Is Your Body’s Detoxification System Overwhelmed?
The body has a wonderfully complex natural detoxification system designed to remove harmful substances from the body. Unfortunately, this system wasn’t prepared for the daily onslaught of toxic substances we are exposed to every day.
This means that the body’s natural defense system becomes overwhelmed over time. When that happens, your physical and emotional well-being is adversely affected.
Here is a deep dive into toxins and some surprising ways you are exposed to them daily.
What Are Toxins?
Some toxins are apparent, such as air pollution and pesticides. These are well-recognized environmental dangers, and most people avoid them whenever possible.
But is it enough?
Unfortunately, many toxins live right inside our homes. We use them daily, and they hide in our favorite couches, our trusted household cleaners, the electronics we use, and even the foods we eat.
Toxins are defined as substances that are harmful to your health. Some of these occur in nature, such as venoms from insect stings and poisonous plants. Others are artificial, and these toxins and toxic byproducts harm our health in many ways.
Toxins affect every body system, including the immune, reproductive, and neurological systems. Repeated exposure to these toxins is known to cause cancers and other medical conditions.
That’s why detoxification is an integral part of restoring and maintaining health.
How Are We Exposed?
Exposure to toxins occurs in several ways:
- Inhalation: We directly breathe the toxin or the toxic byproducts, such as vapors or smoke.
- Ingestion: Food containers and packaging are full of toxins. Additionally, we may not wash our hands after handling toxins.
- Absorption: Chemicals are absorbed directly through the skin, such as with beauty and personal hygiene products or through environmental exposure.
- Exotoxins: Endotoxins are harmful substances found in dust, animal waste, the environment, and foods
- Endotoxins: Toxic substances attached to bacterial cell walls and released when the bacterium is damaged, like during times of stress
- Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to produce more toxins within the body
Who Needs Detoxification? Everybody and Every Body!
While toxins affect everyone, some people are at a higher risk of developing complications.
You may be around numerous toxins as part of your job. Construction workers, waste management personnel, painters, mechanics, and manufacturing workers are constantly exposed to harmful chemicals.
The Very Young
Children are at high risk for toxic exposure, from the toys they play with to the furniture in their rooms. Developing fetuses are exposed through their mothers and haven’t fully developed their natural defense systems. Mothers-to-be are encouraged to seek a qualified detoxification specialist to help protect their unborn babies.
Older people have years of exposure to toxins, and their natural detoxification processes begin to break down with age. A detox program will help boost their defenses and remove the harmful buildup of toxins.
If you’re suffering from a disease that affects the immune system, your body’s ability to identify and remove unwanted substances is markedly decreased. Even the medications you take each day contribute to toxicity. Those with compromised immune systems or chronic autoimmune conditions are at a higher risk of developing complications from toxic exposures.
With toxins around every corner, even those living healthy lifestyles are exposed in unexpected ways. No matter your current state of health, detoxification is vital to restoring balance and maintaining your body’s natural ability to detox.
The Six Classifications of Common Toxins
Everyone is surrounded by toxins daily, and many of us don’t know that the things we use regularly contribute to toxic buildups that need a targeted detoxification program. No matter how healthy our lifestyle is, we cannot avoid regular exposure to toxins.
Here are six classifications of everyday toxins.
On the surface, antimicrobials appear to fight germs and keep us healthy. But a closer look reveals that these substances aren’t as innocent as they appear. Commonly found in everyday products such as deodorant, disinfectants, toothpaste, and soaps, antimicrobials negatively impact the reproductive and endocrine systems and the thyroid gland by disrupting the hormonal balances your body needs to stay healthy.
2. Plasticizers and Endocrine Disruptors-Bisphenols and Phthalates (BPAs)
Endocrine disruptors are everywhere, from pesticides to bottles, cans, flooring, glue, packaging, and flame-retardant substances. They are especially harmful to developing fetuses and cause damage to the immune, metabolic, neurological, and reproductive systems and negatively impact the thyroid gland. BPAs are closely tied to common medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, infertility, and mental disorders. Detoxification from plasticizers and endocrine disruptors is difficult because of their widespread use.
3. Heavy Metals
A discussion about detoxification always includes heavy metals. These harmful substances are found in dyes, cosmetics, personal care products, and foods. Common heavy metals include mercury, lead, aluminum, thallium, and arsenic. Additionally, heavy metals are found in cigarettes, industrial waste, and pesticides.
While the biggest culprits of pesticide contamination are cotton and coffees, the surprising source of mercury contaminants is right under our feet. Mining, precipitation, and natural geologic sources contribute to soil contamination. Soil toxins like mercury are concerning because they contaminate us in many ways, like the fish we eat and the fields farmers use to grow vegetables or graze meat and dairy animals.
Paint, dry cleaning chemicals, coating compounds, and degreasers are common solvents we use daily. The term solvent refers to a substance used to dissolve chemicals. Solvents are inhaled, ingested, and absorbed through the skin. This classification of toxins affects the reproductive and neurological systems and is closely linked to cancer. If you regularly use solvents in your occupation or as part of a hobby, detoxification is crucial for continued good health.
5. Flame Retardants
From insulation to electronics and household furniture, flame retardants reduce fire hazards. Children are at the highest risk of exposure because these materials are frequently used in their clothing and bedding. Exposure to flame retardants leads to impairment of the immune, reproductive, and neurological systems, and this toxin is a well-known carcinogen.
6. Fluorinated Chemicals-Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
Fluorinated chemicals add water and oil-proof qualities to many items. They are found in food packaging, cookware, upholstery, outdoor gear, dental floss, carpeting, waxes, and clothing.
Boosting Your Natural Detoxification System
Your body’s beautifully designed natural detoxification mechanisms work together to remove harmful substances from the body. The natural detox process includes your liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, digestive tract, and lymphatic system. The toxins your body can’t remove are stored in the bones and fatty tissues.
Signs that your natural detoxification system is overwhelmed include the following:
- GI issues
- General pain and soreness
- Skin issues
- Weight gain
- Frequent colds
- Brain fog
- Anxiety and depression
However, there are ways to help your body’s detoxification system and restore its ability to defend itself against unwanted and harmful substances.
- Look for BPA-free packaging
- Decrease or eliminate processed and packaged foods wherever possible
- Drink more purified water to flush the system clean
- Decrease alcohol intake to five or fewer drinks for men, three or fewer for women
- Eliminate smoking
- Elimination diets
- Switch to all-natural cleaning and personal products
- Increase physical activity
- Improve sleep habits
- Schedule a detoxification with a qualified functional medicine provider
At Functional Health & Healing in San Francisco, California, Clare Cattarin, MSN, FNP, IFM-CP, has helped people like you who feel the effects of toxic buildup in their bodies. She specializes in creating comprehensive wellness plans that restore health and vitality, including detoxification.
You can’t avoid toxins, but you can find ways to decrease their negative impact on your body, mind, and life. Contact Clare and her team at Functional Health & Healing and see how detox can put you back on the path to a healthier tomorrow.