What Are Toxins and How Are They Affecting Us?

The Most Common Toxins

Toxins are everywhere!

In the water we drink, in the foods we eat, in the air we breathe, in the products we use, and in the environment we live.

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As it would be explained in great detail, later in this post, these toxins affect our lives adversely and have been proved to be a potential threat for our health and well-being.

The first step we can take to stop these toxins, from putting our health and lives at stake, is to bring awareness to their existence and their potential threats.

The more people start to realize what these toxins are and how they’re affecting their lives, the more our chances to deal with these harmful toxins would be.

And that’s exactly why I decided to take the time to write this long post on toxins. The goal is to help people realize that the toxins really do exist and are affecting our lives adversely.

When one knows what those harmful toxins are, it gets much easier to keep away from them.

In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of toxins which may affect our lives negatively. The truth is that most of these toxins are not epidemic or are not impacting our lives greatly.

So, it’s practically impossible and unnecessary to list all of the toxins in the world in here. Instead, in this post, I’ve tried to just list the ones which are more prevalent, have the greatest impact on our lives, and impose the greatest risk.

I’ve also tried to avoid speculative conclusions and have adopted a more scientific and evidence-based approach.

Before rattling off a laundry list of the most harmful toxins, which are affecting our lives negatively, let’s see what the word “toxin” really means.


Toxin Definition

As explained above, the main purpose of this post is to bring awareness to very existence of toxic substances which are threatening our lives day in and day out.

But, what a toxin really is and what the literal and implied meanings of the word “toxin” are?

Toxin as defined by Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary is:

a poisonous substance, esp. one that is produced by bacteria and causes disease

So, according to this definition from Cambridge Dictionary, a toxin substance is in fact a poison. On the other hand, the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary defines poison as:

a substance that causes illness or death if swallowed, absorbed, or breathed into the body

None of these dictionary definitions set a specific time frame for a toxin (or poison) to cause disease or death.

So, any substance which can cause disease or death either immediately or over a short or long period of time can be considered as a toxin.

In this regard, both Cyanide and Carbon Monoxide (CO) can be considered as toxins. Inhaling Cyanide can lead to death in a matter of seconds while inhaling Carbon Monoxide would kill you over the long haul.

The only difference between the two is in their level of toxicity. Cyanide is a toxin with extremely high levels of toxicity while Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a toxin with low levels of toxicity.

Detox programs usually have nothing to do with toxins with high level of toxicity, but anything to do with toxins with lower level of toxicity. The substances which are killing people silently and imperceptibly.

Another point we need to pay attention to while trying to define the word “toxin” is that “toxin”, as it’s dictionary definition points to, is, in fact, a poisonous substance which is produced by bacteria, or a living organism, to be more exact. So, the the poisonous substances produced and injected by bees or snakes can be considered as real toxins.

The unnatural poisonous substances which have been produced by people are called “toxicants” in toxicology’s terminology, but not the “toxin”.

What most of the detox diets and programs refer to as “toxins” are in fact “toxicants” in it’s literal meaning.

The word “toxin” has been widely used as an alternative to “toxicant” by many doctors, health experts through media, all over the net, and even within academic and scientific resources. Consequently, I also prefer to use the word “toxin” to refer to what the word “toxicant” means literally.

So, to wrap it up, we can define toxin as:

Toxin” is a natural or unnatural poisonous substance which can cause disease or death immediately or over the long run, if the body is exposed to them through eating, drinking, breathing, touching, etc.

Now that we have our own true definition of the word “toxin”, let’s see what these toxins really are and how do they affect our health.


What are Toxins?

“Earth, and all life on it, are being saturated with man-made chemicals in an event unlike anything in the planet’s entire history”. Says Julian Cribb, the author of the book ‘Surviving the 21st Century‘.

The toxins are everywhere! In the air we breathe, in the water we drink, in the food we eat, in the clothes we wear, in the makeup we put on, and finally in the negative thoughts we nurture in our minds.

For simplicity’s sake, in this article, I’ve classified all major toxins into 5 different categories based on how they enter into our bodies:

  1. The toxins we eat
  2. The toxins we drink
  3. The toxins we breathe
  4. The toxins we put on
  5. The toxins we unsee

The infographic below illustrates all of the common toxins which are affecting our lives the most. More explanations about each toxin is also provided below the infographic.

