Explore Your Exposome

Making individual healthy choices helps you build a positive exposome. Everything you expose yourself to contributes as a factor of your wellbeing, toxic load, and genetic health. Every daily action impacts the toxins you encounter, whether that be eating, drinking, working, sleeping, and routine product usage. Your exposome is one of the main factors that influences your genetics. By intentionally making healthy choices to improve your exposome, your body can function the way it is intended.

What’s an Exposome?


Everything you surround and expose yourself to creates your exposome. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), classifies the exposome as a measure of how an individual’s exposures influence their health over their lifetime. So how is your exposome actually affecting you?

Exposures within your exposome increase the probability of turning on specific variations within your genes. Everyone is affected by their genes, and your genes are influenced by the environment you are in. Proper conditions will provide the optimal functionality of your genes to perform their assigned jobs.

Many studies have shown an association between having a negative exposome and undesirable physiological responses such as high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, glucose intolerance, leaky gut, and inflammation.

“Our health is the sum of our relationship with the environment – what we eat, drink, absorb, think, breathe, put on our skin and how and where we live – and how well our body’s natural detoxification system works” Palmer Kippola, Beat Autoimmune

Let’s take a look at a generic daily routine someone may encounter and try to identify how many aspects of this routine are potentially impactful to your exposome.

A General Environment




Beep! Beep! Beep! Your phone alarm blares in your ear from under your pillow. You start your day off with limited sleep as you sluggishly walk to the bathroom. In the shower, you make sure to use plenty of shampoo, body wash, and conditioner. After drying off, you smother your skin with lotion to relieve dryness and make your skin smooth. You then reach for your toothbrush, slap on some toothpaste, and quickly make one pass in each section of your mouth.

You rush downstairs to make a quick breakfast, pour a bowl of cereal, drench it with milk, and crack open an energy drink to fuel up for your day at work. As you gather all of your things for the day, you accidentally knock your drink over, spilling it all over your white-ish carpet. Frantically, you run to your cleaning supplies, grab your ‘All-Purpose’ cleaning product and douse the stain in hopes of helping it come out easier after work.

Horns blare as you sit in the freeway traffic on your routine drive to work. Your mind starts going a thousand miles an hour as you check your watch every 10 seconds, yell at the car that just cut you off, and think about the meetings you have for the rest of the day. Finally, you have arrived at work, barely on time, and catch the elevator to save a few seconds and your breath.

By mid-morning you have just finished your first meeting and you stop by the break room. Someone has generously brought donuts for the office; without hesitation you grab a pastry to give you a quick energy boost as you head back to your desk to do some work.


After sitting at your desk for a couple hours, your energy begins to drain. It feels as if the stack of papers on your desk keep growing and growing. You decide to take your lunch break at your favorite fast food restaurant. You order a burger, fries, and a soft drink to fill your empty stomach and sit outside to get fresh air as you eat. Someone else, also on their break, is standing upwind of your table and lights up a cigarette. The air rolls past your nose as you inhale the second-hand smoke from your bystander. You sit there “unbothered” and continue to eat.

After many more hours of sitting at your desk and staring at your computer screen, the workday has finally come to an end and you are exhausted. You make it home and walk straight to the kitchen to make some dinner. You pull out your frying pan, cover the bottom with vegetable oil, fry up some potatoes, and pop a frozen macaroni and cheese into the microwave.

Once your food is finished, you find the couch calling your name. You eat every last bit of food, thinking that quantity is better than quality, and next thing you know you are waking up with the tv blaring at your face and all the lights on many hours later. You stand up, head for your bed, and you by-pass brushing your teeth because you are ‘tired’ and ‘you’ll brush in the morning, so it doesn’t matter’.

Before heading to bed, you set an alarm on your phone, check social media, and place your phone back under your pillow. You then head to sleep where in a little less than 6 hours, you start the process all over again.

Reflection

Within that story of a simplified, generic workday, you can identify several toxins. By changing some of these daily actions to include beneficial choices, you can dramatically improve your overall health and well-being. Let’s look at how these decisions throughout the day can influence your long-term health by examining The Big 5.

