The Big 5

Your body is naturally exposed to different bacteria and chemical compounds every day. By exposing yourself to various bacteria, your body develops specific fighter proteins that protect your cells from being infected. It is strongly believed that micro-exposures over time to foreign substances continue to help maintain and strengthen these proteins which improve your immune system. In moderation, your body is able to fight off these potential toxins and keep you healthy.

Unfortunately, we have introduced many new chemicals into the world. We can identify over 100,000 different chemicals – not regulated by the FDA – used in everyday products. These chemicals are more foreign to our bodies than any bacteria we encounter. Thus, our bodies are not equipped with the necessary proteins to be able to breakdown these toxins; therefore, repeated exposure can cause a buildup of these toxins within your body.

What Are Toxins?

Toxins are foreign substances that enter the body via different biological pathways and damage healthy cells throughout the body. The main pathways in which toxins are readily introduced to the body are: respiration (breathing toxins through the lungs), dermal absorption (touching or exposing toxins to the skin), and digestion (absorbing toxins from food and water via the gut).

Your genetic profile plus your toxic load, or the accumulation of toxins and chemicals in our bodies that we ingest from the environment, the food we eat, the water we drink, and the personal care and household products we use, highly influences your overall health. The body goes through different processes in the liver, and throughout the entire immune system in order to eliminate toxins from your body. There are two main detoxification processes that occur in the liver. The first step of this process utilizes vitamins and minerals in order to break the toxin down into an intermediate. The second process then further breaks down this metabolite into water-soluble waste products that we excrete through our sweat, urine, and feces.

Each of these stages requires specific vitamins and minerals in order to properly break down the toxins. Unfortunately, the numerous toxins present in every aspect of your life along with limited daily nutrients, hinder your detoxification processes and become overwhelmed. When toxins aren’t properly broken down from their intermediate form, they become even more detrimental to your body. A constant accumulation of toxins within your tissues can begin to cause damage and promote the onset of disease.

It is very important to have awareness of what you are exposing your body to. You have the potential to expose yourself to many toxins each day if you are not diligent with your decisions. We believe that optimizing your exposome – everything that makes up your surroundings and living environment – is an essential step in achieving your health goals.

Below, we focus on The Big 5. The Big 5 represents the five most common toxic exposures that you may be around every day. After identifying each of the Big 5, we provide five action items that will help reduce your exposure to harmful compounds and guide you on your journey to achieving your health goals.

Your 5 Toxic Contributors


<b> Air</b>

Over the past 30 years, our air quality has decreased dramatically. There are four major contributors to air pollution emissions (https://gispub.epa.gov/neireport/2014/):
i. Stationary sources- Agriculture, dust, fuel combustion, industrial processes, and solvents
ii. Mobile sources- Aircraft, marine vessels, locomotives and vehicles (on and off-road)
iii. Fires- Agricultural burning, prescribed fires, and wildfires
iv. Biogenics- Vegetation and soil

Most of us have done a great job sealing up our homes, protecting them from any drafts or leaks they may have. However, one of the outcomes of this is that we have also sealed in indoor air pollutants and irritants. These can be just as harmful as the outdoor pollutants described above.

“According to the EPA, indoor air pollutants may be present at levels two to five times higher- and occasionally more than 100 times higher- than outdoor air pollutants” Palmer Kippola, Beat Autoimmune

<b>Water</b>

63 million people in the USA have been exposed to toxic water, an astonishing 20% of the population, or one out of five people! One of the biggest and most common stories of polluted water is the crisis that happened in Flint Michigan, where the transition of water treatment plants caused corrosive pipes to release lead into the water. Up to 140,000 residents were exposed to lead and other water contaminants. A staggering 12 people died from this contamination and 79 became ill.

Water is also contaminated by many other sources. Drainage from conventional farms contains high levels of pesticides that can end up in local river water. Chemicals/pollutants commonly found in water:
• Organophosphate pesticides – Glyphosate, Atrazine
• Perchlorate
• Lead
• Arsenic
• Chromium
• Dichloroacetic acid
• Fluoride
• Trichloroacetic acid
• Trihalomethanes

<b>Chemical Exposure</b>

Many of the tasks we do can expose us to chemicals. According to the EWG (http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners), 53% of cleaning products have been found to hurt the lungs where 22% were made of a chemical that triggered the development of asthma. Cleaning products are not the only house-hold chemical you have the potential of being exposed to. Products such as pesticides, mouse/rat poison, paints, varnishes, oils, automotive cleaning, maintenance products, and many more are filled with synthetic chemicals that expose you to toxins.