The Most Common Toxins - Infographic

So, without further ado, let’s delve more deeply into each toxin and see why and how they are they affecting us…


1. The Toxins We Eat

We put a large amount of toxic foods into our bodies each and every day.

It’s truly out of the scope of this article to list and describe each and every toxic food we may deal with daily. But, here I’ve listed only the most important ones that can pose a risk to our health.

Silver Amalgam

Amalgam is a material which has been used in dentistry as a cheap filling material for more than 150 years.

In recent years there has been a lot of concerns and disputes around mercury, a highly toxic substance which makes up around 50 percent of amalgam fillings.

Mercury is a highly toxic and poisoning material which is available in nature in different forms like in the form of a liquid in thermometers. Mercury also is being used in amalgam fillings to make it pliable and harder.

According to US government’s “Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry”, mercury is ranked as the third most hazardous toxic chemical in the world ().

Even though it’s an incontrovertible fact that mercury is a highly toxic and hazardous substance, some studies and health authorities still advocate the use of amalgam fillings.

A 2012 study showed that mercury in amalgam does not pose a health risk unless in very rare cases when the patient shows allergic reactions to the mercury ().

FDA also did a thorough research around the amalgam mercury toxicity and its potential side effects. The study concluded that since the amount of mercury available in amalgam fillings is noticeably low it can not pose a risk to those who have them in their mouths ().

Dr. Hal Huggins questioned the practice of using amalgam as a dental filling about 40 years ago.

“I have now tested a total of over 7,000 patients, and I can show that over 90 percent of them demonstrate immune reactivity to low levels of mercury”. Claimed Dr. Hal Huggins in his controversial book titled It’s All In Your Head: The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness.

“I did note that my finding of 90 percent actual reactivity was far different from the ADA’s 5 percent, 1 percent, 3 percent, or one in 1 million”. Said Dr. Huggins in his book, while questioning the validity of ADA’s data.

After the findings of Dr. Huggins, an increasing number of health experts, including natural health pros, physicians, and dentists, have been advocating against the use of amalgam fillings.

“Conventional dentists drill holes in your teeth in exchange for money and then place a poisonous substance in your mouth (mercury fillings) to prevent bacteria from making a hole in your teeth”. Says Ramiel Nagel in his prime book named Cure Tooth Decay.

In recent decades, a good deal of books have been written on the subject of amalgam fillings and their effect on our health. Below is just a few you can check out for further reading:

Preservatives and Additives

Preservatives and additives are chemical compounds which have been used in the modern food industry for decades. They make the foods look more appealing and taste noticeably better. They also improve the life shelf of the food and help us keep the quality of the food for a longer time.

But, unfortunately, these amazing benefits of using preservatives and additives are not without a catch.

A growing number of new studies have shown that the use of chemicals which are being used as preservatives and additives may pose health risks. The risk can be mild or life-threatening ().

The most dangerous preservatives and additives which new studies have proved may cause problems or impose health risks are: artificial colors (), artificial sweeteners (), Sulfites, Nitrites (), Trans Fats, Extracts, and many more…

Due to health-threatening side effects of preservatives and additives, it’s recommended, by most health experts, including physicians and nutritionists, to omit from your diet all of the foods which contain these chemical ingredients.

Sugar

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware of the health risks of over-consuming sugar. Below is a list of just a few of the many adverse health effects of sugar:

  • May promote weight gain ()
  • Can damage your liver ()
  • May cause heart disease ()
  • May increase the risk of cancer ()
  • May increase the risk of depression ()
  • May accelerate the aging process ()
  • Can decrease the energy levels ()
  • May increase the risk of diabetes ()

Despite all of the health-threatening effects conferred on sugar, some health experts, such as Chris Kresser, still refrain to classify sugar as a toxic food. But, as it was confirmed by a 2015 study, sugar can definitely be classified as a toxic food.

So, just to be on the safe side, here in detoxopedia, we’ll also consider sugar as a toxic food and would recommend to refrain from consuming sugar as much as possible.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral which can be found in soil, water, and foods. It was not longer than a few decades ago, when the scientists found that this mineral can help to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay.

Since then, Fluoride became a commercial element and was made synthetically in order to be added to water or be used in dental products such as toothpastes or mouthwashes ().

