Mar
08
2014

Protecting Yourself From Environmental Toxins

Environmental toxins are toxins that may be in your drinking water, in what you eat, in the air you breathe, or they enter your body through your skin when you swim in contaminated water or walk on a sandy, wet beach.

In the following blog I will address some of these issues and how we can defend ourselves against toxins.

The youngest and most vulnerable

Toxins are particularly bad for infants and premature babies.

The reasons for this are the following ones: their kidney function (tubular secretion) is only 20% to 30% of that of an adult; the cytochrome P-450 enzyme system in the liver, one of the toxin eliminators is slowed down to only 25% to 50% of the adult activity and glucuronidation in the liver, another detoxification process, reaches adult levels only at the age of 3 years. The kidneys and the liver are limiting the removal of toxins by way of urine and bile in the newborn. Stomach acidity in a premature has a pH of 4.7, in a full-term newborn 2.3–3.6 and in an adult 1.4–2.0. This is important to note as a lack of stomach acid increases susceptibility of newborns and infants to gastrointestinal infections and cause diarrhea. Percutaneous absorption in newborns is much higher than in adults, which makes them very susceptible to absorbing toxins through the skin (Ref.1).

Diabetes from environmental toxins

Environmental toxins can cause insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to make polycarbonate and epoxy resins and is found primarily in food and beverage containers. The world population has been exposed to this since 1957 and as a result 90% of US residents have detectable levels of BPA in their urine. Ref.2 explains that the higher the urine concentration of BPA, the higher the risk is for developing diabetes.

Persistent organic pollutants are another source of concern: pesticides and herbicides, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, hexachlorobenzene, and hexachlorocyclohexane have all been found in humans. Several investigators have shown that virtually all of the risk in obese patients to develop diabetes comes from the fat-soluble persistent organic pollutants (Ref.2).

Inorganic arsenic is another pollutant that is found in soil and rock naturally and finds its way into the drinking water. About 8% of the public water system of the US exceeds 10 mcg/L for drinking water, which has been set as the safe limit for drinking water by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s standard. Anything above those levels is considered toxic.Ref.2 describes that people who ingest inorganic arsenic will excrete it in the urine; the highest group with arsenic in their urine had a risk of 3.58-fold to develop diabetes when compared to the lowest group. Curiously enough organic arsenic that is found in fish and shellfish is excreted in the urine unchanged and does not cause diabetes. Overall this indicates to me that nobody should consume or cook with contaminated water that contains inorganic arsenic. Reverse osmosis filters will protect you from this risk.

Protecting Yourself From Environmental Toxins

Protecting Yourself From Environmental Toxins

Other toxins around the house

Volatile organic compounds are often contained in carpets, but also in laser and inkjet printers. They are part of everyone’s life as this link shows. Varied symptoms like irritation of eyes, nose or throat, breathing problems, headaches, loss of coordination, damage to the liver, kidneys and the brain have been reported after exposure to volatile organic compounds. Long-term exposure can even cause cancer in animals and has been suspected to cause cancer in humans as well.

Air fresheners and cleaning solutions that contain ethylene-based glycol ethers and terpenes have been the subject of a study that examined concentrations in the air and interaction with ozone that can also be released by some cleaners. As this link shows the investigators concluded that with exposure to high enough concentrations and long enough exposures to these fumes lung cancer can be caused in cleaning personnel. They recommended to use cleaning solutions only in diluted form and to air out the premises well after cleaning. Another component of many air fresheners and cleaning chemicals is paradichlorobenzene, the same chemical that is contained in mothballs.

There have been problems with flame retardants: polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are cancer producing; they have been outlawed in the US since 2004, but older mattresses, upholstery, television, computer casings and circuit boards may still contain them.

Lead and mercury poisoning, and radioactive pollutants

Manufacturers were not allowed to use lead in paints anymore since 1978. Paint from buildings older than that still may contain lead. There have been serious lead poisonings in children who were gnawing on items painted with lead containing paint. Lead causes problems with your central nervous system, brain, blood cells and kidneys. Just last year a news story about lead found in fashion jewelry surfaced warning about cheap fashion jewelry from China. Lead form these items can be absorbed through the skin and cause lead poisoning. Because of the apparent lack of regulations in China it is my recommendation not to buy anything that goes into your mouth or on your skin, if it has been grown or produced in China.

