Toxins Here, Toxins There, Toxins Everywhere?
Undoubtedly, we live in a toxic world.
Even if we do our own part to keep our personal environments clean and safe, there are some things beyond our control.
From a cloud of second hand smoke we might inhale accidentally, walking down a city street, to hidden canola oil used in cooking what we thought was a healthy choice of a grass fed burger at a restaurant, to a seemingly innocent glass of cool tap water we pour ourselves from our faucets in our home, to drink after a strenuous workout on a hot day, we’re repeatedly exposed to what are in effect poisons, which can end up causing disease, even when present at low concentration in the body (1).
One client I worked with recently finally got to the root cause of her mysterious fatigue when we learned the condo she lived in was bursting with hidden mold.
Another traced back chronic migraines and respiratory issues to a dry cleaning facility she had worked in as a part time job in college.
And I personally was rudely awoken just recently when our pediatrician inquired as to what type of water filtration system we have in our home to ensure the water our son would soon be drinking (and has been bathing in for nearly 9 months) was pure and free from chlorine and chloramines (disinfectants used to treat drinking water, most commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine to treat drinking water and present in the water we have in LA County, as confirmed by the DWP themselves). (2)
For me, it’s been a case of peeling off the layers of the proverbial onion; first with learning about our unsafe food supply and the entire confusing conversation about organic versus non, free range meaning next to nothing, farmed fish being touted as not that bad for you and the idea that even sugar in moderation is a good idea.
Then came the education about how little protection we have in our legislation about what’s actually safe for us to use in our own personal hygiene.
Thanks to Beautycounter, not only can I rest assured that my own body wash, lotion and makeup are clean, I can be comfortable using the baby collection on our son without risk of chemical exposure in his bath.
Circling back to the topic of the toxic water, that was one more thing I realized I’d turned a blind eye to; for ages we’ve been drinking tap water thinking it can’t possibly be that bad and it took our pediatrician’s recommendation to being delving into it to learn just how very dangerous it can be to ingest the chemicals found in our drinking water.
But is the answer to stay home, ‘don a surgical mask, sanitize everything and live in a bubble?
Not by a long shot.
While it certainly behooves us to clean up our own personal environs in terms of greening up our homes, removing the obvious toxins in household products and each doing our parts to reduce our individual carbon footprints, the other part of the picture actually to start with a hyperlocal place: our very own guts.
A healthy connection exists between gut microbiota and the immune system which supports protective responses against pathogens, promotes tolerance to harmless microbes and their products, and helps maintain self-tolerance, the ability of our immune system to not react harmfully to our own body. (4)
Did you know that 70–80% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut (5)?
It makes sense then, that when our guts become permeable, or leaky, we are less able to fight off everything from pathogenic bacteria to toxins around us.
In addition to this comes the understanding that sanitizing everything around us is not the answer; in fact, there are also numerous animal studies that have linked triclosan, a compound found in many popular hand sanitizers, to cancer (6).
We must remember that some bacteria that we find externally, just as that which we find in our guts, can be beneficial to supporting optimal health.
So what’s our best course of action?
Boosting our own gut health, thereby building our immune systems to literally make ourselves stronger from the inside out.
And just how do we do this?
It starts with a combination of removing foods which are causing inflammation and optimizing for foods which help our guts to heal, thereby reducing inflammation and allowing our bodies to calm down.
An authentic, plant-based Paleo approach will do the trick as it is inherently low in, or ideally, completely devoid of, inflammatory causing foods.
With a focus on nutrient dense, local, in-season, organic veggies combined with ample natural fats and small portions of mindfully sourced proteins, eating in this simple, net alkaline diet not only supports gut health, it’s respectful of our planet and the animals on it, making it the all around most balanced manner to eat.
Add in your daily cup of properly sourced bone broth, some fermented foods, a good dose of both pro and prebiotics and you’ve got yourself the makings of the perfect recipe for a long and healthy life in which you’re thriving and not just surviving, even in the face of external toxins.
Adopting the mindset of controlling the things we can control and taking action allows the figurative stress bucket or net inflammatory load to decrease, thereby boosting our ability and bandwidth to be stronger in order to fight off what exists around us.
(5) A.K. Abbas, A.H.H. Lichtman, S. Pillai, Cellular and Molecular Immunology E-Book, Elsevier Health Sciences, 2017