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Toxins- The Silent Hazard To Your Health

Reduce Your Total Body Burden To Fix Your Unresolved Symptoms

Posted by NutritionMax - September 15th, 2016

Clearly, there’s innumerable toxicants out there in the world that make it purely impossible to avoid exposure. And everyone has a different level of specific and total toxin exposure. But disregarding the true potential threat these minor daily exposures pose on your health is a massive oversight that can sneak up on you, and you won’t even realize it.

I like to call this the bucket theory. Think of your body as a bucket. Everyone’s bucket is filled up with varying levels of toxins, or for the purpose of the metaphor, “water.” When that bucket fills up to the brim and overflows, is when health complications arise, symptoms pop up out of the blue, and ailments surface. Disease and disorder is a multifactorial issue that isn’t traced back to solely toxicants, but make no mistake, it’s absolutely a hidden threat that frequently goes ignored.

If you become plagued with a serious health crisis, would you even consider something like cadmium toxicity or overexposure to PCDs as a causative factor? Probably not, but you should. Perhaps you should start being more considerate about your daily toxicant exposures.

Let’s start with this disquieting statistic recently posted by the CDC: Of a measly 246 toxins tested in subjects, 108 were found.

Despite the fact that there are 1000s of toxins out there, we can still identify the major types that are incredibly ubiquitous in our modern society. And we can compartmentalize them into two categories: POPs and Non-POPs.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
Of the two, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are the toxins you want to be more concerned about. POPs include toxins like:

  • Polychlorinated/Polybrominated Biphenyls (PCBs/PBBs)
  • Flame retardants
  • Dioxins
  • Furans
  • Chlorinated pesticides
  • Heavy metals: mercury, lead, cadmium

PCBs, for instance, are commonly found in the soil and water supply, but perhaps a simple way to reduce exposure is to avoid farm-raised fish. While the dangers concerning PCBs are noted in the literature for reducing IQ when humans are exposed during fetal and early life development, it can interfere with thyroid functionality, reproduction and reduce immunity.


Non-stick cookware like Teflon are a very common source of a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which has been linked with liver and neurotoxicity. With what seems like an easily avoidable toxin, it’s best to use glass, stainless steel or ceramic cookware, especially if you’re a savvy cook who uses cookware daily.

Heavy Metals
While mercury in its elemental form is non-toxic, the issues around it stem from its ability to be chemically modified to inorganic mercury by microbes in the gut. This is a problem because high accumulations can impair enzymatic function, induce an immune response, change neuronal membranes, thereby engendering symptoms of neurotoxicity including short-term memory loss and vision difficulties, insomnia, fatigue, tremors, stomatitis, and damage to other organs like the kidneys and GI tract. For the pregnant woman, mercury is a neuroteratogen.

The CDC estimates that upwards of 75% of one’s exposure to mercury is rooted in amalgams or dental fillings since microbes convert elemental mercury to methylmercury. The secondary source of exposure comes from consumption of farm-raised fish and large game fish such as yellow fin tuna, Chilean seabass, tilefish, swordfish, shark, marlin, etc. Considering that mercury bioaccumulates in fat tissue, it has a long half-life of at least 10 years, where the brain can collect it for as much as 20 years.

While the likelihood of reaching such toxic levels is scarce, the possibility cannot be ruled out. The EPA has set the reference dose for total daily exposure to 7μg/d in a 70 kg adult. Therefore, some people who have dental fillings and also encounter mercury from fish and their occupation, could surpass this dose. Hair and urine analysis are two means of measuring inorganic mercury, where levels above 1μg/g and 50μg, respectively, signify toxicity.


Smoking provides a large source of cadmium exposure, but it can come from automobile emissions, spray paint, and organ meats. Either way, the risks of toxicity are quite low unless you work in the auto industry or smoke heavily. It’s worth mentioning though that your ability to absorb more cadmium is contingent upon your iron status. Because cadmium and iron use the same transporter protein to cross the gut lining, cadmium exposure can be greater in iron deficiency states.


Measuring cadmium in whole-blood is effective for detecting recent exposure while urinary cadmium measurements is useful for total body exposure.

Exposure to this element is predominantly from paint and crops grown on lead contaminated soil. Eggs from hens who inhabited contaminated soil were found to acquire high levels of not just lead, but mercury and thallium. Certainly, foods have varying levels of heavy metals due the unpredictability of the soil’s nutrient profile. However, the range of absorbed lead from your diet can be as much as 10%, and can be much greater in individuals with leaky gut or poor gut health.

Ultimately, bone is the main target for lead deposition. Much like cadmium, lead shares the same carrier protein in the gut, so there’s a higher rate of lead absorption in iron deficiency. So, it seems logical that preserving a healthy iron level is protective of heavy metal absorption and potential lead neurotoxicity.

