Toxins Everywhere but Manageable: Here's how to identify and minimize hidden toxins in one's home, says Dr. Katka Novakova.
May 01, 2016 10:42AM
By Dr. Katka Novakova
It's tempting to think of toxins as something hazardous spilling out from barrels branded with a skull and crossbones and forget about the barrage of chemicals we are unconsciously exposed to on a daily basis. Those hidden toxins pose risk to our health, too. Our environment is filled with more than 80,000 chemicals and most act as toxins in our bodies due to their effect on cell tissue and the difficulty our detoxification system has keeping up with the sheer amount we are exposed to every day.
Besides affecting virtually every system of the human body and acting as endocrine, nervous and immune system disruptors, toxins can cause or contribute to a wide range of illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroiditis, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, prostate, breast and uterine cancers, endometriosis, fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, poor concentration, brain fog, excessive forgetfulness, depression, anxiety, mood changes, headaches, migraines and ADHD, among others.
Obesity and difficulty losing weight can also be symptoms of toxicity, because the body stores toxins in adipose tissue and if detoxification is not optimal, the body will not support weight loss, or many will experience intense detoxification symptoms while losing weight.
Toxic chemicals come from many different sources in our environment. Chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, which are prevalent in our food sources, including meat and dairy from animals fed these foods might come to mind first, but those pharmaceuticals prescribed for us and that are in our water and food affect us, as well. Anything with a pleasant scent or fragrance that is not an essential oil or plant-based substance, from scented plug-ins and car fresheners to lotions, hair products and laundry detergent, is made of a synthetic chemical.
Some significant forms of toxins we often take for granted are perfumes, colognes and aftershaves. Not only are they filled with a long list of chemicals and toxic ingredients, they are designed so their scent lasts a long time. Thus a woman wearing perfume is breathing in its chemicals all day, not only through her skin, but through her lungs, as well.
Although it may not seem that one day would make a difference, like drops of water in a bucket, they do add up. For example, the woman wearing perfume may have forgotten she put it on before she reaches work, but to someone in a meeting or sitting next to her in a movie theater suffering from chemical sensitivities, even small amounts of these toxins can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue and a range of other symptoms.
It's important to remember that one less chemical entering our body from the environment is one less chemical for it to metabolize, process and hopefully eliminate, but most likely it will be stored and added to our overall toxic burden. In addition to eating organically raised foods as much as possible and supporting the body's elimination and detoxification systems, avoid putting anything in the air or on the skin that has chemical scents and toxic ingredients (see ewg.org/skindeep). While it is impossible to avoid every chemical toxin in our environment, eliminating the ones we have control over can make a huge difference in our health.