What sort of agents can accumulate in the body?
That question is way too large to tackle in a single article, so today will focus on exogenous and endogenous toxins.
- Exogenous – exo is Greek meaning outside, so these are the toxins produced outside the body that we then absorb or ingest. Examples of these include heavy metals such as zinc, mercury, and lead, in addition to others like pesticides, viruses, alcohol, sugar, and preservatives.
- Endogenous – endo is Greek meaning inside, so these are the toxins produced as a result of chemical reactions within the body. Examples of these include urea, carbon dioxide, lactic acid, or ammonia.
What symptoms can they cause?
The effects are numerous as different toxins act in different ways on various tissues throughout the body. The effects also depend on age as many are debilitating to a developing child or fetus, but would take longer to show effects in an otherwise healthy adult.
Ridding the body of toxins is critical in a mother carrying a child, because many toxins can cross through her and into the developing child causing a slew of malformations. When this happens, the toxins are deemed ‘teratogens’ and can cause things such as the absence or fusion of limbs, fingers, or toes, enlarged or shrunken organs, intellectual disabilities, speech issues, and the list continues.
So rather than focus on the specifics of each category of toxins, the impact on a few tissues will be discussed.
- Neurologic. Many studies on brain development have found the wives of agricultural workers were more likely to birth children with spina bifida. Exposure to toxic metals such as mercury can cause psychosis, a sensation of insects crawling under the skin, confusion, memory issues
- Female health. Many of the common pesticides will impair a women’s ability to conceive and can increase rates of spontaneous abortion. These toxins can affect the menstrual cycle, causing it to become longer or even missed altogether, not to mention increased bleeding between periods.
- Senses. Some teratogens cause a failure of the inner, middle, or outer ear to form leading to deafness and potentially an inability to learn spoken language. Others target the eye resulting in blindness or inflammation of the retinal layer that processes light coming into the eye.
How do I get rid of them?
The best way to handle all the toxins we’re exposed to on a daily basis is by supporting the primary detoxifier in the body – the liver. The liver works on a two-phase system with each phase supported by a number of vitamins, minerals and enzymes:
- Responsible for converting a toxic agent into a less toxic agent. However, this process can also generate things known as free radicals that will damage the liver tissue if they buildup.
• Supported by vitamin B2 and B3, indoles from vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, iron, and magnesium.
• Discouraged by a compound known as naringenin that is most commonly found in grapefruit.
- Responsible for converting these less toxic agents and making them water soluble so they can be excreted in urine or stool.
• Supported by a variety of amino acids, many of the B vitamins, indoles, milk thistle and N-Acetyl cysteine. Milk thistle has a variety of compounds that help promote liver function such as silymarin. This constituent can conserve the antioxidant system of the liver consisting of glutathione. This is really important for dealing with those pesky free radicals that were generated in phase 1.
• Discouraged by aspirin, morphine, and food dyes.
How do I know whether or not my liver is functioning properly?
Some of the key features of a sluggish liver begin to show in the whites of the eyes and your skin which slowly acquire a yellow tinge known as jaundice. You may notice changes in the colour of your stool or urine, swelling in your limbs, abdominal pain, and an inclination towards bruising more easily.
What about food? How do I know which ones have more pesticides?
Educating oneself and becoming knowledgeable is the ultimate weapon for defending oneself against these toxins. Your grocery bill can quickly spike if you plan on switching your entire pantry to organic, especially when you have a family to feed rather than simply yourself. A great habit to get into is washing all of your fruits and vegetables no matter where they come from. Residual chemicals can be washed away to reduce how concentrated they are. An idea is switching the fruits and veggies with the highest concentrations of chemicals to organic.
The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization that publishes a ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of produce with the highest levels of contamination. Strawberries and spinach are consistently near the top of said list, so it’s worth considering organic for products such as these.
They also provide a ‘Clean Fifteen’ list of the safest produce which includes avocados, pineapples, onions, and asparagus.
Can’t I just get a kit with everything in it already?
That is definitely an option with the 15 Day Cleanse that has products containing other herbs such as stinging nettle, that encourages excretion of toxins by increasing urine flow, boldo, that promotes the secretion of bile salts that help manage fats before they enter the liver. The other product included in the kit is Molkosan. It is a source of lactic acid and potassium that will help nourish the microbiota of the gut and keep everything moving smoothly as the toxins leave your body.