It’s a word we’ve all heard over and over again, but until this past weekend, toxins didn’t really feature on my super busy, super-mum priority list. So really – what’s all the fuss about TOXINS?
This past Saturday, I was invited to hear one of the world’s leading authorities on science-based natural/integrative medicine, Dr Joseph Pizzorno, speak about toxins. His newest book, The Toxin Solution – How Hidden Poisons in the Air, Water, Food, and Products We Use Are Destroying Our Health, gives research-based findings on chronic diseases being caused by the toxins in our environment. As a natural chef in training and huge fan of integrative health, I was intrigued to hear what he had to say.
- What if diabetes isn’t caused by sugar?
- What if 60% of breast cancer is caused by PCBs?
- Could mercury in your teeth fillings be contributing to neurodegenerative diseases?
- Are toxins only found in big cities?
- Do you eat farmed fish?
- Does your house have lead water pipes?
- Do you use cosmetics, fragrances, and beauty products every day?
- Do you drink unfiltered water?
The one fact that resonates the most from attending the lecture, is that toxins are EVERYWHERE. Toxins are now a product of capitalism, a growing population of our world, and it’s running over into our soils, our waters, and our air. How did we get to a point where we’d have to filter our contaminated drinking water, interpret ambiguous ingredient labels on food and beauty products, and pay the most attention to what we put in AND on our bodies… is this the world we wanted for our children?
The answers can be found in Dr Pizzorno’s book. If anything, it’s a must read for everyone to educated themselves on how to minimise exposure on a day to day basis. You’ll be shocked to hear just how many heavy metals are now being found in our bodies – and also where our bodies have to store them! We need to take better care at helping our liver to detox them out, but at the same time not adding to the stress of a constant supply into our bodies. Yes, bigger cities definitely have more air pollution, but soils and water supplies in the countryside are facing more contamination of arsenic (found in most of the UK’s soils) and cadmium. Arsenic is the Western world’s worst toxin and it is found in water, rice, chicken, and cigarette smoke to name a few. Now the good news is that the half-life (the half-life measures how long it takes 50% of a substance to be cleared from the body) of arsenic is 2-4 days, and the bad news is that because of it’s prevalence in so many things we drink, eat and breathe that it’s nearly impossible for our bodies to ever clear it out completely. Why chicken you ask? Because of the feed that chickens are given, the arsenic is then absorbed into their meat which we then eat and absorb ourselves. Toxins are fat soluble, meaning we absorb them and store them in our fat cells.
What CAN we do to reduce our toxic load?
Let’s start with simple changes. Like only drinking filtered water. Pizzorno explains that whole house filters are the best to install as most of our counter-top filter containers can’t get the heavy metals out. Not sure? Have your water checked by a reputable company who WILL test for all of these substances. Don’t be fooled – your drinking water supplier may not disclose or even test for the full spectrum! Also, Pizzorno mentions to always use fresh, filtered water when boiling the kettle. Why? Because if you leave the water in the kettle and continually boil it, you are actually concentrating the toxins to higher levels! To test your own water at home you can order a test from Doctor’s Data called the Comprehensive Drinking Water Analysis.
Secondly, switch to as much organic food as possible. Pesticides DO contaminate foods and you are then ingesting the pesticides. Don’t forget it’s not just in the fresh fruit and veg – studies are popping up everywhere that even things like crackers and Pringles have high levels of glyphosate (Roundup) showing up! If cost is an issue, check out the EWG’s 2017 Clean Fifteen & Dirty Dozen cheat sheet:
AVOID farmed fish! Not only do you need to avoid big fin fish like tuna and swordfish due to their increasing levels of mercury contamination (which, by the way ends up in your brain and has a direct correlation to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Parkinson’s), but farmed fish are fed feed contaminated with POPs – persistent organic pollutants. Read the labels and if it doesn’t state it, then ask! Wild Alaskan Salmon is the best choice along with smaller fish such as anchovies and sardines. That goes as well for your meats – always check the source and the labels. Don’t forget about the mercury in your mouth. Have silver fillings? You might want to look into seeing an ecological dentist who specialises in safe removal of mercury fillings.
Corn-fed chicken comes up as a bad option as the feed is highest in arsenic, despite the fancy packaging the supermarkets try and hide it in.
If you stock a lot of tinned/plastic packaged food and drinks in your cupboards, you might be ingesting BPA (bisphenol-A) which lines the inside of the tin and is found in plastics. BPA contributes to pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity in children. It has been shown that just two servings of food per week from a BPA lined tin/packaging can double your risk for diabetes. BPA and toxins contribute to all sorts of health problems; they gradually clog the liver, block insulin-receptor sites, damages your genes, and undermine DNA repair and recovery which in turn leads to inflammation, blood-sugar regulation problems, digestive problems, mitochondrial disorders, hormonal imbalances, low energy, and immune issues just to name a few.
Another area that we tend to forget about is what we put on our skin… makeup, sunscreen, aftershave/perfumes, lotions, soaps, etc. Some of the main offenders (often cleverly disguised on the labels!) are Phthalates, parabens, aluminium, and triclosan. These all interfere with hormone balance within the body. Check your labels, and if you aren’t sure head to the EWG’s Cosmetic Database to check the toxicity level (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/).
Exposing yourself in your own home? Household toxins can come from building materials, rugs/carpets, paint, cleaning supplies, and laundry detergents. With so many plant based and ecological products now coming to market, its always best to shop around and read your labels.
Pizzorno gives you his 9 week protocol to help your body detox effectively and safely in his book which I am currently doing with my family. It’s really not difficult and it all makes sense to incorporate little changes even going forward. I can’t recommend his book enough for educating yourself and your family about toxins. I also love to incorporate massage into my life as it’s brilliant for stimulating your lymphatic system, which is responsible for draining toxins/fluids out of your body. Massage is a great way to get things going and also for that one hour of “me” time. Look for shiatsu or aromatherapy detox massage which specialises in a mix of essential oils that promote detox (oh, and it’s great for helping to get rid of any cellulite as toxins are stored in fat cells!). I book in with Lucinda Jones at the Perrymount Clinic and you can read more about her detox massage here.
Exercising for 30 minutes 3 times per week helps you to literally sweat out the toxins. Be sure to wipe off any sweat with a towel as your body will reabsorb when the sweat dries. Same applies to infrared and regular saunas – these are great for promoting you to sweat! Again, same wiping rules apply. Like a soak? Why not add magnesium flakes (sometimes called Epsom salts) into your next bath time. They not only help dry skin, muscle aches and joint pains, but also to detoxify your body (1).
It’s no longer an option to sit back and relax about it – if you don’t want your family and children to get sick, including yourself, then there are simple and effective ways to make changes in your everyday life.
Knowledge and education is your power and your answer.