But, later, the newer and more thorough studies showed that over-consumption of fluoride is not without a cost. If the levels of fluoride in the body is greater than the levels recommended by authoritative sources, there will be the occurrence of a condition known as Fluoride Toxicity. Fluoride Toxicity may cause bone or dental fluorosis, kidney injury, or pose adverse effects on thyroid or brain ().

According to the data provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 23% of Americans aged 6-49 and 41% of children aged 12-15, are suffering from some form of dental fluorosis ().

A newer 2017 study found out that fluoride deficiency is not the main cause of tooth decay and supplementing it would not reverse the process of tooth decaying ().

So, Unless suggested by a qualified health professional, it’s recommended to avoid all dental products which contain fluoride.

Drugs

Drugs are being made for treating ailments and diseases. But, what if the drug itself pose illness.

We all know that nearly all chemical drugs have side effects.

It means that although they would help to treat the symptoms, but, it’s not going to be without a cost. They may effect your health negatively. And, in some cases, they may do more harm than any good.

For example, antibiotics are a highly effective medication for controlling and treating bacterial infections. But, new studies have showed that even short-term consumption of antibiotics can kill the helpful bacteria in the gut and affect the gut microbiome negatively (). The beneficial gut bacteria, on the other hand, play a crucial role in your overall health, and new studies have shown that their damage or imbalance would affect your health significantly ().

Drug Toxicity” is a specialized term which refers to an acute health condition in which the toxins resulted from consuming drugs get accumulated in the bloodstream. This buildup of toxins may pose a serious threat to the patient. This buildup usually happens due to a drug overdose or kidney and liver’s inability to eliminate those toxins.

The older people are at higher risk for drug toxicity. The reason is that elderly people tend to use more medications and since the functioning of their body’s detoxification system have diminished due to aging, the drug toxins are more likely to remain in their bodies and pose drug toxicity ().

“Most drugs are eliminated from the body through the kidneys and liver, but starting around the fourth decade we start accumulating fat and lose muscle mass, accompanied by a progressive decline in the ability of our kidneys and liver to process and clear medications. All of this makes us more prone to drug toxicity.” Says Mukaila A. Raji, M.D., chief of geriatric medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston ().

Natural Toxins

World Health Organization (WHO) defines natural toxins as: “Natural toxins are toxic compounds that are naturally produced by living organisms.

Despite man-made chemicals, these toxins are not produced through artificial food-manipulation. These toxins are available mainly in some plants and animals due to their natural occurrence.

The natural occurrence of toxins is, in fact, a defensive tool which the toxin-producing plants use to ward off insect attacks and spoilage through microbes or rotten weather.

Over 300,000 different types of plant species are available in the world. Only a few hundreds of these species are commonly eaten by human. And about 2000 of these species are poisonous ().

There are also 1200 species of animals which are considered as poisonous or venomous ().

Although it’s usually easy to recognize naturally toxic food, but sometimes people may use them unknowingly. For example, there are some algae in the sea which are toxic for humans but non-toxic for shellfishes. So, by eating a shellfish which has fed from toxic algae, we may get intoxicated.

Mycotoxins are a group of natural toxins which are produced by fungi or molds in foods such as cereals, nuts, fruit and dried fruit, coffee, cocoa, spices, oil-seeds and milk (). So, it’s recommended to avoid eating moldy foods at all costs.

It should be noted that not all molds are harmful and unhealthy. In fact, there are some types of mold which are used for making certain varieties of cheese like Blue cheese, Stilton, and Brie. These molds are not harmful and are completely safe to eat.

Sometimes, natural toxins may develop in plants or animals we commonly use as food. Examples are (, ):

  • glycoalkaloids in potatoes
  • cyanogenic glycoside in the kernel of some of the stone fruits such as apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, plums and prunes
  • cyanide-generating compounds in bitter apricot seeds and bamboo shoots
  • hypoglycin in unripe ackees
  • unknown natural toxins in fiddleheads
  • enzyme inhibitors and lectins in soya beans, green beans and other legumes
  • toxic microalgae in shellfish, crustacean and fin-fish
  • ciguatoxin in coral reef fish

As a rule of thumb, to avoid the potential health hazards of natural toxins, you need to refrain from eating any food you’re not sure if they’re edible, especially in the case of sea foods and mushrooms. You also need to follow the conventional food processing and cooking practices. In most cases, cooking would eliminate or reduce the level of toxicity of natural toxins significantly.