1. Nutrition


Choosing what we eat everyday makes a huge impact on our overall exposome. That cereal you ate for breakfast was likely made of grains that were sprayed with glyphosate, a damaging herbicide and known carcinogen. Instead of starting your day with this, try some organic berries, which can provide your body with beneficial antioxidants that can help promote good digestion and brain health. You can also find better alternatives for the fast food lunch and mac and cheese dinner. Try to focus on eating lots of organic fruits and vegetables with lean, organic, grass-fed or wild-caught proteins, healthy fats, and whole grain carbohydrates. Whole grains are grains that have not been processed and ground up. Making good nutritional choices will help your body run at its best. This is why it is so important to eat fresh, organic, nutrient-packed foods whenever possible.

2. Air


The air we breathe in affects all of our bodily systems, so any harmful chemicals present in the air around us can have detrimental effects. While you sat in traffic, you may have been breathing some toxic fumes from the car exhaust around you. Sitting downstream of cigarette smoke exposes you to formaldehyde along with other chemicals that can impact cell health and immune function. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the maximum amount of formaldehyde exposure every 30 minutes be limited to 0.08 parts per million (ppm). When you take a puff of a cigarette, you are exposing yourself to 1.5-19.5 ppm of formaldehyde. Also, when you went to sleep at night with your phone under your pillow, you expose yourself directly to EMF (Electric and Magnetic Fields) that come out of your phone. Electric & Magnetic Fields are waves of electric and magnetic energy that are emitted from a powered source. Research has shown that high exposures can cause chronic cognitive disturbances, DNA damage, and stress, which is why you should try to limit your exposure when possible. Try to be cognizant of what is in the air around you. Whenever possible, filter your air to prevent any harmful compounds from infiltrating your space.

3. Water


Our bodies are over 50% water, which is why it is crucial that we drink sufficient amounts of it every day. Instead of choosing to drink energy drinks and sodas to get through the day, focus on drinking plenty of fresh, filtered water. Some water filters may help you avoid heavy metals or pesticides that may end up in your water source. Using these products will allow you to drink the water you need while preventing any contaminations. In addition, avoid using plastic water bottles. Instead, try to use stainless steel bottles which do not contain the harmful chemicals that plastic containers may have.

4. Dirty Jobs


Everyday jobs can expose you to harmful chemicals that negatively impact your exposome. That all-purpose cleaner you used to try to get rid of the carpet stain was probably filled with a variety of synthetic chemicals. These chemicals are easily introduced to the body via the respiratory tract and through absorption by the skin if contact occurs. The EWG tested 2,500 common cleaning products which revealed that about 70% receive a failing score on the FDA Toxicity Grading Scale, indicating high toxicity. To avoid these chemicals getting into your body, use proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as gloves, goggles, apron, mask, etc., when using chemical cleaners, or switch to organic or non-hazardous cleaners.

5. Cosmetics & Body Hygiene Products


Most body hygiene and cosmetic products are filled with toxic chemicals which are readily absorbed through the skin. You can identify over 100,000 different chemicals used in everyday products. Try to limit the number of cosmetics and personal hygiene products you use. When you do need to use one, look for organic, non-hazardous alternatives, with low chemical concentrations. One hygiene item that you should not be skipping out on is brushing your teeth. Without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can grow and promote inflammation in your mouth. Continuous inflammation in the mouth will ultimately destroy barriers that prevent bacteria from entering your bloodstream. Always brush your teeth at night and in the morning, and consult with your dentist about any dental concerns you may have.


Making choices that negatively affect your exposome can cause an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, inflammation, and cognitive issues. Just think about how many of your genes are impacted by the wide variety of toxins we expose ourselves to every single day. Unhealthy habits are easy to fix if you are aware and able to identify them. You can make choices every day that actually improve your exposome and help your body function at its best. You can do a multitude of things to help, including practicing mindfulness, staying active, getting good restorative sleep every night, and eliminating toxins from all of the categories in The Big 5. Creating a healthy lifestyle builds a positive exposome and benefits your genes abilities.

The components of your exposome are the building blocks that make up who you are. Each block represents a different object that contributes to your exposome. However, some of the blocks you are adding to yourself lack the size and stability they need. Your structure cannot be fully complete until it has been built with the blocks that optimize with your health. You control the quality and quantity of what you put into your body. What will you decide to build with?

“For a solution to work, it has to address the whole problem, not just one piece of it, or you might make the overall problem worse” Dr. Ben Lynch, Dirty Genes

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