Environmental toxins affecting your health

Over the past 80 years more than 70,000 industrial chemicals have been created and are now part of our environment. No matter how clean you try to live, it is impossible to escape some level of environmental toxin exposure.

The primary source of environmental toxins is found in our food chain. This, combined with the toxins that you breathe in and that touch your skin, make up the toxic load that your liver and other organs try to deal with every second. Add in the other toxins — such as alcohol, medications, excess coffee and smoking — and you can understand why we feel unwell, sleepless, and with low energy, and are overweight and sluggish.

Yes, toxic load leads to weight gain and hormonal imbalance because the mitochondria (the energy engines that support metabolism) in the cells are effected.

Some of the leading toxins and their effects are provided below.

BPA (Bisphenol A) is a synthetic compound used to harden plastics and also is in epoxy resins. A recent study showed that over 90 percent of North Americans have detectable amounts of BPA in their bodies. BPA reduces testosterone, acts like estrogen in your body and is associated with increased abdominal fat, poor recovery from exercise, diminished libido, cardiovascular symptoms and lowered immunity.

Men with higher levels of BPA have lower sperm counts and quality, and increased levels of sexual dysfunction. Dioxins are by-products of incineration and combustion. Chlorinated hydrocarbons, especially dioxins, are everywhere, however, over 90 percent of them are found in dairy and meat products. The highest scores of dioxin exposure are from beef and dairy products, and it is stored in the fat. Dioxin exposure is also associated with cancer.

Phthalates are plastic compounds used to add flexibility to manufactured items. They are found in toys, vinyl flooring, nail polish, hair spray and time-released medications. Phthalates are fat soluble estrogenic and anti-androgenic compounds that disrupt hormone function and add inches to your waistline as your liver tries to cope with detoxifying your overburdened system.

Phthalates induce DNA damage and deformity to sperm cells, and reduce the sperm count and increase cancer incidence. Cigarette smoking is bad for lung and esophageal health, but it also profoundly impacts our reproductive health. The heavy metal found in cigarettes is cadmium, which reduces blood flow to the testes resulting in oxidative stress and damage to the testicular cells. This results in low sperm counts, poor sperm motility and increased sperm abnormalities.

The cancer risks of environmental toxins have been well researched. Toxins that have been shown conclusively to cause cancer are PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) which, although banned in the U.S., still persists in the environment.

PCBs are found in farm-raised salmon because they are fed meal of ground-up fish, which have absorbed PCPs from the environment. Sixty percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Pesticide residues are found in 50 to 95 percent of U.S. foods. You must eat organically to reduce the load!

Mold and other fungal toxins can cause cancer, heart disease, asthma M.S. and diabetes. The major sources are contaminated buildings, peanuts, wheat, corn and alcoholic beverages. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are more concentrated in indoor air than in outdoor air because they put off gas from household products such as drinking water, carpet, paint, deodorants, cleaning fluids, varnishes, cosmetics, dry cleaned clothes, moth repellents and air fresheners. They lead to cancer, eye and respiratory irritation, headaches, dizziness and memory impairment.

Chlorine is one of the most heavily used chemical agents and is found in drinking water, and household cleaners or the air if living nearby an industry that uses it in their production. It leads to a myriad of respiratory problems.

You must limit your exposure to environmental toxins as much as possible by eating organically, avoiding processed foods and avoiding chemicals in your personal environment. There are healthy alternatives at health food stores for chemical cleaners and personal care items. To assist your liver in cleaning out the toxins that you have already accumulated and to reduce the accumulated visceral fat, go to www.discoverthis.isagenix.com and watch the video “Are You Toxic?”

• Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., Certified Nutritional Adviser, can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.         

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