While preparing food, you also need to pay ample attention to remove inedible parts of the food such as rotten or sprouted parts of a plant food, and uneatable parts of animal food such as gonads and skin.

Toxic Sprouted Potatoes
Toxic Sprouted Potatoes

Also make sure to refrain from eating any moldy, rotten, and green food, just to be on the safe side.

The Other Toxins We Eat

The toxins mentioned above are not the only toxins we put in our bodies through eating. In fact, there are way more toxins which find their way into our bodies through eating.

So, enumerating and describing all of these toxins is out of the scope of this single article, and many other articles or even books needs to be written to explain them thoroughly.

But, just to shed some light on the topic, below I’ve just enumerated a few other toxins which we put into our bodies through eating:

  • Phthalates: A toxic chemical used in plastics which makes its way into our body through eating foods stored in plastic containers ()
  • Styrene: Is a toxic synthetic chemical which is used for making lots of products such as rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing (). It also gets into our body through eating foods which have been in close contact with food containers.
  • Bisphenol-A (BPA): Is a toxic chemical which has been used for making plastic food containers or in the lining of the containers of canned foods. Hundreds of studies have shown that exposure to this common chemical may cause infertility in men and women (), increase the risk of blood pressure (), type-2 diabetes (), or obesity ().
  • Trans Fats: Also known as trans fatty acids are in fact the unhealthiest kind of oil you can add to your diet. An increasing number of studies have shown that trans fats may increase the risks of heart disease (), type-2 diabetes, obesity, or may cause chronic inflammation () which is the root of many other health conditions.
  • Mercury: Is considered as a neurotoxin, meaning it may damage nerves and brain as it has been indicated by new studies (). In most cases, mercury finds its way into our bodies through fishes. Fishes, on the other hand, get contaminated by mercury through the man-made environmental pollution (). To avoid the adverse health effects of mercury it’s recommended to only use fishes with lower level of mercury contamination.

2. The Toxins We Drink

As it was laid out above, having the wrong food choices may expose our bodies to a myriad of toxins and pose many health risks.

In case of drinks, the situation is not much better. It may be even worse!

Nearly 60 percent of the body of an adult consists of water. So, inevitably, we need to drink a large amount of liquids in order to supply required water to the body.

But, in most cases, the water and other drinks we gulp down, carry unwelcome toxins with themselves into our bodies which are detrimental to our health.

Below are the most common types of drinks which may expose our bodies to harmful toxins.

Water

“You Need to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day in order to keep your body well-hydrated and healthy!”

This is the advice, which most probably you’ve heard from many health experts and physician.

But, this expert advice is not a safe and sound one. The reason is that there are numerous factors, such as age, sex, weight, the amount of daily activity etc., which dictate how much water one needs to take in to keep healthy.

In fact, drinking too much water per day can lead to a hazardous health condition known as water intoxication. Check out this article to learn what water intoxication is and how to avoid it.

Drinking too much water is not the only way water can hurt us. Unfortunately, the municipal water is loaded with numerous kinds of toxins. Below I’ve mentioned just a few ones of them.

Fluoride as described above is a chemical added to the tap water which may cause bone and dental fluorosis, kidney injury, or thyroid and brain damage ().

According to Dr. Dean Burk, who worked for 34 years at the National Cancer Institute, water fluoridation is the main culprit for cancer.

In point of fact, fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster than any other chemical.

On the other hand, other authoritative organizations such as American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute have asserted that there is not enough evidence for linking cancer to fluoride.

Arsenic is a highly toxic ingredient which is naturally present in underground water of some countries, including United States. This deadly toxin threatens particularly the lives of those who use waters from wells or use crops which have been irrigated with contaminated or well waters. Based on a study from The USGS, 2.1 million people in the US are using wells with high amounts of arsenic ().

Based on the data provided by World Health Organization, long-term exposure to arsenic may cause cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or even death in young adults ().

Chlorine is a chemical added to tap water and swimming pools as a disinfectant. Even though it does a great job in killing harmful bacteria and preventing infectious diseases, but it’s not a safe component and is classified as a toxic substance by ATSDR ().

