What is Toxic Body Burden and What Can We Do About It?

What is toxic body burden?

Simply put, this term describes the amount of toxins in your body that you are unable to get rid of.  What is left is called “toxic burden” or “toxic overload”. 

Too many toxins in your body at once will overload your system, and can lead to increased inflammation and oxidative stress if you don't reduce your exposure.

Each day we are exposed to hundreds of chemicals that slow our bodies down and accumulate over time. It’s important to reduce our toxin burden if we want to be healthy and happy for years to come.

Most toxin exposures are chronic, involve more than one toxin, and happen after years, even decades of accumulation. This accumulation overloads the body’s detox mechanisms and causes symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory disturbance
  • Sleep issues
  • Headaches

Over time, if the environmental toxicity and detox pathways aren’t addressed, the toxic burden can lead to conditions like:

  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

Some toxins are unavoidable, but many are things we don’t even consider the possibility of being harmful.   For example, many of us - maybe even most of us - associate a pleasant smelling scent with ‘clean’ - which is why most of our personal care products, household cleaners and air fresheners contain such alluring fragrances.

Yet fragrance is one of the most harmful offenders and is a serious irritant, neurotoxin and known endocrine disruptor.  Synthetic fragrances add a huge chemical load to the amount our bodies have to process.

Laundry products are a prime example of unnecessary and heavily fragranced detergents and powders.  And we use these to wash our clothes, bed and bathroom linen - all of which sit on our skin and close to our breathing zone, creating a perpetual source of additional chemical substances our bodies will have to process. 

So what can we do to lower our exposure to toxins and help our bodies process and eliminate them effectively?

As with so many things in our lives, moderation is key.  Look for opportunities to reduce the load your body has to process by removing or minimising chemical substances that don’t benefit you. 

Here are 9 things you can do to reduce your exposure to daily chemicals and pollutants, and reclaim your health and vitality:

1 Clean up your personal care routine

This is extremely important - not only are most commercial personal care products loaded with synthetic fragrance, they also contain a slew of other chemicals and substances that you most likely wouldn’t dream of ingesting.  Our skin is our largest organ and is able to absorb chemicals such as fragrance, which then has to be processed by your body’s detoxification system including your liver and kidneys.

Go back to basics and use only the purest and natural products.  An easy rule to remember is never put on your skin anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable eating.  

2 Use only natural home cleaning products

Household cleaning products are another major supply of everyday toxins. Swap chemical cleaners for vinegar or natural soap-based solutions like Cleanz Concentrate, which can be made up into a fragrance-free and hypoallergenic laundry liquid along with many other dilutions for different uses around the home.

Cleanz is particularly helpful if you or someone in your household are already suffering from allergies and irritations, sensitivities or chronic illness, and has helped many who suffer from asthma, eczema and other skin irritations.  It is also an effective way to cleanse your home and wash away residues from previously used cleaners and chemicals.

3 Check furniture and textiles before you buy 

Furniture is one of the lesser known sources of hazardous chemicals.  Flame retardants have been added to many furniture fabrics to prevent them from easily catching fire – but at the expense of our health. This also includes mattresses, carpets, curtains and blinds.  

Check out New Zealand’s own natural, sustainable and chemical-free furnishings company Innature who make everything from baby and adult beds and mattresses, mattresses for your boat and motor home as well as lounge furniture. 

4 Remove heavy metal sources from your home and diet

  • Don’t use aluminium or nonstick pans
  • Limit certain fish – ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, king mackerel, and swordfish 
  • Have mercury fillings removed

5 Get rid of all BPA plastics 

While purchasing only BPA-free plastic is a good step – BPAs are still lurking in many other sources. Places BPAs hide include food packaging plastics, food can liners, children’s toys, detergents, and fabrics. 

Reduce your exposure to BPAs (and other endocrine disruptors in plastics) by not microwaving any plastic, switching from detergent to a natural soap-based cleaner, minimising use of plastics with #3 or #7 on the bottom, and of course, only purchasing plastics that are BPA-free.

6  ​​Air fresheners and candles

Avoid adding scents to the air that aren’t natural essential oils or products you are sure are clean and organic. Many air fresheners and scented candles are packed with chemicals such as phthalates, paraffin, and terpene.

Check out our blog on Non-toxic air fresheners and natural odour removal in our HomeHealth section for safe and natural solutions.

7  Indoor air pollution 

It’s a little-known fact that most indoor air is actually worse than the pollution outside.  When most people think of pollution, they usually think of outdoor pollution due to cars and industry, but indoor air quality is typically very poor in most homes. 

This is usually due to poor ventilation, building materials, smoke, pollen, gases such as radon and carbon monoxide, household products, furniture that is  off-gassing toxic chemicals and more.

For ways to clean up the air in your home, check out our blog titled 15 ways to reduce toxins in your home environment and learn about 15 plants that will purify the air in your home

8 Check for moulds

Mould spores in the home can be extremely toxic.  

Mould thrives in moist and warm conditions. When these conditions combine with a suitable food source, mould can spread very quickly, often in unseen places. Mould easily lives on paper, cardboard, wood, fabric, carpet, drywall, and many other common building materials.

Click here to learn how to remove mould from your home safely and naturally.

9 Watch what you eat and support your own body’s detoxification system naturally

Diet plays a huge part in your body’s ability to process and eliminate toxins from your body successfully.  If your detoxification system is compromised, i.e. your liver and kidneys, then your organs will take longer and be less capable of expelling toxins from your body.

Here are a few things you can do to support your body’s detoxification system and optimise your health and immunity:

  • Eat only spray-free or organic produce - organic can be expensive but the EWG (Environmental working Group) compiles two lists each year of produce that is safe to eat non-organic called the Clean Fifteen, along with the produce you should absolutely avoid or eat only spray-free or organic, called the Dirty Dozen

  • Remove heavy metals from your diet by tossing out teflon, non-stick and aluminium pans, and limit or avoid or large fish varieties a mentioned above, such as ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, king mackerel, and swordfish 

  • Try to follow a low inflammation whole food diet such as the Mediterranean Diet, avoiding processed and unnatural foods

  • Support your gastrointestinal health with probiotics and prebiotic foods

  • Include bitters in your diet to support and cleanse your liver

  • Drink the recommended quantity of filtered or purified water each day: 
    5-8 year olds - 1L / 5 glasses
    9-12 year olds - 1.5L / 7 glasses
    13 years plus - 2L / 8-10 glasses (more if you live in a hot climate and / do a lot of physical activity

  • Avoid or limit alcohol, cigarettes and too much caffeine 

And remember to support your general health and wellbeing by getting daily exercise in fresh air, managing stress levels with mindfulness, meditation and if possible, time spent in nature.

Thanks for reading!

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