03/10/2014 11:37

Toxins: A Real Nuisance

    Most of us would agree that our youth is a reflection of vibrancy, vitality, and fluent energy, reaching well into our twenties and even thirties. I certainly loved being twenty something - I took advantage of my youth and wasted no time having my babies by 22 while feeling strong, invincible, and healthy. Childbirth and recovery was effortless and I felt fantastic as I eased into motherhood over the years. In all honestly, I actually believed that I would feel this good well into my eighties! Then I turned thirty.....

  Few of us will take the initiative to assess our overall health while we're in our prime. We tend to wait until our bodies slowly deteriorate as aches n' pains surface, our energy supply runs low and we struggle to maintain our youthful physiques. We normally attribute this to the general aging process and point the finger at our genetics, and our busy lives. In the long run, these minor irritations become serious causing our health to further decline, eventually leading to chronic disease. This is not what I consider 'graceful aging'. We have forgotten what optimal health feels like in our fast-paced lifestyles. Our population is deteriorating at an alarming rate and we are seeing more people plagued by diseases today than ever before. I refer to this as 'toxic aging'. 

    The world has never in its history had so much pollution and chemicals in the environment. We are exposed to factories, car exhaust, pesticides, polluted air and water, cigarette smoke, alcohol, medications, vaccines, food additives, and household chemicals.  These toxins harm the body's cells, organs, and everyday functions. Our bodies will use a natural process of detoxification on a daily basis to neutralize these toxic compounds and dispose of them through different channels of elimination. But overexposure will burden the body so it can no longer exit these substances effectively. As a result, common symptoms begin to surface: chronic fatigue, headaches, joint pain, recurrent infections, food allergies, skin conditions, digestive issues, depression, and the list goes on. These early sign are not to be ignored but are an important signal that all is not well in our bodies. At this point, we have the ability to reverse and correct these issues by adapting to a lifestyle that can enhance our detoxification pathways to work efficiently again. If neglected, these problems can turn into much more severe conditions such as arthritis, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, and other degenerative illnesses.

  Consuing processed food is the easiest way to sneak harmful toxins in the body which is why it should be addressed first. Food additives, colorings, MSG, nitrates, aspartame, processed sugars and fats, all have detrimental effects on our health and are considered carcinogenic. Our dietary habits have to change permanently if we desire to live pain-free and retain our vitality even as we get older. Our primary focus needs to be on foods which are packed with free radical fighting antioxidants and disease combating phytochemicals.

    Consider incorporating the following tips for enhancing your body’s ability to remove and protect you from built-up toxins:

  • Eat organic produce as much as possible! Pesticides impair the immune and nervous system and have been linked to cancer.
  • Eat an alkaline diet consisting of nutrient rich vegetables and fruits. These are a major source of fuel for all detox organs, especially for liver metabolism and elimination. i.e. kale, lemons, artichoke, parsley, cilantro, beets, turmeric, green tea, ginger, garlic.
  • Increase daily fiber intake. It can absorb toxins in the gut and eliminate them quickly before they become a problem. i.e. berries, apples with skin, legumes nuts and seeds, like flax, chia, and hemp are excellent sources of fiber.
  • Avoid commercially produced meats. These typically involve large amounts of antibiotics and hormones. Look for meats which are raised in their natural habitat and are grass-fed.
  • Drink plenty of purified alkaline water. Nothing supports the body’s cleansing and elimination capacity like water. Reverse osmosis, and carbon filters are going to yield the cleanest water from your tap. Another very cost effective water filter system is Santevia Pure Earth Water which utilizes all-natural mineral stones to normailize the pH of water, while creating healing restorative alkaline water. This system infuses highly beneficial minerals back into the water and essentially, it reduces rust, chlorine, lead, barium, cadmium, mercury, nitrate, and bacteria - plus it tastes amazing!
  • Exercise - Any activity which encourages perspiration will prompt the lymphatic system to eliminate waste and toxins. Walking, hiking, biking, mini trampoline, infrared sauna, Epsom salt baths are great options. Aim for at least 20 minutes a day. Don't ever feel hesitant to work out just because you're not training for a marathon!
  • Sleep - This is the time when the body rejuvenates and repairs itself. If we don't get our average 7-9 hours, our bodies wear down faster and we are far more susceptible to illness and poor recovery. Studies show that people who get seven plus hours a night live longer than those who don't.
  • Rest and Relaxation - Make time to enjoy your favorite activities. Relaxation counteracts stress which raises cortisol levels and further contributes to rapid aging, weight gain and toxicity.

