Environmental Toxins – Do You Know Your Body’s Levels?

What does your Teflon frying pan, microwave popcorn, pizza box and lipstick have in common? How about a receipt from the store, a can of tuna and a plastic water bottle? Let’s not forget that cute rubber duck in the bathtub, anti-bacterial hand soap near the sink, Colgate Total toothpaste and the deodorant in the bathroom cabinet. The answer is chemicals – namely perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), bisphenol-A (BPA), mercury, triclosan and phthalates. According to the Canadian authors of “Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects our Health” – this is a bad news story with a positive outcome.

The bad news is that our bodies are affected on a daily basis by chemicals from environmental pollutants, medications, contaminants in our water supply, pesticides, hormones in our food supply, cooking utensils, pots and pans (Teflon and plastic), cosmetic products, alcohol, children’s toys, canned foods and the list goes on. The cumulative effect of these chemicals can contribute to a wide variety of health concerns, such as: reproductive problems, hormone imbalances, breast cancer, testicular cancer, fatigue, immune dysfunction, asthma, birth defects, liver damage, attention deficit disorder and dementia – to name a few.

Some of the chemicals mentioned above have a short life in the body and others are persistent which is a problem not only for you as an individual, but also for the planet. However, it is not a doom and gloom story. As the toxic load in our bodies continues to increase, detoxification is critical to maintain optimal health. The first steps include:
1) understanding your body’s natural detoxification processes
2) learning what factors in our everyday lives disrupt this process and
3) taking the necessary steps to get back on track. This includes a carefully designed nutritional detoxification program that is supported by research and science.

Keep in mind that your body’s ability to detoxify may be impaired by factors such as: prescription medications, constipation, poor kidney health, insufficient detoxifying enzymes, poor liver health and/or inadequate nutrients, vitamins and minerals that the liver and other detoxification systems need to perform effectively. At our clinic, we offer an Environmental Pollutants test which measures the level of parabens, phthalates, and volatile solvents in the body. Then based on the results to various pollutants, a treatment program is customized for each patient which supports the organs of detoxification (ie liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin). We also recommend the following simple steps to protect your family:

1. Read ingredients on products, as phthalates often are not listed; however, the word “Fragrance” or “Parfum” near the end of the ingredient list is your clue that the product contains phthalates.

2. Unplug air fresheners as many contain phthalates. Baking soda is a natural alternative that can be used to absorb bad odors.

3. Visit ecocenter.org to check out ingredients in the toys you own or want to purchase to ensure they are not harmful for your children.

4. Avoid too much fast food – hamburger, pizza or microwavable popcorn packaging may be coated with PFCs (perfluorinated compounds).

5. BPA leaches from containers into the contents and we end up consuming it. Containers do not need to be heated for this to occur. Switch to glass or stainless steel containers where possible. Do not microwave your leftovers in polycarbonate or plastic containers – use glass containers instead. Do not use a plastic lid cover in the microwave to prevent food from spraying. Better yet, don’t use a microwave.

6. Change cookware from Teflon (especially if its scratched) to stainless steel or cast-iron and change plastic cooking spoons and spatulas to wood or metal.

7. Buy flaked, skipjack or chunk light tuna instead of solid white (albacore) tuna, which has the highest amounts of mercury. Check out the US Natural Resources Defense Council tuna calculator to see how the fish you are eating affects your mercury levels. King mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish also contain high amounts of mercury so avoid these as well.

For more information see:

8. Avoid products labeled “antibacterial” that contain triclosan (ie Microban, Biofresh, Lexol 300). Wash your hands the “old fashioned” way, with a good 30-second lather of soap and water. Colgate Total toothpaste also contains triclosan.

9. Check out www.cosmeticdatabase.com to find out what’s in your cosmetic products. If your products rate greater than 5 out of 10 on the toxicity scale, find healthy alternatives by visiting a health food store.

10. When puzzling over the small recycling numbers on the bottom of plastic containers, remember this pneumonic: 4, 5, 1 and 2; all the rest are bad for you.

11. Use cloth bags instead of plastic bags for shopping.

12. Encourage politicians to introduce legislation to phase out PFCs from food wrapper and other consumer products, to legislate for better control of triclosan, and to demand non-toxic toys for your children.

13. Refer to the Environmental Working Groups dirty dozen and clean 15 lists to see which vegetables and fruit contain the most and least amount of pesticides (www.ewg.org)

14. Get your levels of chemicals tested – Naturopathic Clinics can run an Environmental Pollutants Panel – ask your Naturopathic doctor if you need to be tested.

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