Toxins are found in our soil, air, water, food, finally ending up in our body. The impact to our health might be as damaging and life threatening as a chronic degenerative disease such as obesity, cancer, digestive diseases, autoimmune disease among others; or as subtle as joint pain, chronic headaches, food sensitivities, seasonal allergies, or other common symptoms.

Most people are aware that there is a real possibility of illness from nutritional and lifestyle choices but don’t relate toxicity to common household products and ingredients found in our food pantries or our homes. About 90% of our toxic load comes from the air we breath and from the food we eat. This toxic load is so overwhelming that health outcomes from disease continue to raise. The National Cancer Institute released a report stating that there’s been a 9.4% increase in child cancer between 1992 and 2007.

FOOD INDUSTRY

The FDA gives green light to many food additives, including some banned around the world. And, nutrition label claims do not show most of the truth behind chemicals, pesticides and herbicides used in our foods. Shelves throughout our supermarket aisles are stocked with “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. We see marketing strategies from food companies designed to attract consumers- especially children- with colorful packaging, funny characters, catchy jingles or songs, appetizing pictures, “gluten-free” labels, and more. The food industry along with government agencies have not made the long overdue move to do something serious about getting rid of toxins. Will you wait for this to happen (if it ever does)? Shouldn´t you make the move?

DYES

There are eight dyes being used by food manufacturers found in all kinds of foods, like macaroni and cheese, breakfast cereals, candy, ice cream, pastries, cookies, desserts, chips and more. There have been links being found to hyperactivity and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), along with cancer and potentially fatal food allergies. The FDA still lets moms and dads continue being uninformed on what goes inside our foods and the possible health effects they may have. The industry is quick to use strategies like stalling, delaying and denying...”more research is needed”, scientists claim, “the results are taken out of context”, while people continue getting sick and leading low quality lives without even knowing the source of their ailments.

BPA, PFOA OR PLASTIC RELATED CHEMICALS

Bisphenol-A or BPA is used to manufacture hard plastics (such as water bottles) and metal cans, while PFOA is used to manufacture nonstick coatings. Studies show that exposure to these chemicals act as endocrine disruptors (a.k.a. hormonal disruptors) that may lead to obesity, fertility problems, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Recent laboratory tests have shown that more than 90% of us have some level of BPA in our system. If you think about it, nowadays, most foods are constantly in contact with plastic, whether their container or packaging is made from it, they are bottled in it, or they come in contact with it in any part of their processing. Other ways of being exposed to these chemicals are when consuming canned foods or drinks, cooking with pots and pans, or storing and then reheating leftovers in plastic containers.

And it doesn’t end there.

These hormone-mimicking chemicals are also found in thermal receipts and cosmetics.

PESTICIDES AND HERBICIDES

Pesticides are another major concern when considering toxic intake from foods. We constantly hear about the benefits of organic food, however about one-third of all fruits and vegetables are covered in pesticides. Pesticides are intended to kill pests, the first sign that these can be dangerous to all living animals, including us! A study found that children with high levels of a certain pesticide had increased chances for ADHD, developmental disorder, and autism.Pesticides can act as hormones in our bodies by mimicking their activity, and can possibly reduce fertility.

There’s even been links found to weight gain from consumption of common weed killers. Glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, is the most widely used herbicide in the United States in GMO food, yards, farms and parks, and even clothes. Researchers have found that weed killers can kill human cells. That´s a human experiment gone wrong!

It may seem difficult to avoid toxins. It can certainly feel overwhelming after first becoming aware, but there are many things you can do to reduce your toxic load.

"Change before you have to". -Jack Welch

WHAT CAN WE DO TO REDUCE OUR TOXIC LOAD?

First off, don't let fear take over, use that energy and dive into learning more. There is no place for guilt, just making one small change reduces your toxic load, and that is well worth it. Baby steps and small but meaningful changes should be made towards a less toxic life. Get involved, stay informed, and make better choices.

Here are some small changes that can start you off on the right track:

- Store and heat foods in glass or stainless steel containers. 
- Refuse printed receipts whenever possible. 
- Avoid using teflon.
- Don´t microwave in plastic. 
- Drink from BPA-free stainless steel bottles.
- Pick organic brands without added artificial colors or flavors. 
- Stay away from artificially dyed, sugary beverages like sodas, juices, and sport drinks. 
- Simple water and herbal teas are your best friends! Kick your cola habit. If you enjoy beverages on the sweet side try fruit or herbal teas and infusions. 
- Choose whole foods rather than canned or processed, avoid cold or lunch meats. 
- Steer clear from children´s foods such as breakfast cereals, bars and juices. And, avoid children´s menus. We call these food, however they are not nourishing at all and sadly the worst choices.
- Choose fresh, locally grown, and seasonal or frozen produce. 
- Check out the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list. This is a guide to help you choose the safest produce that is worth purchasing organic. 
- Always check ingredients for artificial colorings, and flavorings, added sugars or any ingredient that might raise alarm to you. Usually not found in whole foods. 
- Prefer free-range, game, pasture raised and pastured finished, organic, and hormone-free protein sources. 
- Don't fall for junk or convenient food with “gluten-free” or “organic” claims. S´mores and potato chips are still junk food, gluten-free, organic, non-GMO or not!

Although toxic ingredients might be hard to steer clear from, reducing our toxic load is well worthy. Making better choices for us and our families with clean, healthy, tasty alternatives is possible. Be proactive, knowledge is the key to a healthy, nutritious, toxic-free lifestyle.

To a long, productive, healthy, and happy life!

Lucia Chávez Nutritionist

 

References: 
Kobylewsky, S., & Jacobson, M. (2010). Food dyes a rainbow of risks (1st ed., pp. 1-50). 
Center for Science in the Public Interest. Retrieved from http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf Alternet,. (2009). 
13 Secret Toxins Lurking in Your Food, and How to Avoid Them. Retrieved 14 July 2015, from http://www.alternet.org/story/141870/13_secret_toxins_lurking_in_your_food,_and_how_to_avoid_them 
Annual Report to the Nation Shows Continuing Decline in Cancer Mortality. (2011). 
JNCI Journal Of The National Cancer Institute, 103(9), NP-NP. doi:10.1093/jnci/djr141 Doctoroz.com,. (2015). 
Three Dangerous Food Toxins. Retrieved 14 July 2015, from http://www.doctoroz.com/article/three-dangerous-food-toxins?page=1 EWG,. (2015). 
An Apple A Day, Too Much Pesticide Spray. Retrieved 14 July 2015, from http://www.ewg.org/agmag/2015/02/apple-day-too-much-pesticide-spray EWG,. (2015). 
BPA in Canned Food. Retrieved 14 July 2015, from http://www.ewg.org/research/bpa-canned-food EWG,. (2015). 
GMO Weed Killer’s Cancer Risk. Retrieved 14 July 2015, from http://www.ewg.org/agmag/2015/03/gmo-weed-killer-s-cancer-risk Goyanes, C. (2015). 
9 Common Foods That Contain Toxic Ingredients. Shape Magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2015, from http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/9-common-foods-contain-toxic-ingredients/slide/8 Naturopathic.org,. (2015). 
Avoiding Environmental Toxins and Chemicals In Food - AANP. Retrieved 14 July 2015, from http://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=474