A simple method to avoid cumulative exposure to everyday chemicals

Category: Optimal Health | January 27, 2020
Dr.Torsak Tip-Pairote, first Thai Functional Medicine specialist, graduate of The Institute for Functional Medicine, United States

Continuous exposure to toxic chemicals is one factor that can cause chronic disease. 
It is widely-accepted that with exposure to even small amounts of environmental toxins over a long period of time, the cumulative exposure will become one of the factors that lead to chronic disease. Due to living in the modern world, we cannot completely avoid exposure to environmental and food contaminants. How, then, can we prevent the likelihood of getting chronic diseases from these toxic chemicals?

1. Limit your exposure to toxic chemicals 
In toxicology, there are basic principles of toxic substances management. Firstly, controlling the exposure level. As there are different kinds and amounts of environmental and food contaminants, even if you choose to live in a safe place or eat toxic-free foods from organic farms, sometimes there is still a chance of being exposed to other toxins in foods such as arsenic, lead and mercury.   
The exposure control primarily begins from choosing to eat the least contaminated foods or live in the least polluted places, along with applying the Variation principle, that is, to avoid repeated exposure to certain foods or environments in order to reduce the cumulative exposure to toxic substances. 

According to the Variation principle, the most significant source of exposure is food, as there is a common belief that food can easily lead to cumulative exposure. For example, when one considers certain foods as healthy, they will consume repeated meals, such as parents who believe that their children should consume fish that contains omega-3 fatty acids and is also good for brain development, and therefore cook fish for their children every day. However, there are many reports which state that nowadays fish are heavily contaminated with some toxic substances such as mercury. A study about mercury levels in the placenta blood of pregnant women found that pregnant women who ate more than 3 servings of fish per week had significantly higher levels of mercury in their placenta blood than pregnant women who ate less than 3 servings of fish per week. In any case, mercury is a neurotoxin that can affect brain development in young children. 

2. Enhance your body’s detoxification process
The next approach to reducing the health impact of chronic exposure to toxic chemicals is to enhance your body’s detoxification process to enable it to work properly. When toxic substances get into our bodies, water-soluble toxins will be excreted through urine and sweat, hence we need to drink enough water and exercise regularly in order to enhance the detoxification process. If we do not drink water nor exercise at all, excretion of water-soluble toxins through the kidneys and sweat glands will occur less, and the toxic residues may induce adverse health effects.  

Moreover, there are certain toxins that can only be dissolved in fat. These toxins must go through conversion and regulating mechanisms in the liver before the excretion process can take place. This requires energy and a variety of nutrients, so therefore we must ensure an adequate intake of macronutrients and micronutrients. With adherence to the abovementioned Variation principle, the body will be able to receive a variety of nutrients which is sufficient to support this process.        

During liver detoxification, some toxic substances will go through the final phase of conversion and then be binded to some proteins or glucose before excretion in the bile. Therefore, we must make sure to have frequent solid bowel movements in order to constantly excrete food waste from the body. In case of chronic constipation, there is a chance that some bacteria in the digestive system will extract some converted toxins and reabsorb them back into the body. 

Having healthy nutritional status and consuming a variety of nutrients are essential for this step of detoxification process. Nutrients that contain antioxidants which can be found in colorful vegetables are beneficial to our body because they help the liver in the detoxification process while also reducing the risk of liver damage.  

In summary, the main approaches to lessening the impact of daily exposure to toxic substances consist of applying the exposure reduction process and supporting the detoxification process though consuming sufficient macronutrients, micronutrients, and antioxidants – as well as enhancing the excretion process through various channels from the body. 

Compiled by: Winna Rakkarn
Photo credit: Unsplash