Plastic compounds are also a big problem. These are so common in our consumer products. Examples of these are shower curtains, the new car smell, many toys and food containers, especially. These are all plastic-based. With plastics, there is always a debate on which chemical is the worst. BPA got a lot of attention recently, but there is a myriad of equally bad chemicals that have not gotten as much attention. We make the mistake in our policies of saying, “Now that we know BPA is bad and is gone from many products, it’s safe.” That would not be the most logical approach. It would be more logical to be wary until you have hard data proving otherwise. So, it is a really good step to minimize and avoid plastics. Thankfully, there are so many good, food storage containers that are glass-based. You can also heat foods in them. Here is a brief aside I can’t ignore: Heating foods in glass containers is safe, and it is okay to microwave food in safe containers. Microwaves are not radiation. I may talk about that in a future topic. If you do get plastic containers, here is an easy trick: Let it off-gas outdoors for a few days, ideally in sunlight. The UV rays in the sun break down many of those volatile compounds. This makes them less harmful and less present.
Let’s talk about pesticides. The biggest source is our diet and then, our home. In terms of pest control, there can be compelling reasons to use pest sprays and treatments. I have been stung by scorpions at night in my own bed, minding my own business, so pests can be a serious nuisance. There is a strong correlation between the risk of leukemia and lymphoma and how much you spray indoors. Outdoors, the risk does not seem to be as significant. So, spraying around the home outside is probably not a big deal. Spraying inside the home can be a problem, so minimizing that is a good way to lower your toxin burden as well. What about pesticides in our diet? The big things to consider are produce and animal fats. Regarding produce, those that are above ground, like leaves, berries and plant stems, have the highest exposure to pesticides, as opposed to root portions or areas of plants that are inside of peels (like bananas). So, you want those fruits and vegetables that grow above ground and are without peels to be organic. Otherwise, the pesticides tend to build up and bioaccumulate. As far as common foods, the densest sources are peanuts and raisins. Coffee is also a high source of pesticides. If you enjoy coffee, then it is really worth going out of your way to get organic versions to lower the pesticide burden. I mentioned animal fats. The animals we eat have to deal with toxins like we do. One of the bad things about toxins is they build up in our fat. That can lead to weight gain and resistant weight loss. Think about this: If you are eating fat from an animal that has been exposed to toxins its whole life, you are getting a jump-start on storing toxins yourself. The fatter the animal food, the more important it is to have organic. There are studies showing that organic, high fat foods can still have substantial, pesticide residues. Even if the animal was not fed them directly, there is always so much indirect exposure that cannot be completely avoided. So, lean types of meat can be better. There is one exception to this, and that is wild fish. Wild fish fats are the most useful for lowering inflammation and helping our bodies break the cycle of too little anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.
How do you know if toxins are affecting you? There aren’t perfect measurements. There are some urinary markers that give a gauge on how much your body is processing these things, but they are somewhat indirect. The best strategy is being aware of your avoidance and reducing it. Another good strategy is to speed up your elimination processes. You can do that by pooping and peeing more, staying well-hydrated, keeping your bowels regular and sweating. It’s a great thing to break a really good sweat several times a week. You can do that with hot yoga classes. You can hang out in a dry sauna, or if you are in the beautiful, southwestern desert, there is no shortage of ways you can sweat.
Now, let’s talk about the married toxins. These are the toxins deep in your body that are really stuck. These are primarily metals and are the byproducts of everything else your body just cannot break down any further. Imagine you’re taking large, complex molecules and chemicals (like rocks) and breaking them into small pieces (like dirt). Elements are the lowest place your body can reduce things to without a particle accelerator. This is where we think about the toxic metals. The big ones are lead and mercury. Other ones are cadmium, arsenic, cesium, valium and many others. We are directly exposed to these metals, or they are byproducts of other toxins. Because our body can confuse them with good elements (such as magnesium, calcium or zinc), these metals get deeply entrenched inside our bodies. For example, you can get a certain amount of toxins stuck in the cells within your liver. When those cells break down, they can move the toxins from our stored areas, back into circulation and sent out to our intestinal tract, but the bulk of them go right back in and get absorbed again. They are so sticky; they make the loop over and over again.