Toxic Load

Toxic load is a relatively new term that refers to the amount of toxins we carry around in our bloodstream and stored in our fat cells.

Most people think of toxins in terms of the immediate or direct effect that a particular chemical has on their body - Will this kill me? Will I get a rash? Will it give me cancer? However, the real picture is more complicated than that, and it involves your liver as a primary player.

Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the Environmental Working Group of Oakland, California, and Commonweal Environmental Health and Research Institute in Marin County, California, recently conducted a study together to test the presence in the average population of 210 common toxic chemicals found in household products and industrial pollutants.

Surprising to them, but not to environmentalists, each test subject was positive for at least 50 chemicals known to interfere with human health.

These were chemicals linked to increased cancer risks in humans and lab animals, considered toxic to the brain and nervous systems, or known to interfere with our hormone and reproductive systems.

That is toxic load. We all carry some, but we also have the power to reduce it by making step by step choices towards easy green living.

Toxins and Your Liver

The human liver is the body's largest organ. According to the list provided on the British Liver Trust website, it has over 500 functions, the most important of which are:

1. processing digested food from the intestine

2. controlling levels of fats, amino acids and glucose in the blood

3. combating infections in the body

4. clearing the blood of particles and infections including bacteria

5. neutralizing and destroying drugs and toxins

6. manufacturing bile

7. storing iron, vitamins and other essential chemicals

8. breaking down food and turning it into energy

9. manufacturing, breaking down and regulating numerous hormones including sex hormones

10. making enzymes and proteins which are responsible for most chemical reactions in the body, for example those involved in blood clotting and repair of damaged tissues.

You can see that the liver has a big job - and managing toxic load is just one of those jobs.

Pretty much everything that comes into our bodies, from the air we breathe, the food we eat, what we inject, what we swim/wash in - will find it's way through our liver. These chemicals are generally divided into two groups - those that are 'lipophilic'(fat soluble) and those that are 'hydrophilic'(water soluble).

Hydrophilic, or water soluble compounds are directed by the liver to appropriate place - either to be used, stored or excreted. Lipophilic compounds however, must be converted into water soluble compounds, before they can be dealt with - so they often remain stored in our fat cells until the liver is able to convert them - contributing to toxic load as the volume builds up over time.

Some compounds, which environmentalists describe as 'persistent in the human body', the liver is not equipped to deal with at all. Some chemicals actually even damage the liver's ability to convert fat-soluble compounds to water-soluble ones.

Dealing with all of these toxins puts a great deal of strain on the liver. Yes, it can deal with many of them, but it has other things to do - so things can get backed up in the body, which is not good for our overall health.

There is something that we can do - and that is do our very best to reduce our toxic load wherever we can, in our cleaning products, in our food, in our paint - anywhere we have control. You can reduce your toxic load!


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