“Toxemia” is the medical term that defines a condition in which our bodies accumulate poisonous substances to such a point that levels exceed the ability of our body systems to cleanse them away. Thanks to today’s contemporary lifestyle of fast foods, our 24/7/365 accessibility, and the growing pressures of many of us in our professional and personal lives, we have become a population of toxemics. Medical conditions associated with toxemia include:
o Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, F, and G
o Liver damage, including cirrhosis
o Irritable bowel syndrome
o Leaky gut syndrome
There are several ways in which you can manage and reduce your exposure to toxins, toxic load reduction and detoxification are proven ways in which you can positively impact how long, and how well, you live. We review some of these strategies in this article.
Lower the Lead. A lifetime of low-level exposure to lead in the environment may contribute to mental decline as we age, reported researchers at Harvard School of Public Health in 2005. Tracking 466 men averaging 67 years of age, the team found that the higher the men’s level of lead present in the kneecap, a bone marker of cumulative lead exposure, the worse they scored in tests of memory, attention, language, and other mental functions. A separate study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (USA) found that accumulated lead exposure increases the risk of cataracts, a leading cause of age-related blindness. The team tracked 642 men aged 60 and older for five years, finding that those who developed cataracts had increased levels of lead in their bones.
Older people, who are prone to osteoporosis, are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of lead because the toxin lodges in bone poses and can be released over a long period of time into the bloodstream, allowing it to damage body tissue.
Lead is no longer present in gasoline and paints available in the US, but leaded products may be available in other nations, putting those residents at-risk. Drinking water may also be a possible source of lead, as the toxin can be introduced via older plumbing.
Breathe Easy. People spend about 90% of their time indoors. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the air within homes and other buildings can be seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Consequently, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors. Cut down on indoor triggers of allergies and asthma by following these simple tips:
o Remove pets from the home and thoroughly clean to eliminate their dander.
o Opt for leather furniture rather than upholstered pieces, since leather is an impervious material that is resistant to breeding dust mites.
o Eliminate carpet and drapes.
o Dust both vertical and horizontal surfaces weekly.
o Keep indoor humidity below 50% year round.
o Open windows for an hour each day during dry seasons to improve ventilation.
o Use a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) air filter in the bedroom
o Clean mold off shower curtains, bathroom and basement walls and other surfaces with a solution of bleach, detergent and water.
o Use a dehumidifier if your basement is damp or musty.
o Never allow smoking in the house.
For Best Rest. According to the Battelle Memorial Institute (USA), the indoor environment [as compared to the outdoors] has higher contaminant levels and provides more immediate and prolonged exposure to pollutants. We spend just about a third of our days sleeping, so it is important that the air in your bedroom be as pristine as possible. Some tips to minimize bedroom allergens:
o Vacuum often with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter vacuum, which prevents dust particles from recirculating.
o Wash bedding weekly in hot water (130°F) and dry in a hot dryer.
o Replace bedding made of natural materials like down and cotton with bedding made of synthetic fibers.
o Encase mattresses and pillows in dust mite-proof covers. Wash blankets and pillowcases which aren’t encased once a week in hot water.
o Do not allow pets into the bedroom. A study by Dr. Shepard of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center (USA) reported that 53% of pet owners permitting the animal in the sleeping room had disrupted sleep every night. Pet allergies can also contribute to problems breathing during sleep.
o Leave dust-prone plants, knick-knacks, and fuzzy stuffed toys out of the bedroom.
Not So Fine. Fine particles, that is particulate matter in the air measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter, can cause serious health problems. According to the American Lung Association, “tens of thousands of premature deaths each year are attributed to fine particle air pollution,” microscopic substances such as acid aerosols, organic chemicals, metals, and carbon soot.
Long-term studies have repeatedly shown that people living in areas with high fine particle concentration may have their lives shortened by 1 to 2 years on average (as compared to those living in cleaner locations).
To limit your exposure to fine particle air pollution:
o Stay in an indoor environment where the air is filtered or air-conditioned. You can build an inexpensive air purifier by taping a micropore HEPA air conditioner filter over a large box fan.
o Do not exercise outdoors when particulate levels are high. Never exercise near high-traffic areas.
o Drink plenty of fluid: Drink one 8-ounce (236-milliliter) glass of distilled water, with a pinch of sea salt (for electrolytes), every 1 to 2 hours that you are awake. You may need to drink more when you are physically active.
o Take a cool shower or bath: Removes superficial particulate matter from your skin.
In the United States, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is the standard system that state and local air pollution control programs use to notify the public about levels of air pollution. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posts the daily AQI at www.epa.gov/airnow.
Flush with Food. Include fiber in your everyday diet, because fiber can promote the digestive and elimination processes to help your body get rid of toxins. Fiber soaks up fat. A high-fiber diet can improve your digestion, relieve the strain on your liver and gall bladder, and reduce your risk of large bowel cancer, gallstones, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, colitis, hemorrhoids, hernia, and varicose veins. Your body will benefit from both soluble fiber (sources include dried beans, oats, barley, apples, citrus fruits, and potatoes) and insoluble fiber (found in whole grains, wheat bran, cereals, seeds, and the skins of many fruits and vegetables). Aim for the US Department of Agriculture’s recommended intake of 25 to 30 grams of daily fiber a day.
Reduction of our exposure to toxins is one of the simplest ways in which we can lower the physical burdens on our bodies, and has been shown to positively impact how long, and how well, you live. Increase your awareness of toxic exposures and take every reasonable measure to reduce your body’s toxic load.