Had the quinoa flake porridge this morning, pretty quick and simple to make, and tastes OK – the coconut milk and some added nuts and seeds definitely helped, although still not a patch on the real oaty thing! Will I get used to it? Will just have to wait and see….
Friday morning meant my weekly post-school drop-off coffee with my school mum friends. I had been looking forward to it and dreading it in equal measures – I was looking forward to having a good natter, but was dreading the caffeine and cake temptation. So glad I went, it was great to catch up with everyone and the cake part was fine – didn’t feel tempted at all, although I did look longingly at the cappuccinos – my mint tea didn’t quite cut it, especially as it was just some mint leaves in hot water for which I had to pay £2.50 – daylight robbery!!! Made up for this by having a delicious ‘antioxidant juice’ smoothie and chicken salad for lunch.
All that form filling on Monday has got me thinking about toxins and my toxic load. What actually is a toxin and the toxic load? Where do they come from? What do they do? And most importantly how do we deal with them?
Firstly, some definitions:
Toxin - any substance(s) or environmental influence that disturbs metabolism in a manner that results in chronic illness.
Toxic load - accumulated amount of toxins affecting your bodily systems at any given time. Over time toxic load tends to increase as the body is exposed to environmental toxins on a daily basis.
- Inappropriate food choices
- Lack of physical activity
- Poor sleep habits (< 8 hours sleep per night)
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Poor mental resiliency (stress and poor stress coping mechanisms)
- All of these can be classified as toxicity and can add to your toxic load.”
Everyday we are exposed to hundreds of different toxins. Such as:
Air - air pollution, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes
Water - lead from old pipes, pesticides
Food - poor food choice (refined carbohydrates, sugar, trans fats & saturated fats), food allergens, pesticides, mercury & PCBs in fish, and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons from charred meat.
Infections - bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections
Lifestyle - smoking, alcohol, household cleaning products, skin care products
Physical - electromagnetic fields, ionizing radiation, UV radiation
Endotoxins – waste products from normal metabolic processes such as spent hormones (cortisol, sex hormones, thyroid hormones), neurotransmitters, immune complexes and old cells that have passed their usefulness.
Psychosocial factors - stress, poor coping skills, trauma
Medication - prescription drugs and over the counter medications
For more information on environmental toxins and where they lurk, have a look at www.everydayexposures.com which has a fantastic interactive diagram showing all the potential sources of toxins, as well as the toxins themselves, that can be found in all our homes.
“One hundred and seventy one industrial compounds, pollutants and other chemicals, including chemicals linked to birth defects and developmental delays, immune system toxicity and an average of 56 carcinogens were found in blood and urine sample of a test sample of volunteers.”
Environmental working Group. EWG/Commonwealth Study ~1. Industrial chemicals and pesticides in adults. www.ewg.org
An increased toxic load is thought to have detrimental effects on the body, including: mitochondrial (energy production) damage, increased inflammation and disruption to blood sugar regulation, immunity and hormone metabolism. Common symptoms of toxic damage can include reduced energy levels and changes in mood and cognitive function, poor cellular health, weight gain, joint inflammation / stiffness and allergic reactions.
And the list of health conditions that may be associated with toxicity is even longer:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Heart disease / cardiovascular disease
- Auto-immune diseases (Lupus, thyroiditis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Allergies (food allergies, hayfever)
- Reproductive disorders (infertility, endometriosis, fibroids, PMT, menstrual problems)
- Neurodegenerative diseases (parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease)
- Neuropsychiatric disorders (autism, depression)
Scary reading eh? Well read on… This blog post by Dr Crinnon (an expert in environmental medicine) sums up environmental toxin exposure and its consequences nicely. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-walter-crinnion/earth-day-2010-reduce-you_b_546908.html
But don’t worry, as mentioned in my previous post (20/3/2014), our amazing bodies, chiefly our liver, digestive system and kidneys, are well equipped to breakdown and excrete these toxins in a process known as detoxification. It just often needs a bit of help to function optimally.
There are many ways that we can help our bodies to cope with the burden of these toxins - by helping to reduce toxin exposure and to ensure optimal detoxification through supporting the liver and digestive system – important body systems involved in the detoxification processes. These include:
- Good food choice
- Lifestyle factors
- Stress reduction techniques (such as meditation / breathing methods)
- Encouraging good circulation and excretory processes.
More on this in a later post……