Detoxification is a subject contested by a lot of people perhaps due to conflicting marketing messages online. The thing is, our bodies detox naturally, every single day. However, if we overburden the human organism with toxins, this can result in an overtoxified system that simply needs a break. Toxins are lurking everywhere in modern society. As we strive for convenience, it seems like we make everything more toxic, burdening the environment with pesticides, fertilizers, heavy metals, plastics, as well as waste products from factories and agriculture.
The overwhelming number of toxins in our environment is not a fabrication of health enthusiasts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists more than 86,228 chemicals under their Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The simple fact is pesticides like imidacloprid can harm honey bees, and, therefore, humans as well.
Even Newborn Babies Have Toxins
An even more shocking trend is that trace chemicals are showing up in umbilical cord blood. 287 toxic chemicals were found in the umbilical cord of newborns, of which 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system. In another study, 90% of pregnant mothers and their newborns were found to have high levels of 59 man-made chemicals, including PCBs and OCPs.
>Related: Impact of Diet on Baby's Microbiome
Toxins seep into our bodies from the environment a number of ways: we breathe them in; they penetrate our food; they’re also in drinking water. In order to identify whether or not you are suffering from a toxic load, it’s important to recognize the symptoms. This can look like feeling sluggish, fatigued, sick and bloated.
Knowing when enough is enough, that it’s time to take a step back and reboot our systems is becoming increasingly important. In this article, we’ll discuss 10 signs that could indicate your body is experiencing a toxic burden, and would benefit from nutritional support for more effective detoxification.
Feeling Tired All the Time
If you’re feeling tired all the time, it can be a sign that your body wants to recharge its batteries. Our bodies switch into rest and digest mode at night when we sleep, a time for healing and regeneration. When overburdened with toxins, whether alcohol, processed food, or other toxins, the body can find it hard to flush out foreign substances. There are 87 known toxic chemicals that cause fatigue.
Feeling Blue, or Low Moods
Many toxic chemicals can cause depression - even alcohol when abused can lower mood. There are 40 known toxic compounds that are known to cause neurotoxicity and a blue mood in some people.
Brain Fog/Finding It Hard to Focus
Brain fog can happen due to toxic overwhelm. Some products commonly found in our homes contain toxic chemicals. For example, methylene chloride (also known as dichloromethane) is commonly found in aerosol cans, and as such is in products like deodorant, air fresheners, spray paint and hair sprays. Many aerosol propellants contain up to 50% methylene chloride.
Sore Joints and Muscles
Toxins can disrupt the metabolism and as such can cause pain in the joints and muscles.
Having Trouble Sleeping
An overload of toxins can get deep inside our bodies and cause cellular poisoning. In a study of 66 men who were exposed to solvents as part of their job, one fifth was found to suffer from sleep apnea. Environmental Neurotoxicology has found that there are 119 chemicals that can disturb sleep
Cravings for Unhealthy Carbs or Sugar
When the body is craving carbs or sugar, normally it’s a sign that your system is out of whack. The gut can become filled with microbes that prefer sugar and carbs to healthier foods. Seeking out a quick energy boost is another reason that we can crave carbs or sugar - to overcome fatigue, due to the body being out of balance and not consuming or utilizing nutrients effectively.
Bloating or Digestive Issues
Too much processed food or toxins can lead to Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). In turn, this bacterial overgrowth can cause leaky gut and block the ability to absorb nutrients. As well as causing bloating and digestive distress.
Man-made chemicals like toluene can trigger headaches, drowsiness and make it difficult to concentrate. Toluene is one of the most common household chemicals, that has been found to damage the kidneys, liver, and lungs. Toluene is a chemical used in oil refining and can be found in paint thinners, nail polish, glues, paintbrush cleaners, inks, and stain removers.
Impaired Immune System
Vitamins, minerals and amino acids work to detoxify waste, foreign chemicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). When the body is over-toxed, it is hard to absorb nutrients effectively, which can cause a downward spiral for overall health. The immune system plays a key role in cleansing out some toxic chemicals and as such the immune system can become overburdened if there are too many toxins in the system.
Related: Key Foods to Boost the Immune System
In one study published by the Archives of Environmental Health, 27 subjects were exposed to technical chlordane, a chemical substance used to remove termites. Researchers found that T and B cells were activated and the immune system alterations were still present 10 years on.
The Bottom Line
The good news is that a detox diet that avoids processed foods and environmental toxins will go a long way to detoxifying the human body. The first step is reducing your toxic load. Nutritional status plays a big role in how well we detoxify, so assessing functional nutrient deficiencies is a good idea. In particular, the following compounds are critical to aid the body's detoxification pathways: vitamin E, selenium, glutathione, glycine and vitamin C.
There is no doubt that modern society is placing a heavy toxic burden on our bodies and the environment at large. Taking time to detoxify the body can provide some much-needed respite, cleansing the body of unwanted chemicals, and restoring vibrant health.
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