DR. LEPISTO: How toxin overload can make you sick
November 18, 2013
Sometimes I feel depressed about the state of affairs on our planet. I am not referring to typhoon devastation, leaking Fukushima power plants, or massive Colorado wildfires. Natural disasters do happen and there is not much we humans can do about the periodic destruction unleashed on this earth.
What does get to me more so is all that is directly linked to lousy human behavior and choices; one such arena being the use of chemical products. Do we really need a white-picket-fence construct of sanitized, plastic-wrapped convenience at the cost of human health? Why does the U.S. government only regulate a handful of the tens of thousands of chemicals used yearly (estimated at a recent environmental medicine conference I attended to be 300 pounds of chemicals PER PERSON PER DAY), putting our children and our children's children at risk? It is enough to induce a "well-informed futility syndrome."
The main concern, of course, is not the healthiest of adults. It is children and those people with the genetic predispositions that cannot handle the toxic load. In short, those who are the most symptomatic are those that retain the most toxins. This likely explains why an 8-year-old in Beijing was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, normally extremely rare in children.
Within the human body, a "TILTed" state (Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance) helps to clarify the increase in cancer, diabetes, autism, chronic disease and more. Since the overall chemical burden is directly related to the sensitivity of your immune system, one of the ways you may be able to determine that you have an overloaded system is if you react severely to chemicals or strong chemical smells such as perfumes, the detergent aisle of the supermarket, cigarette smoke, solvents, cleaners, diesel exhaust, etc. You may also have reactions to medications, caffeine, or even supplements in "normal" doses. There are excellent tests now available from laboratories like USBiotek and Metametrix that allow you to determine your toxic load and subsequent health effects, so that you can best understand the cause of what is called environmental illness.
BEATING BACK TOXIC OVERLOAD
Please note, the following is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for specific medical advice.
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The basics of prevention and treatment of environmental illness have to do with supporting the body's own wisdom. One great approach is to get more sulforaphanes in your diet, a class of natural compounds rich in cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.) that support liver detoxification, which is the primary organ handling all this chemical exposure. It's estimated to give your liver at least 7 hours of toxic protection and does so best at 5+ servings/day. Your body also does not use up the antioxidants vitamins A, C, E when these sulforaphanes are around. Green smoothies is an easy way to get them in your body, especially with a banana, apple or berries for taste. Seek professional advice if you have thyroid issues and make sure your iodine levels (which also helps remove chlorine and bromine from the body) are sufficient by eating seaweed.
The hormone vitamin D is now known to be critical to the body's ability to handle pesticides. Get 20 minutes of sunlight on your skin twice daily, as early and late in the day to generate vitamin D naturally and promote a good circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle). In one study of 200 pesticides tested, 106 of them affected vitamin D levels. You can also limit your pesticide exposure by buying organic and using a nice citrus wash on fruits and veggies.
Another great way to boost detoxification is to get on a trampoline or enjoy jumping, running or walking. These physical activities all increase lymphatic drainage, which somewhat like a sewer system of your body, helps remove toxins into the bloodstream for later filtering by the liver and kidneys. If you enjoy Epsom salt soaks, go ahead and use the whole box as the higher amounts of absorbed magnesium will have a much greater relaxing and detoxifying affect on your system.
Here are more easy steps to help avoid toxic exposure:
1. Use stainless steel bottles and lunch containers.
2. Skip plastic containers, lids or wrap. Use glass instead and do not microwave in plastic.
3. Reduce the use of canned foods, which are lined with resins.
4. Avoid nonstick cookware, which releases carcinogenic substances if overheated.
5. Use only a French press to make coffee. Want more on the coffee story? Read my previous Free Press article.
6. Get a high-quality, carbon-based water filtration system. Two inexpensive options are the countertop filter from Aquasana or EnviroWave.
7. Choose raw honey or maple syrup instead of agave. Yes, even the raw, organic varieties are prepared using caustic soda and also contain significant mercury and high-fructose corn syrup. Rats, I love agave nectar.
In the midst of madness, there is good news out there. There are people growing their own gardens, reducing the amount of plastic in their lives (see the short film "The Majestic Plastic Bag" for a humorous take on the plastics issue), choosing nontoxic products, non-GMO foods and natural medicines. I encourage you to do your own investigations. The more you know about the cause of illness, the more you can go about supporting your body's ability to heal itself.
Dr. Christopher Lepisto graduated as a naturopathic doctor (ND) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit http://www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
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