Every day, no matter where you live or what you do, your body is exposed to small amounts of toxic chemicals—and not just from outdoor air pollution. Countless toxins make their way indoors as we come and go, but some are there already, hiding in everyday items like appliances, furniture, and toys. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) such low-level exposure is not dangerous to our health, but a new report suggests otherwise.
Researchers from the University of Colorado and the Endocrine Disruption Exchange recently examined more than three dozen studies focusing on four volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in particular: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene—commonly referred to as BTEX. In addition to their use in many consumer products, BTEX are found in gasoline and diesel fuel. The four chemicals are ever present in our environment, yet we don’t notice because they are odorless at low levels. As it turns out, those low levels may not be as safe as we thought.
In looking at the data collected, lead author Ashley Bolden and her team found that in many cases, indoor levels of BTEX were significantly higher than outdoor levels, and that even so-called “ambient levels” of these chemicals were associated with hormonal changes that can significantly impact human health. Specifically, researchers were able to link ambient level BTEX exposure to the following:
- Developmental effects (such as low birth weight in babies);
- Reproductive effects (such as lower sperm count and motility in males);
- Immune system effects (including allergies and a decrease in white blood cells);
- Effects on respiratory function (including an increased risk of asthma and pulmonary inflammation); and
- Effects on metabolic function.
Should we be concerned? Yes, says Bolden, especially since Americans spend the majority of their time indoors. However, the solution may be as simple as improving building ventilation standards to decrease exposure and lessen the potential health risks. The report, published in a recent issue of Environmental Science & Technology, even caught the attention of officials at the EPA, who plan to review the findings.
Each day we are confronted by harmful toxins in the air we breathe, the food and water we consume, and even in the products we use every day to make our lives more convenient. Over time, those toxins can build up in the body and impact our overall health. For this reason, many health experts recommend regular internal cleansing to help the body more efficiently eliminate toxins and waste.‡
While there are plenty of to choose from, beginners may benefit from a total-body formula designed for first-time cleansers.‡ Such a program will typically last about two weeks and include gentler whole herbs to provide natural support for each of the body’s elimination organs—including the kidneys, liver, lymphatic system, and bowel (or colon).‡ After that, you may wish to move on to a more advanced cleanse. These can last up to a month and will often contain deep-cleansing herbal extracts to support detoxification and help restore digestive regularity.‡
Helpful Tips to Remember
During any type of cleanse, remember that your goal is to support your detoxification processes while helping your body maintain a healthy balance of nutrients.‡ Your daily diet should provide support for your organs of elimination as well as overall nourishment for your body, which is why choosing the right foods while cleansing is also important. Below are some quick tips to help you get started:
- Eat plenty of “living foods” such as raw, organic fruits and veggies (veggies may also be lightly steamed) in addition to fermented foods that contain beneficial probiotic cultures such as yogurt, kefir, miso and/or tempeh.
- Choose lean protein sources such as organic, natural, or free-range chicken, turkey, beef, fish, tofu, and eggs.
- Consume essential fatty acids such as the beneficial Omega-3 fats found in oily fish and certain nuts and seeds.
- Opt for well-cooked grains from sources such as millet, buckwheat, khorasan wheat, amaranth, quinoa, spelt, teff, rye, basmati rice, wild rice, and brown rice—all of which provide an excellent source of fiber while cleansing.
- Drink plenty of purified water to help to flush unwanted toxins and waste from the body. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of purified water every day.
- Try to limit your consumption of sugar (both table sugar and hidden refined sugars) and starchy carbohydrates, which may feed unhealthy microbes in the gut.