August 2, 2021
7 Ways To Protect From Daily Toxins
by Mona Jauhar RDN, LD
No amount of detox can completely do away with the tsunami of toxins – both obvious and hidden – flooding our daily lives. There are toxins in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and even the bed we sleep in! We are living and raising our future generations in a highly contaminated environment shaped by unhealthy practices like overuse of plastic, waste mismanagement, deforestation and rapid urbanization. Though our body’s natural detoxification system is able to rid us of toxins from time to time, things get complicated if the toxicity gets too much. What would it take to undo this mess and lead a less toxic life?
Well, start by learning to identify and understand the toxins around you. Then, incorporate ways in which you can reduce your daily exposure. Make clean, organic food choices and protect your gut and skin microbiome from synthetic chemicals around you. And finally, support your body’s natural detoxification process to reduce your health risks. As they say, “Strengthen your inner firewall”.
LOOK AROUND YOU
Environmental toxins are natural compounds or man-made chemicals that can negatively impact human health if consumed or absorbed in large quantities. They don't always mean pollutants from automobiles or factories. They could be lurking in the spaces you least suspect them to be in, like in your children's toys or the brand new piece of furniture in your house. Environmental toxins could be in your cookware, in your cosmetics, your food packets, or your cleaning agents.
EVERYDAY TOXINS AND THEIR RISKS
Bisphenol A or BPA, is only one in a long, long list of chemicals we encounter every day in our homes. Read dental equipment, food jars and bottles and toys. It is a chemical commonly used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). You can be exposed to this chemical through food as BPA can leach from beverage and food containers.
Health risks: BPA exposure may be associated with certain endocrine hormone disorders in both men and women, including infertility, early secondary sexual maturation, breast and prostate cancer, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Phthalates is a chemical used to improve the flexibility, elasticity, and resiliency of plastics. It is embedded in household items, paints, cleaning materials and beauty products.
Health risks: Phthalates are susceptible to leaching and can be released into the air, dust, and food. They have been found to play a potential role in a number of reproductive, thyroid, immune, and metabolic conditions.
Parabens is a synthetic chemical, commonly used as a preservative in a variety of products. They have been detected in personal care items, food products, pharmaceuticals and even in house dust.
Health risks: The fact that parabens can be absorbed through the skin and may reach the bloodstream, raises serious concerns about its usage. Findings link parabens to the possibility of developing breast cancer.
Pesticides and herbicides are commonly used to control pests and weeds in agriculture. They inadvertently land on our kitchen shelves and make inroads into our bodies through food.
Health risks: Pesticides have been linked with cancer, as well as neurological, reproductive, endocrine, respiratory, and immunological conditions.
Heavy Metals are all around us. There is arsenic in contaminated food, air and water. There is lead in industrial emissions, cadmium in fertilizers and metal coatings and mercury in seafood.
Health risks: While consumption of some metals like iron or zinc in small amounts is necessary to maintain healthy bodily function, acute and chronic heavy metal toxicity can contribute to oxidative stress and has been associated with health conditions like cancer as well as neurological, pulmonary, and cardiovascular conditions.
LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE
Toxins are omnipresent but you can still dodge them by making some smart lifestyle choices. Good to know that washing hands really helps. But also what you eat, buy and recommend to others makes a huge difference. Let us break it down for you...
- Give your personal care products a makeover: Make sure to read labels for red flags like parabens and phthalates every time you pick up a shampoo, deodorant or detergent. Also, use fewer products, and use them less frequently to reduce exposures. When it comes to household cleaners, try making your own. It’s easy, inexpensive, and, in most cases, you can make them with everyday ingredients you have at home like baking soda, vinegar, and citric acid.
- Limit exposure to cigarette smoke: Out of over 7000 chemical compounds found in cigarettes, at least 69 have been identified as carcinogens. The chemicals found in cigarette smoke have also been associated with respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, and developmental dysfunction.
- Go BPA free: Replace all plastic dinnerware and storage jars with stainless steel or glass. Make the switch from plastic cups and water bottles to reusable glass or stainless steel alternatives. Choosing a reusable option will also decrease waste, so it’s good for your health and the environment.
- Buy fresh and organic: Buying local, fresh and organic produce when possible can help decrease your exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Consulting the “2020 Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen” lists can help you make healthier choices when choosing your produce. This list, released annually by the EWG, identifies the top twelve fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue and the top fifteen with the least residue.
- Check indoor pollution: Since we are spending way more time indoors now, it is advisable to make indoor living less toxic. Look for paint, carpet underlay and mold issues, toxic chemicals that can be emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids. Open your windows to circulate the air and bring in air purifying plants.
- Drink filtered water: Using a water filter can help remove toxins found in your water, such as fluoride, heavy metals (e.g., mercury, copper, cadmium), pesticides and herbicides, pharmaceutical residues, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Eat clean and fortified food: Limit or eliminate non-organic produce (herbicides and pesticides) and dairy (hormones and antibiotics), increase your dietary fiber consumption and support your natural defences with supplements like glutathione, milk thistle, vitamin C, whey protein, sulforaphane and certain B vitamins. (Make sure to speak with a qualified integrative healthcare practitioner to determine which supplements are best for you).
Minimising exposure and clearing the toxins from your body resets your body’s natural balance and allows it to function at its fullest potential.
Are you ready to thrive?