gallons per hour.

Activated Carbon Filters - Most carafes, faucet-mounted, countertop, and under-sink filters use an activated carbon filter but not all carbon filters are of the same quality. Make sure the unit has a good supply of carbon for effectiveness; cheaper models may have insufficient amounts. A carbon block filter is preferable to carbon granules. Carbon block filters will remove chloramines, whereas carbon granule filters will not.

There are many good brands of water filters available. Based on our research we recommend and provide Multi-Pure water filters. Multi-Pure makes some of the best and most reliable water filters available. Please contact the office for details about our special offers and information about ordering. Stay hydrated!

FOOD

Chemicals enter our food supply through intentional and unintentional sources.

Unintentional sources include pesticides of which over 4 billion pounds are used annually in the U.S. This amounts to 8 lb.s. for every man, woman and child. Current law allows for over 350 different pesticides to be used on the food we eat. Other unintentional toxins include heay metals, antibiotics, growth promoting substances such as hormones, plastics and other migrants from packaging.

Intentional sources include over 10,000 food and chemical additives allowed in our food supply. These additives come as colorings, sweeteners, stimulants, preser vatives, flavorings, emulsifiers, and humectants. Toxins can concentrate in the food chain and expose us to a greater concentration of certain environmental toxins than than those that are studied.

Action Steps for Clean Food

  1. Wash, scrub with brush, and/or peel fruits and vegetables.
  2. Buy organic especially the dirty dozen (see special cut out section).
  3. Trim fat from meat as pesticides are generally fat soluble.
  4. Limit fish especially from lakes, rivers and streams.
  5. Grow your own.
  6. Use unbleached paper products.
  7. Avoid processed foods.
  8. Store food in glass containers.

Step II- Elimination of toxins from your body.

Detoxification is a normal body process that eliminates or neutralizes toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph and skin. Personal cleansing programs support the release of unwanted chemicals from the body. We recommend that you consult with an experienced health care practitioner before beginning a cleansing program.

Two key points to consider before you begin a cleansing program are:

  1. What is your personal toxic load?
  2. How well does your body+ detoxify? For example if you have an underlying chronic illness, nutritional deficiency, or digestive system dysfunction you will need modifications to a cleansing program that addresses those issues.