How the body deals with everyday toxic chemicals

Toxic chemicals everywhere

The world is full of toxins. Every day you are exposed to hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of different foreign and synthetic chemicals.

More than 100 years ago, many of these chemicals didn’t exist. Now, they may be in the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the cosmetics we use, the drugs and medications we take, the solvents and cleaners we use, the cars we drive and in various places in our homes and environment.

The health consequences of toxic exposure can include brain damage, neurological degeneration, hearing loss, visual disturbances, taste and smell deficits, thyroid dysfunction, lung disease, poor immune system response, heart damage, liver disease, pancreatic dysfunction, maldigestion and intestinal issues, kidney disease, bladder issues, hormone and endocrine disruption and a variety of different cancers.

Many chemicals can affect reproduction in both males and females and can lead to infertility, abnormal cycle and low male cell counts. Toxic exposure during pregnancy is particularly worrisome as it can affect the developing fetus.

• Formaldehyde from wood, paints and cosmetics can cause eye, lung and airway irritation. It does not, however, usually accumulate in the body.

• Benzene is from detergents, gasoline, paint and industrial chemicals. It does accumulate in the body and causes bone marrow suppression and anemia.

• Styrene comes from building materials, foam cups, photocopiers and smoke. It can accumulate in the body too and cause neurological symptoms.

• Toluene is from gasoline, nail polish and other cosmetics and paints. It can accumulate in the body and cause eye, mouth and skin irritation and various neurological symptoms.

• Mercury from fish, paints and dental fillings can accumulate in the body and cause various neurological symptoms.

• Lead is from gasoline, paints and cosmetics and can accumulate in the body and can cause various neurological symptoms and learning disabilities.

• PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls from industrial chemicals, batteries and transformers and fish and seafood. They can accumulate in the body and cause attention deficit and learning issues, skin irritations, liver and kidney damage.

• PFASs or polyfluoralalkyl substances are from cleaning products, non-stick cookware, fire retardants in furniture coatings and other clothes and fabrics. They can accumulate in the body and cause liver, kidney and thyroid damage.

• BPA and phthalates are from food packaging, plastic containers, bottles, thermal paper and toys. They can accumulate in the body and cause hormonal and fertility disruption, diabetes, neurotoxicity and metabolic disease.

• Glyphosate and other herbicides and insecticides are from farming and weed control products. Some of them can accumulate in the body and can cause eye, skin, nose and respiratory irritation and possibly brain damage and other neurological symptoms.

Several government regulatory agencies monitor data on many of these toxic substances, their effects on human health and establish limits of exposure to prevent damage. Many of these chemicals can cause serious damage to the human body and many of them are known to cause cancer.

As every toxicologist will tell you, it is the dose of the toxin that makes the poison. A little bit of poison can be managed, but a large dose can overwhelm the detoxification pathways of the human body and cause damage.

Most substances can be harmful at certain concentrations, even water and oxygen.

The human body has a wonderfully innate capacity to detoxify toxins that it is exposed to. Surprisingly, the body usually does a great job in eliminating toxins. However, the detoxification capacity can be overwhelmed by a high concentration of single toxin or a combination of different toxins that share a common detoxication pathway.

The liver, kidneys, skin and immune system participate in detoxification pathways that help the body eliminate toxins.

The liver is an incredible organ that has more than 500 different functions, including detoxification pathways. The liver adds small molecules, like sulphur, oxygen, hydrogen, sugar and carbon to toxic chemicals. The addition of these relatively benign compounds changes the chemical configuration of toxic compounds to more innocuous chemicals that are then eliminated through the digestive system or the kidneys.

The kidneys filter the blood. Through a series of microtubules that separate toxic compounds from benign chemicals. The toxic chemicals are then released from the kidneys and sent to the bladder and released in urine.

The skin is a protective barrier that also functions as a radiator system to heat and cool the body. Toxins are eliminated through sweat through pores in the skin.

The immune system functions to identify and eliminate foreign invaders and many toxins, especially bacterial, viral and fungal compounds.

Keeping your detoxification organs, specifically the liver, kidneys, skin and immune systems functioning well can ensure they are working optimally.

A healthy diet, rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits and healthy protein can help. Drinking adequate amounts of water, eating fewer processed and refined foods, not smoking or drinking alcohol in excess, getting your sleep and exercising can all help maintain good health and ensure optimal detoxification.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Doug Lobay is a practicing naturopathic physician in Kelowna, British Columbia.

He graduated with a bachelor of science degree from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and then attended Bastyr College of Natural Health Sciences in Seattle, Washington, where graduated with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine degree in 1991. While attending Bastyr College, he began to research the scientific basis of naturopathic medicine. 

He was surprised to find many of the current major medical journals abounded with scientific information on the use of diet, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal medicines.

Doug is a member of the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia and has practiced as naturopathic family physician for more than 30 years.  He maintains a busy practice in Kelowna where he sees a wide age range of patients with various ailments.

He focuses on dietary modification, allergy testing, nutritional assessments, supplement recommendation for optimal health, various physical therapy modalities, various intravenous therapies including chelation therapy.

An avid writer, he has written seven books on various aspects of naturopathic medicine that are available on Amazon and was also a long-time medical contributor to the Townsend Letter journal for doctors and patients, where many of his articles are available to view on-line. He has also given numerous lectures, talks and has taught various courses on natural medicine.

Doug enjoys research, writing and teaching others about the virtues of natural health and good nutrition. When not working, he enjoys cycling, hiking, hockey, skiing, swimming, tennis and playing guitar.

If you have any further questions or comments, you can contact Dr. Lobay at 250-860-7622 or [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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