Exposure to environmental chemicals has been linked to various health disorders, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dysregulation of the immune and reproductive systems.
While we may not be able to eliminate all toxins and their sources, we can reduce our toxic load and prime our bodies to better handle these substances.
But, what is toxic load?
Toxic load refers to the harmful chemicals (xenobiotics) that accumulate in the body through exposures to things such as air and water pollutants, numerous categories of food additives, chemicals in personal products and household cleaners, medications, plastics and other environment exposures, such as herbicides and pesticides.
Some simple ways to REDUCE TOXINS in our environment are:
- Let fresh air flow. Even in the colder months, open windows to allow fresh air to move through the house.
- Use the least toxic household cleaners you can. Keep in mind that hot soapy water or diluted vinegar can take care of most cleaning tasks. When using ammonia or bleach remember to wear gloves, a mask and open the windows.
- Use non-toxic personal hygiene products, cosmetics and sunscreens. This means avoiding chemicals like triclosan, parabens, phthalates, bisphenols, and sunscreen chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate—all of which are easily absorbed through the skin.
- Limit the use of plastics and nonstick cookware
While the liver is a primary detoxification organ, the gut microbiome (the collection of microbes inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract) also plays a vital role in the transformation and detoxification of toxins.
But evidence shows there is a bidirectional relationship between the microbiome and toxins. While gut bacteria play an important role in the deactivation and breakdown of contaminants, these same toxic substances can alter the diversity and metabolic activity of our gut microbes.
We can PRIME THE BODY TO BETTER HANDLE TOXINS by adopting an eating pattern that feeds and reseeds a healthy gut microbiome. To keep the microbiome diverse and optimally functioning:
- Feed the beneficial microbes lots of fiber-rich plant foods. Getting the recommended 25 to 40 grams of daily fiber helps protect the gut lining, enhances the growth of good bacteria and increases the production of small-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which fuel the cells of the intestines and help signal the immune system.
- Aim to consume at least 30 different plant foods weekly. Include a variety of beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals, such as polyphenols, found in brightly colorful plant foods inhibit the growth of pathogenic (bad) bacteria, and reduce inflammation and gut permeability.
- Regularly consume fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, miso or kimchi which are rich sources of natural probiotics, which boost SCFAs, reduces pathogenic bacteria and increases the availability of the nutrients of many foods.
- Eat fish and foods high in omega-3s. Higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids are correlated with intestinal wall integrity, reduced inflammation and greater microbe diversity.
- Cut way back on processed foods. Added sugars, artificial sweeteners and the chemicals, GMOs and long lists of additives found processed foods and meats are associated with lower microbe diversity, inflammation and dysbiosis.
These materials are provided to you by Blythedale Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s
Eat Well, Be Well Nutrition Outreach Program.
For more tips and information, please visit Eat Well, Be Well.
Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.
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