Nix The Toxins!

Sep 21, 2016 | Health and Diet | 0 comments

The Dirt:

We are told to live in fear of toxic substances (commonly referred to as “toxins”) and the effects on our health. But what makes something toxic? How does our body process toxic substances? Let’s explore the different types of substances that are toxic and whether we need to worry.

We know that “toxic” is frequently used to describe a substance that is considered to be bad for you. For example, you may have heard that a poor diet and lack of exercise can contribute to the build-up of “toxins” in the body. But is this true? From where do these “toxins” come? Do you know what happens when a toxic substance enters your body? Do you know how your body deals with things that are toxic to it? I mean…what is a “toxin” anyway?

Toxins are complex

By definition, a toxin is a poisonous substance biologically produced (i.e., by a plant or animal). This term is often erroneously used to describe all substances that have the potential to be toxic to humans. Manufactured or synthesized chemical compounds (e.g., pesticides, chemicals used in plastics, solvents, metals, etc.) that may be poisonous or toxic to humans are called toxicant. We interviewed Dr. Ben Kim who added, “when discussing cleansing and detoxification, generally, I consider any substance that does not nourish our cells or aid in the function of our cells to be toxic i.e. not necessary and therefore a burden to some degree.”

When discussing cleansing and detoxification, generally, any substance that does not nourish our cells or aid in the function of our cells to be toxic i.e. not necessary and therefore a burden to some degree.

- Dr. Ben Kim

Don’t live in fear of toxic substances!

It is probably safe to assume you are mostly concerned with the toxic substances that may be found in your food or surrounding environment. These toxicants are anything from mercury in fish and preservatives in food to cadmium in cigarette smoke and lead in paint. Thus, it is unrealistic to think you will never ingest something that is toxic. But, while it is virtually impossible to be free of toxic compounds, you don’t need to live in fear of them. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle including exercise, a balanced diet, and moderation with alcohol consumption is the best way to support your body’s natural detoxification processes. Your body is equipped with detoxification systems that eliminate the toxic compounds you ingest.

To better understand how substances may be toxic to us, we first need to know a bit about these chemicals and how they enter our bodies.

Most toxicants enter your body via ingestion, inhalation, or absorption.  Examples of toxicants are pesticides, flame retardants, heavy metals, and chemicals used in common cleaning agents  as well as chemicals such as acrylamide found in cooked or processed foods and acetone in cosmetics such as nail polish remover

One of the primary means for supporting your body’s natural processes to eliminate potentially harmful substances is a healthy digestive system. If you maintain a poor diet over a long period of time, your liver and gut health are compromised and your body cannot properly eliminate them.

Endogenous Toxins are toxins that are produced inside of your body. Some of these toxins are waste products from normal metabolic activities – carbon dioxide, urea, and lactic acid are examples of endogenous toxins that your body churns out by the second. Unless your health is severely compromised, your body is well equipped to eliminate these endogenous toxins from your system” (Dr. Ben Kim, 2012).

One of the primary means for supporting your body’s natural processes to eliminate potentially harmful substances is a healthy digestive system. If you maintain a poor diet over a long period of time, your liver and gut health are compromised and your body cannot properly eliminate them.

As far as toxic substances are concerned, the primary issue is their ability to damage your healthy cells. Whether you inhale or ingest pollution, your body’s best defense is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

How does your body process toxic compounds?


Your body protects itself

As you may recall, we previously discussed your body’s ability to “cleanse” itself in our article, “The Truth Behind Cleansing.”  If you are eating well, exercising, sleeping well, and avoiding toxic substances to the best of your ability, you can trust your body to protect itself. Our kidneys and liver are well equipped to handle the normal detoxification process for toxic substances. That is what they are there for.


The problem occurs when you are exposed to more toxicants than your body is able to eliminate. If you are taking in too much too quickly, your body’s elimination processes may break down. The more toxicant taken in (e.g., dose), the more likely your elimination systems will become overloaded resulting in harmful health effects.

Our kidneys and liver are well equipped to handle the detoxification process for potentially harmful toxic substances. That is what they are there for.

Your kidneys primary function is to filter your blood. The organ contains millions of microscopic units called nephrons, which filter your blood to eliminate waste and regulate your body’s fluid and electrolyte balance. The liver, on the other hand, is the primary detoxifying agent. It is responsible for keeping pathogens from entering the bloodstream. It is well-equipped to eliminate toxicants that are either created by your body or ingested, absorbed, or inhaled. So, if you are careful about what cleaning products or pollution you might be exposed to on a daily basis and you maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle, your body has the tools to eliminate the substances that may be harmful.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Eat nutritious whole foods, exercise, and hydrate. This will help facilitate healthy blood circulation and the elimination of unneeded substances from the body. If your body is being fed and hydrated properly, your liver and kidneys have the tools to detoxify on their own. In fact, recent studies have shown that the traditional recommendation of “8 servings of water per day” is unsubstantiated. Nutritionists are now saying that you should aim to consume roughly half an ounce – one ounce of water per pound.