Lead also interferes with porphyrin synthesis – a building block of red blood cells, which if interrupted, results in microcytic anemia. Therefore, urinary coproporphyrin is the most salient biomarker for measuring levels of lead and for assessing defects in porphyrin functionality.  Similarly, because keratin in hair follicles binds will with lead, hair analysis is a secondary option.

Because lead has a half-life of about 35 days in the blood, testing reflects recent exposure where chelation therapy can reveal total body exposure.

Non-persistent Organic Pollutants (Non-POPs)
Despite the fact that these compounds have a much lower half-life in the body compared to its POP counterpart, they are still toxins to bear in mind and watch exposure. These would entail:

  • Arsenic
  • Organophosphates
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)
  • Plastics and BPA
  • Phthalates
  • Parabens
  • Benzophenone-3
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Solvents

One of the simplest ways to cut out exposure to arsenic and pesticides is to purchase organic food like meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Feedlot, non-organic meat in particular is laden with nasty dioxins, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, steroids, inflammatory fats, recombinant bovine growth hormone, and possibly some heavy metals that you could easily avoid.

A simple shift to organic can help remove the burden within a week.

Plastics, like water bottles, Tupperware, and coffee lids contain BPA – an endocrine disruptor and potential threat for autoimmunity in genetic susceptible people, along with PAH, PCBs and synthetic estrogens.

Nevertheless, non-POPs extends beyond just food – it’s in your cosmetics too. Specifically, parabens and phthalates in deodorants, detergents, shampoos and skin products affect estrogen levels in the body. When level of exposure to exogenous estrogens like these is high, you shift towards an estrogen dominant state.

For the purposes of good health, high estrogen in the body contributes not only to PMS, but also fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and PCOS.  Not to mention, an estrogen dominant state increases alpha-adrenergic receptors in the hips, thighs and arms, which make fat loss even more difficult to accomplish, especially in the arms and legs.

But, unfortunately in today’s society, estrogen dominance is rife because estrogens are found everywhere. Besides your personal care products, and plastics, estrogens are found in soy, and non-organic dairy and meat due to the animal’s poor diet. Any way you look at it, avoidance of estrogens from all sources is in your best interest to help with fat loss and to keep you healthy. Period.

What’s The Best Way To Avoid Toxins Then?
While it’s easier said than done, there’s a myriad of exogenous toxins out there so finding the highest quality foods, water, and cosmetics can go a long way in minimizing exposure. Here is an easy protocol to follow to reduce dietary toxin exposure:

  • Eat organic foods: meat (grass-fed/organic) dairy, fruits and vegetables or as I always say, the foods you eat the most daily to reduce multiple toxin exposures like pesticides and antibiotics.

  • Cook meat with low heat and in a moist environment to reduce PAH creation (if it’s non-organic, then high heat is advised).

  • Eat wild-caught fish to reduce heavy metal exposure.

  • Consider removing and replacing amalgams.

  • Drink filtered water to decrease arsenic intake.

  • Purchase non-stick cookware manufactured from ceramic and glass.

  • Reduce plastic use and avoid plastics with the recycling codes #3, #6 and #7 seen on the bottom. Absolutely avoid heating plastics in the microwave.

  • Choose BPA-free canned foods and remove the coffee lid from your Starbucks.

  • Use phthalate and paraben free cosmetics.

  • Opt for sunscreen that contains zinc oxide instead of benzophenone-3.

Environmental toxicants are inescapable and ubiquitous in our society – that is true. Toxicity risks vary per person, and are very situational. However, chronic low level exposure could be an underlying source of a condition you had previously unattributed to certain toxins. Total toxic burden can pose a threat at varying levels that is unique to the individual. It’s important to recognize that sustaining good health relies on keeping total toxic burdens low enough so symptoms don’t arise. There is no down side to making conscious efforts to reduce toxin exposures, like heavy metals.

How Many Of Your Symptoms Could Be Toxin Related?
It’s a difficult question to answer, which is why an individualistic examination is required. When I work with clients, I use detailed a medical questionnaire to help estimate the level of toxicity in the body. Either way, everyone has some level of that “bucket” filled up – we just need to know how much.

If you feel lost with your health and are suffering from unnecessary symptoms that aren’t being resolved from your current protocol, multiple toxins could be responsible amd justify a specific detoxification protocol.

If this sounds like something you need desperately, please let me know right now by visiting HERE. Let’s make sure you are 100% on track with your heath!

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posted by NutritionMax
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NASM CPT, Master's in Human Nutrition
Precision Nutrition Sports & Exercise Nutritionist

Justin Janoska is a professional fitness coach and a clinical nutritionist who specializes in helping people with challenging diseases. He runs an online coaching platform where he helps people like you reach build muscle or lose weight.

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