REMOVAL OF TOXINS
“The true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated.” Exposure to environmental carcinogens (chemicals or substances that can lead to the development of cancer) can occur in the workplace and in the home, as well as through consumer products, medical treatments, and lifestyle choices. It has long been known that exposure to high levels of certain chemicals, such as those in some occupational settings, can cause cancer. There is now growing scientific evidence that exposure to lower levels of chemicals in the general environment is contributing to society’s cancer burden.
The President’s Cancer Panel - 2008–2009 Annual Report - US
Toxins can be found in almost everything; from the pesticides on our vegetables to the lotions and cosmetics that we apply to our bodies. It’s hard to come by something completely chemical free. All these toxins are released into our environment and eventually get deposited in our bodies. You can’t see, touch, or smell many of these toxins and typically do not feel their affects until/unless we come down with a chronic disease after years of exposure. You see one of the body’s defense mechanisms when faced with toxicity is to store the harmful chemicals in your fat tissue, bones and other tissue. This means that these poisons can be stored for many years in our tissues, becoming an ongoing source of ill health.
Consider this - the average newborn baby has 287 known toxins in his or her umbilical cord blood. Of these 287 chemicals, it is known that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. This study confirmed that we are increasingly being exposed, beginning in the womb, to a complex mixture of toxins that may have lifelong consequences. This study also shows that babies are born at considerable risk nowadays due to the toxic load that can be passed on by their mothers. (Information extracted from the tests and study commissioned by non-profit organization Environmental Working Group based in the U.S. - www.ewg.org).
If a newborn is exposed to that many toxins, imagine how many we have been exposed to in our life?
Why do some people get sick and some people don't?
Essentially, there are two factors that influence the toxic load in your body and the impact this has on your health. These are as follows:
- The amount and type of toxin that you are exposed to;
- How well your body 'detoxify' or getting rid of this toxin.
That is why two people with similar toxic exposure can respond very differently, with one having no noticeable effects and the other developing chronic illness. The first person has a better capacity to detoxify.
We recommend that patients avoid as much toxin exposure and eliminate as much toxins as possible from their lives. In this section we will look at what are toxins and ways to minimize toxins. We will also look at ways to remove toxins that are already in the body.
What are toxins?
A toxin is any substance that causes harmful effects to your body if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. It interfere with normal cellular function and causes cells to malfunction. Sources of toxic substances can range from naturally occurring toxins like bacteria to man-made chemicals like pesticides, even the food we eat contain toxins. Today, we are living in a chemically based society where almost everything is laced with toxins.
Although our daily exposure to each toxin is very small, the problem is that we are constantly being exposed to small amounts of the thousands of toxins, and over time the exposure and accumulation of toxins can become significant and may work synergistically to magnify the adverse effects.
There is indeed an increasing concern on human exposure to environmental toxins especially in the light of the growing body of research documenting established and suspected environmental factors linked to genetic, immune and endocrine dysfunction that can eventually lead to cancer, infertility, immune system degradation and other degenerative diseases.
Unfortunately many people are still unaware and oblivious of the danger of these toxins.
Sources of toxins and ways to reduce exposure
Toxins come in two broad categories, environmental (external) and endogenous (made in your body). Environmental toxins include things like heavy metals, chemicals, drugs, bacterial and microbial toxins. These are present in the air, water and food that we consume. Endogenous toxins on the other hand include hormones and other chemicals that are produced in the body, and chemicals produced by bacteria in your digestive system that enter your bloodstream.
Let’s look at some of the ways toxins can enter your body and find ways to reduce your exposure and/or intake of toxins.
a. From the food we eat and drink
Your food has more toxins than you may think. By controlling what goes into your mouth, you can reduce a huge number of toxins from entering your body. The following are steps that can be taken to reduce your exposure to food toxins.
- Avoid food with pesticides and herbicides - Pesticides and herbicides play a major role in cancer development as well as its growth. Pesticides have estrogen-like properties called ‘xenoestrogen’ which are linked to breast cancer. Buy only fresh organic products.
- Buy local – Buy your produce at the local farmers market. Locally produced food reduces the need for preservatives.
- Avoid processed and packaged foods – these may be a convenient choice for today’s busy families, but they’re unfortunately loaded with toxic additives* and preservatives that add color, flavor, aroma, texture and shelf life. These food additives find their way into your foods to help ease processing, packaging and storage. They definitely do not “add” any nutritional value to your food but on the contrary can cause dire consequences to your health. Eat whole foods instead. Eating a balanced diet of fresh produce and whole grains will go a long way towards keeping additives and preservatives out of your system.
