Following the recent 'Sudan I' toxic food dye scares I have included some information about toxins in general and how to avoid them as much as possible. Exposure to toxins is a major source of disease and the problem is increasing all the time. Thousands of new chemicals are released into the environment and put in our food every year.

To help our bodies cope I strongly advise supporing the liver's detoxification pathways with supplements like NAC, R- Lipoic Acid, folic acid and Chlorophyllin.

A study in last February's British Medical Journal estimated that 75 percent of most cancers are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors, including exposure to chemicals. Another report by the Columbia University School of Public Health estimated that 95 percent of cancer is caused by diet and environmental toxicity.

Studies show most Americans have somewhere between 400 and 800 chemicals stored in their bodies, typically in fat cells. Our environment is not very different from theirs. The toxins are everywhere, in our water, air and in our food. We don't realize that we're being affected until we get a chronic disease after years of subtle and often consistent exposure to a combination of these toxins.

The table accompanying this newsletter lists the 10 worst offenders, their effects and their sources. It's impossible to avoid all environmental toxins. The following tips will help you to limit your exposure as much as possible.

Tips to Avoid Toxins

Buy and eat (as much as possible) organic produce and free-range, organic foods. If you can only purchase one or two organic products it probably should be free range organic eggs and organic milk.

Rather than eating fish, which is largely contaminated with PCBs, dioxins and mercury, consume a high-quality purified fish or cod liver oil like Vital Advantage Fish Oil or Cardinova Eskimo 3.

fresh saladAvoid processed foods - they are processed with chemicals.

Only use natural cleaning products in your home. Most health food stores have these available or find them on-line.

Switch to natural brands of toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics.

Have metal fillings removed as they're a major source of mercury. Be sure to have this done by a specialised dentist. Most dentists are technically qualified to replace your amalgam fillings but only a few dentists know how to do it safely minimising your risk of mercury exposure during the process.

Avoid artificial air fresheners, tumble-dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances.

Avoid artificial food additives of all kinds, including artificial sweeteners and MSG.

Get plenty of safe sun exposure to boost your vitamin D levels and your immune system.

Drink bottled spring water or filtered water. Reverse osmosis filtered water is best.

The 10 Most Common Toxins

ToxinRisksMajor Sources
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls): This industrial chemical has been banned for decades, yet is a persistent organic pollutant that's still present in our environment.Cancer, impaired foetal brain developmentFarm-raised salmon. Most farm-raised salmon are fed meals of ground-up fish that have absorbed PCBs from the environment.
Pesticides: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. In the U.S. pesticide residues have been detected in 50 percent to 95 percent of foods.Cancer, Parkinson's disease, miscarriage, nerve damage, birth defects, blocking the absorption of food nutrients.Food (fruits, vegetables and commercially raised meats), insect sprays
Mould and other Fungal Toxins: One in three people have had an allergic reaction to mould. Mycotoxins (fungal toxins) can cause a range of health problems with exposure to only a bit.Cancer, heart disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes.Contaminated buildings, foods like peanuts, wheat, corn and alcoholic beverages
Phthalates: These chemicals are used to lengthen the life of fragrances and soften plastics.Endocrine system damage (phthalates chemically mimic hormones and are particularly dangerous to children).Plastic wrap, plastic bottles, plastic food storage containers. All of these can leach phthalates into our food.
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds): VOCs are a major contributing factor to ozone, an air pollutant. VOCs tend to be even higher (two to five times) in indoor air than outdoor air, likely because they are present in so many household products.Cancer, eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairmentDrinking water, carpet, paints, deodorants, cleaning fluids, varnishes, cosmetics, dry cleaned clothing, moth repellents, air fresheners.
Dioxins: Chemical compounds formed as a result of combustion processes such as commercial or municipal waste incineration and from burning fuels (like wood, coal or oil).Cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, endometriosis, chloracne, skin rashes, skin discoloration, excessive body hair, mild liver damageAnimal fats: Over 95 percent of exposure comes from eating commercial animal fats.
Asbestos: This insulating material was widely used from the 1950s to 1970s. Problems arise when the material becomes old and crumbly, releasing fibres into the air.Cancer, scarring of the lung tissue, mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer)Insulation on floors, ceilings, water pipes and healing ducts from the 1950s to 1970s.
Heavy Metals: Metals like arsenic, mercury, lead, aluminium and cadmium, which are prevalent in many areas of our environment, can accumulate in soft tissues of the body.Cancer, neurological disorders, Alzheimer's disease, foggy head, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vesselsDrinking water, fish, vaccines, pesticides, preserved wood, antiperspirant, building materials, dental amalgams, chlorine plants.
Chloroform: This colourless liquid has a pleasant, non-irritating odour and a slightly sweet taste, and is used to make other chemicals. It's also formed when chlorine is added to water.Cancer, potential reproductive damage, birth defects, dizziness, fatigue, headache, liver and kidney damage.Air, drinking water and food can contain chloroform.
Chlorine: This highly toxic, yellow-green gas is one of the most heavily used chemical agents.Sore throat, coughing, eye and skin irritation, rapid breathing, narrowing of the bronchi, wheezing, blue colouring of the skin, accumulation of fluid in the lungs, pain in the lung region, severe eye and skin burns, lung collapse, reactive airways dysfunction syndromeHousehold cleaners, drinking water (in small amounts), air when living near an industry (such as a paper plant) that uses chlorine in industrial processes.

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