On November 2009, Forbes named the country's 40 most toxic cities.
I have the privilege to work in two of the most toxic counties in the country. Los Angeles-Orange counties ranked 7 on the list with 480 facilities releasing 10,391,461 lbs. of toxic chemicals per year. Riverside-San Bernardino counties ranked 38 on the list with have 160 facilities releasing 2,082,462 lbs. of toxic chemicals in the area per year. We are exposed to over 80,000 chemicals each day. It turns out that our immune, neurologic, endocrine, and adipose systems take a big hit, and we start complaining of various symptoms, fatigue being at the top of a long list of ailments. Often adults develop allergies to items or foods that they were able to tolerated before. Chemical sensitivities are a common finding in people with immunotoxicity. Others suffer from chronic infections due to damaged immune system.
With so much in the news today about toxicity and the environment, it's hard to ignore the chatter and how it affects our health. Some of our reputable medical journals have published research about numerous toxicants affecting our health and environment:
- The Journal of the American Medical Association presented the association between the level of the chemical Bisphenol A (a substance used in the manufacture of certain soft plastics) in the urine and the risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular, and liver diseases http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18799442
- Chronic exposure to the herbicide Atrazine at low levels causes impaired cellular energy production by causing the malfunction of our mitochondria, the cell’s power house. Mitochondrial dysfunction ultimately leads to insulin resistance and increased risk of type 2 diabetes http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19365547
- Accumulation of toxic metals such as mercury, lead, or cadmium can also decrease our mitochondrial function and induce nervous system degeneration. I recommend watching the short documentary “How mercury causes brain neuron degeneration” made at the University of Calgary, Medical School http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNxQc4mkg90
Most people inherently know that there is a threshold to our toxic load, and if you go beyond that threshold, the body creates symptoms, such as allergies, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), swelling joints, eczema, brain fog, or as a compromised ability to make decisions. Also, toxicity has been implicated in a host of illnesses including asthma, Parkinson’s disease, and cancers, among others.
Working in a city with this distinction got me thinking about what each of us can do to tackle these everyday toxicities, especially when moving to a cleaner city isn’t really an option. Our bodies have to detoxify “natural,” or endogenous, compounds like vitamins or hormones as well as exogenous toxins that come from our diet, such as plant chemicals or those found in meat cooked at high heat. In addition, we are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of new-to-nature toxic compounds. This puts a tremendous burden on the liver.
Years ago, the term "detoxification" was only applied to a program for those with a drug or alcohol abuse issue, but today there are much broader and more significant applications of this concept in health care. Many studies have indicated that a personalized metabolic detoxification program can have a favorable impact on the immune and energy processing systems, as well as acid-alkaline balance, which help regulate mitochondrial (cellular energy) function. (Alternative Therapies 2007). Many people have benefited from a properly designed and implemented metabolic detoxification program. It is more than just a "feel good" experience. The outcomes of these programs can be improved blood tests, improved cardiovascular fitness tests, and improved cognitive and neurological test results. From my experience, metabolic detoxification therapy is one of the key successful programs for improving health and reducing the risk to chronic disease and can be administered at home. Different from a "fad cleansing”, a safe, well-designed metabolic detoxification program should include the following:
- Adequate calories and nutrient intake to prevent under nutrition
- Adequate (but not excessive) protein, with an emphasis on vegetable protein
- Organic fresh vegetables and fruit
- Foods and supplements that are free of common food allergens such as gluten (from grains) and casein (from dairy)
- Adequate fiber to promote proper bowel function and prevent constipation
- Consume 6-8 glasses of pure water per day
- Intake of nutrients that support proper detoxification function, i.e., green tea, cruciferous vegetables, berries, etc.
- Anti-inflammatory nutritional supplements may be necessary to suppress the body’s inappropriate chronic inflammatory response mechanisms.
- Moderate amounts of exercise
At the same time, it is important to avoid:
- Pork, cold cuts, bacon, hot dogs, canned meat, sausage, farm raised salmon, and shellfish. Meats are typically high in toxic ingredients such as estrogens, antibiotics and others typical of processed foods.
- Stimulants (including coffee and tea), synthetic chemicals, alcohol, tobacco products and modified food ingredients
It is now official: there is no clean air anywhere on the planet. Therefore, we all can benefit from undergoing a detoxification program once or twice a year to maintain our health and stave off chronic diseases.