You might have read in our recent post (Environmental Toxins: Part I) about how we are exposed to thousands of toxins just by living our daily life. It’s imperative that people are aware of environmental toxins to avoid health problems in the short term and long term. Once we educate ourselves about toxins, we can then take the next steps to avoid them the best we can. We can’t escape every single environmental toxin and that’s okay! We just can’t overload our bodies with these chemicals – which most of us are unaware of.
Our bodies are evolutionarily designed to combat toxins by eliminating them through our detox organs- kidneys, lungs, skin, intestines, and most importantly, our liver. The issue we face in today’s society is that we are all exposed to thousands of different toxins – even when we try to avoid them! Our body wasn’t designed to eliminate the number of toxins we come in contact with on a daily basis. Our detox mechanisms become overloaded and get backed up. This allows those toxins to accumulate and wreak havoc on the body. Over time, if the body’s detox pathways are not addressed, the toxic burden on the body can lead to conditions like:
- Allergies and Asthma
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Bone Density Issues
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Chronic Infections
- Depression and Mood Disorders
- Dermatitis or Poor Wound Healing
- Endocrine Disorders
- Gastrointestinal Symptoms
- Immune System Dysfunction
- Impaired Glucose Tolerance
- Kidney Disease
- Mitochondrial Disease and Dysfunction
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
- Neurological Issues
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Parkinsons and Parkinson’s Like Symptoms
- Weight Gain
Endocrine Disruptors: How Do They Affect Your Body?
Endocrine disruptors are any kind of chemical that affects your endocrine system, therefore your hormones. These chemicals can increase some hormones, reduce others, and even imitate hormones (think estrogen-mimicking chemicals), along with numerous other harmful possibilities.
The EWG has listed the top 12 endocrine-disrupting chemicals that have the biggest impact on our bodies. The public might be aware of the more frequently talked about chemicals, such as BPA and lead. The average person, however, is most likely unaware of most of these harmful chemicals, making it hard to intentionally avoid them.
Top Endocrine Disruptors Includes:
- Fire Retardants
- Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
- Organophosphate Pesticides
- Glycol Ethers
Endocrine Disruptors And Your Response to Psychological Stress
These harmful toxins can disrupt normal pathways in your body and cause neurological and behavioral changes. This can lead to a reduced ability to handle stressful situations. It can also have an effect on other neurological disorders ranging from attention span, learning disabilities, aggressiveness, and hyperactivity disorder.
Endocrine Disruptors And Metabolism
It has recently been found that endocrine disruptors found in our environment may impact the risk of obesity. These endocrine disruptors may disrupt the homeostatic control over energy metabolism and the creation of fat cells, which may be a reason why we are seeing a rise in obesity at every age.
Endocrine Disruptors And Reproduction
Numerous studies have been published about pesticide contact and decreased reproduction or infertility. They found that women who work in the agriculture industry or in greenhouses where some sort of pesticide was used, including endocrine disruptors, had a harder time getting pregnant and a higher rate of spontaneous abortions. The surprising fact that most people don’t consider is how male exposure can affect a couple’s chances of conceiving as well. Males exposed to pesticides can also increase the risk of miscarriage in their partner, as well as the time it takes for them to conceive.
While pesticide exposure through physical contact may have harmful outcomes, pesticide exposure through our diet can be just as harmful. Eating fish with high levels of mercury, along with other endocrine disruptors that have found their way into the water system, has been linked to lower rates of fecundability (ability to get pregnant).
Endocrine Disruptors And Growth and Development
Endocrine disruptors have been found in individuals of all ages including pregnant women, newborns, and adolescents. The sad truth is that these chemicals can affect the baby’s outcome as soon as they are born. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can increase the risk of childhood obesity, premature birth, low birth weight, and can affect sexual development.
Early-onset puberty can also result from exposure to environmental chemicals. This is concerning since precocious puberty (early onset) can cause physical and emotional problems including behavior issues, early sexual activity, and stress.
What determines “toxicity”?
A variety of factors are important when determining “toxicity”. When you are exposed to a certain chemical (or multiple) the risk that comes with it depends on the level of exposure, duration of exposure, frequency of exposure and any synergistic relationships.
Your body will recover more easily if you come in contact with lead-contaminated water during a week-long vacation, as opposed to if you drank that lead-contaminated water as your regular drinking water day in and day out.
The toxicity of mold exposure could depend on if the mold is in your bedroom (where you spend at least 8 hours a day) compared to if the mold is only at your parent’s house you visit once a week.
Another factor is synergistic relationships. This means that two chemicals can come together to produce an effect that is exponentially more harmful than the two normally added together. When your body has extremely high levels of toxins, a potential synergistic relationship could present even greater negative effects of up to 2 -3 fold.
Toxicity Susceptibility is Highly Individualized
Every person’s body reacts differently to certain chemicals depending on their genetics. Two people may be exposed to the same amount of chemicals, but only one person could experience negative side effects. This is similar to how a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes in their entire life (or none at all) can get lung cancer or COPD, while a person who smokes a pack a day is spared.
Age at Exposure
Were you a young child when you were exposed to a high amount of lead, for example? Children are more susceptible to toxins since all their systems (immune, digestive, respiratory, etc) are developing. The consequences of that early exposure could affect you years later as an adult.
Toxins can also have a bigger effect on the elderly. One reason for this is because, at an older age, your body has come in contact with thousands of chemicals. Over the years they have built up in your system. Adding more chemicals at this point only makes matters worse since your body is already on overdrive.
Nutrition and Health Status
Are you currently dealing with other diseases or illnesses? This could affect the way your body handles incoming toxins. If your body is already trying to compensate for a faulty organ, it’ll have a harder time trying to rid your body of harmful chemicals.
Your toxic susceptibility depends on how well your body can detox. Not all bodies can detox at the same rate. To do this, your body undergoes a process called methylation. This allows your body to detox which can reduce inflammation and protect your DNA. Going back to your genetics, if you have the MTHFR gene mutation, it could hinder your ability to undergo methylation. This gene allows your body to convert folic acid to folate which is essential for methylation. If your body can’t effectively perform this process then your body won’t be able to detox as well as someone who doesn’t have the mutation.
How do you know what your toxic burden is?
The most accurate way to know for sure if your body is being affected by toxins is by getting tested. in2Great offers functional lab testing so that you are aware of the toxins that are most affecting you so that you can reduce or eliminate exposure to them. We offer Heavy Metal Testing and Toxic Non-Metal Chemicals Testing. Check out our last blog (Detox Part I) for more information about these tests.
You can also take the Organic Acid Test (OAT). This testing is a great assessment tool to help see the functionality of the physiology. It looks at metabolic metabolites within the detox pathways, infectious metabolites, nutritional deficiencies end products, and toxic burden. This test works nicely in conjunction with toxic exposure testing not only to identify the toxic burden but also the impact it might be having from a functional medicine perspective.
Stay Tuned For More Information About Toxins
It might be a bit overwhelming to learn about the consequences of toxin exposure. The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce exposure to toxins and help your body eliminate the toxins that you are already exposed to. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog posts to learn more about how to keep yourself safe from toxins.
For more information on how we can help you, reach out to us at in2Great.