Mercury from tuna and other predator fish: It is sad that the oceans are polluted to the point where it has become unsafe to eat predator fish as there is an accumulation of mercury through the food chain.

How did things develop this way? Back 100 years and more ago gold panning and the purification process of gold caused mercury to enter into rivers and allow mercury to end up in the oceans where it has since accumulated; it just sits there as it has nowhere to go.

Coal burning (yes, there is mercury in coal) has also contributed to this by smoke being emitted from smoke stacks containing mercury vapors, which ended up returning to earth as polluted rain and drained through the river system into the oceans.

It is monomethylmercury that accumulates in the tissue of humans. It affects many organs, such as the brain, kidneys, lungs, and skin. It causes various symptoms like red cheeks, fingers, and toes; there can be bleeding from the mouth and ears; it can cause rapid heartbeats, high blood pressure, intense sweating, loss of hair, teeth, and nails. It also can cause blindness, loss of hearing, impaired memory, and lack of coordination, disturbed speech and birth defects. You may think all mercury comes from the outside. However, silver amalgam fillings in your teeth could also be the source of mercury poisoning. It is a good idea to replace amalgam/mercury fillings with ceramic fillings.

There are many forms of other marine pollution as this link shows.

One particular concerning aspect is pollution with radioactive materials as the Fukushima disaster in Japan has shown. Following the catastrophe on March 11, 2011 there have been several leaks of radioactive material into the ocean, which are described here. Dr. John Apsley II pointed out that with the explosions in Fukushima there were also several releases of radioactive pollution into the stratosphere. This pollution has subsequently traveled around the globe and has come down as radioactive rain. He has made it his ambition to help people minimize radiation exposure from nuclear accidents such as Fukushima.

Protecting yourself from toxins

Having said that pollution and toxins are problems that we are living with, how can we protect ourselves from all of that?

1. Avoid as many unsafe chemicals around you as you can. This includes checking ingredients in hair care and body care products, toothpaste, hair dyes, cosmetics, mouthwashes and underarm deodorants.  I have written a blog about toxins in the bathroom and what you should watch for.

2. I would recommend you switch from a standard food to organic food. It has become unsafe to eat non-organic meats, leafy vegetables, vegetables and fruit. There are too many residues of herbicides and pesticides contained also in meat, not only in vegetables and fruit. Washing will not remove these substances, even though some merchants may tell you otherwise. Buyer beware!

3. Detoxification methods are available and I have reviewed them in this blog. Briefly, to remove lead and mercury a formal intravenous chelation protocol should be followed.  Depending on how many heavy metal toxins you have on board, you may need only a few treatments or else up to 20. Here is a more conservative website stating that it would be safe to have silver amalgam fillings. I think that gold and ceramic fillings are much safer.

4. Genetically modified food is another danger as I have summarized in this blog. This is another reason why I like to stick to organic food. There is evidence that GMO food causes autoimmune diseases, infertility and chronic inflammation that can eventually lead to cancer. It may take decades to prove this, but I am not willing to be a human guinea pig.

5. I have mentioned in a prior blog that we live in a toxic world. You need to carefully look at your home and remove toxins. You need to assess your drinking water. A water analysis can tell you how good the water in your home is and whether there are concerns about inorganic arsenic. Usually places that sell filter systems can advise you in that regard. Your drinking water should either be bottled pure water or else reverse osmosis water that can be part of a filter system in your house.

6.Vitamins and supplements have been shown to support your cell integrity and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that protect you from toxins. I discussed this in detail in my NetHealthBook under nutrition. For instance vitamin D3 in doses of 5000 IU or more and CoQ-10 are powerful anti-inflammatories and CoQ-10 is also an antioxidant and preserves mitochondrial function. High fish oil supplements (3 to 6 Grams per day) have anti-inflammatory effects and protect your cell membrane integrity. With these overlapping qualities of vitamins and supplements your body will be in a much stronger position to defend itself against the negative effects of toxins. When you take multivitamins, this translates into telomere lengthening of 5.1% (or converted into a survival advantage of 9.8 years when it is accumulated over a life time). Ref. 4 explains this in more detail.

