Exposure to toxins in your daily life is pretty unavoidable. Though not always immediately harmful, these substances can be found in a variety of places, from food to soaps to the environment. When
toxins build up in your body, it can affect you in ways you may not realize.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s
Toxics Release Inventory list currently contains 595 chemicals that are known to cause significant adverse health affects in humans. As Nasimeh Yazdani, M.D., founder of Seaside Medical Technologies tells Bustle, toxins are harmful substances that can mess with your DNA and damage cellular function. For example, formaldehyde, which is a commonly used substance in cosmetic products, has been found to cause birth defects. That's why it's recommended for pregnant women to avoid exposure as much as possible.
Toxins are harmful in nature, so feeling a little down or sick is pretty typical of a
toxin overload. As Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. author of The Cancer Revolution, tells Bustle, too many toxins in the body can possibly lead to disease. "They may come from the chemicals in the air, electromagnetic field radiation from your cell phones, processed food that you eat and so on," she says. "Autoimmune diseases can contribute to those precursors as well. Stress is also a big part of what leads to disease and even cancer."
toxins are everywhere, you may be exposed to more than you probably think. So here are some subtle signs of a toxin overload in your body to look out for, according to doctors. 1 You Have Brain Fog
Confusion, memory loss, and an inability to stay focused are all signs of brain fog and can be the result of irritation caused by chemicals and toxins that you are exposed to. "Through a series of reactions, toxins cause inflammation which can strip the body from essential vitamins, minerals, and hormones necessary for daily body function,"
Janette Nesheiwat, M.D., family and ER medicine and medical correspondent, tells Bustle. "You can even think of it like a car that breaks down when it has bad oil in it." When your body is filled with toxins, it won't run properly and will affect many areas of your body including your brain. 2 You Have Constipation
When you consume processed foods, you're
consuming all the chemicals that come with it such as preservatives, colorants, and artificial flavoring. According to Dr. Nesheiwat this can lead to symptoms like an upset stomach and constipation. "These could be signs of toxin overload and your body telling you to slow down and take care of yourself," she says. Eating organic as much as possible, limiting alcohol intake, and drinking plenty of water should help with your bowel movements. "Consuming foods rich in vitamins and minerals can strengthen the body and help eliminate toxins," she says. 3 You Have Low Energy Levels
Research has found links between
chronic fatigue and toxin exposure in the environment from things like pesticides, solvents, and metals. When toxins overload your body, it can cause your kidneys and liver to work overtime in order to get rid of that waste. "If we put our kidneys into overdrive it can get 'backed up' and cause toxin buildup, which in turn causes the symptoms of fatigue and low energy," Dr. Nesheiwat says. But since fatigue can have many different causes, it's important to talk with your doctor if this becomes an issue for you. 4 You Have Unusual Smelling Body Odor
One major sign of a toxin overload is
abnormal smelling body odor. As Dr. Nesheiwat says, "The body creates gases and odors, which are by products of metabolism and the breakdown of everything we inhale, ingest or are exposed to." Unusual smelling body odors, urine, and bad breath are all signs that your body is trying to get rid of toxins. 5 You Have Chemical Sensitivities
"Any amount of toxins, not just an overload, can cause chemical sensitivities," Dr. Nesheiwat says. In fact,
multiple chemical sensitivity is the result of exposure to low levels of common environmental contaminants. Chronic exposure to low doses may result in itching, fatigue, cognitive problems and organ damaging inflammation. 6 You Experience Physical Aches And Pains
It's easy to resort to fast food, which according to Dr. Nesheiwat is "loaded with chemicals," when you're always on-the-go or just super stressed out from work. But if you make it a habit to eat it often, this can cause toxins to build up in your body. In fact, a recent George Washington University study found that burgers and other foods that get consumed at
fast food places may increase the number of "health-harming chemicals" or pthlates in the body. As Dr. Nesheiwat says, feeling run down and having aching joints and muscles are all symptoms associated with a toxin overload. 7 You May Notice Skin Issues That You Didn't Have Before
Products such as shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and lotions can contain harmful chemicals. As
Dr. Yazdani says, "Skin is the largest organ in the body and can expose your entire body to penetration of toxins." Exposure to toxins can cause symptoms such as acne, rashes, puffy eyes and eczema, among others. Sometimes the products you use may not be the culprit. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 13 million workers in the United States get exposed to potentially harmful chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. People who are most at risk work in a variety of industries from food service to health care.
Exposure to toxins is pretty inevitable and it may be impossible to completely rid yourself of toxins altogether. But you can definitely reduce the amount of toxins in your body.
As Dr. Nesheiwat suggests, stick to organic and natural foods, vegetables, and fruits. Avoid excess amounts of alcohol and fast food as much as you can. Also, be mindful of the products you're using on your body as well as the ones you use to clean your house. Other than that, be sure to drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, get some exercise, manage stress in effective ways and just try your best to stay healthy.
A few key lifestyle adjustments can be super helpful. Of course, it's also a good idea to always talk to your doctor about any change to your lifestyle you may need to make.