According to studies, drinking chlorinated water may increase the incidence of food allergies (). It also may increase the risk of bladder and rectal cancer ().

In another study which was conducted in Taiwan, the data from 400,000 infants were analyzed. The results showed that drinking chlorinated water during pregnancy may increase the risk of having children with heart problems, cleft palate, or major brain defects ().

Chlorine, Arsenic, and Fluoride are not the only harmful toxins which could be spotted in plain water. Lead, Mercury, Dioxin, Aluminum, and HCB are among the other hidden toxins that can be traced in plain municipal water.

You can use a portable reverse osmosis drinking water system, like this one, to ward off the numerous harmful toxins in plain water.

Milk

Milk is a controversial drink which can transfer loads of health-threatening toxins as well as viruses, bacteria, germs, and parasites.

There are lots of controversy over the use of raw milk versus pasteurized milk.

Many authoritative health organizations such as FDA and “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” suggest that consuming raw milk may pose health risks and you should only drink pasteurized milk.

On the other hand, there are many other health experts, such as Dr. Shawn, Dr. Josh Axe, and Dr. Mercola, who believe that raw milk is much more healthier than the pasteurized milk.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “once milk has been pasteurized it’s more or less “dead,” and offers little in terms of real nutritional value to anyone, whether you show signs of intolerance to the milk or not” ().

According to Dr. Josh Axe, “The benefits of raw milk are: improved immunity, healthier skin, reduced allergies, healthier growth and development, lower risk for nutrient deficiencies, and much more” ().

The amount and types of toxins which milk and dairy products can carry is greatly depended on the quality of the food the animal has consumed and also how the food has been processed by the producer.

For example, some milk may contain Mycotoxines and/or aflatoxines if the livestock feed is contaminated with them. Aflatoxins are produced on livestock feed in appropriate moisture and temperature conditions for mold growth ().

This dangerous toxin is responsible for the death of more than 100,000 people in UK in the 1960s ().

The healthiest kind of milk that you can get your hands on is the 100% organic grass-fed milk which comes from cows who have grazed in pasture and has been processed the least.

Due to some legal restrictions, it’s difficult to find real raw milk in the United States. RealMilk.com is a website which can help you to get your hands on real raw milk if you’r living in US.

Soft Drinks

Soft drinks are flavored non-alcoholic drinks which have been introduced into our sedentary modern lives since 1800s.

Just by having a simple look at the ingredients of a soft drink, you’ll notice that they’re void of any helpful nutrients, but full of unhealthy and harmful ingredients.

In a 2008 study, conducted by Parimita Khatri and Rachana Shalini, a laundry list of toxins which are commonly used in soft drinks were listed. These toxins include: Acids like Citric Acid and/or Malic Acid, Carbon Dioxide which is used in all carbonated beverages, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavorings, and preservatives such as Sulphur Dioxide, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, and Dimethyl Dicarbonate ().

In a test, conducted by two multinational companies located in India, samples of soft drinks from 5 different brands (Sprite, Mountain Dew, 7UP, Pepsi, and Coca Cola) were examined for any signs of toxic substances. The results of the tests showed that the samples included health-threatening toxins such as lead as well as heavy metals such as Cadmium and Chromium ().

Since soft drinks are totally void of any nutritional value, and carry a large amount of health-threatening toxins, it’s recommended to avoid consuming them as much as possible.

Alcoholic Drinks

As mentioned above the word “detox” was first coined to refer to the process of helping body to cleanse or get rid of alcohol addiction.

Drinking alcohol is a common feature of social gatherings in many parts of the world. But reviving this pleasurful social tradition does not come without a cost.

Alcohol consumption may lead to serious physical, mental, and social consequences.

According to the data provided by World Health Organization (WHO), 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol ().

Liver is the most important organ of the body’s detoxification system which plays a crucial role in flushing the harmful toxins out of the body. But, chronic alcohol consumption may lead to liver dysfunction and pose health conditions such as fatty liver or even cirrhosis ().

As a result, the liver, as a major detoxifying organ, would fail to function properly and may lead to toxin buildup in the body and other vital organs. The accumulated toxins, in turn, may hurt other vital organs such as kidneys too. Finally, this vicious circle may pose more acute health problems and complications.

A large amount of scientific data show that there is a strong link between alcohol consumption and acute health conditions such as Cancer (), Depression (), and Brain damage ().