7. Exposure to radioactive substances is a scary thought, but this is becoming more and more a reality, at least for those who live close to disaster areas such as the Fukushima site in Japan or the Chernobyl site in the Ukraine. But according to Dr. Apsley II low dose radiation that we have already received in the US and in Canada following the Fukushima disaster is equally disastrous (Ref.3). Many of the vitamins and supplements I have mentioned are also cell and mitochondria protective and will help with DNA repair following radiation damage, but you must avoid sugar and other refined carbs and starches to reduce the oxidative effect on cells and on LDL cholesterol to prevent premature aging and cell death. Ref. 3 contains a lot more detail about this and explains what specific supplements can be taken to detoxify your system from specific radioactive elements that function as free radicals. There are specific antidotes for radioactive iodine-129 and iodine-131, radioactive cesium-137 and others.

Conclusion

Many people shrug their shoulders when they hear that pollution has an effect on their lives. They feel that they are powerless and cannot do anything about this. The truth is far from this! Above I mentioned seven points that you can follow to counter toxins. On top of that you can get politically active and urge your government representative to create a nuclear free zone in your area. Ref. 3 contains compelling evidence why this is so important not only for us now, but for future generations and the future of mankind. We need to hold those who provide us with food and beverages accountable for the quality of these. Shrugging it off is not good enough. Get involved. Buy organic food. Avoid the section in the grocery store where sugar and high carb foods are sold. It’s good for your own health, but it will collectively change the mentality of the grocery store owners who will notice that they are stuck with the comfort foods that sold well in the past. This new trend will result in cheaper prices for healthy foods and more availability of organic food.

References

1. Shannon: Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed. © 2007 Saunders. Chapter 18:“Toxicologic Issues in the Neonate”.

2. Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 3rd ed. © 2012 Saunders. Chapter 31: “Insulin Resistance and the Metabolic Syndrome”.

3. Dr. John W. Apsley II : “Fukushima Meltdown & Modern Radiation: Protecting Ourselves and Our Future Generations” © 2011. Temet Nosce Publications, Sammamish, WA 98075

4. Xu, Qun, Parks, C.G., DeRoo, L.A., Cawthon, R.M., Sandler, D.P. and Chen, H. Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89 (April 2009):1857-63. Full text (PDF): http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/6/1857.full?sid=9aab0e13-b4d2-42ad-b44c-15cffc6771c3

Last edited March 8, 2014

Mar
24
2013

Living In A Toxic World

The following article is about living in a toxic world. In the past nobody worried about toxicities except parents when their children were gnawing on lead paint. Paint always contained lead and people thought that it was only children we had to worry about. We thought that adults were “immune” to this. We learnt a lot about lead toxicity from early studies in Germany and it was there that EDTA was developed in 1935 to treat children with lead toxicity. During the Second World War when ships were painted with lead containing paints many soldiers were poisoned with lead. EDTA treatment protocols that had been developed earlier for children were found to be also effective for these soldiers.

Fast forward to 2013. We all have heard of lead poisoning from Chinese made toys, from Chinese fashion jewelry and we have heard of the melamine poisoning of baby food and candies. These are not the only poisonings. Mercury is in the air; it is also present in light bulbs and in cruise ship exhaust fumes from incineration of light bulbs and batteries. We have over 600 chemicals and carcinogens in cigarette smoke, which is perhaps the largest “legal” roulette game involving humans where several poisons are inhaled at once. Our water is chlorinated or fluoridated, which interferes with our thyroid gland function. Vegetables that are supposed to be healthy for us contain residues from insecticides and herbicides that have estrogen-like activities called xenoestrogens.  They are known to cause breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Milk in the US often contains antibiotics and genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which again can cause various cancers in humans as this link shows.

rBGH is banned in Europe and in Canada. The problems do not stop at chemicals in our water, environment, food and air, the newest threat is genetically modified food like wheat, corn and high fructose corn syrup, which is manufactured from GMO corn. Other GMO foods are golden rice, sugar beet, yellow crookneck squash, cotton for cottonseed oil, soybeans, canola, Hawaiian papaya, just to name a few. GM food is illegal in most European countries, but the US is trying very hard to push for “fair trade practices” in order to expand the market for GM foods.

