Did you know that if you live on planet earth, you are exposed to over 104,000 chemicals and very few a have been tested for safety? Even if you eat organic and buy organic, nature has been polluted and contaminated so it’s important to know how to keep the levels of toxins down in our bodies by avoiding exposure and increasing their elimination through a health detox.
Many adults tell me how clean they live and eat, however, exposure starts even before birth. Umbilical cord blood that was tested in newborns had over 200 chemicals. These get stored in all over the body. Many are “obesogens,” which make it easy to gain weight and difficult to lose it. Most disrupt hormones and the immune system leading to a multitude of illnesses. They build up in their storage compartments over time until the levels become high enough to overpower your detoxification capability. Then they spill out and cause symptoms. Therefore, it is wise to know a little bit about the most common environmental toxins and how to do a health detox to keep the body burden down and avoid symptoms.
Common Environmental Toxins
Since there are far too many toxins to cover in this blog, I will concentrate on heavy metals and organophosphates (herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides) since those are found in food and water. These can be avoided or minimized and you can decrease your body burden with a health detox.
- Heavy metals – arsenic, lead, and mercury.
- Organophosphates are in herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides.
Common Symptoms and Sources
Symptoms will differ if you are exposed suddenly to a large amount of an environmental toxin versus chronic exposure where buildup occurs over time. Children are more vulnerable and susceptible to illness because their immune and endocrine systems are still developing. Their symptoms may differ. In this blog, I will concentrate on adult symptoms and how a health detox can prevent or reverse their effects.
If you are experiencing mood, memory, or behavioral changes, think toxins and do a health detox. Here are other common effects:
- Organophosphates (herbicides, pesticides, fungicides) are commonly found in grains (even organic) and produce. They can elicit brain fog, depression, asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders, and defects in fine motor control, memory, attention, and reaction time with exposure. Oftentimes if someone experiences lip swelling or allergies when eating fruits or vegetables, it is probably from the pesticide or herbicide. Therefore if you eat organic and thoroughly wash your produce, you may be able to eat it. A health detox can rid you of the buildup of these chemicals.
- Arsenic is found in food and water. The main cause of arsenic poisoning worldwide is the drinking of groundwater that naturally contains high levels. Water becomes contaminated underground by rocks that release the arsenic. Poultry contains the highest levels of arsenic, due to the chicken feed. Rice may contain higher levels of arsenic than water. Arsenic is known for producing heart rhythm disturbances, and diabetes as well as skin lesions, Raynaud’s and peripheral neuropathy. Liver enlargement with abnormal liver enzymes decreased bone marrow production of red and white cells and platelets, as well as cataracts and cancer, are also common effects.
- Lead is found in soil, water, cosmetics, foreign jewelry, wine and house dust, and in occupations or hobbies with lead exposure such as building renovation, hunting and rifle use. It causes developmental delays, learning difficulties, irritability, and seizures among other things in children. However, adults can also have difficulties with memory and concentration, high blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, headaches, abdominal pain, mood disorders, fertility issues in men and women and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, neurocognitive, mental health and behavioral disorders.
- Mercury is found in fish, coal-fired plants, dental amalgams, and vaccines. Mercury is a neurotoxin and is associated with emotional and psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings and memory loss. It has hundreds of other symptoms and can affect just about every system in your body leading to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease, asthma and bronchitis, colitis, fatigue, dizziness, tremors, allergies, hair loss, insomnia and more.
Organophosphates can be measured in the urine. However, the most sensitive means of examining the effects of toxic exposure is neuropsychological testing. This tests attention, memory, reaction time and visual/spatial awareness. It is a simple test performed on a computer and can be done in the office.
Heavy metals are also diagnosed with a urine test. About 90% of lead ends up in the bone so a simple blood test doesn’t measure exposure. This is similar for other metals. They also hide in fat, therefore it is best to use a chelating agent to assess the body burden. This shakes out the metals from their hiding places to give a better picture of exposure.
A health detox relies on optimal functioning of the organs in the body that can remove toxins such as kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and skin. First and foremost, to do an effective health detox you must remove the source, then increase elimination.
Remove the source
- Eat organic meat, poultry and produce, eat wild caught fish and avoid fish that are high in mercury such as bluefish, grouper, mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, and tuna.
- Wash poultry thoroughly.
- Remove mercury amalgams.
- Drink filtered or bottled water and be sure to change your water filters often.
- Avoid the use of chemicals and if you live near a farm or golf course that uses a lot of these chemicals, eat detoxifying food and take supplements that help remove them.
- Kidneys are key to an effective health detox. They remove toxins and your urine needs to be alkaline to safely remove them without causing damage. In general, most fruits and vegetables, as well as soy products, are alkaline, whereas most meat, dairy, grains and processed foods as well as soda, alcohol and coffee are acidic.
- GI tract releases toxins through the bowel so assure good bowel movements by drinking plenty of water, eating at least 25 grams of fiber and taking a probiotic.
- Skin is a health detox organ and you can sweat out toxins by using a Far Infrared Sauna. Just be sure to shower right after use so you don’t reabsorb the toxins
- Food: Greens containing sulfur, dark superfoods such as pomegranates, wild blueberry, berries, dark cocoa, green tea, citrus, ginger, onion, garlic, and eggs are health detox foods. Chlorella and cilantro are helpful and are also available as supplements.
- Supplements: liposomal glutathione or N-acetyl cysteine, milk thistle, Vitamin A as mixed carotenoids, Vitamin E as mixed tocopherols, Co Q10, EPA/DHA fish oil and Vitamin D3, reduced and buffered Vitamin C, magnesium, methylated B vitamins, and alpha lipoic acid are essential for an effective health detox.
- Chelators such as DMSA and EDTA are very effective to remove metals, however, use only under doctor supervision.
Start Your Health Detox Today
If you are concerned about exposure and have any of the symptoms, go to a functional medicine doctor to get tested and treated. There are many nuances to performing a safe and effective health detox. We are all exposed. Environmental and genetic factors play a role in whether or not you will develop symptoms. Eating clean does not guarantee that you won’t be exposed and develop symptoms. The planet is polluted so protect yourself with preventive measure and seek help if you think you are experiencing symptoms.
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are.