Are Toxins Making Us Fat?
As our obesity epidemic rages on, it's important to understand that being overweight or obese goes way beyond what you may or may not be eating. When your body is gaining excess fat, it's a sign that something is out of whack, not that you don't have willpower. It can be an issue of hormone and metabolic imbalance. Have you cleaned up your diet, found exercise that you enjoy, dutifully drink green juices, use your Headspace app, take your probiotics, and still carry around excess body fat? It's time to take a look at another important area that could be affecting your health; toxic chemical exposure. Over exposure to toxins can wreak havoc upon our delicate endocrine and metabolic systems leading to an unhealthy body composition.
Toxins are anything that can harm the body. They could be biological like bacteria, viruses, mold, yeast, and parasites. They could also be harmful industrial chemicals from food processing, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, or agriculture. The good news is that our bodies have lots of resources and support to fight these invaders. We're constantly detoxing and eliminating harmful substances through our liver, lungs, kidneys, skin, and lymphatic system.
Our kidneys pull water soluble toxins out of our blood stream and release them frequently into our urine. Our lungs release toxins when we breathe deeply. Our skin releases toxins from subcutaneous fat via sweat glands. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. The lymph system needs movement to work properly, so exercise is key. The liver filters fat soluble chemicals from the blood that leaves our intestines. It then attempts to break down the chemical structure with enzymes and affix them to bile salts to be eliminated through the intestinal tract. It also adheres them to fatty acids and send them to fat cells for storage. Take note here. If the liver get overwhelmed with toxins, it will send them to our fat cells for storage in order to protect the body. The fat cells will enlarge.
Toxins also mess with how we metabolize carbohydrates and can damage our insulin response. What the what!? How does that work? Environmental toxins deplete our glycine stores. Glycine is an important amino acid. One of its many important functions is the control of gluconeogenesis, the process of manufacturing glucose from sources other than carbohydrates. What this means to you, is that without adequate glycine, you can experience blood sugar issues such as poor insulin response. With poor insulin response your body may begin to store calories as fat instead of using them for energy. Not only do we need adequate glycine for gluconeogenesis, but we also need it to manufacture glutathione, the body's more abundant antioxidant and for phase II of detoxification in the liver. Bottom line, it's important and overwhelming your body with toxins deplete this vital amino acid diminishing your ability to control blood sugar and detox properly.
Toxins, of course, affect other body systems as well, and the wide-spread effects are coming to light year by year as new information is layered upon older studies. One thing is clear. Avoiding toxic exposure and incorporating detoxification practices into our diet and lifestyle is vital to be as healthy as possible.
How to reduce your exposure to toxins
Use safer body care products. This is a wildly unregulated industry. There hasn't been a major health protective law passed regulating the body care industry since 1938 while the number of chemicals in our body care products continue to rise with very little limitation. To compare, the European Union has banned around 1400 potentially harmful chemicals from body care products. In the United States, we've banned about thirty. We absorb toxins through our skin, so make sure they are safe. This is so important that I decided to work with a company that's on a mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone. It's time to switch to safer. Learn more HERE.
Use a water filter. I use the Berkey brand and add in the fluoride filter.
Buy organic produce. At the very least, purchase organic produce that is on the dirty dozen list.
Support gut health with probiotics (normalize gut flora and reduce endotoxins)
Avoid OTC medicines like acetaminophen as much as possible. Chronic use can deplete glutathione.
How to support our detox organs
Liver- eat your veggies, especially cruciferous ones and dandelion greens. Get enough quality protein. It is vital to the detoxification pathways. It provides taurine, methionine, cysteine, and other sulfur amino acids necessary for detoxification, immune support, and antioxidant protection. Good sources of sulfur-rich proteins are pastured eggs, cold water fish, organic poultry, and grass fed beef.
Skin- get sweating! Infrared saunas are a great way to help the body detox
Kidneys- drink plenty of filtered water
Lungs-any sort of deep breathing exercises
Lymphatic system- massage or any sort of movement, try dry brushing before showering
Reducing your exposure to toxins is vital for overall health and healthy body composition. It's very possible that toxins are making us fat! Unfortunately, it's become harder and harder to avoid especially since regulatory agencies like the FDA do very little to protect us. Make sure you do your own research, support your detox organs, and avoid harmful chemicals as much as possible.
Bauman, Ed, M.Ed., Ph.D & Friedlander, Jodi N.C., Therapeutic Nutrition, part one. (2011)
Baillie-Hamilton, P.F. (2002, Apr) Chemical toxins: A hypothesis to explain the global obesity epidemic. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine