As we’re beginning the second quarter of 2020, the world is still racing to find answers amidst the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, finding ways to bolster your body’s defenses and better protect yourself from harmful germs is more important than ever.
This is why I want to talk about an often overlooked component that can be putting a serious damper on your immune system: your total toxic burden.
Let’s take a look at exactly what your total toxic burden is. And more importantly, we’ll dive into ways you can reduce your toxic burden to give your immune system a major boost.
What is Your Total Toxic Burden?
Our bodies are bombarded with countless toxic compounds on a daily basis.
Whether it comes from the food and water we consume, the air we breathe, or the products we come into contact with – our daily exposure is enormous. Our bodies are designed to deal with small amounts of toxins and process them out through our natural detoxification systems. The problem arises when our bodies can no longer keep up and toxins begin building up.
Your total toxic burden is the accumulation of all the different toxins in your body at any given time.1 Think of your total toxic burden like a bucket. Your body is equipped to handle enough toxins that can be contained in this “toxin bucket”. But when toxin exposure exceeds your body’s detox abilities, that bucket overflows.
What Contributes to Your Total Toxic Burden?
Toxins that contribute to your total toxic burden are everywhere. They fall into two categories: exotoxins and endotoxins.
Exotoxins are toxins that you’re exposed to externally. This can be from polluted air, contaminated food or water, or from contact with the various chemicals in day-to-day materials. Some of the most commonly occurring exotoxins include:
- Heavy Metals: Materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and others can be found in tap water, cookware, personal care products, and beauty products.2
- VOC’s: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are toxic gasses that are emitted from many household materials like carpet, paint, furniture, or cleaning products.3
- Pesticides: This is an umbrella term that refers to numerous chemicals that are used to kill insects, rodents, weeds, and other microorganisms in the agricultural industry. The widespread use of pesticides has left our soil, groundwater, and food contaminated – making exposure inevitable.
- Mold: Exposure to toxic mold is quite common. The most common routes of exposure are through contaminated food or from moldy buildings.
- EMF Radiation: EMFs or electromagnetic fields are emitted from electronics like cell phones, computers, and wifi routers. They cause oxidative stress and act as harmful toxins in the body.
- Phthalates & Parabens: These harmful chemicals are widely used in cosmetic products, personal care products, and cleaning supplies.4
- PCB’s: PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls are a class of highly toxic chemicals that were banned in the 1970s. Unfortunately, because they’re highly resistant to breakdown, PCB’s are still showing up everywhere thanks to rampant environmental contamination.5
It’s impossible to completely avoid toxins because they’re so prevalent in the environment, but there are measures you can take to decrease your total toxin burden.
Endotoxins are toxins that you’re exposed to internally such as:
- Intestinal Bacteria: Your intestines contain trillions of microorganisms that are supposed to work in conjunction with your body. But when the balance of your gut flora gets out of whack and “bad” organisms begin to outnumber beneficial bacteria, it creates a toxic environment.
- Yeast Overgrowth: Yeast or candida overgrowth can not only disrupt your healthy gut flora, but it also produces the toxin acetaldehyde.
- Hidden Infections: Hidden underlying infections like Lyme disease or Epstein Barr can wreak havoc on your body, are often difficult to pinpoint and diagnose, and can exhaust your immune system.
- Stress: An often overlooked toxin is stress. Chronic stress is one of the most toxic and detrimental influences on overall health.
- Medications: While some medications may be necessary, in general, they contribute to your toxic burden due to the numerous chemicals, fillers, and binders found in most medications.
So, not only are you exposed to toxins from the environment, but also from within your own body – and sometimes that’s unavoidable.
Signs Your Toxic Burden is High
The problem with having a high total toxic burden is that most times, it’s difficult to pinpoint. It’s easier to diagnose and understand cases of acute toxicity. But the slow accumulation of toxins in the body typically presents in a much sneakier, and unclear way. It’s this steady build-up that slowly overloads your body’s detoxification mechanisms and interrupts normal processes.
Because of this gradual accumulation, symptoms often show up in vague ways like:
- Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Digestive upset: gas, bloating, diarrhea, foul-smelling stools, heartburn
- Skin problems: rashes, eczema, psoriasis, acne
- Food cravings and trouble losing weight
- Water retention
- Sinus congestion and post-nasal drip
If not addressed, your total toxic accumulation continues to climb, it can further throw your body out of whack and contribute to more serious conditions like:
- Chronic infections
- Progressive immune dysfunction
- Autoimmune diseases
- Neurodegenerative conditions
- Endocrine disorders: thyroid, adrenal, male/female hormones
- Multiple chemical sensitivities
- Allergies or asthma
What’s even more concerning, is that a high total toxic burden can put a serious damper on your immune system – making you more susceptible to infectious diseases and chronic illnesses.
How Your Toxic Burden Impacts Your Immune System
Your immune system’s job is to identify, neutralize, and eliminate foreign invaders from the body. When your body recognizes a toxin, it targets the toxin and gets to work on removing it. It’s designed to be a well-oiled machine – constantly working to protect you from harmful compounds and organisms.
But when your total toxic burden gets too high, causing your “toxin bucket” to overflow, your immune system is forced into overdrive. This causes chronic low-level inflammation – meaning your immune system is chronically stuck working overtime just to keep up.6 But it can only keep up that pace for so long.
Eventually, your immune system becomes worn-out and gets weaker and less effective. As your immune system becomes suppressed, it compromises your body’s ability to detox from harmful substances. And as your body’s ability to detox is impaired, more and more toxins build up. This creates a vicious cycle that continually weakens your immune system.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to start reducing your toxic burden and healing your immune function right away.
What You Can Do to Reduce Your Total Toxic Burden
When it comes to reducing your total toxic burden, I recommend a two-pronged approach:
- Reducing your exposure
- Enhancing your bodies ability to detox
By approaching your total toxic burden with these tactics, it addresses both sides of the equation and helps restore balance in your body as quickly as possible. Let’s look at some ways you can get started on reducing your total toxic burden.
Reduce Your Total Toxic Burden by Avoiding Exposure
It’s impossible to avoid exposure to toxins. But there are some simple ways you can minimize exposure to reduce the amount of toxins you come in contact with on a daily basis. Here are some changes that’ll give you the most bang for your buck and drastically reduce your toxic exposure levels.
Address Potential Mold:
I’ve written extensively about mold because understanding how it affects your body is crucial to your health. To learn more about mold and how to minimize your exposure, I suggest starting with these articles:
- Got Mold? Prevent Mold by Healing Your Homes Microbiome
- Mycotoxins: The Hidden Danger Lurking in Your Kitchen
- Your Definitive Mold Clean Up Guide
Because exposure to mold and mycotoxins is so common and is often easily overlooked, investigating potential exposure sources is always a good idea.
Be Mindful of Household & Personal Products:
Most cleaning products and personal products are chock-full of harmful chemicals.
Natural products are just as effective without the toxic side effects. When it comes to personal and beauty products, I love Annmarie Gianni’s skincare line.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet:
The food you eat either contributes to inflammation or helps combat inflammation. Focus on eating an anti-inflammatory diet high in fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and high-quality protein sources. That way you’ll minimize toxins found in processed foods. And at the same time, you’re helping your body retaliate against unavoidable toxins by giving it the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Clean Up Your Air & Water:
Indoor air is notoriously polluted – up to 10 times more polluted than outside air. I strongly suggest investing in a quality air filter since we spend most of our time indoors. I personally use and highly recommend Austin Air Filters. You can even get a discount through our clinic – just call our office at 303-993-7910 to find out how.
Water is essential for life and especially important when it comes to helping your body properly detox. Unfortunately, water can also be highly polluted with countless toxins and chemicals. A high-quality water filter can help remove harmful impurities – leaving you with the purest and highest quality water possible. I use and recommend Berkey Water Filters.
Minimize EMF Radiation:
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) may be invisible, but the damage they can cause is real. Constant exposure to EMFs in our ultra-connected world can contribute significantly to your total toxic burden. While it’s impossible and unnecessary to avoid all EMF exposure, simply shutting off electronics and keeping them out of your bedroom can go a long way.
To learn more about how EMFs can be harmful and how you can reduce exposure, head over to this article on the dangers of 5G.
Reduce Your Total Toxic Burden by Enhancing Detoxification
Equally as important as minimizing exposure in the first place, is giving your body’s detoxing capacity a boost. Here are some of the most powerful detox-enhancing tips:
Focus on Gut Health:
Your digestive tract plays a crucial role in processing and excreting toxins:
- Having regular bowel movements is crucial to eliminate toxins
- Having a healthy and balanced gut flora keeps your immune system running on all cylinders
- Maintaining the health and integrity of your intestinal lining ensures harmful compounds don’t accidentally make their way into your bloodstream
My top two recommendations for gut health are a daily probiotic to regularly introduce beneficial bacteria and a daily collagen supplement to provide the building blocks to keep your intestinal lining in tip-top shape.
Take Detox Binders:
Detox binders “latch” onto environmental toxins, heavy metals, mycotoxins from mold, and infectious microorganisms so your body’s natural detoxification systems can remove them more effectively. My favorite detox binders are G.I. Detox and Upgraded Coconut Charcoal.
Include Alternative Detox Methods:
Some other effective methods you can use to help your body detox include:
I suggest incorporating some or all of these into your detox routine for the best results.
Set Yourself up for Success
I am a firm believer that you are your own best advocate in many areas, especially when it comes to your health.
While it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless – especially when in the midst of a pandemic – I am determined to remind my patients and readers that, you do in fact, hold immense power over your own health.
Implementing the strategies outlined in this article to reduce your toxic burden is a powerful way to strengthen your immune system and bolster your body’s defenses against potentially harmful toxins and germs.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to learn how everyday toxins can be putting a damper on your immune system? What steps are you taking to minimize your toxic burden? Share your questions and thoughts in the comments below!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.