Four Pillars of Health - Part 4: Toxins
Probably the least talked about pillar in health these days is toxins. Our human nature doesn’t seem to allow us to be motivated by long term consequences or benefits. But toxins are all around us every day. We’re exposed to cigarette smoke, airborne pesticides and heavy metals and forest fire smoke through inhalation. In a 2021 study, the Government of Canada estimates 15,300 deaths per year can be linked to air pollution. Topically we can be exposed to toxins in our skincare and cosmetics (see Are Your Cosmetics Safe?). We also consume processed foods containing pesticides, food additives, alcohol, heavy metals (fish) and drugs (statins).
When exposed to a low to moderate level of toxins, our body manages them by neutralizing or excreting them. Our liver filters our blood, and our intestines and kidneys excrete the toxins, so we need to keep these organs healthy. If we are exposed to a high level of toxins or for a long time, our bodies have difficulty keeping up. The following are some of the symptoms and conditions that can be due to a high level of toxins in our body:
- Breast cancer, endometriosis
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Mental illness
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Remember the protein glutathione from Part 2 about diet? It’s one of the most important compounds in eliminating fat soluble toxins. The more you’re exposed to toxins the faster your body uses glutathione. Our livers produce some glutathione, but this amount decreases as we age. It’s also found in raw fruits and vegetables, so Diet is an important source.
How can we prevent or reduce exposure to toxins?
- Decrease or quit smoking
- Follow safety instructions when using chemicals
- Stay indoors when air quality is poor
- Use safe and natural skincare and cosmetic products
- Reduce or eliminate processed foods
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Restrict fish consumption to twice a week
- Eat lean meat and low-fat dairy (or free range or organic) as toxins are stored in fat
- Use bath salts
- Drink lots of water to help flush your system
- Sweat through exercise or sauna
- Eat organic produce
- Eat lots of fibre as it binds to toxins
- Use a clay mask
- Follow a detox program
- Talk to your doctor about taking Coenzyme Q10 supplements if you’re on statins
- Use essential oils such as camphor, carrot seed, cypress, ledum, lemon, mandarin or rosemary in your diffuser, or dilute in a carrier oil, bubble bath or lotion
This concludes our Healthy Living Series. We’ve covered off stress, diet, exercise and toxins and we’ve seen some examples of how they are interrelated. Hope you found this series interesting and have made even the smallest change!