If you weigh 150lbs you should be drinking between 75-150 ounces of water per day. This recommendation will also depend on your weight, size, and exercise regime

All in all, we need to be realistic. You are never going to be able to completely eliminate exposure to all potentially harmful substances in your daily life. The best way to protect yourself is to be good to your body. Be aware of the cleaning solvents and other chemicals used in your home, skip the cigarettes, and avoid second-hand smoke and heavily polluted areas when possible.

Remember: your body is well-equipped to handle the day-to-day threats of the environment. The danger only comes from over exposure. Hydration and a well-balanced diet help your organs efficiently eliminate toxicants.

According to acupuncturist Dr. Ben Kim, “if enough cells in one organ or gland become dysfunctional due to a build-up of toxicants, you may experience organ or glandular dysfunction – examples of such dysfunction include thyroid disease, impaired vision, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney failure, and any stage of liver degeneration (fatty liver, cirrhosis, etc.)” Of course, genetics affect how every individual responds to their environment, so exposure to toxicants is not always the only source of these long-term health issues. It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any long term ailments.

Toxins and Inflammation

Fat tissue will create inflammation that uses up nutrients and makes it more challenging for your body to clear toxicants. It also switches how cells grow and use energy.

-Dr. Bongiorno

Get enough sleep and reduce stress. Poor sleep and stress are known triggers of inflammation. According to a study performed by Emory University and presented at the 2010 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, getting less than six hours of sleep per night is associated with higher levels of inflammation. This is also linked with an increase risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition to lack of sleep, excessive levels of long-term stress can cause your gut to shut down and compromise the production of enzymes that aid the digestive process, including toxicant elimination.


Chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases including heart disease, autoimmune diseases (like lupus and Crohn’s disease), cancer, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. That’s a terrifying list! And while inflammation may not be the primary cause for each, maintaining chronic, low grade inflammation allows for a weakened immune system and compromised overall health. 

Modern day life is stressful on our biology. Yes, our bodies are very resilient but we need to give our body restorative rest. Today, there is more electronics than ever before, our diets are less nourishing, we certainly sleep less, and we work more than ever. If your body is on high alert your immune system is always working to protect you. Therefore, you can run down your immune system. It is so helpful to protect your sleep and have restorative sleep in order to keep your body functioning at an optimal level.

Sophia Ruan Gushee,

author of A-Z of D-Toxing

As we discussed, genetics also play a very important role here as well. How chronic inflammation affects you will vary depending on your genes. If you have a family history of lung cancer, that organ can be more susceptible than your other organs because that is what you are predisposed to. If you are keeping a bad diet, it can actually trigger an inflammatory response in your lungs. The best way to keep inflammation at bay is through a healthy diet, moderate exercise, plenty of sleep, and avoiding cigarettes and other toxic pollutants to the best of your ability.

The Bottom Line:

Toxicants are dangerous when you are exposed to large enough amounts especially in a continuous fashion. In order to best protect yourself, be aware of the various sources of toxic substances that may be negatively affecting your health. Skip the overly processed food, artificial sweeteners, and additives. Be careful when handling household cleaning solvents, be aware of heavily polluted areas, and certainly do not smoke! But most of all, maintain a balanced diet, exercise, and drink enough water to enable your body on its own to properly eliminate things that may be toxic.


“Air Pollution and Toxins in Our Environment.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.

Daya, Mohamud, M.D., and Chandler, David B.,  pH.D. Dangerous Chemicals in Your Closet. National Trade Publications, Inc., 1996.

Galitzer, Michael. “Toxicity.” Education & Research. The American Health Institute, Inc., 03 Dec. 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.

Gunnars, Kris, BSc. “How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day?” Authority Nutrition. N.p., 2016. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.

Group, Edward, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM. “The Top 5 Harmful Toxins in Air.” Dr Groups Natural Health Organic Living Blog. Global Healing Center, 30 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.

Helmenstine, Anne Marie. “What Exactly Is a Toxic Chemical?” About- Education, 2014. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.

Kim, Ben. “A No-Nonsense Look at Toxins and How Your Body Deals with Them.” Dr. Ben- Experience Your Health. N.p., 13 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.

Rote, Kasi, MD. “How Toxins Affect the Body.” Rote Wellness. N.p., Web. 20 Sept. 2016.

“Toxins – Types and Sources.” Toxins – Types and Sources. Medical Insider, 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.

Weller, Chris. “What Are Toxins?” Medical Daily. The Unexamined Life, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.