Your daily toxin exposure may be affecting your weight.
As a health care practitioner, one of the most common complaints I come across is the frustration surrounding a person’s inability to lose weight. Although a nutrient dense diet and exercise program are crucial to maintain daily health, there are many of us that can’t seem to loose weight regardless of our calorie count or how many hours we put in at the gym.
Fortunately, research has established a connection between our exposures to toxins and our body weight, which offers another avenue to establish optimal health. There are a variety of reasons toxins pose a major challenge to our health, but possibly one of the most concerning is when our body is not able to process these toxic invaders.
As a first line of defense against these poisons, the body creates new cells as an attempt to neutralize them, by packaging them with fat. This minimizes the immediate threat of a toxin by removing them from circulation and away from essential organ function. These new cells then contain a toxin bound within fat, which often leaves the cells damaged and unable to perform metabolically. This can then lead to an onslaught of health issues such as increased inflammation, increased risk for type 2 diabetes, fatigue, cognitive decline, thyroid disruption, obesity, and many more hormone mediated illnesses.
Unfortunately the story doesn’t stop there. During weight loss, these same toxins that our body worked feverishly to protect us from, are then released back into the circulation as we begin to shed weight/fat. Circulating toxins can make us feel irritable, and many report feeling “poisoned” at a certain point during their weight loss journey. Not surprisingly, these same people report feeling better when they increase their calorie consumption, which will then rebind the circulating toxins to the new gained fat.
While I am largely against trendy “detoxing” schemes, wrapped and marketed in mass quantities, the research does favor individualized protocols that support the body’s naturally occurring detoxifying pathways, which can be accessed through a qualified health care provider. Due to the individualized nature of those protocols, I’ll concentrate today’s blog on how to reduce daily toxic exposure, in effort to prevent a toxic burden on the body, and therefore decrease your risk of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, and improve mood, skin health and energy levels, as well as possibly shed a few of those stubborn pounds.
1) Eat organic! While some controversy remains over whether organic foods are more nutritious than conventionally grown foods, there is no doubt they are safer and healthier. Consuming organic foods prevents exposure to the pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and a myriad of chemicals (some of which are banned in the U.S. but are still used in other countries and which show up in the foods sold in the U.S.) used in the growing, and processing of foods. If switching to an all organic diet is not in your budget, consider starting with meats, dairy products and the Dirty Dozen, as these foods retain the most environmental contaminants determined by the Environmental Working Group. A study release by the Environmental Health Perspectives demonstrated that after just a few days on an organic diet, the levels of toxic chemicals in blood dropped dramatically, while there was no change in those who were kept on a similar, but not organic diet. Visit http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/ to learn more about safe and healthy shopping, and the Dirty Dozen. Lastly, we all how difficult changing our can be. If you need some additional ideas, click here for some great tips on grappling with cravings.
2) Make your home more GREEN! Fabric protectant chemicals and flame retardants are just two classes of the numerous seriously harmful toxins that are built into your many of our favorite fabric based furniture, such as sofas, carpet, household décor and building materials. Sadly, most of these toxins are well-known carcinogens (cancer causing agents) and endocrine (hormone) disruptors. By opting for wood, metals, and untreated natural fibers in our home, we can minimize further intentional exposure to these harmful toxins. For more information about green building and home décor click here. Additionally, here’s a blog on eco-friendly upholstery.
3) Change to eco-friendly cleaning products! The counters, bedding, air, and surfaces of our homes and workspaces are laden with residues from our cleaning products. Unknowingly, we ingest, inhale, and absorb all of these chemicals. Although many eco-friendly household cleaning lines are priced higher than conventional products, substituting or making your own cleaning products offers several options to find what works for you and your space. Here is a great resource for eco-friendly cleaning products. The EWG also has a great resource for environmentally friendly cleaning here.
4) Avoid plastics! Most plastics leach hormone disrupting chemicals into our foods and beverages, especially when heated. Switching to glass is less work than grappling with cancer, diabetes, and infertility!
5) Switch to environmentally friendly cosmetics and body products! By now, you are likely not surprised to be reminded that most commercial cosmetic and body products are overloaded with heavy metals and other toxic ingredients. Lipsticks, sunscreens, shampoos, deodorants, perfumes and lotions are some of the worst offenders, with additives causing cancers, hormone disruption, and organ system toxicity. Coal tar, formaldehyde, leads, and parabens are just a few of the scary things our favorite personal products are laced with. For more information and resources, including companies with clean ingredients and eco-friendly policies – and those to avoid – visit here. Additionally, Food and Water Watch has released the following list to help guide us through the most healthful seafood options.
6) Hydration! Research has shown that drinking at least five glasses of water throughout the day decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and breast cancer by 79%. Also, lack of water is the most common cause of daytime fatigue. Hydrating in the body happens over time and most of the water we drink or obtain from the foods we eat is not fully absorbed and retained, but rather it is passed out as urine and sweat, which are some of our body’s most important detoxifying processes. The trickiest part of hydration is to avoid the doldrums of water boredom. Click here to explore some recipes to encourage creative hydration, while promoting detoxifying our bodies.