Toxic Buildup – Where it Comes from and How it Affects Your Entire Body
Detoxing is all the rage right now. There are a ton of books and articles talking about different detox methods and detox plans and there are also a number of companies promising that their teas, herbal supplements and other products will rid your body of these toxins and produce results that range from rapid fat loss to increased energy.
Some of these detox programs are ineffective and a few are even downright harmful. Many of the “detoxifying” products are also either useless or a bit dangerous. However, toxic buildup in your body is a very real problem and I strongly recommend periodic detoxification for several reasons.
Junk Foods are Not the Only Source of Toxins
In my last several posts, I talked a great deal about the impact of junk food and how the harmful ingredients in them can build up in your digestive tract and stall weight loss, tax your immune system, zap your energy, cause malnutrition and lead to inflammation throughout the body.
The ingredients in processed foods can lead to one form of toxic buildup, but they’re not the only problem. In the next few posts, I’m going to explain to you the various types of toxins that invade our bodies and what the buildup of those toxins does to your brain, your immune system and your entire body. I’ll also explain what you can do to safely detox your body and what kinds of results you can expect from a detox.
The Types of Toxins We Encounter Every Day
There are a number of different types of toxins that have a negative impact on our health. Some are avoidable and some aren’t so easy to evade.
There are three main ways that toxins enter our bodies and they do it every day. We breathe them in, we ingest them and they are absorbed through our skin. We come into contact with a scary number of these every day and they invade our bodies in all of these ways on a daily basis.
Our Bodies are Loaded with Toxic Chemicals
In a recent report issued by the Centers for Disease Control, it was found that almost every single person tested had hundreds and hundreds of toxic chemicals in their bodies. Even newborns had an average of 287 environmental toxins in their umbilical cords. Of those, 217 were known neurotoxins or chemicals that are poisonous to the nervous system! If a newborn baby has ingested an average of 287 different toxins through the umbilical cord, how many do you suppose the average adult has in her body?
These toxins range from metals to pesticides to all kinds of chemicals that you wouldn’t even expect to find in a human body. Flame retardant chemicals actually appear in the CDC’s report several times. You may have read recently that an extremely popular soda was found to contain flame retardant chemicals and it’s not the only food product that does. You wouldn’t drink a shot glass of flame retardant, but you’re consuming it unknowingly through these products.
Another scary and unexpected toxin found in many foods is Bisphenol A (BPA), which is normally found in plastics. You may be using BPA-free water bottles, but BPA is also contained in the lining of almost every can of food.
Unfortunately, these chemicals are continually being stored up in your fat tissue.
Metals We Consider Important Minerals are Part of the Problem
One of the people at the forefront of toxin research is Dr. Mark Hyman, a widely-respected physician and researcher who is one of the world’s leading advocates of healing the whole body through nutrition rather than medication. He’s written several NY Times bestsellers on boosting immunity and even improving brain health through a nutritional approach to detoxifying and healing the body.
In his book, The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First, Dr. Hyman talks at great length about the metals that we ingest through our foods and how they affect our bodies, especially our brains. Numerous studies support his assertion that even small levels of certain metals can increase symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, impair memory and even cause depression and ADHD.
One of the most important studies on metals and their impact on brain function was conducted by researchers from Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. The study followed over 9,000 subjects for several years, making note of their daily diets and regularly testing both their blood and their cognitive function.
One of the most important findings of the study was that the people with the least amount of copper and iron in their bodies had the fewest signs of cognitive decline. In fact, people who consumed 3mg of copper per day showed cognitive impairment equivalent to 19 years of aging. This is compared to people who only consumed about 1mg per day, so a very small amount made a huge difference in healthy brain function.
Where are these toxic levels of minerals coming from? Believe it or not, the most common source is multivitamins. Most multivitamins contain far more copper, iron and other minerals than we need, especially if we’re already getting the small amount we need from whole foods.
What compounds the problem is combining these multivitamins and other sources of minerals (like meat or legumes) with trans-fats. The minerals attach to the trans-fats and since we can’t digest trans-fats, most of them are stored in our fatty tissue and the excess metals are stored with them.
Other Everyday Sources of Toxins
In addition to metals, flame retardants and the other nasty chemicals I’ve already mentioned, our bodies are flooded with a host of other toxins. There are chemicals in our water supply, chemicals in our skin care products, shampoos and deodorants and we breathe in all kinds of chemicals from industrial pollutants to the hundreds of chemicals in second-hand smoke.
All of these chemicals end up stored in our bodies and have to be flushed out in one way or another.
The Body’s Processes for Detoxification
Our bodies have been beautifully designed to protect and heal themselves. There are several systems in place to rid the body of toxins and they involve our endocrine system, immune system and even our respiratory system.
Basically, our bodies have four ways to get rid of toxins: through urination, defecation, perspiration and even respiration. Essentially, we can pee them out, poop them out, breathe them out or sweat them out.
The problem is that our bodies are so overloaded with toxins that when we take in more than we can flush out, they start to build up. That build-up then impairs the processes even more. Our digestive tracts become so filled with toxins that we can’t eliminate the toxins properly and we also can’t absorb the micronutrients that keep our immune systems strong. Metals are stored in the fatty tissue that makes up our brains and surrounds our organs, leading to all kinds of hormonal and cognitive damage.
The Impact of Toxic Buildup
All of this adds up to compromised systems throughout our bodies. Our hormones get out of balance because of impaired liver, kidney and pancreas, so we have trouble losing weight, start seeing problems with our mood and depression, have decreased energy and our skin and hair look tired and unhealthy.
Our immune systems become compromised, which not only impairs our ability to prevent illness and repair injuries, but causes inflammation throughout our bodies; inflammation that is known to be a leading cause of everything from arthritis to heart disease.
At the very least, toxic buildup affects our ability to lose fat, to maintain a healthy weight and to build lean muscle. Our digestion slows, our metabolism comes to a standstill and all of our fitness goals become impossible.
A Very Fixable Problem
Fortunately, all of these effects from toxic buildup are reversible. There are long-term changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle that will reduce toxic buildup in the future. You can also safely, quickly and effectively detox your body now and periodically in the future to rid your body of build-up.
Having said that, I have to warn you that most of the “detox” plans and diets are the wrong way to go. So are most of the supplements, teas and herb blends that are being sold all over the place today.
Our bodies were designed to detoxify themselves and when that system is impaired, there are many completely natural ways to get it functioning properly again.
Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control. September 2013.
Hyman Mark MD. The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First. Scribner. 2008.
Morris MC, Evans DA, Tangney CC, eta l. “Dietary copper and high saturated fat intakes associated with cognitive decline.” Arch Neurol., 2006: 1085-88