Living In A Toxic World

Living In A Toxic World

How does all of this affect your body? One of the publications from France found that genetically modified food is likely responsible for the increase of endometriosis in women. This link explains that xenobiotics-associated genetically modified foods contain glyphosate (a herbicide) and Cry1Ab protein that affects the women’s hormone metabolism and causes the lining of the uterus to become invasive to cause endometriosis.

There have been attempts to study toxicity of GM foods in animal experiments, but the pitfall was a wrong testing time of only 90 days , which was chosen for these experiments, and “no differences” were found between test and control animals (all the official statements about GMO food “safety” in the US are based on these “standard tests”). However, there are other studies that found significant differences after only 4 weeks of feeding rats and mice 10% GMO food mixed with regular feed as this link shows. The full impact of genetically modified foods is not evident until 3 generations or more in animal experiments, which  is the equivalent of 90 years or more in humans. This is 80 years from now because significant amounts of GM food were in the food chain from the food industry for about 10 years. The definition of one human generation generally is 30 years. The animal studies show that with GMO food there is a higher mortality in rats and mice and that infertility is getting worse from generation to generation.

With respect to chemicals patients detect toxic effects on the body a lot faster than with GMO foods. The toxins such as carcinogens and xenoestrogens are often fat-soluble, which means that obese people have more toxins stored than lean people. Mercury, cadmium and lead were found in a study to have caused specific protein folding problems within the cells. This explains bone marrow toxicity, liver and kidney toxicity and brain and heart toxicity. In other words these are the organs where cells contain most of the mitochondria in the body and heavy metals are blocking their energy metabolism leading to aberrant body functions. As a result auto-immune diseases have increased dramatically,inflammatory conditions are common , and cancer rates are up.

How do we defend ourselves in a toxic world?

1. Food preparation

First you need to switch from regular foods to organic foods. Also throw out all the foods in your fridge that are not organic and that contain MSG in it’s many disguises. MSG is an excitotoxin, which kills brain cells. These suggestions are also what Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton is recommending.

Organic foods do not contain any of the problematic GM foods. They are also free of rBGH, xenoestrogens, residual herbicides or residual insecticides. Switch to either organic milk and milk products or goat milk and goat milk products. As some toxins will be released from the fatty tissue, if you are obese or overweight and you loose weight, it is advisable to use psyllium seed husks as a supplement to bind the toxins in the gut for elimination. Fiber from  organic fruit and vegetables or oat bran are also beneficial.

On the long term it is less money to buy organic foods and prepare your own meals than going out to restaurants to eat. It is also much healthier and tasty. Avoid fast food chains as their processed foods contain artery clogging trans fats, GM foods and other questionable ingredients like “pink slime”. You do not need a cooking class to prepare a decent dinner. Read cookbooks for inspiration and modify the recipes to suit your own style. Remember to use only organic ingredients. You can’t create a healthy meal with non-organic ingredients mixed in (it’s like you start adding poisons). Break the old habits, do it right! Replace butter with olive oil. Replace sugar with organic stevia (a plant sweetener). Avoid flour (especially wheat flour). Replace it, if you must with flour from oats, spelt or farro (at this point none of them have undergone genetic changes). Because wheat has been chemically modified in the 1960’s and 1970’s and gliadin is about 7-fold higher, brain receptors react differently than to the “old” wheat. As a result many individuals find that they want more- bread, pasta, wheat cereal, bagels…you name it! The huge surge in obesity is just the final result. Cutting out wheat and otherwise reducing the intake of grains may be a big step, but  is well worth the effort! Another problem with bakery products is that the food industry is using bromine for rising and chlorine for bleaching so this adds to the toxic burden of the thyroid gland. Cut out wheat, pasta and bread and you will gain health.

