Do you commonly experience brain fog, fatigue or drowsiness? Are you sensitive to foods, exhaust, fumes, strong odors or alcohol? Do you have memory loss, depression or anxiety? These are some additional symptoms that can often be linked to environmental toxicity:
Acne and unhealthy skin
Excessive hair loss
Overall sense of bloating
Bodily swelling for no reason
Poor Bowel Function
Excessively foul-smelling sweat
Abnormal Liver Markers
Industries in the United States use billions of pounds of toxic chemicals annually. There are approximately 75,000 chemical substances currently used for industrial purposes. Back in 2006, the U.S. discharged 4.25 billion pounds of toxic chemicals into the land, water and air, while managing 24.4 billion pounds of chemicals using other waste management activities (recycling, energy recovery, treatment, etc (Garko, 2015).
A toxin is "any compound that has a detrimental effect on cell function or structure" (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998). There are many sources of toxins in our diet, lifestyle and environment. But most importantly, our genetics determine our ability to eliminate those toxins. There are various SNPs, or Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, which are undesirable variants of a gene. Genetic testing can help determine where your vulnerabilities are.
However, everyone is affected by toxins and can benefit from reducing overall exposure. I always say that you can't always control the bus exhaust and the chemicals industry unless get involved in politics. However, you CAN vote with your fork, eat organic food and choose non toxic products. Making changes in these categories can make a huge impact on your overall health and resilience!
Here are 5 ways you can begin to reduce your exposure to chemicals and help keep your liver and other elimination organs stronger.
Switch to Natural Hygiene Products. Various chemicals in industrial products, conventional foods, plastics and hygiene products can impair immunity and disrupt hormonal signaling. They can also lead to an inflammatory response when the body is unable to recognize certain compounds. Select “green” or natural personal care and house cleaning products. To get ratings and suggestions on your hygiene products, go to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Guide or view their website (www.ewg.org). This will help you identify products that may be causing your chemical exposure.
Purify your home. Furniture, upholstery, building materials and cleaning products in your home and office can release toxic fumes such as formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, etc. If you are buying any new household appliances, look for environmentally responsible brands. After removing conventional cleaning products from your home, you can purchase some house plants that have been shown to purify air. Some studied plants include garden mum, spider plant, dracaena, ficus, peace lily, snake plant, bamboo palm, aloe vera, English ivy and Boston fern. You can also purchase organic bed sheets, mattresses and clothing. If you have an old home or previous flooding, consider testing your house for mold. Look into home air filters.
Shop for Whole Foods. Avoid processed and packaged foods as much as possible. These often contain preservatives and other chemicals that may be harmful to your health and may increase inflammation. Purchase food at your local farmers market, natural market or food co-op. Shop the periphery of the supermarket and look for foods labeled USDA Organic, GMO Project Verified, Biologique, Oregon Tilth and/or Fair Trade as much as possible. By cooking at home more and selecting restaurants committed to “farm to table” or sustainability, you will reduce your toxic exposure, improve your health and support a healthy environment with your food dollars.
Meet your Meat. Most meat and seafood is factory farmed, meaning the animals are grown with minimal space in large factories. Cows, pigs, chickens and even fish are given a diet of mainly corn and soy, which is not their normal diet. This leads to a higher composition of inflammatory Omega 6 fats. In these factory farms, animals are more likely to get sick and require antibiotics. Many meat and dairy farms also use synthetic hormones to increase production.
*Shop at your local sustainable butcher or purchase meat from a farmer’s market. If that is not accessible, try a local natural foods market. In the market, search for terms such as “grass fed and finished” meats, “pasture raised” poultry and eggs and “wild caught” or “pole caught” fish. Check out Seafoodwatch.org for more information on selecting seafood.
Get awesome cookware. What are you using to cook your food? Teflon and aluminum are reactive metals that have been shown to cause toxicity. Plastics when heated can release BPA and other toxic chemicals into your food. Use glass containers, pyrex, cast iron skillets, ceramic titanium, porcelain enameled cast iron or stainless steel cookware.
Filter your water. 10 stage carbon water filters are the gold standard, but depending on where you live and your needs, you may need a different type of filter. Reverse osmosis is also great, as it removes everything from the water, including all toxins and minerals. After filtering, you must add minerals back to prevent imbalances. I like the New Wave Enviro filter or Aquatru by Dr. Mark Hyman (add minerals back), since they are affordable options. You can also check out EWG’s Water filter buying guide: http://www.ewg.org/tap-water/getawaterfilter.php
Hope this was helpful! Please leave comments on things you like to do to reduce your environmental footprint and live a healthier lifestyle!