Is your Toxic Burden impacting your health?
Monday, 14 January 2019
Have you ever heard the term toxic burden? In Functional Medicine, we’ve been discussing and digging into the data for some time, and like all these things it is now being recognised and written about in published peer-reviewed journals and mainstream media. A PubMed search on “toxicity & endocrine disruptors” bought up 8281 papers this morning - a few at random selection where::
BPA and nutraceuticals, simultaneous effects on endocrine functions.
Effects of 25 thyroid hormone disruptors
The Association Between Bisphenol A and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome:
Maternal urinary phthalate metabolites in relation to gestational diabetes and glucose intolerance during pregnancy.
Prenatal bisphenol A exposure is associated with language development in toddlers from the Odense Child Cohort.
So, we really are onto something here!
Toxic burden refers to the total number of toxic chemicals in your body at a given time, or the amount of a single chemical, for example, arsenic, lead, mercury, or bisphenol A and parabens to name just a few.
Our toxic burden or load has become a critical health and environmental problem. It affects us all and has been linked cause health problems ranging from infertility, Hashimoto’s, diabetes and neurological conditions. It affects us all and babies are born already carrying a toxic load of as many as 300 different chemicals in their bodies, and breast milk is rife with environmental pollutants.
Scientific organisations, such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG), estimate that most of us have stores of hundreds of environmental contaminants in our bodies. These toxins are coming from our foods, household cleaners, water, our air, our cosmetics, plastic containers and building materials.
These chemicals are not benign. Even in practically unmeasurable tiny amounts, many can wreak havoc on our hormones, immune system, and nervous system: -
Endocrine disruptors in plastics and pesticides affect our hormones leading to thyroid disease, diabetes & PCOS
There are well-established connections between a toxic burden of parabens (Parabens are a group of chemicals used as preservatives in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries!) and changes in our hormonal (endocrine), Gastrointestinal and immune systems and obesity. How? More environmental chemicals = More fat. And since these chemicals are stored in our fat cells, more fat = more stored chemicals (though you can be slim and have a high body burden, too).
Parabens, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), synthetic pyrethroids and organophosphate pesticides found in various products such as metal food cans, plastic bottles, detergents, personal care products have been shown to affect the nervous system causing anxiety and insomnia, as well as fertility!
We are quite literally swimming in an environmental soup of these endocrine disruptors!
Of course, we can’t live on a desert island, but we can become more informed and do our part to reduce our own body burdens and thus the environmental load with these 4 steps:
- Food: Most of us can’t afford to eat organic all the time. But do familiarise yourself with the most contaminated fruit and veggies trying to at least make these organic. The “Dirty Dozen,” is the most contaminated foods as determined by the EWG. These include: Apples, Celery, Strawberries, Peaches, Spinach, Nectarines (imported), Grapes (imported), Peppers, Potatoes, Lettuce, Blueberries, and Kale (I know - think about all those juice bars!). A famous study on children in Washington showed that even after just a few days on an organic diet, the levels of toxic chemicals in their blood dropped dramatically, while there was no change in those that were kept on a similar, but not organic diet.
- Use eco-friendly household cleaning products. What we clean our homes with leaves residues on our work surfaces, bedding and air – and we ingest, breathe, and absorb these chemicals. Yes, eco-friendly cleaning products are more expensive, but you can also make your own – it’s actually not that difficult. All the supermarket chains stock eco-friendly cleaning products by companies like Ecover. Choose products with independent ecolabels such as the EU Eco label or the soil association. Many websites have suggestions on how to make your own cleaning products. Here are some few suggestions from my wonderful friends at the Green Parent: https://thegreenparent.co.uk/articles/read/make-your-own-cleaning-products
- Avoid plastic beverage bottles and tupperware. Most plastic bottles leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals into your water. Switch to a glass bottle and storage that you carry around with you.
- Use eco friendly makeup and body products. An expanded FDA study in 2010 found lead in 400 lipsticks at levels up to 7.19 ppm! Many, many commercial cosmetics are laden with heavy metals and other toxic ingredients. Same story with skincare, shampoos, deodorants and suntan lotion. This is why I went out looking for brands to recommend to my clients that are:
- X Non-GM
- X No toxic chemicals
- X No parabens
- X No synthetic fragrances
- X No Nano particles
- X No animal testing
And when you buy these products, you’re supporting organic or natural ingredients, sustainably sourced ingredients, sustainable manufacturing processes (no harsh processes used to create products), biodegradable packaging and protection of wildlife and the environment.
With my 1:1 consultation packages, after taking a full case history and I feel a toxic burden may be playing a significant part of their overall picture there are Functional Testing profiles that can show levels (I recently had a client with levels of plastic metabolites at over 3 times the acceptable range! And combined with a suboptimal detoxification capacity that showed up on their genetic screening - I could see how the balance of health had tipped).
At my next Functional Day Retreat on Hormones, I will talk through this area in a lot more detail as well as bringing products to the pop up store for you to see, and you can speak to my wonderful colleague about skin care and makeup that tick ALL of the boxes being best for the environment, our animals and you!
In health, Tanya x