One important area in preventing cancer is understanding toxin exposure. Many people don’t believe we are exposed to a higher level of toxins, so we are helping people understand what are toxins and why is this a problem.
Where are they coming from? How are they affecting the body? For those of you who already know the answers to these questions, many of you are still wondering how to remove those toxins or use and enhance the body’s organs of elimination to remove toxins. Over the next few months, I will be talking about toxins and the elimination systems involved in removing them from the body.
This topic is an important one in Functional Medicine, and is often misunderstood. Some of the big words for this are biotransformation, absorption, and elimination. We will be breaking this down over this series of Facebook live discussions.
What is a toxin?
Our bodies make toxins! Cells make poop. That’s how we know we have a system for conversion and elimination of toxins. The body inherently makes toxins, so we must have a system to get rid of those toxins. Secondly, we have environmental toxins, or exposure toxins. These are absorbed through eating, breathing, and even in our skin.
Breast cancer awareness month is an important time to focus on what are we absorbing through our skin? A lot of people are absorbing chemicals through their skin on a regular basis. The body receives toxins from the environment, and this is a problem because the amount of toxin exposure we’re receiving from the environment is increasing.
There is so much to talk about on this, and it will be broken down in segments over the next few months right here.
One example of toxic exposure we have is solvents in gasoline. For those of you familiar with MTBE, you know this was banned in the US several years ago, but it is not banned in other countries. We still receive it as it gets into the water supply. It’s in the water supply from before it was banned. This is especially important for anyone near a gasoline station. The Environmental Protection Agency makes corporations test for the amount of gasoline solvents when purchasing buildings – little known fact.
Another example is in our water supply. Glacier water usually has a higher ph around 7.4 or higher. Body optimal function is at 7.2 or 7.4. Some public water is polluted and has an acidity level of less than 7.0 more acidic than our body. Glacier or spring water is slightly alkaline. Water becomes more polluted, it becomes more acidic, it affects our body, our body functions below optimal levels for enzymes, or processing agents. We have deficiencies or decrease in functions, because enzymes are not able to work as well when the environment is acidic.
What goes into our mouth? Dirty dozen – foods that need to be organic. My favorite example is a strawberry. A strawberry works as a sponge. Meaning, when the strawberry has the chance to absorb toxins, it will. Organic strawberries help absorb toxins like metals and lead and mercury in the body when. If those strawberries are exposed to toxins, like pesticides, before the enter the body, they are a sponge of pesticides entering the body. Grapes and other dirty dozen fruits can be genetically modified, but the pesticides can go into the DNA and be internally absorbed into the fruit.
Let’s talk about air. As you may have heard me mention before, my mother’s death occurred from a pulmonary embolism during the heaviest pollution time in Sacramento, California. It is a valley that collects quite a bit of smoke and pollution and traps in the valley when there is high heat. During this time, mother had difficulty breathing and developed a blood clot in her lungs, leading to her passing at 50. Environmental toxins are quite profound.
So, we absorb environmental toxins through air, water, food, and our own skin. What happens when we have this type of overload to the systems meant to make those toxins inert? The liver is responsible for converting many of those toxins. The liver itself can become intoxicated. Obviously, we talk about liver toxins with alcohol, but now we are also finding that non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or elevated liver function test. Anything in the 20’s and above is going in the wrong direction. You want to keep these levels in the teens.
If the levels are higher, it is possible that your doctor is saying “Don’t worry, you don’t need a liver transplant yet.” You may be thinking that obtaining a new liver wasn’t on your bucket list.” Well, what is happening, is the liver is becoming toxic itself, not just from alcohol, but also from foods, including pork. It is also caused by estrogen, such as estrogen in orally consumed birth control pills. Birth control pills can help clog the liver, unfortunately. As a side note, when you use plastic in the microwave, the plastics absorb into your food. The plastic then acts as estrogen in the liver, causing problems.
A lot of times the body doesn’t know what to do with the toxins. For those of you that have more fat tissue around the central part of the body, you are storing toxins in fat. Fat cells are storage cells. They are easily walled off, have decreased blood supply, and are used to store toxins in your body. You want to reduce your fat cells, especially around the abdomen because it also accumulates around the organs, disrupting conversion and eliminations in toxins.
Let’s focus back on the point of today’s session. What are toxins? We know that toxins are made in the body and we are exposed to them in our environment. What happens is that our body has a system of removing toxins. We see this through our urine, excrement, sweat, and CO2 gas from our lungs. When our body naturally produces toxins, sometimes, the first few steps can be more toxic.
For example, you have a cut on your lower leg. Your immune system is activated, trying to defend your body. If your body is congested, the circulation is poor and the bombs can’t move out of the system. Plus, the nutrients you need to get the bombs inert cannot get to the affected area. Or, people may be deficient in these nutrients, keeping them from working properly. If people don’t have the proper circulation, if they have congestion, or if they are nutrient deficient, the body is actually initiating an immune response, but it is causing further damage to the body, toxic damage. The liver’s first conversion is to make metabolites when it processes toxins, but the metabolites can be as or more toxic than the original because things are being added to them to make it easier to process and get it out of the way. There is a certain pathway the liver uses, and when we get stuck in the first conversion, because the second conversion is overwhelmed or nutrient deficient, then we get more toxic metabolites living in the liver.