Chemicals commonly found in everyday products:
• BPA
• Phthalates
• Fire retardants/PDBEs
• Lead
• Perfluorinated chemicals
• Glycol ethers
• Formaldehyde
• Fragrance

<b>Cosmetics/ Body Hygiene Products</b>

Cosmetics and Body Hygiene products, such as makeup, lotion, shampoo, and perfume, have dozens of synthetic chemicals in them. According to the EWG (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/contents/why-skin-deep), there are 126 unique ingredients within 9 products an average person uses per day. When we place these toxins on our skin, they are readily absorbed into the blood stream and easily distributed to the rest of the body.

Chemicals commonly found in personal products:
• Sulfates
• Phthalates
• Glycol ethers
• Parabens
• Fragrance
• Triclosan/Microban
• Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

<b>Nutrition</b>

Some of the foods we consume can activate inflammatory responses within our bodies. Inflammation is caused by many things however, the food you eat dictates many reactions and processes within your body. Inflammatory foods contribute to the activation of immune cells which cause bodily inflammation. The majority of foods that have gone through processing and packaging have likely been exposed to a variety of chemicals. Fresh food is also exposed to chemicals through the vast pesticide use throughout modern conventional farming.

Chemicals commonly found in food:
• Organophosphate pesticides – Glyphosate, Atrazine
• Growth hormones/rBGH
• Mercury
• Dioxin
• Perchlorate

Time to Detox

You have the ability to control each of these toxic contributors by understanding and using the proper tools. Focus on these action items to get you started with a healthier living environment. Addressing the Big 5 will allow you to optimize your exposome with a few easy steps.

<b>Clean Air</b>

The first step is to reduce and eliminate indoor air pollutants. To do this, you should maintain proper air exchange and ventilation. Opening the windows (if possible) and having a whole-house fan for air exchange is important for preventing common air pollutants like dust and smoke. It is also a good idea to consider purifying your indoor air. Air Purifiers are portable and can be moved from one room to another. The room that you spend the most dedicated time is the bedroom, followed by the living room and kitchen. If you do not want to move the air purifier often then start with one in the bedroom. We utilize the Medify MA40 (https://medifyair.com/products/medify-ma-40-home-medical-grade-h13-true-hepa-for-800-sq-ft-air-purifier-99-97-removal-with-particle-sensor-and-modern-design-white) in our office, which can filter 99.97% of pollutant particles according to the manufacturer. Plants also help naturally purify your home’s air as well!

<b> Filter Your Water</b>

Filter the water you drink and use every day. By utilizing a water purifier, you will be benefitting from up to 100% filtration of pollutant pathogens that lurk in your water. For example, the Berkey Water Filter we use in our office “can be classified as a water purifier because the elements actually remove 99.9999999% of pathogenic bacteria and 99.999% of viruses” (https://www.berkeyfilters.com/pages/bundle-and-save). Also, it is important to utilize stainless steel water bottles versus plastic bottled water to avoid toxins such as BPA.

<b>Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) When Using Chemicals</b>

It is very important to read the label of any chemical product you are using. To be safe, make sure to wear personal protective equipment every time you utilize products that contain synthetic chemicals. Utilizing proper personal protective equipment has been shown to reduce toxic exposure. Some examples of things to wear include:
i. Respirator
ii. Safety Goggles
iii. Protective Gloves
iv. HazMat Suit / Coveralls

<b>Use organic or make your own hygiene products</b>

Limit your product usage! If this is not ideal for your health or personal preference, make sure to utilize products that are organic and have as few chemical additives as possible.

Important note for women that use feminine sanitary products such as sanitary napkins and tampons: Cotton is commonly sprayed with pesticides. Make sure that the feminine products you are using are organic. With conventional feminine products, you increase your chances of absorbing pesticide residues.

Consider substituting chemically packed products, such as shampoo, dish soap, and laundry detergent, with healthier nontoxic ingredients. You can also try making your own products with natural ingredients. Try this recipe using cocoboo nuts, apple cider vinegar, essential oils, and water.

<b>Buy organic non-GMO food and consume cruciferous vegetables</b>

It is important to supply your body with the proper nutrients it needs to perform vital functions such as detoxing, digesting, and energy production. Focus on eating foods rich in sulfur, zinc, selenium, iodine, magnesium, flavonoids, and vitamins B, A, C, and K. It is also important to consider avoiding certain types of prepackaged foods especially those foods that come in a can, jar, bag or box. If the list of ingredients includes chemicals, then it is important to understand those chemicals and how packaged foods might impact you.

Fast food is another area to consider as it is typically not organic and also potentially contain toxins. For example, fried foods contain the toxin acrylamide as the study by Pieternel Luning indicated(https://research.wur.nl/en/publications/acrylamide-in-fried-potato-products).

For some people with risk of certain health conditions, including but not limited to heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, autoimmune, and neurological conditions, it is also important to consider food allergy and sensitivity testing and the elimination nutrition plan. Refer to Food Allergy / Sensitivity and the Elimination Nutrition Plan

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