2. Detoxification

If you had a lot of exposure to heavy metals in the past, you may want to see a naturopath for intravenous chelation treatments with vitamin C (10 Grams) and glutathione (1250 mg) every two weeks for some time until they are out of your system. If you have a lot of silver/mercury amalgam tooth fillings, let your dentist remove them. Ask your dentist to replace them with non-amalgam ceramic, gold inlets or crowns. Don’t use fluoride toothpaste despite your dentist’s recommendation: it is toxic as it poisons enzyme systems in your body and causes cancer of the intestines over a longer period of time. Use  a fluoride-free toothpaste from the health food store. After dental cleanings refuse the fluoride gel for the same reason. Brush your teeth frequently and floss your teeth regularly after meals. Your heart and cardiovascular system will thank you for this.

3. Eliminate other toxins from your personal care products

Check your cosmetics, shampoos, hair conditioners as well as your underarm deodorants, body wash, lip balm and sun tan lotion. Do they have parabens, triclosan (often in deodorants) or phthalates in them? They are weak carcinogens or immune disruptors. If they do, replace them with a healthier product from the health food store that does not contain these harmful ingredients. Use BPA free plastic containers for water during sport activities, they are quite affordable and can be ordered online. BPA free food containers are also available in super markets, department stores and some drug stores.

4. Clean up your home environment

Avoid toxic cleaning agents, solvents, paints, and other chemicals. If you have to deal with chemicals, be sure to ventilate your living spaces. Use latex paint instead of oil-based paint, if possible and air out well until dry. Always use vinyl gloves to protect your skin.  The body absorbs thinners or paints through the skin within a few minutes and are toxic to your system. If there is construction in your house or you move into a new home, air out frequently by opening the windows on and off until the “new” chemical odors disappear. New clothes contain chemical agents from the factory; wash them frequently until the chemicals disappear. Avoid fabric softeners as they are chemicals (or use a biological product, if you feel you must use one).

5. Pay attention to your water

The water utility company treats drinking water with chemicals (fluorine, chlorine or bromine) to make it bacteria free. It is best to drink only reverse osmosis water, bottled water, distilled water or mineral water. Home owners are doing well to remove for the rest of the household fluoride, chlorine or bromine from the tap water. with A good carbon filter can do that for you. Talk to your water treatment company.

6. Hormone balance

The aging process and the toxins in our environment affect our hormone glands and we produce less hormones as we get older than our ancestors did, but our ancestors overall did not live as long as we are today. A lot of this is due to exposure to immune disruptors like BPA’s from the older water bottles and long-term exposure to xenoestrogens (from residues of artificial fertilizers on non-organic vegetables).

We need balanced hormones, it is important to have them checked by a knowledgeable doctor. Either an A4M anti-aging physician, a naturopath or a functional medicine physician can help you. Replace missing hormones only by bio-identical hormone creams, not by synthetic factory produced pseudo-hormones. Common problems as we age are hypothyroidism, sex hormone deficiencies both in women and men, but also human growth hormone deficiencies in some (measured by IGF-1 blood levels). Without proper hormone balance all the organic food in the world will not be the answer to good health.

7. Vitamin and mineral supplements

Finally, vitamin and mineral supplements are important to support the mitochondria in your cells. Although no vitamin and mineral list is ever complete, I have summarized what I consider to be essential here. Start simple with only vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3 and a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. You can always add more later.

The only other thought is to take a slow-release capsule of iodine twice per day. This would protect you from radioactive iodine in the environment or food.  Compounding pharmacies may be your best source. One capsule generally contains 5 mg of elemental iodine and 7.5 mg of iodide. As time goes on you may want to gradually investigate the other supplements.  See whether they would be suitable in your particular case.

We all would like to enjoy a long and happy, disease-free life. This goal is  no longer  achievable by sticking to the old eating habits. Needless to say that smoking and drinking are out too, because they are toxic to your system. You may as well enjoy organic foods and gradually work yourself through the 7 points I mentioned above. This will ensure that the mitochondria of all your major organ systems will function at their best. As a result you will feel energized!

More information on vitamins, minerals, supplements and detoxification:

http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/vitamins-minerals-supplements/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014