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What the Heck are Toxins?
A Non-Toxic Explanation that Makes Sense

By Melissa Crispell, CNS, CNHP, CWC

The term detox is nothing new. Over the last few years the term has skyrocketed in popularity and the detox definition barely makes sense any more. Everyone has a detox answer and a method that “is the best!” or “it works!” Celebrities are in ads selling pills and powders that helped them shed pounds and feel great. Gyms and trainers are helping you “sweat out the toxins.” The problem is, none of these approaches talk about what toxins actually are and why you want to rid your system of them. How do you know if a detox is helpful or harmful? If you’re not sure what a toxin is, how do you know if your detox plan is doing anything at all?

If we evaluate what we eat, drink, think and do, toxic sources are more easily identified and more effectively addressed.

What is a toxin?

According to  the definition of toxin is: “a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation.” Simply put, toxins are trouble! They are harmful matter originating from something internal, external or behavioral. How can that be? I eat healthy and I exercise – how do I have toxins? Let’s dig in a little deeper and break down the toxic sources.

1) Internal Toxins

Internal toxins are created inside our body as a result of natural bodily function. Meaning, it’s how we’re programmed. It’s what our bodies do just to function on a daily basis. We were designed to repair (while sleeping), detox (waste material) and defend ourselves (while awake). Our bodies are constantly burning energy to keep up with building tissue and replacing worn out/dying cells which means constantly producing waste. Our bodies are really busy without us even being aware. All of the waste created is otherwise known as internal toxins. We then have to breakdown and eliminate the waste. When this waste accumulates, because of food/chemical sensitivities, lack of sleep, lack of nutrient dense foods, poor hydration (or water quality), you’re in for a rough road. Our bodies don’t take breaks to sort out any kind of build up – the system was designed to keep moving. A build up of toxins can wreak havoc on your system forcing your body to spend even more energy just to function.

You may have a build up of toxins if you:

  • Experience gas or bloating after meals
  • Are tired all the time, even after a full night’s sleep
  • Are irritable, moody
  • Have unresolved skin issues
  • Headaches
  • Don’t have regular bowel movements
  • Unexplained aches and pains

2) External Toxins

Sometimes we can control these, sometimes we can’t. External toxins are substances outside the body that we breathe, eat, drink or get on our skin. This doesn’t always mean chemicals in the air. It can be your cookware, deodorant, shave cream, face wash, sunscreen, toe nail polish, baby wipes, dog shampoo, the list is endless! Of course I can’t neglect to remind you about eating organic, nutrient dense foods. The GMOs used in creation, chemicals used as fertilizer, pesticides, and preservatives can become part of that toxic build up internally too. Environmental toxins range from smoke and smog, to BPA and phthalates in water bottles and shampoo containers. That moldy apartment with poor ventilation can be a source of environmental toxins leading to mystery illnesses. People have been known to experience everything from migraines to respiratory issues without any actual illness identified. You can’t control what is floating in the air but you can control how you support your bodies’ repair process. Consider a HEPA filter for your home to reduce the toxic load in your personal space that is designated for relaxation and healing. Always opt for fresh filtered water over tap water.

3) Behavioral

I bet this one surprised you! We talked about how waste buildup and chemicals can be toxic, now let’s talk about how behaviors can be toxic. Chronic stress leads to toxic buildup inside your body that is just as damaging as the chemical buildup. Have you ever stayed late at work to finish a project, gone in on the weekend, brought your work home with you? We’re all guilty of burning the midnight oil once or twice but when this is the norm, not the exception, you’re risking your health. Toxins are not only physical. Your actions and behaviors can lead to increased toxins as well. Everyone feels some degree of stress occasionally and we’re resilient enough to tolerate it for short periods of time. It’s the extended periods of high stress that lead to unhealthy eating habits, poor food choices, depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. Think about working a full shift at work and your boss asks you to put in a few more hours at the end of the day. You agree. At the end of that extended shift, your boss asks you to put in additional hours. You agree. You arrive home, completely spent! You don’t even want to think about the household chores or other responsibilities you have. This is what happens to our bodies. We keep asking more and more of it when we load it with toxins.

Ultimately, we want to enhance our bodies’ natural ability to detoxify and eliminate. Adding to the workload can quickly become an overload situation. The easiest and most direct way to have a positive impact on your system is to mind what you eat, drink, think and do. If you’d like more inspiration and information on how to identify toxins in your world and reduce your toxic load, please call us at the First State Health & Wellness Integrative Health Center.

As seen in Living Well Magazine

melissa-crispell-health-coachMelissa Crispell, CNS, CNHP, CWC, of the First State Health & Wellness Integrative Health Center, is a certified natural health practitioner, certified wellness coach, certified lifestyle educator, naturopathic candidate, and nationally recognized speaker.

She has over 10 years experience as a natural health provider helping clients understand the connection between pH balance, food and chemical sensitivities, physical fitness and their overall health goals.

If you’re ready to revitalize your health, call us today to schedule a functional nutrition consultation.

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