Posted on Fri Jun 14, 2019
We live in an increasingly toxic world! Whilst it’s good to focus on eating healthily, Dr Ese Stacey writes that we must also be aware that our environment, as well as the food we eat, may result in a build-up of toxins that our bodies may find difficult to deal with.
Ingestion of high levels of toxins is well recognised to cause adverse effects to health. However, the effects of repeated exposure to lower levels of toxins is not often considered as a cause of ill health. Chronic exposure to toxic substances adds to the body’s ‘toxic inflammatory burden’. The body will do its best to deal with foreign or ‘xenobiotic’ invaders by using up its store of anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals.
However, when these systems run out of steam, ill health results. When thinking about environmental chemicals, we typically think about toxins in the air such as diesel and petrol fumes. This is not incorrect; however, the toxic substances we are exposed to in our homes may be equally damaging. The substances we use regularly are often the worst culprits such as perfumes, soaps and shampoos. Silicon contained in many everyday toiletries and hand washes can build up over time and disrupt normal cellular function.
Herbicides and pesticides can harm the gut microbes and therefore increase the toxic inflammatory burden. Eating organic vegetables that have not been sprayed with these substances can help to reduce the body’s toxic stress.
Heavy metals displace our normal trace mineral levels of zinc, copper, magnesium and manganese and therefore also hinder normal cell function. Heavy metals may come from poor air and water but also may come from tooth amalgams, from stainless steel pans (nickel) and personal care products (deodorants).
Toxic exposure can have occurred many years in the past, as some toxic substances will be deposited in the body’s tissues, organs and bone. Many are deposited in fatty tissues. Sudden weight loss may cause these toxic elements to leach into the blood stream and to cause toxic effects.
Although intracellular infections are not toxins, removing them from the body is rather like removing a toxic foreign substance that stubbornly refuses to budge. A weakened immune system will allow entry to multiple intracellular infections. These will interfere with vitamin D metabolism and further increase the toxic inflammatory burden.
Certain individuals may be exposed to moulds in their home, work or from food. Again, acute high levels of exposure can cause acute ill health with symptoms affecting almost every system of the body. Low levels of exposure, over a long period of time, may not be recognised as a cause of ill health but will add to the body’s toxic stress. Mould in the air, from damp houses or workplaces may give allergic symptoms. However, the toxins, called ‘mycotoxins’ produced by moulds can, like heavy metals, sit in the tissues and organs and disrupt normal function. Fungal contamination of certain foods such as grains, cereals, nuts, coffee and fruit has been reported in literature.
Animals that eat contaminated grain can produce mycotoxins in their milk and products such as breads produced from contaminated grains will also show levels of myctoxin. Eating grass fed meat, washing fruit in apple cider vinegar to remove moulds and limiting processed grains may help to reduce overall toxic inflammatory load from ingested moulds.
Simple lifestyle measures may help us to keep our toxic stress burdens down and help maintain health. Sweating and increased body temperature is one of the easiest ways to allow elimination of toxins that have been deposited in the body.
For those that are quite unwell however, exercise may not be possible and high temperatures may make the symptoms worse.
Infrared saunas do not require the body to be heated to high temperatures and allow elimination of toxins directly into sweat. Showering and towel drying after exercise and saunas is important as toxins left on the skin will re-enter the body if not removed. Certain foods will help the body to eliminate toxins through the gut. Probiotic foods help bile, produced by the gallbladder, to detoxify toxic substances. Prebiotic foods including fibre, garlic, cabbage, mushrooms, seaweeds and coriander, to name a few, will assist the elimination of toxins and heavy metals.
We should try to drink purified water so as not to add to our toxic burden. Ionic footbaths are controversial but are said to improve detoxification, not by elimination through the salty water but by increasing the reaction between negatively and positively charged ions in the body and so facilitating the movement of toxins from their storage points. Foot baths will also result in leaching of normal trace minerals from the body and these need to be replaced through food or supplements.
Environmental toxins in the air, food and on our skin, contribute to our toxic inflammatory burden. Exercise, fresh air, clean water, prebiotics and probiotics are simply measures that can reduce this burden.
For those who have been fighting health problems for some time, detailing the nature of the toxic burden can be a useful tool to be used to make a comprehensive plan to support return of health. Chronic and serious illness occur as symptoms of the body being unable to fight chronic inflammation. The Dr Ese Hierarchy of Health wheel, describes how the toxins effect the body.
At the centre of the wheel is you/your DNA. Science has shown that the DNA actually vibrates. When your DNA vibrates at its optimal frequency, you remain in good health. Toxic substances can attach to parts of our DNA and prevent proper function. These substances are sometimes called ‘DNA adducts’ or ‘endocrine disruptors’.
This first layer of the heirarchy is the blue layer or the Toxin Layer. These toxins can be from metals, chemicals and moulds but can also be from toxic emotional/psychological/spiritual stress.
Toxins from whichever cause may negatively effect the second Gut Layer. A disruption to the gut barrier, will mean that more foreign or xenobiotic materials will need to be dealt with by the body. Emerging evidence clearly shows that the gut is one of the main controllers of chronic inflammation in the body. Inflammation, in turn, is one of the main factors influencing almost all chronic disease such as obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes etc.
A breakdown in the gut barrier will also allow low grade and often silent infection. Chronic inflammation and infection both influence the body’s immune response. This 3rd red layer is therefore called the Immunity Layer. The body will try to deal with inflammation and infection by using the resources it has to hand such as vitamins, minerals and other specialised molecules. However, after a period of time, these resources get used up and the body becomes deficient and so creating the 4th or beige layer called the Deficiency Layer.
The adrenal glands, thyroid, vitamins and anti-oxidants may become depleted. After a period of time this then triggers, the 5th or Symptom Layer. Chronic diseases are therefore symptoms of the previous 4 layers of the wheel. Getting help for the Symptom Layer should involve dealing with the deepest layers and not just the Symptom Layer. For example, you may have a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Your doctor may prescribe calcium and vitamin D (dealing with the Deficiency Layer) to treat this or Bisphosphonates (dealing directly with the Symptom Layer) to control bone turnover. These treatments deal with the outermost layers but do not deal with the inner layers. A Whole-Person approach to health would look at the deeper layers as well as the most superficial layers.
How do we know if we are subject to toxins? We may have no overt symptoms of toxins, particularly if these have accumulated over a long period of time. Measuring the levels of moulds, chemicals and metals are the only way of knowing for sure if you have elevated levels of these toxins. Understanding if the Gut Layer is affected can also be measured using various tests. A good all-round single test, the gut-nutrient-brain test, provides an overview of how the function of the gut and its microbes are affecting the function of the body. Another good ‘overview’ test is the Immune profile. This test provides an assessment of the Immunity Layer. A chronically overworked immune system will reveal itself in the ratio between specialised immune cells (lymphocytes), as well as inflammatory markers.
For a list of tests Dr Stacey can administer, visit her website.
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