Most physicians and health experts believe that it’s totally safe to use alcoholic drinks moderately. There are even a few scientific evidences which attest that the moderate use of alcohol may help to lose weight (), reduce the risk of heart disease (), or type-2 diabetes ().

However, a new comprehensive study, which was published on August 2018 in a scientific Journal named The Lancet, concluded that “there is no safe level of alcohol consumption“.

In this study, the data from millions of people in 195 countries were analyzed. And the final conclusion, as the researchers put it, was: “Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none ()”.


3. The Toxins We Breathe

Our mouth is not the only portal form which the toxins can penetrate into our system.

Our nose and the respiratory system is also the second most common portal from which the toxins can find their way into our bodies day in and day out.

Outdoor Air Pollution

Air Pollution is a major key challenge for most developing and developed countries in the world.

According to the data provided by World Health Organization (WHO) 9 out of 10 people in the world breathe polluted air each and every day. The data from WHO also shows that polluted air kills 7 million people every year ().

Air pollutants may include (, ):

  • benzene, which may be found in gasoline
  • perchloroethylene, which is emitted from some dry cleaning facilities
  • arsenic
  • methylene chloride
  • lead
  • mercury
  • hexavalent chromium
  • radionuclides
  • and many more…

In their official website, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists an initial list of 187 hazardous air toxins which are threatening the lives of all living creatures on the planet ().

The adverse health effects of air pollutants on our health is undeniable. According to American Lung Association exposure to toxic air pollutants may pose many different health risks including ():

  • Cancer, including lung, kidney, bone, stomach
  • Harm to the nervous system and brain
  • Birth defects
  • Irritation to the eyes, nose and throat
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Impaired lung function
  • Harm to the cardiovascular system
  • Reduced fertility

Indoor Air Pollution

Most people think that they would not be affected by air pollution too much, because they spend most of their time indoors like in home, office, or public places. But this assumption is way far from the truth.

Indoor air can be as polluted as outdoor air. In fact, the indoor air can be more polluted and more hazardous to your health as the outdoor air. But the good news is that, unlike the outdoor air, there are some protective measures you can put in place to keep pollution out.

The source of indoor pollution can be: someone smoking indoors, mold or pollen, humidity, poor ventilation, using air-fresheners, using pesticides, etc. ().

So, simply by adopting some simple protective measures such as keeping your home or office well-ventilated, and/or removing other sources of pollution, improve the quality of your indoor air.


4. The Toxins We Put On

Until now, we’ve learned how toxins can enter our body through mouth and nose openings. But, there is another small, but extensive, opening in our body which expose our system to more life-threatening toxins. And that’s our porous and absorbent skin.

Our skin absorbs whatever thing is in close contact with it, whether it be a beauty cream, water, or the air which is surrounding it.

Cosmetics

As mentioned above, your skin absorbs what you apply to it. So, by putting on cosmetics and/or toiletries which contain toxic chemicals, you let those toxic ingredients to enter your blood stream and pose health risks.

In fact, there are a wide variety of cosmetic and beauty products available in the market now, and many new ones hit the market each and every day. Each of these products contains many different chemicals with different amounts, which have been produced with different methods.

It makes it very difficult, for supervisory authorities to scrutinize all of these products and ensure their safety.

Some cosmetics may induce short-term side effects such as skin or eye irritation or allergic reactions. Most of these short-term side effects will go away simply by removing the offending materials and avoiding to use it again.

On the other hand, long-term use of some cosmetics may pose more serious health risks like cancer, organ system toxicity, inflammation, mental disorders, reproductive toxicity, etc. Check out this list from SafeCosmetics.org for more information on what the offending ingredients used in cosmetics are and the health consequences linked to them.

Air Pollution

I talked about the adverse health effects of air pollution in preceding parts. That’s what many other health-related blogs and medias are talking about.

But, what is lesser known and talked about is the adverse effects of air pollution on skin.

“Pollution can cause uneven skin tone, accelerated aging and even skin cancer,” says Doris Day, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center.

There are many microscopic specks of pollutants floating in the air surrounding us. These pollutants come from many different sources such as power plants, cars, factories, construction sites, and fires.

Some of these particles are as minuscule as 20 times smaller than our pores and can easily infiltrate into our skin.

