Hold on to your seats, I might be about to gross you out a little bit!  Today we’re talking about toxic load, the sum of all the small amounts of chemicals we’re exposed to every day.  Small doses of chemicals don’t have an effect on the body individually, but when the overall toxic load gets large it can start to wreak some havoc on your health.

What I mean by chemicals are fake compounds made in a factory or lab that our body can’t use when they get into our system.  Bisphenol A, or BPA, found in some plastic containers is a good example.  Compounds like BPA stress the body out because they have to be sorted and then kicked out, a process that wastes our body’s resources.  These compounds can also hang out in our bodies for a long time, getting in the way of normal functions.

This is a hard area to research, because we are exposed to chemicals through food, food containers, body care products, and our general environment.  It’s hard for scientists to determine what the offending chemicals are and where they are coming from.  However emerging research has made connections between toxic load and allergies, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, several types of cancer, and more.

Here are some simple ways you can decrease the toxic load in your life:

Wash your produce thoroughly.  Wash all your fruits and vegetables for at least 10 seconds under cold running water before you eat them.  In addition to getting rid of any chemical residue, this will wash off all the germs of the many people who handled that produce before it got to you.

Eat clean.  Eat less packaged foods, don’t buy foods with ingredients you don’t recognize, buy organic when possible.

Use glass or metal containers in place of plastic.  Even BPA-free plastic containers have other chemicals that can leach into your food.

Use natural body care products.  The Environmental Working Group has a great database where you can look up the least (or most) toxic soaps, lotions, and shampoos.  Fake fragrances contain many toxic ingredients, so go fragrance-free or look for something that is scented naturally.

Auntie Chris
8/16/2012 01:11:56 pm

I've been reading a lot about this topic. THere's a very good book called "No More Dirty Looks" that has a lot to say about personal care products including a list of the worst ingredients, suggestions for non-toxic shampoo, etc., and how to make your own. They reference the EWG often, as well as the Cosmetic Safety Base. I wish I had known about all this decades ago, but I guess better late than never!

8/16/2012 11:17:45 pm

I've heard of that book Chris, but I haven't read it myself. I agree, it's better to cut that kind of stuff out of your life late rather than never!

8/25/2012 01:49:33 pm

Hey, I just wanted to say thanks for the great post! I have been writing some posts about diabetes research myself, but I was really intrigued by the information you provided here. Would you have any resources on those studies that looked into chemical exposure and the connection to diabetes?

8/31/2012 12:30:31 pm

Here you go Steve! It's mostly correlational at this point, but it's kind of an impossible thing to study via clinical trial (at least as far as I could imagine, but I'm no epidemiologist).

D. H. Lee, I. K. Lee, K. Song et al., “A strong dose-response
relation between serum concentrations of persistent organic
pollutants and diabetes: results fromthe National Health and
Examination Survey 1999–2002,” Diabetes Care, vol. 29, no.
7, pp. 1638–1644, 2006.

T. L. Hectors, C. Vanparys, K. van der Ven et al., “Environmental
pollutants and type 2 diabetes: a review of mechanisms
that can disrupt beta cell function,” Diabetologia, vol.
54, no. 6, pp. 1273–1290, 2011.

J. S. Llm, D. H. Lee, and D. R. Jacobs, “Association of
brominated flame retardants with diabetes and metabolic
syndrome in the U.S. population, 2003-2004,” Diabetes Care,
vol. 31, no. 9, pp. 1802–1807, 2008.

12/23/2012 10:55:21 am

Thanks for providing those really great resources Mary! I also have been looking to learn more about diabetes based medical research studies. I know that last month was Diabetes Awareness Month, and there was some intriguing new studies presented.

2/6/2013 09:15:45 am

Thanks for sharing this really informative post! I actually recently read about a totally different study that recently took place in Spain which could add another interesting point to the debate over diet, weight, and the risk of diabetes. This study showed that it might be harder to lose weight if you eat your biggest meal of the day past 3 p.m. It also showed that it can make the body less sensitive to insulin (a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes).

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