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Issue 14: Your Body...A Toxic Dumping Ground?

Your Body: A Toxic Dumping Ground?

Each year people are exposed to thousands of toxic chemicals and pollutants in the atmosphere, water, food, and soil. As a result of the Industrial Revolution and post-World War II petrochemical revolution, toxins have accumulated in the human system faster than they can be eliminated.

People now carry within their bodies various industrial chemicals, pesticides, food additives, heavy metals (like lead), and anesthetics, plus the residues of pharmaceuticals. In recent history, people have been exposed to chemicals in far greater concentrations than were previous generations; over 69 million Americans live in areas that exceed smog standards; most drinking water contains over 700 chemicals, including excessive levels of lead; some 3,000 chemicals are added to the food supply; and as many as 10,000 chemicals in the form of solvents, emulsifiers, and preservatives are used in food processing and storage, which can remain in the body for years.

James Dillard, M.D., assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, remarks about “detox” diets and fasting in this manner: “Certainly, the human body carries huge loads of petrochemicals. We know people usually die with the full burden of PCBs they’ve ever been exposed to ‘stuck’ in their liver. DDT sticks around, too.” Can fasting and detoxification help to remove these? Dillard responds, “Theoretically, yes. When fat is mobilized, anything that is fat-soluble should be mobilized, too.”   
Our bodies have a built-in system for detoxification. Here’s how:

• Lungs: The lungs take in pounds of pollutants and eliminate toxic gases each minute.
• Skin: The skin is our largest eliminative organ. Every pore of the body is an opening, an escape route for waste material. 
• Kidneys: The kidneys eliminate fluid wastes from the body and purify the bloodstream.
• Liver: The liver is probably the most important detoxifier of all the organs because it takes poisons, neutralizes them, and what it cannot render harmless, it stores—protecting the body from harm.
• Colon: The colon eliminates solid wastes and absorbs water from foods.
Does the Body Need Help in Detoxification?

Chemical toxins move quickly from your blood into storage sites—mostly fat tissue, organs, and bones—so blood or urine levels severely underestimate our total toxic load. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitored human exposure to toxic environmental chemicals from 1970, when it began the National Human Adipose Tissue Survey (NHATS), to 1989. This study evaluated the levels of various toxins in fat tissue from cadavers and elective surgeries.

Five of what are known to be the most toxic chemicals humans have created were found in 100 percent of all samples (OCDD, a dioxin, styrene, 1,4 dichlorobenzene, xylene, and ethylphenol—extremely toxic chemicals from industrial pollution that may cause harmful changes in your liver, heart, lungs, and nervous system). Nine more chemicals were found in 91 to 98 percent of the samples, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, DDE (a breakdown of DDT, the pesticide banned in the United States since 1972), three dioxins, and one furan. Polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs) were found in 83 percent of the population.

Where do these toxins come from? They come from two places. One is the environment (external toxins); the other is our own gut (internal toxins). The by-products of our metabolism (internal toxins) need to be processed. All of them put stress on our livers.

Here are some basic steps to take to reduce toxic load in the body:

• Use only organically-raised foods. They are free of contaminants, synthetic pesticides and herbicides, hormones, preservatives, dyes, artificial colorings, and antibiotics.
• Get the poisons off your produce. Since the Food and Drug Administration tests only about 1 percent of produce for pesticide residues, cleaning your food is the only way to ensure that your are not eating agricultural poisons.
• Maintain a household free of toxic chemicals. Remove chemical contaminants and toxic household cleaners from your home, or at least to limit your exposure to them.
• Breathe clean air. As the average person spends more of his/her time indoors, the quality of indoor air becomes crucial. Toxic substances are now commonly found in tightly-sealed indoor environments. Ozone and ionizing air-filters are now available for home use. Common houseplants can be used as filters to remove pollution from indoor air, too.
• Filter your water. Tap water is a major source of the toxic chemicals that the liver is required to process. The practical solution is to get a water filter for the home and office, or at least to start using commercially purified and bottled water.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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