If you’re one of the many individuals who regularly keep up with the news cycle , you may have noticed four little letters getting big attention lately — PFAs. PFAs, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances also known as “forever chemicals”, have achieved international exposure for their vast contamination of a myriad of everyday products. Their identification, in everything from drinking water to food wrappers, has continued to gain traction for their potential harmful health effects. However, while PFAs may be the star of the show, there is an enormous list of other toxins that can be detrimental to human health circulating in our environments.
What are toxins?
Toxins, more specifically environmental toxins, are natural or manmade substances that have negative consequences on human health. Environmental toxins exist all around us and we come into contact with them more often than we think.
Where are they found in our daily lives?
Unfortunately, environmental toxins and chemicals are not well regulated across the globe. While some nations have stricter regulations, toxins remain a widely uncontrolled international health epidemic. Many countries, including the United States, allow substances to be used in production before being proved safe for human health. Even though the US has organizations such as the CDC, EPA, and FDA they have an abysmal impact on mitigating toxins from a public health standpoint.
Potential exposures come from a wide variety of possible sources. Toxins have been found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the personal care items we put on our skin, and in many other common things we are exposed to daily. Toxins are particularly pervasive in our home environments. We are exposed to toxins through the land our homes are built upon, the materials they are constructed from, the furniture they are adorned with, the air that circulates within them, the substances used to keep them clean, and so forth.
How do they impact our health?
There are a variety of ways environmental toxins contribute to health issues. Two of the more prominent risks include endocrine disruption and carcinogenic influences. Endocrine disrupting toxins cause dysregulation of hormones, which can then interfere with vital physiological processes. Carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents, create abnormal changes at a cellular level leading to the development and growth of malignant tumors.
Historically, there has been a common misconception that “the dose makes the poison” when it comes to toxic exposures. However, more recently, scientific evidence has emerged disproving certain parts of this assumption. Dysregulation and disease states can occur even at low dose exposures. This is due to the tendency of toxins to become stored in our tissues and the consequential build-up of chemicals throughout our bodies. Over time, this accumulation contributes to chronic diseases, autoimmune disorders, and impaired healing.
What steps can we take to minimize harmful effects?
All this information can be wildly overwhelming, but we don’t need to panic. There are steps we can take to minimize our exposure to toxins and their harmful effects. First and foremost, avoidance is essential. Avoidance ensures we are reducing the toxic load our bodies have to contend with. Avoidance starts with education, by simply reading this article you are already beginning to build the foundation for fostering a toxic-free lifestyle.
5 Ways to Avoid Toxins
- Purify indoor air
- Filter drinking water
- Choose organic & non-GMO foods
- Dust & vacuum often
- Leave shoes at the door
Beyond avoidance, eliminating unnecessary amounts of toxic products that can be more harmful in certain situations than others (think storing food in plastics versus storing clothes in plastic) is another important step.
5 Ways to Minimize Toxins
- Reduce plastics (especially in the kitchen)
- Limit scented candles/sprays
- Reevaluate cleaning products
- Examine personal care ingredients
- Cook at home more often
Another part of the equation, that should offer some relief, is that our bodies have the ability to detoxify themselves naturally. Although, our innate detoxification systems become taxed when there are an excessive amount of toxins in the body, which is why avoidance first is key. There are ways we can heal, support, and optimize physiological processes so that when we are exposed to toxins the body is better equipped to handle them.
5 Ways to Support Natural Detoxification
- Focus on a nutritious diet
- Get adequate exercise
- Ensure proper sleep
- Manage Stress
- Supplement when necessary
These recommendations are just the beginning, but it’s important to start by making small, lasting, sustainable changes. As you begin on your journey to a toxic-free lifestyle, remember it is what you do on a regular basis that matters more than what you do every once in a while. Toxic-free living is not about perfectionism. Toxic-free living is about doing what we can to reduce our exposures where it matters most in order to cultivate optimal health for ourselves and for our environment.
Learn more about how toxins may be impacting your health by booking a one-on-one session with me on toxic-free living.
You can also get to know more about my role as a Toxic-Free Health Coach by booking an introductory session.
Information in this post is intended for educational uses only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician or health professional with specific questions about a medical condition before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
About The Author
Catherine Armitage is a Well Me Right Wellness Expert and a Chronic Stress and Toxic-Free Living Health Coach. Catherine started her career working in healthcare before shifting her focus to preventative care. She holds a Masters’s in Clinical and Applied Exercise Physiology from the University of Miami, FL. She also holds a Health Coach Certification from The Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). In Early 2020, Catherine was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL). Unlike most cancers, HL can not be attributed to genetics or lifestyle factors and the underlying cause remains mostly unknown. However, there are a variety of scientific publications that point to environmental exposure as a probable cause. For that reason, Catherine became dedicated to the pursuit of toxic-free living. While undergoing chemotherapy, Catherine obtained a “Detox Your Life” Certification from IIN and immersed herself in medical and legal research on the subject. These discoveries culminated in the publication of her first book, 50 Things To Know For Toxic-Free Living.
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https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/2022/03/decades-fda-knew-forever-chemicals- 7 were-harmful-failed-act https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/2022/05/fda-food-safety-inspections-plummet- 8 despite-congressional-mandate
https://www.cancer.org/healthy/cancer-causes/general-info/known-and-probable-human- 17 carcinogens.html