Our industrialized society exposes us to thousands of toxins. From our homes and workplaces to the air we breathe and the food we eat, toxins are everywhere in our environment. And these toxins eventually make their way into our bodies. Luckily, there are Detox Programs in Overland Park KS.
A study conducted in 2003 found “167 chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in the blood and urine of nine adult Americans.” The study volunteers were ordinary, healthy people who didn’t work with chemicals. This study, originally published in the journal Public Health Reports (Thornton, et al. 2002), was one of the first publicly available, comprehensive examinations of the chemical burden that our bodies are facing.
The study, now almost 20 years old, might seem irrelevant today. After all, organic food is more popular than ever. Unfortunately, our experience with patients at in2GREAT suggests that our environment is more toxic than ever.
If you think about it, this isn’t too surprising. New technologies are released into the world every day. Even for those (very) few innovations that are reviewed by the FDA or EPA, it often takes decades to identify, without doubt, that a specific chemical causes cancer or other negative health outcomes. Case in point, of those 167 toxins found in the study volunteers, most didn’t even exist 100 years ago.
Even more concerning, many of the toxins identified in the study were known to be associated with serious health impacts, including:
- 76 chemicals linked to cancer in humans or animals
- 94 chemicals that are toxic to the brain and nervous system
- 86 chemicals that interfere with the hormone system
- 79 chemicals associated with birth defects or abnormal development
- 77 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system
- 77 chemicals toxic to the immune system
The nine people evaluated in the study had an average of 91 toxins in their blood and urine. And toxins are just affecting adults, who have had a lifetime of exposure.
In another study conducted by the Environmental Working Group:
“…five laboratories in the U.S., Canada, and Europe [were commissioned] to analyze umbilical cord blood collected from 10 minority infants born in 2007 and 2008. Collectively, the laboratories identified up to 232 industrial compounds and pollutants in these babies, finding complex mixtures of compounds in each infant.
This research demonstrates that industrial chemicals cross the placenta in large numbers to contaminate a baby before the moment of birth.”
Before babies today even take their first breath, their bodies are being exposed to the byproducts of our toxic environment.
In order to reduce your exposure to these toxic chemicals, you first need to know where they come from.
To keep ourselves safe from harm, we must first understand what these toxins are and where they come from. Detox Programs in Overland Park KS can help you navigate this.
WHAT IS A TOXIN & HOW DETOX PROGRAMS IN OVERLAND PARK KS CAN HELP
Technically speaking, a toxin “is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms” (source: wikipedia). However, when most people talk about toxins, what they are really referring to is a larger group of substances called toxicants. A toxicant is any substance that is toxic, regardless of whether it is man made or comes from a plant or animal.
In the context of our functional medicine work at in2GREAT, we define a toxin as anything that disrupts the ideal physiology of the human body, contributing to an increased inflammatory or disruptive immune response.
WHERE TOXINS ARE FOUND
Unfortunately, toxins are everywhere in the modern world. Toxins can be found in:
- Indoor air. According to the EPA, there are many potential sources of indoor air pollution, such as:
- Inadequate ventilation
- Deteriorating lead paint and asbestos
- Newly-installed building materials like flooring, upholstery, and carpet
- Some cabinetry and furniture made from pressed wood products
- Household cleaning and maintenance products
- Central heating and cooling systems
- Outdoor air. 95% of the world’s population has an average annual exposure to outdoor air pollution that exceeds World Health Organization guidelines. 3.4 million people died early deaths due to air pollution in 2017. (Our World in Data has great info.)
- Drinking water. Even here in Overland Park, KS (located in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States), our drinking water has 9 contaminants that exceed the Environmental Working Group’s guidelines, including 286 times the recommended amount of arsenic. Check your water quality here.
Other common sources of environmental toxins that you’re likely to encounter include:
- Personal care & skin products
- Householder cleaners and garden products
- Building materials, like paints and varnishes
- Chemical coatings on furniture and clothing
- Flame retardants (often found in cushions, mattresses, pillows, etc. that are made of foam)
Food production is also a major source of toxins in our environment. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, are the perfect example of this.
By some estimates, a large CAFO can produce more waste than a big city. That waste contains toxins like growth hormones, antibiotics, industrial cleaning products, and E. Coli bacteria. This waste—and the toxins it contains—can then seep into surface water and groundwater, leading to polluted water supplies. The air surrounding CAFOs can also contain pollutants like ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methane.
However, for most of us, the food we eat is probably the greatest source of toxins.
TOXINS IN OUR FOOD
The first thing most people probably think of when they hear “toxins in food” are pesticides or herbicides like glyphosate. If you thought the same, you’re right! Pesticide and herbicide residue can be found on—and in—produce.
