Monday, October 24, 2011

How Toxic Are You?

Unfortunately, the question these days is not, “Are you toxic?”,  but “How toxic are you?”  Today, there are ~75,000 chemicals that we are potentially exposed to on a daily basis.  Most of these were not around thirty years ago.  They can be found in our air, water, food, soil, cleaning products, personal care products, clothing, furniture, building materials, cooking materials, cell phones, computers, and the list goes on and on.

The majority of us have toxins that have built up in our bodies since the moment we were conceived.  Whatever toxins your parents were exposed to likely went into the sperm and egg that initiated your development and this continued in the womb with the toxins your mom took into her body.   Both my parents smoked and my mom smoked when she was pregnant for me, so from the very beginning, I was exposed to the chemicals found in cigarettes. 

In fact, in 2005, the Environmental Working Group conducted a study on 10 randomly collected umbilical cord blood samples and found a total of 287 chemicals.  One hundred and eighty of these are known to cause cancer in humans and animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth or developmental defects in animals. 

In addition, in 2009, the Centers for Disease Control published it’s Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals in which it tested 212 compounds and found them all in the blood and urine samples of most of the participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. 

What did they find?  Here is a short list of the most prevalent compounds:

Mercury - in seafood, pollutant from coal power plants, industrial processes.  Causes brain development and functional problems.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers - flame retardants in furniture, computers, TVs.  They accumulate in the food chain and fat tissue and can cause damage to the nervous system, liver and kidneys, as well as sexual dysfunction, thyroid problems, and brain disorders.

Bisphenol A (BPA) - this compound has been widely talked about lately and is found in polycarbonate-type plastics, like water bottles, the linings of food cans, some cash register receipts, plastic dinnerware, and even toys.  It has weak estrogenic activity and influences reproductive development.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) - think of Teflon on non-stick cookware, stain-resistant clothing, food packaging and even some light bulbs.  It can lead to liver and immune system dysfunction as well as infertility and reproductive issues.

Acrylamide - produced by deep-frying and charring starchy foods as well as from smoking.   It is also carcinogenic.

What’s interesting about this list is that although some of these compounds have nothing to do with food, they still wind up in our food chain, suggesting that one of the main ways we’re exposed to them is through our diets.  I didn’t even mention pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, artificial colors, etc. 

We are literally bombarded by chemicals on a daily basis, and at some point our livers can’t work fast enough or well enough to neutralize and clear them. 

What are some of the symptoms that indicate your body burden may be off the charts?

General aches and pains
Brain fog, memory problems
Problems with balance or tremors
Ringing in the ears
Vision problems
Difficulty losing weight
A depressed immune system
Digestive issues
Skin problems
Lifestyle diseases such as type II diabetes or cardiovascular disease

This is why it is so important to eat the cleanest diet possible if you want to stay healthy, energetic, and in a positive state of mind.  This means, buying organic whenever possible, especially the foods from the Dirty Dozen list, eating a whole foods diet that minimizes added chemicals, and drinking clean, filtered water. 

And for those of you that feel you may need help clearing your bodies of excess toxins, I offer a 10 or 28 day detox through Metagenics that will help you to cleanse without going on a strict fast.  In fact, if you want to eliminate toxins from your body, fasting is not recommended at all because you will not be supplying your body with the correct nutrition it needs to clear the bad stuff.   If you want to know if a detox is right for you, contact me.

In the meantime, understand that keeping your diet clean is one of the best ways to ensure that your body can safely handle eliminating unwanted chemicals without getting overwhelmed.   If you’re kind to your body, it will be kind right back to you…

Linda DiBella is a nutrition and lifestyle mentor who helps clients gradually change their diet and lifestyle habits so they can lose weight, eliminate their dependency on stimulants, have more energy, and improve their moods. She works with clients in person, over the phone, or Skype. For more information, visit her website at or email her at

Photo courtesy of digitalart

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