- Avoid packaging materials such as plastic wrap, plastic bottles, juice boxes and Styrofoam Portions of the linings, polymers, plasticizers, stabilizers, fillers and even colorants in plastic wrap/package can dissolve into food especially when subjected to heat. Plastics are made with a chemical called bisphenol-a (BPA), a structure very similar to estrogen that can seep into the food or liquid it contains. BPA is a "hormone disruptor" which can interfere with the natural human hormones.
- Avoid using baking powder that contains aluminum - Aluminum (a heavy metal) is best avoided since it accumulates in the brain and can potentially bring on diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
- Avoid using non-stick pots and pans - they're easy to cook with, but cookware like Teflon contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which can lead to infertility, cause cancer and other health issues. PFOA releases toxins when heated. Use alternatives like stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron or glass.
- Eliminate refined sugars and processed fats/ oil, and synthetic additives in your cooking— all of these act as toxins in the body.
- On drinking water, know the source (for bottled water) and avoid unfiltered tap water.
Despite government regulations, there are still many dangerous contaminants present in your water. Tap water contains sedimentation as well toxins such as fluoride, chlorine, lead, aluminum and pharmaceutical drugs. Fluoride found in most people’s tap water alters your endocrine function, especially in your thyroid and it increases your risk of bone fractures too. Invest in a good water filter unit to service your entire house.
How about bottled water?
Bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water either, especially those in the plastic bottles. Plastic when in contact with water and heat leaches Phthalate and polycarbonate can leach bisphenol A, a potential hormone disruptor, into liquids which can cause cancers or infertility.
Therefore, be particular on the packaging of the water.
- Avoid diet sodas, energy drink and beverages sweetened with artificial sweeteners and chemicals - Opt instead for coconut water which is nature’s most refreshing drink to replenish hydration levels within the body. Inside, it's clear liquid is sweet and sterile and composed of unique chemicals such as vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, enzymes, amino acids, cytokine and phyto-hormones.
*Artificial food additives includes artificial sweeteners (aspartame, Splenda, Sucralose etc.), High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Trans-fat, food dyes/ colouring, preservatives (sodium sulfites, sodium nitrate, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxy-toluene (BHT), Sulfur dioxide, and potassium bromate.
b. From the environment we live in
Unhealthy and toxin laden air and environment are not only outside (smog, ozone, or haze) but also inside homes, offices, and other buildings – in fact, these can be more polluted than the air outside. The air inside your home may be polluted by lead (in house dust), paint on the wall, pet danders, fire-retardants, radon, and chemicals from fragrances used in household cleaners and air fresheners.
The following are things that you can do to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins.
- Avoid using chemical pest control products
There are safe, non-toxic alternatives for controlling insect pests in the home, including many new non-toxic pest control products eg. lemongrass based insect repellent.
- Check for mold growth in the house
These are prevalent in wet parts of the house. Mold releases toxins into their environments. The mold-produced toxins are particularly disruptive in the body and have been correlated with a wide spectrum of health issues.
- Ventilate your home – when there is lack of ventilation in the home, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Open your windows to let fresh air in. Vacuum your house to get rid of the accumulated dust.
- Be wise in buying household products for cleaning dishes, laundry, walls and floors
Modern cleaners use large amounts of chemicals to do the job. These cleaning chemicals produce a byproduct called dioxin, which is an endocrine disruptor and a carcinogen.
--switch to natural product substitutes or make your own. It takes only four ingredients of baking soda, salt, white vinegar and lemon juice to do the trick.
--cut down on the amount of cleaning products you use, use milder ones, and use these in a well ventilated room
- Stop any form of substance abuse such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs
Some people choose to live in rural locations for the cleaner air and land. However, falling short of moving you can avoid a lot of the toxins inside and around your home through careful consideration of the above issues.
- From the products you use - Personal health care products (cleansers, toners, shampoos, deodorizers etc).
Knowledge about toxic exposures from the products you use is important and you really need to get yourself educated on some of these common sources of toxins especially those found in homes and those that you use regularly. To get well and stay well, one of the things you must learn is how to reduce your daily exposure to toxins through the products you use.
Are you aware that many of the personal care products you use daily contain toxic chemicals that are absorbed through the skin? Although the cosmetics industry claims that these toxic products are too small to matter, the problem is, you are not likely to use only one product, but a number of products which can add up significantly. Some of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities, infertility and other health hazards. The following are things that you can do to reduce your exposure
- Substitute these with natural alternatives, or don’t use them at all as some of the products are not necessary and are heavily marketed.