Glyphosate (the key ingredient in Roundup) is particularly problematic. It’s a broad-spectrum herbicide that is used in more than 700 different products from weed killer to forestry and agriculture. Glyphosate, in combination with many other non-metal chemicals, contributes to a plethora of chronic illness and complications ranging from early onset dementia to autism, cancers, and other chronic degenerative illnesses.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a key component of a healthy diet, so it’s essential to understand how to limit your exposure to pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate when eating fresh produce.
We recommend buying organic produce and washing it thoroughly. (While some pesticides can be used on organic produce, only 25 synthetic pesticides have been approved for use on organic produce —versus over 900 synthetic pesticides used on conventional fruit and vegetables. Glyphosate is not allowed for use on organic produce.)
It’s also important to know that the use of pesticides and herbicides varies from crop to crop. Some foods have much higher exposure to these chemicals than others. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group maintains a guide for shoppers to use when buying produce called The Dirty Dozen. As of 2019, the list of includes:
- + Hot Peppers
Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors in addition to pesticides and herbicides that contribute to the toxins present in our food, including:
- Where and how our food is grown. Farm-raised seafood typically has higher levels of toxins than wild caught, though the quality of farm-raised seafood can vary greatly.
- How it’s processed. Food preservatives are another toxin we recommend avoiding.
- The type of packaging used. Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical used in many kinds of plastic food packaging, such as water bottles.
- What type of food it is. Larger, longer-lived fish (like swordfish) are much higher in
mercury and other toxins than smaller, shorter-lived fish (like salmon and sardines).
- How the food is cooked. Polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), otherwise known as Teflon, can leach from non-stick pans— especially when used on high heat.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
Toxicity studies typically look to “establish the highest doses at which no toxic effects were identified and the lowest doses at which toxic or adverse effects were observed.” These dosing
levels are referred to as:
- No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL)
- Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level (LOAEL)
These dosing levels are found by testing large doses of toxins to identify long-term, significant disease states like cancers and death.
Toxicity studies rarely considered the impact that low doses of toxins can have on our everyday physiology, such as endocrine disruption, immunosuppression, neurological impacts. Even less data is available regarding the effect of toxins in the womb or on the chronically ill and geriatric.
The truth is that, depending on the toxin, even low doses can be harmful. And as the dose—or exposure—increases over time, the risks increase and any damage done by the toxins can get progressively worse.
DETOX PROGRAMS IN OVERLAND PARK KS CAN HELP YOU FIND OUT WHAT YOUR TOXIC BURDEN IS
Testing for toxins is important. It’s the only way to determine, objectively, if toxins may be contributing to negative health outcomes.
Identifying your toxic burden can help us to identify where the exposure is coming so that it can be reduced or eliminated. Testing for toxins is also helpful for developing a recovery plan to support and heal the body.
While it’s not currently possible to test for every toxin we face in our environment, there are tests we regularly use at in2GREAT Functional Medicine to identify the presence of toxins in the
Heavy metal testing
Heavy metals can have a significant impact on health and vitality. They can significantly increase our risk of developing numerous chronic illnesses and conditions, such as dementia, infertility, diabetes, and cancer. They are also known to cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and brain—as well as the cardiovascular, nervous, and endocrine systems.
Beyond toxic metals like mercury, essential elements are also abundant in our environment. These nutrients are, as their name implies, essential. However, they are only healthy when they are within optimal ranges. Nutrients like copper, iodine, magnesium, selenium, and zinc are critical for enzymes that synthesize neurotransmitters and activate hormones. Bromine and lithium, while not currently classified as “essential” elements, have also been shown to play a positive role in health—but are also potentially toxic at excessive levels.
In order to test for heavy metals, we utilize a Urine Pre and Post Provocation Assessment. This test involves a 3 step process:
- A PRE heavy metals and toxic essential elements challenge test, which is taken via urine
collection to establishes baseline levels
- Supplements are taken for heavy metal provocation (we use DMSA and Zeolite)
- A POST heavy metals and toxic essential elements challenge test
This comparison of urine element concentrations before and after the administration of a chelator (i.e. the “provocation” part of the assessment) allow us to estimate net retention of potentially toxic elements in your body.
GPL-TOX: Toxic Non-Metal Chemicals Testing
The other test we regularly rely on is a toxic non-metal chemical profile that screens for the presence of 172 different toxic chemicals, including:
- Organophosphate pesticides
- Vinyl chloride
- Pyrethroid insecticides
- Diphenyl phosphate
- Ethylene oxide
- Tiglylglycine (TG)
- If you struggle with unexplained symptoms or health issues that you don’t understand, environmental toxins could be the culprit.
At in2Great Functional Medicine, we offer laboratory testing for heavy metal toxicity as well as non-metal toxins, giving you detailed insights into your exposure to environmental pollutants—and giving us a blueprint to set you on the road to better health.
Reach out today to find out more about how we can help.