If you’ve cleaned up your diet and changed your lifestyle, but still haven’t seen significant improvements in your health, you might be wondering: why?
You’re not alone; the world is wondering too, as rates of chronic disease are rising and occurring at younger ages. Rising life expectancy and genetic predispositions cannot fully explain it. Now, research is showing what naturopaths have suspected for decades: toxins found in our environment are making us sick, even before birth.
How aware are we of the myriad of environmental toxins in today’s world and their adverse effects? The answer is, most of us are blissfully ignorant. And in this case, that’s not ideal. As often an informed consumer or parent are all that stands between us and these toxins.
You may assume that if a product is on the shelves that it is proven safe.
Surely the government is protecting us? Sadly, no.
The testing done before these chemicals are released to market are minimal, and they are rarely tested for safety in combination with each other. When taken together, these chemicals can have additive or synergistic effects, where the damage is multiplied. There is currently no biomonitoring system in Australia, so we do not know the average toxic burden in this country.
The approach taken by the Australian government is reactive, with a substance being pulled from the market only after the damage is done. In Europe, they have higher standards, where pesticides must demonstrate a certain level of safety, and there are more strict exposure standards.
Cumulative exposure to thousands of toxins have been causing chronic health issues.
The increased occurrence of certain chronic diseases over the years isn’t simply bad luck or destiny, the research findings are telling – see the end of this article for reference to the current scientific literature.
Depending on their properties, these toxins can:
- Increase oxidative stress
- Interrupt vital enzymes
- Damage our DNA
- Disrupt our gut flora and more
The effect these chemicals have on our health is due to a complex relationship between our diet, lifestyle, genetic makeup and the level we are exposed to every day.
The toxins with negative effects include heavy metals, parabens, BPA, pesticides, dioxins, phthalates, cosmetics, fragrances, vinyl, brominated flame retardants, triclosan and many more. What these are, where they’re found and what they do are discussed further below.
For many of these chemicals chronic low dose exposure can cause significant harm and the damage is difficult to reverse, unless steps are taken to minimise exposure, and optimise our health and detoxification pathways to ensure these toxins can be effectively dealt with.
The research has linked these toxins to many chronic health conditions, including:
- Neurological disorders such as autism
- Allergies and autoimmunity
- Infertility and birth defects
- And more…
And sometimes, negative changes to gene expression can be passed down for generations. So basically, what our grandmother was exposed to, may have impacted our genes and cause our health issues today.
Some of these chemicals had been banned more than 30 years ago!
In Europe, research has found that the average person carries around dozens of environmental toxins, including DDT and PCBs, which were banned decades ago.
This goes to show the long lasting effects of these chemicals and how long it takes for them to be detoxified from the body.
The nasty effects: Hormone Disruption
Many of the detrimental effects of these environmental toxins are by virtue of the fact that they disrupt our hormone function. This class of chemicals are known as “endocrine disruptors” (EDCs). Although there are around 800 chemicals that are known or suspected EDCs, the vast majority have not been tested.
EDCs can mimic the action of hormones, block their receptors, or interfere with their production, transport, metabolism or detoxification.
The health effects of this are those listed above. And in Europe, a panel of experts reached the consensus that EDCs are a likely cause of autism, intellectual disability, endometriosis, obesity, diabetes, mortality linked to low testosterone and more.
Now let’s look at a few of these more closely and talk about what they are and what they do.
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
Many EDCs are persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs can damage the immune system and brain health. These are particularly nasty because they accumulate in fatty tissue of all animals (making weight loss more difficult), and only get worse as you move up the food chain. Due to this, foods high in animal fat, such as oily fish, meat and dairy, are more likely to contain POPs.
Perchlorate is a POP with long-established effects on our endocrine (hormonal) system, especially if you have issues with your thyroid. It is found in products such as fireworks and matches, but is persistently found in water bodies and some foods such as milk and leafy greens.
Perchlorate can reduce iodine uptake into the thyroid, contributing to hypothyroidism.
Phthalates are found in plastics, cosmetics and fragrances; and PET bottled water can have levels of phthalates 12 times higher than water stored in glass. These can mimic oestrogens and block androgens, thus causing early puberty in girls and damaging male fertility.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have heard of BPA.
The infamous BPA is found in hard, transparent plastics and in the lining of metal food cans. It is now banned in Canada.
It is linked with early puberty, miscarriage, infertility (reduced fertilisation or sperm quality), PCOS and overgrowth of uterine tissue. For this reason, you must never microwave food in plastic.
I am not writing this article to scare you, but to empower you.
Because with awareness, we can boycott the products that are toxin laden, and avoid using them on a daily basis.
Let me reassure you that not all hope is lost. There are things you can do to help you and your family prevent exposure and awareness is the first step.
So how to avoid this toxin exposure?
Part 2 of this article tells you how to avoid and heal from this toxin exposure. Read this article here.
In the meantime, I want to tell you about a non-toxic household product wholesaler that I advise all of my clients sign up with. It’s simple online ordering of non-toxic, environmentally friendly products.
This makes detoxifying your home super easy. As all the safer household products are there at your fingertips. Instead of going down to Coles or Woolies and spending hours deciphering labels, you can just jump onto your wholesale account. Click here for more info.
If you have any questions about what I’ve written today, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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