How Toxins are Connected to Anxiety
Could toxins around you be affecting your health?
Do you use perfume or air fresheners? Do you eat any processed or non-organic foods?
Do you drink non filtered water? Do you use conventional beauty or cleaning products?
Do you take pharmaceutical medications? Do you have a pet? Do you have any root canals or amalgam fillings?
If you answered YES for any of above questions, you have been definitely exposed to the toxins. And those are just several examples…
There are 80,000 untested chemicals in our environment. This included unhealthy cleaners, toothpaste, food dyes, artificial flavours and preservatives, etc. If it’s not made naturally, then you better believe it contains carcinogens or many times straight up poison.
What about air that we breath?
There are many different sizes particles, with or without toxic chemicals that coming from domestic fires, traffic discharges, even traveling long distance from other continents that we are inhale every day…And they also add on our toxic load and make a havoc with our health in the long run. Air pollution killed approximately seven million people a year.
It is hard to believe that most common toxins are found in your home or workplace. Places where you spend 90% of your time during the day!
That means that you are exposing yourself to hundreds of toxins that build up, concentrate and compound, and which can end up seriously compromising your health.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that some homes can be up to hundred times more toxic than polluted outside air.
And I am not talking only about indoor air that you breath but toxins in other forms that you apply on your body or hundreds of other toxins that come from your home environment—household cleaners, furniture, carpets, floors, paint, building materials, fragrances, organic matter... even your food. And all these toxins can have a combined effect.
One study from 2004 stated: “It is clear that environmental and lifestyle factors are key determinants of human disease, accounting for perhaps 75% of most cancers.”
It has been estimated that we have around 400-800 chemicals stored within our body, mostly in our fat cells.
Effects of exposure to environmental toxins are difficult to identify and document as they are cumulative and happened over longer period of time, which is why many of us dismiss and do not see connection between our chronic and other health issues.
Here’s a list of several common toxins to look out for, so you can avoid them.
1. Chloroform is a toxic, naturally-occurring, and synthetically made chemical that is used in several industries. Research has connected chloroform exposure to increased cancer risk, fatigue, headaches, kidney and liver damage, birth defects, heartbeat irregularities, and reproductive system damage.
Naturally-occurring chloroform is formed when the chlorine added to the public water supply mixes with organic matter. It enters your environment via your home, food, swimming pools, and from air pollution.
In your home, scientists say that water vapor from chlorinated water contains chloroform, especially true when this water is hot, as with showers, baths, cooking, laundry, and dishwashing. It can also enter your body from drinking chlorinated water, and by consuming food washed and produced with tap water.
2. Phthalates and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) are primarily used to strengthen plastics, soften PVC, and enhance the life of fragrances. They are also used as solvents in many consumer products, including cosmetics.
With a wide variety of toxic qualities even in low doses, phthalates can damage the lungs, liver, kidneys, and reproductive system. They have been seen to mimic hormones and cause birth defects.
We are exposed to phthalates through everyday products such as toys, shower curtains, beauty products, car seats, plastic wrap, flooring, plastic bottles and food storage containers, and even wallpaper. Medical care also poses a risk or exposure, because PVC is used in medical devices, including IV tubing and bags. Globally, 40 million tonnes of PVC are produced annually.
3. Pesticides are chemicals used to kill things that affect optimal plant growth. This includes weeds, insects, and funguses.
The EPA stated that 90% of fungicides are known carcinogens. The same is true of 60% of herbicides and 30% of insecticides.
Pesticides have also been connected to damage to the central nervous system (CNS) and kidneys, Parkinson’s disease, miscarriage, birth defects, and even blocking the absorption of food nutrients. Besides cancer, one of the most worrying effects of pesticides may be the growing evidence of endocrine (hormone) disruption.
You may think that the dangers of pesticides only affect those that deal with them directly, such as farmers, but actually many estimates say that residues from various pesticides have been detected in up to 95% of our foods!
One study showed that: “…in children converted from conventional to organic diets urinary concentration of the pesticide metabolite immediately dropped so low it was undetectable. When a conventional diet resumed, urine concentration of the metabolite increased to previous levels.”
Fruits and vegetables that are known to absorb more pesticides than others are laced on the list known as the “Dirty Dozen” including:
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
The following 15 fruits and vegetables are considered safer, because they do not contain or absorb as much pesticides:
There are a growing number of studies demonstrating that any animal that is fed products containing pesticides will also absorb them and eating these animal products exposes us even more. This would include things like butter, eggs, cheese, and meat.
4. Heavy Metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium can leak into your body and build up in the brain if your immune system is compromised, your kidneys are not functioning properly, or if you have leaky gut.
Research shows that heavy metals increase levels of chemically-altered molecules called ROS (reactive oxygen species) in the brain. ROS cause damage to brain cells, including cell aging and death. ROS are also considered a factor in the early development of Alzheimer’s.
Your body can filter out excessive heavy metals. However, if your organs or drainage systems are not working optimally, or if there is a build-up of heavy metals in your body, your body may struggle to expel them efficiently. This can lead to them being absorbed into soft tissues.
Excessive heavy metals can even create an imbalance in your gut. Compromised gut health has also been connected to a variety of diseases, including cancer, as well as to decreasing brain function, depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
Sources include your drinking water, vaccines, paints, pesticides, antiperspirant, dental fillings, seafood, prescription medications, household products, air pollution, treated wood, cosmetics, lotions, and fragrances.
5. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) are flame-retardant chemicals used on in hard plastic housings for electronic equipment, as well in upholstery fabric, beddings, carpets, plastic furniture and plastic toys clothing. They have been in wide use for more than 30 years, but are being phased out globally.
EPA stated “the presence of PBDEs in house dust and in foods are both important contributors to PBDE exposures for people of all ages, and that exposures from house dust are generally greater than those from food.”
“PBDEs are persistent chemicals that accumulate in fat tissue, so they are commonly found in foods derived from animals.”
In a 2003-2004 study, one or more form of PBDE was found in 99% of people tested.
These toxins are known hormone (endocrine) disruptors. Studies have shown that children and developing foetuses are especially at risk (A Report to the New Zealand Institute for Environmental Science and Research, Ltd, 2014).
Many research on animals demonstrated link between PBDEs to hearing deficits, behavioural changes, permanent learning and memory impairment, decreased sperm count, and cancer.
6. Dioxins are extremely toxic chemicals that are everywhere in the environment. They are formed in nature by fire and volcanoes, but the advance of industry has dramatically multiplied the presence and concentrations, worldwide. Dioxins are released through commercial or municipal waste incineration, backyard burning of trash or debris, smelting, chlorine bleaching of pulp and paper, production of pesticides and herbicides and other chemical processes, the dismantling and recycling of electronic products, and the use of fuels, such as wood, coal, or oil. Small amounts are found in cigarette smoke. Drinking water can also become contaminated by dioxins.
Dioxins are what is called a ‘persistent’ toxin, meaning they do not biodegrade well and therefore remain in the environment for a long time.
Research estimate that 95% of human exposure to dioxins comes from animal products. Fish are especially vulnerable, and the bioaccumulation creates dioxin levels 100,000 times that of their surrounding environment. It’s important to remember that many commercial animal feeds include fish. But even so, dioxins that make their way into the food chain from the environment are stored in animal fat, making dairy products as well as beef, poultry, fish, and pork all sources of these dangerous toxins.
Dioxins have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, thyroid dysfunction, birth defects, developmental problems in children, reproductive disorders, rash, increased death from cardiovascular disease, immune system damage, alterations in liver function, changes in eye function, higher serum lipid and cholesterol, and an even higher risk of diabetes.
7. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals present in solids and liquids that easily vaporize and turn into gases. You are exposed to them through the air and your skin.
VOCs can cause headaches, dizziness, eye, throat or respiratory irritation, vision problems, nausea, fatigue, loss of coordination, and memory impairment.
Chronic exposure to VOCs increases your risk of cancer, as well as damage to your liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.
Concentrations of VOCs are often 10 times higher indoors. They are extremely common in homes, due to the large number of sources.
Of the 400-plus VOC compounds identified in the home, 200 of them are found in carpeting. Other sources of these toxins are furnishings, paints, pressed wood and plywood, particleboard, cleaning liquids, new plastics, varnish, shampoo and other cosmetics, air fresheners, burning of tobacco products, wood, electronics, moth repellent, and dry cleaning.
YES, YOU ARE EXPOSED ON DAILY BASIS TO LOAD OF TOXINS BECAUSE OUR WORLD HAS BECOME VERY TOXIC!
NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY, YOU ARE STILL GUARANTEED TO ACCUMULATE TOXINS IN YOUR BODY.
All disease begins in the Gut… right? You have heard me saying this many times!
Or is it the Brain? Or the Immune system?
For many of us, it may be all three.
About 80% of the body’s immune system is located in the Gut. This is also where most of the crucial neurotransmitters for the body and brain to function efficiently are created.
Current research has shown that what’s happened in the gut does not stay only in the gut due to Gut-Brain connection, where Blood Brain Barrier affected causing intestinal permeability also known as leaky gut.
You may have heard from your naturopath or other holistic practitioner about the gut-brain connection. But main player is microbiome. The microbiome is linking the brain, immune system, and gut. The microbiome communicates with immune cells all over the body, and communicates with our brain.
Research has also given us answers on how digestion and the gut microbiome affect the brain, and common symptoms of mood disorder, and poor concentration.
Anxiety is not only brain disorder. It is whole body disorder that affects brain!
And gut health is so important! Food and environmental toxins exposure are important as they affect our gut health.
Do you see now where is that link between your anxiety and your gut health and indirectly toxins exposure via food you eat, water you drink, air you breathe, and cleaning products you use?
You don't always connect that your anxiety, moodiness, headache, depression, or brain fog is caused by the foods you eat or the damage that has been done to your gut.
If you suffering from anxieties you might want to check how is your gut doing.
All three, the Brain, Immunity, and the Gut, need to be addressed no matter what your health issues and symptoms are. There is a Brain-Immune-Gut axis that interconnects all three systems, and when one part of the system goes down, the other parts suffer as well.
Next time you are shopping think twice when you are grabbing that washing powder, toilet cleaner or tooth paste! It pays to take time and read list of the ingredients on those products.
You can start with:
Learn the most common toxins and their sources
Find alternatives whenever possible
Mitigate the hazard as appropriate (limit exposure, use filters, buy organic, etc) or do without the product entirely
Regularly ventilate your home, especially during the colder months
You might need the support and guidance from your naturopath with replacing toxic household cleaners and personal hygiene items with natural, non-toxic options.
If you want to learn more about how to reduce toxic load in our everyday life, or want to know more about gut - brain connection, feel free to reach out and have free 15 min chat with me.