Some of the most common air pollutants which penetrate into our skin cells and are affecting our skin and health negatively are ():

  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • oxides, particulate matter (PM)
  • ozone (O3)
  • and cigarette smoke

Undoubtedly, our body’s defensive mechanism is able to protect us against some acceptable amounts of air pollutants. But, the sheer amount of air pollutants our skin is exposed to in modern cities day in and day out is not tolerable by our skin and body and may pose health risks such as ():

  • skin aging
  • inflammation
  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • acne
  • allergic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis
  • or even skin cancer

Bathing Water

As it was explained above, our skin may act as a portal through it many toxins can penetrate into our bodies.

Drinking is not the only way by which the various toxins, which are present in municipal water, can impact our bodies negatively.

Showering can also pose health risks and expose our body to harmful toxins.

When it comes to showering and bathing, the main toxic substance you need to keep a watchful eye on is Chlorine.

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As it was mentioned earlier, Chlorine is a chemical added to municipal water and pools to disinfect the water.

Showering, bathing, or swimming in chlorinated water may impose the same serious health hazards, such as bladder and rectal cancer, you might face while drinking it.

In addition, it may induce serious skin conditions such as skin cancer, premature aging, acne, dry skin, eczema, and rashes ().

Studies show the amount of Chlorine we absorb through inhalation or skin absorption while showering or bathing may even be much higher than the amount we take in through drinking Chlorinated water (, ).

Another toxic chemical of concern in regards to bathing water is Chloramine. Chloramine is another chemical which is used to disinfect the water supply in some areas.

Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia.

Exposure to Chloramine may pose health hazards such as ():

  • Immune system problems
  • Respiratory problems such as asthma and sinus congestion
  • Skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, bleeding lips, dry skin, etc.
  • Digestive and gastric problems like digestive disorders, digestive mucosa, and gastric cancer
  • Kidney and blood problems

You can avoid the adverse health effects of bathing or showering with Chlorinated water by using a quality shower filter.

Ordinary shower filters usually are unable to filter Chloramine. To get rid of Chloramine for showering pursposes, your best bet would be to use a “whole house water filter”. “vitamin c shower filters” are also a good inexpensive alternative for expensive whole house water filters.

Clothing

You may not believe it, but even the clothing you wear everyday may be toxic and hazardous to your health. Fabrics or even the dyes used for coloring them may contain toxic chemicals which can be absorbed into your body through your skin.

Fortunately it’s not so difficult to avoid these toxins. The only thing that needs to be done on part of you, as a consumer, is to be aware of what those toxic fabrics and brands are and avoid using them.

Some of the toxic agents present in clothing which may be a cause of concern are:

  • Acrylic – This fabric contains dimethylformamide, a hazardous chemical which may pose health risks such as cancer or liver injury ().
  • Azo Dyes – These dyes are common synthetic dyes and have been used extensively for coloring different types of clothes, lathers, and textiles. In fact, they make up about 70% of the commercial dyes. Wearing the clothes colored with these dyes may pose serious health risks like bladder cancer (). It’s recommended to use clothes which have been colored using natural dyes, in order to avoid the health risks of Azo dyes.
  • Nanosilver – It’s an antimicrobial agent which is used in fabrics to inhibit odor-causing bacteria (). This toxic substance used in clothes can get into our body through absorption by skin. Then, it may get into the brain and kill brain cells in the long run.

The amount of toxic substances present in clothes is not limited to only these 3 toxins mentioned above. Obviously there are some other forms of toxic substances used in our clothes which may pose adverse health risks.


5. The Toxins We Unsee

In the previous parts we looked into 4 different ways by which the toxins get into our bodies knowingly or unknowingly.

In this last part we’re going to look into an often overlooked type of toxins which long-term exposure to them may have a great negative impact on our health.

The reason why these toxins are often ignored is that one is not be able to see them through eyes due to their ethereal property. But being invisible does not mean that they are unimportant or their adverse effects are lower than other toxins… Conversely, the deleterious health effects of these invisible toxins can be significantly higher in some cases.

These invisible toxins include toxic stress, overthinking, electromagnetic fields (EMFs), digital toxins, and emotional toxins.

Toxic Stress

Stress, sometimes referred as the most dangerous toxin in the world, is the main cause of many diseases and ailments.

