March 9, 2007

10 most common toxins in the human body

Over a lifetime the human body assimilates a number of toxins. Some of these are in such trace amounts that we really needn’t worry about them, but it is still wise to avoid as many toxins in the diet and the environment as possible. Here are ten of the most common toxins found in human blood and cells:

Free Radicals

These are the toxic waste products of the process of oxidation within our bodies. Oxidation (like rust on iron) is what causes the deterioration of cells, like a bruised apple when it goes brown and mushy. This goes on at a cellular level within the human body and accelerates the aging process.

The effects of free radicals can be reduced by the consumption of anti-oxidant-rich red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, along with increasing our exercise and eating less.

Mercury

The most common sources of Mercury are amalgam fillings and the eating of large marine fish such as tuna. Mercury is implicated in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, heart failure, irregular heartbeat and even some cancers. There is debate as to whether it is worthwhile to have amalgam fillings removed and replaced. Similarly, the health benefits of eating oily marine fish should be weighed carefully against the risks of mercury consumption.

Sugar

Refined sugar is known as “the white death”. We all know it’s bad for us, that it contains calories without nutrients. Too much of it can cause insulin resistance, diabetes. The answer is simple; eat less white sugar.

Caffeine

Many people enjoy caffeinated drinks and find that they give them a much-needed “high” in times of fatigue. Don’t forget that caffeine is quite a powerful drug and taking yourself off it can cause quite severe withdrawal symptoms. Some people are “allergic” to caffeine and it can cause irrational mood swings and exacerbation of PMS, even heartbeat irregularities. Best to wean yourself off it.

C-Reactive Protein

Perhaps it is wrong to consider this a toxin in itself, but its presence in the blood is an indicator of inflammation in the body. A high reading of C-Reactive Protein in the blood can indicate a propensity to heart attack. It is elevated by infections, inflammatory conditions, insulin resistance, and certain hormones such as those in the contraceptive pill or HRT. It is thought that a preventative dose of aspirin may be effective in reducing the level of C-Reactive Protein.

Cholesterol

A buildup of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol in the blood is implicated in heart disease via hardening of the arteries. Avoid high cholesterol by eating less saturated fats, exercising regularly, eating supplements rich in plant sterols or (as a last resort) Statins (prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs).

Cortisol

This is produced by the body at times of worry and stress, therefore it is commonly called the stress hormone. Eliminate cortisol by exercising, laughing, relaxing, enjoying a hobby and not allowing your own personal stresses to fester and thrive within you!

Pesticides

We encounter these in our own gardens (unless we garden organically) and on most bought fruits and vegetables. At least trace amounts are probably found in most people’s bodies. Either buy organic or make sure you thoroughly wash any fruit and veg you buy.

Dioxins

These are unwanted byproducts of heating processes and can increase cancer risks. They are suspected as contributory factors in diabetes, low sperm counts and behavioral problems. They are everywhere so it is hard to avoid them on an individual level. Buying organic produce and avoiding saturated animal fats (which tend to harbor dioxins) may help.

Homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid. It can contribute to the risks of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, furring of the arteries, toxicity in pregnancy, or even birth defects.

Its build-up can be caused by kidney disease, genetics or vitamin deficiencies. Supplementation of Vitamins B12, B6 and Folic Acid may be wise. These vitamins enable the conversion of homocysteine into less dangerous amino-acids in the body.

We are all exposed to toxins in the environment and our food over our lifetimes. Some are easy to avoid, others less so. Clean living and regular detox programs are probably the best we can do to avoid overexposure to toxins.

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Article written by Sid McCarthy

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