    Unfortunately, toxicity is not just found in the great outdoors -our homes too have been harboring poisons which we have unknowingly invited into our daily lives. Everything from household cleaning products, skincare, deodorants, to room fragrances contain parabens, sulfates, phthalates, bleaches, ammonia and formaldehyde. These are irritants and pose great risk in liver and kidney damage, blindness, asthma, cancer and so much more. Our bodies were never meant to take on so much. Is it any wonder when we become symptomatic and develop eczema, allergies, skin irritation, and poor immune function? I have spent countless hours researching each ingredient on the back of my hygiene and beauty products. I became even more curious about my house cleaning supplies such as the dish detergent, shower spray, fabric softener etc. I was mortified to learn that I had been putting my family in harm’s way all these years. Once I learned about the impact of these toxins on both the environment and our bodies, I made it my mission to remove all chemical containing products from my home. I began to shop very consciously at my local health food store and discovered a plethora of clean, toxin free, products which I have been using guilt-free ever since.

    There are many ways we can outsmart toxins by following these guidelines:

  • look for household cleaning products that are bio-degradable and do not contain bleach, ammonia, formaldehyde, petroleum, and synthetic fragrances. Laundry detergents remain on clothes after washing is complete and are then absorbed through the skin. My favorite household brand is Echo Clean.
  • Avoid preservatives used in skin lotions, body lotions, and shampoos, such as the parabens that include methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, proply paraben, butyl paraben. These have much potential to cause breast cancer because they are a hormone disrupter. Anything absorbed through the skin is 10 times the concentration of an oral dose. In recent years, I have been pleasantly surprised at how effective and rewarding it is to be using organic skincare and make-up which contain Mother Nature’s best ingredients.
  • Avoid fluoride in water and toothpaste - considered a toxic sedative, fluoride from your tap water and toothpaste can damage your bones, teeth, brain, and depress your thyroid function. Fluoride causes iodine deficiency which leads to hypothyroidism, reducing metabolic and immune functions. Though your dentist will convince you that fluoride is an effective tool in fighting dental decay, do not hesitate to let him know that you want to omit all fluoride during a cleaning.
  • Invest in shower filters to avoid fluoride and chlorine exposure - our pores are like sponges - with hot showers we encourage the absorption of these poisons even more.
  • Avoid anti-perspirants containing Aluminum - Though this metal is found naturally in the Earth, it can have very negative effects when exposed to in high amounts. It impairs the body's sweat glands by blocking its natural detoxification mechanism. Regular use of aluminum containing deodorants may contribute to the clogging of underarm lymphatics which can lead to breast cancer. Using aluminum pots and pans will also increase exposure. Aluminum toxicity has also been linked to brain-aging disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Avoid plastics containing BPA and phthalates - Bisphenol-A is a chemical that mimics the action of our estrogen hormone, which alters our body’s natural pattern. It is used in drinking water bottles, baby bottles, in the lining of canned food and in plastic wraps we use to pack our kid's school lunches with. Do not heat foods in plastic containers, especially Styrofoam. Store your food in glass containers, and drink out of glass water bottles. Effects of BPA exposure include prostate cancer, breast cancer, early puberty, infertility, hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, impaired learning, and possibly other behavioral effects.

    It can be overwhelming to discover what we have allowed into our homes over the years without ever knowing the consequences. Escaping all toxins will be an impossible mission - however, we can greatly decrease our exposure by introducing nutrient dense foods and supplements, and becoming avid label readers as we educate ourselves and our loved ones on how to best shield ourselves against these harmful invaders and their destructive impact on our health. Making the necessary changes can have profound long term benefits once we identify and remove the contributing factors which cause toxicity in our bodies.