The problem of toxicity has grown as the number and quantity of poisonous compounds in the air, water and food have increased. A substantial and growing body of research supports the significant impact on health of acute and chronic exposure to endogenous and exogenous toxins and the efficacy of an individual’s detoxification mechanisms.
Toxins damage the body in an insidious and cumulative way. Once the detoxification system becomes overloaded, toxic metabolites accumulate and sensitivity to other chemicals, some of which are not normally toxic, becomes progressively greater. This accumulation of toxins can wreak havoc on normal metabolic processes.
A toxin is defined as any compound that has a detrimental effect on cell function or structure.
There are four main kinds of toxins:
1. – Heavy Metals: lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, aluminum.
Symptoms can include:
Impaired ability to think or concentrate
2. – Chemical Toxins: PCB’s, phthalates and parabens, volatile solvents, drugs, alcohol, formaldehyde, pesticides, herbicides, food additives.
Exposure to toxic chemicals can give rise to a number of symptoms. Most commonly are psychological and neurological symptoms such as
Abnormal nerve reflexes
Respiratory tract allergies and increased rates for many cancers are also found in people chronically exposed to chemical toxins.
Exposure to phthalates and parabens is more common than you may realize. Phthalates and parabens are often classified as xenoestrogens, foreign compounds in the body functioning as endocrine disruptors by binding specifically to estrogen receptors.
Endocrine disruptors are associated with diseases such as:
Decreased sperm count
Other health problems associated with daily exposures are:
Immune effects such as allergies and asthma
Phthalates, also called “plasticizers”, are found in numerous everyday products such as:
Plastic food containers
Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate ester (DEHP) is a common additive to Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). This additive helps make PVC soft and pliable to be molded into eye-pleasing shapes. PVC products are marked with the plastic identification code 3. The analytes measured in this profile are metabolites of DEHP. In perfumes and air fresheners, phthalates are often listed as “fragrance”.
Parabens are used as preservatives to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi in personal care products, such as:
Shampoo and conditioners
Lotions and creams
Volatile solvents are routinely used in industrial processes to manufacture consumer products. A solvent is a liquid or gas used to dissolve a solid, liquid, or gas to create a new solution. Each year, annual production of these solvents numbers in the tens of billions of pounds in the United States.
Air and water pollution are common routes of exposure in both our homes and workplaces. We are also exposed by inhalation or ingestion of car exhaust, paints, glues, adhesives, and lacquer thinners. These volatile solvents are used in large numbers to produce items in our homes such as furniture, building materials, paint, shoes, cleaning and degreasing agents, inks, pharmaceuticals, and as additives to gasoline. For those living and working in urban areas, the exposure to this class of compounds goes on twenty-four hours a day.
3. – Microbial compounds: Endotoxins, exotoxins, toxic amines, toxic derivatives of bile, various carcinogenic substances. Gut derived microbial toxins have been implicated in a wide variety of diseases, including:
In addition to toxic substances being produced by microorganisms, antibodies formed against microbial antigens can cross react with the body’s own tissue “molecular mimicry” thereby causing autoimmunity. The list of autoimmune diseases linked to cross-reacting antibodies include:
4. – Breakdown products of protein metabolism: Ammonia, urea.