- Check the label and be familiar with the ingredients to avoid - The only way to be sure of what’s in your personal care product is to become familiar with which ingredients to avoid, and then check the labels of the product before you buy it. Remember, anything you put on your skin is absorbed into your body.
|Ingredients to avoid: Sodium laurel sulfate, triclosan (found in antibacterial products), Parabens (Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, p-Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, n-Butylparaben and Benzylparaben), aluminium (found in anti-perspirant deodorant), petroleum by-products, coal tar (dandruff shampoo), formaldehyde (shampoos), lead (lipsticks), lead acetate and toluene (hair color and conditioner), mercury (skin creams), colorant black carbon (eye makeup products), Diethanolamine DEA, Cocamide DEA, Lauramide DEA, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, talc, lanolin and phthalates.|
Always use common sense and make an educated decision on what products to buy and use. Choose cosmetics that contain the fewest ingredients; the longer the list of a product's ingredients, the higher is the possibility that it will cause adverse reactions, including allergies, irritation, and cancer.
Websites which provide excellent information on toxins are www.ewg.org (Environmental Watch Group) and www.womensvoices.org. These organizations work to eliminate toxic chemicals that are harmful by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies.
d. From stress and negative thinking
It is important to know toxins can be generated internally as well. Internal toxins can be generated from the various metabolic processes carried out by the body, bad bacteria and yeast creating dangerous toxins and also stress right inside your body. Chronic stress, anxiety or negative thinking all add to the total body burden of toxins.
Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. Stress is a normal part of life and learning how to cope with stress is an important part of living. Stress which is short-lived, is not a cause for concern. However, the constant activation of the body’s stress response due to prolong stressful experience may develop health problems (mental and/or physical) especially in the absence of caring, stable relationships and certain ’sensitive’ periods of their life such as divorce, death of a loved one, rejection, unhappy marriage, illness etc.). Stress resulting from high-pressure work settings can also send your body into a constant state of inflammation.
The body responds to physical, mental, or emotional pressure by releasing stress hormones (such as epinephrine and norepinephrine) that increase blood pressure, speed heart rate, raise blood sugar levels and suppress the immune system. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body and long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and diseases.
What does this have to do with cancer? Simply stated, our bodies and mind are closely connected, and that which affects our state of mind will invariably affect the way in which our bodies function. The stress hormone epinephrine has been found to cause changes in prostate and breast cancer cells in ways that may make them resistant to cell death. Stress is a ‘toxin’ and emotional stress could both contribute to the development of cancer and reduce the effectiveness of treatments and that is the reason why stress reduction are of critical importance to cancer prevention.
Things that you can do to reduce or avoid stress:
- Avoid unnecessary stress. Learn to say “no”. Know your limits, and don’t take on projects or commitments you can’t handle.
- Avoid people or situations that stress you out, limit your time with these people or avoid them entirely.
- Try mind-body exercises such as breath work, meditation and yoga and biofeedback.
- Accept the things you can’t change and learn also to accept that no one, including you, is perfect.
- Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend
- Learn to forgive and let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. It releases pent-up stress and tension.
- Get plenty of good night’s sleep.
In summary, even though toxins present themselves in many forms there are still ways that you can avoid/ reduce these by making better choices in the products you use and consume.
To effectively reduce your toxic load you must first be able to recognize where they come from and then minimize their impact in your life. By reducing your exposure to toxins, you are taking away a huge burden on your liver and the other organs of detoxification.
The amount of toxins you potentially bring into the house, begins with what you put in your shopping trolley. Read the labels - always look for products that are organic (green /eco-friendly) and free of additives and/or preservatives.
Gradually replace those unhealthy foods in the cupboard with wholesome, healthy, nutritious and organic foods and replace those chemical based household cleaners and personal healthcare products (cosmetics, soap etc) with natural alternatives that are non-toxic and gentler to you and the environment.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the new habits you might need to put in place! Instead, take the time to learn about these toxins and choose one ‘green’ habit at a time,
even small steps will greatly enhance your health and well-being!
Yet even though many health statistics have been improving over the past few decades, a few illnesses are rising mysteriously. From the early 1980s through the late 1990s, autism increased tenfold; from the early 1970s through the mid-1990s, one type of leukemia was up 62 percent, male birth defects doubled, and childhood brain cancer was up 40 percent. Some experts suspect a link to the man-made chemicals that pervade our food, water, and air. There's little firm evidence. But over the years, one chemical after another that was thought to be harmless turned out otherwise once the facts were in.