Numerous studies and researches have been conducted to figure out whether there is a meaningful link between a stressful lifestyle and other illnesses. And in most cases, the results have shown that stress may impact our health negatively and pose health risks ().

New studies have confirmed that stress may cause or worsen health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression, gastrointestinal problems, Alzheimer, accelerated aging, and premature death ().

But not all types of stress are created equal. New studies have shown that not only short-term and low-level stress is not detrimental to our health but it may even affect our health positively by strengthening the immune system. On the other hand, nearly all studies have shown that chronic and high-level stress can have damaging effects on our health and life ().

Overthinking

By now, a growing number of researches have attested that there is a significant link between our physical health and our mental condition. Even some health experts like Dr. Leaf has gone so far as to believe that “75% to 95% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life“.

Overthinking is a toxic habit which involves the person in chronic, obsessive, and compulsive thinking. Overthinking usually prompts negative thoughts and emotions which may affect our bodies negatively and pose health risks.

As it was shown by a 2013 study, overthinking, sometimes referred to as rumination, may wreak havoc on your mental health and improve the risk of mental conditions.

Another study conducted in 2008 showed that rumination may lead to a debilitating mental condition referred to as analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis happen when you over-analyze or overthink your problems or the work in hand, to a level where you would be so completely preoccupied with the thoughts on that problem that you’d be unable to come up with any solution.

Another study showed that overthinking may fuel pessimism and negativity and play havoc with the quality of your sleep.

Digital Toxins

Technology has revolutionized and improved every aspect of our lives!

That’s only thanks to the magic of technology which today we’re able to share our knowledge and passion for a healthier, cleaner, and happier life with you, our great readers here in detoxopedia.com.

But, like most other useful things in the world, the indiscriminate use of technology may pose health risks, especially for pregnant women and infants.

More than 4 billion people are using cell phones around the world. This technology has been around for about two decades. But it was not until recent years when scientists begin to understand the potential health consequences of exposure to wireless radiations.

According to the data provided by Environmental Working Group (EWG), exposure to the wireless emissions may pose health risks such as:

  • Brain cancer
  • Salivary gland tumors
  • Behavioral problems
  • Migraines and vertigo

Cell phone signals are not the only Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) we’re exposed to day in and day out. In fact, there are many more types of EMFs, such as WiFi and GPS signals, present in our modern cities which may affect our health adversely.

To avoid the adverse health effects of EMFs or wireless emissions, you do not need to escape city life and live out the rest of your life as a hermit.

Just by learning how to use your digital devices and gadgets on a proper note, would help you to decrease the adverse health effects of wireless emissions significantly. Check out these 5 safety tips from EWG on how to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation.


Final Thoughts

As it was mentioned at the beginning of this post, the first step we need to take, in order to prevail against the toxins we are exposed to each and every day, is to be aware of their very existence and their devastating effects on our health and life.

If you’ve read this post thoroughly, then congratulations!

You’re already aware of the main toxins which, most probably, are wrecking havoc on your health and life.

You’ve already taken the first tentative step toward shaping a cleaner, healthier, and happier version of you and the planet.

The next step is to refrain from exposure to these harmful toxins through taking required protective measures. Below is a quick list of the protective measures which can help you to keep toxins away from your body, your mind, and your life:

  • Follow a healthy and balanced diet
  • Eliminate unhealthy foods and drinks like fast-foods, processed foods, sugar, soft drinks
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Only use filtered water
  • Use toxin-free cleaning products
  • Keep your home and office well-ventilated
  • Avoid amalgam fillings
  • Avoid all dental products which contain fluoride
  • Refrain from indiscriminate use of drugs
  • Don’t eat moldy, rotten, or green foods
  • Don’t keep your foods in plastic containers
  • Try to use healthy raw milk instead of pasteurized milk
  • Refrain from alcohol consumption
  • Use toxin-free cosmetics
  • Use a quality shower filter for showering
  • Use toxin-free clothing
  • Avoid stress and overthinking
  • Consider safety points while using cell phone and other digital devices

Another essential step you’re required to take is to learn how your body’s detoxification system work. It’s our body’s built-in protective measure against harmful toxins. The main job of this potent machine is to flush harmful toxins out of body and keep them off day in and day out. That’s the topic of our next post which will be published soon here at detoxopedia.com

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