One of the most concerning health issues of our time is the increasing exposure we all face to environmental toxins. There is mounting scientific evidence that toxin exposure is playing a significant role in triggering or amplifying many chronic diseases including obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancers, and multisystem conditions such as fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivities.

Many of these toxic chemicals are referred to as endocrine disruptors. This means they fool the body by mimicking the action of our own hormones in unhealthy ways.

Since the end of World War II, over 85,000 synthetic chemicals have been registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The majority of these chemicals were grandfathered in with little or no health and safety testing. Roughly 3,000 chemicals are manufactured in ‘high production volume,’ meaning in excess of one million pounds each in the US annually. Over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the US each year. The EPA has approved over 350 pesticides to be used on food products that millions of people consume daily; however, only about 0.1% of all pesticides reach the intended pest; the remainder end up contaminating our environment. Additionally, in the last 40 years some 2,000 new chemicals have been registered for use in everyday items including personal care products, prescription drugs, household cleaning products, plastics and plastic containers, food additives and preservatives.

Our exposure to synthetic environmental toxins is widespread, on the rise, and lifelong. This is referred to as a person’s ‘exposome.’ Your exposome, or the total body burden of toxins acting synergistically and cumulatively in your body, is being increasingly linked to dysfunction and disease, especially in susceptible individuals. Susceptibility is defined by a particular person’s ability to biotransform, detoxify, and eliminate toxins. The more we are exposed to toxins, the less tolerant we become.

Categories of toxic chemicals known to be detrimental to human health include:

  1. Heavy metals, lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum
  2. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  3. Plastics (phthalates)
  4. Phenols, bisphenol A
  5. Organochlorides pesticides
  6. Organophosphate pesticides
  7. Polychlorinated biphenyls
  8. Polyfluorinated compounds

Reducing dietary exposures to these toxins:

  1. Choose organic food products if at all possible, particularly dairy, eggs, meats.
  2. Choose cooking methods that are low-char and that allow animal fats to drip away such as steaming.
  3. Never eat farmed salmon, and beware of tuna and swordfish due to possible heavy metal contamination.
  4. Use glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers for heating or storing hot food; use no plastics.
  5. Do not subject plastic ware to high heat.
  6. Avoid vinyl cling wrap (phthalates).
  7. Avoid high fructose corn and rice syrup, and processed foods with artificial colorings, sweeteners and preservatives.
  8. Choose local, seasonal and organic produce whenever possible.
  9. Wash all fruits and vegetables using mild, additive-free soap.

Reducing lifestyle toxin exposures:

  1. Avoid acetaminophen for pain relief, especially after consuming alcohol.
  2. Do not take multiple over-the-counter medications simultaneously.
  3. Inquire about preservatives in flu shots and vaccines and choose those without thimerisol (mercury preservative).
  4. Choose composite dental fillings instead of metallic.
  5. Avoid “no stick” pots and pans and “stain resistant” clothing.
  6. Remove your shoes when you enter your home.
  7. Avoid indoor application of pesticides.

The keys to minimizing the effects of environmental toxins is to get your liver and detoxification system working, get your bowels moving,  and eat detoxifying food such as colorful fruits and vegetables – particularly the cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts – along with garlic and onions. These will help increase sulfur concentrations in the body and assist in detoxification. Many nutrition manufacturers offer a variety of products to assist in detoxification as well.

Dr. John Dixon can be reached at the Natural Medicine Group (760) 345.7300.

Source: Institute for Functional Medicine website:

Read or write a comment

Comments (0)


Living Wellness with Jenniferbanner your financial health michelle sarnamentoring the futureNaturopathic Family Medicine with Dr. ShannonThe Paradigm Shift in Medicine TodayConventionally Unconventional with Kinder Fayssoux, MD