When we think of toxic waste, our mind instantly produces images of huge chemical factories churning out industrial waste. Rarely do we stop and think that our body, too, is host to dozens of toxins and metals.
There are many ways these toxins enter our system:
- Inhalation: The air we breathe every day is contaminated with toxins. People working in factories and industrial areas are most prone to toxic inhalation.
- Ingestion: The most common cause of body toxicity through consumption is eating processed foods, foods with preservatives and additives, and canned foods. Many healthy-looking fruits and vegetables are laced with pesticides. Eating in a contaminated area may also cause ingestion of toxic substances.
- Absorption: Our skin and eyes absorb several airborne toxins every day. The skin care products we use daily without batting an eyelid are brimming with toxins.
Toxins interfere with the body’s proper functioning and, in the end, may even prove fatal.
Over time, the accumulation of toxins in the body may contribute to severe skin, eye and stomach infections, tumors, asthma, neurological diseases, heart complications, biological mutations and infertility.
It is important to know your body in order to respond to its distress calls.
Here are the top 10 warning signs that indicate your body is overloaded with toxins.
The colon, or large intestine, is responsible for processing toxins and eliminating them through regular bowel movements.
However, when the colon becomes unhealthy, it cannot properly eliminate all the waste materials from your digestive tract.
This leads to buildup of waste matter along the wall of your colon or in the pockets of the colon, which in turn causes constipation as well as gas and bloating.
Constipation means your bowel movements are not regular and stools are hard and require straining. To treat constipation, try drinking more water, exercising daily and including probiotics and fiber-rich foods in your diet.
2. Weight Gain
Exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins causes damage to many of the body’s natural weight-control mechanisms. Along with lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet, exposure to toxins plays a significant role in obesity.
Toxins may change the way your body’s natural hormones work, by altering their speed or blocking them altogether. The hormones primarily affected by toxic overload are thyroid, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol and insulin.
The thyroid gland controls metabolism by secreting fat-burning hormones. Toxins slow down the secretion of these hormones, inducing weight gain.
Pancreas produces the hormone insulin. When we eat unhealthy foods, our sugar levels spike. Insulin transfers the excess sugar from the bloodstream to the cells for later use.
When toxins interfere with insulin, the excess sugar remains in the bloodstream and converts into fat. Over time, this causes obesity.
A 2015 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives evaluated children of women exposed to airborne and ingested pesticides during pregnancy. Results found a direct correlation between toxins in the mother’s womb and obesity in their children by age 7.
3. Constant Fatigue
If you are constantly tired, you might be experiencing toxin-induced fatigue. The body breaks down food in the digestive tract to acquire nutrients essential for energy production.
When toxins accumulate in the digestive tract, they slow down the breakdown of food. This causes us to feel tired, fatigued, sluggish and low in energy.
Whether it is digestion, bowel movements or hormone secretion, toxins meddle with every system of the body. This induces a stress-response causing the body to work twice as hard to perform basic functions. This gradually weakens the immune system, which is one of the major causes of fatigue.
A 2001 study published in Science of the Total Environment notes that five patients with chronic fatigue syndrome in Italy (average age of 37.5) showed a damaged immune system due to excessive exposure to food and environmental toxins.
4. Skin Problems
The skin is the body’s secondary detoxifying organ. When there is an overload of toxins in the intestines, or the liver is unable to purify the toxin-rich blood making its way from the digestive tract, the skin tries to take over by flushing the toxins out. This detoxification by the skin manifests itself through rashes and excessive sweating.
Skin problems can also occur as a result of toxins. We often use skin-care and make-up products that come packed with toxins. When absorbed by the skin, these toxins clog our pores and cause harmful reactions.
Whether absorbed through topical use of skin care and cosmetic products, or contracted through food and air, toxins in our skin cause acne, inflammation, eczema, wrinkles, discoloration and dark circles.
A 2003 study published in the British Medical Bulletin points out that irritant contact dermatitis is caused by environmental exposure to toxins. Even certain connective tissue diseases can be caused by environmental pollution.
5. Headaches and Migraines
Environmental, topical and food toxins attack the central nervous system and settle there. These toxins cause our brain tissues to become overly sensitive.
Therefore, when we exert our brains in response to some stimuli, it causes a searing pain through our brain tissues. This is what we generally describe as a migraine.
Furthermore, the body has its own toxin-producing mechanism. The nerves may release waste materials and chemicals, such as nitric oxide, into the central nervous system. High levels of nitric oxide in the body have been found to trigger migraines.
A 2009 paper published in Clinical Science concludes that pollution, exposure to environmental allergens and exposure to chemicals may provoke headaches in susceptible individuals.
6. Mood Swings
Toxins derived from processed foods, foods with additives and artificial ingredients, and genetically engineered foods drastically affect your mood. Xenoestrogen is a food additive toxin that interferes with the natural estrogen in the body by mimicking it. It causes extreme mood swings.
Another artificial additive called aspartame releases toxins in the body that are linked to extreme depression. A 2013 study published in Neurology studied the effect of sweetened drinks in American adults, noting that drinks containing aspartame caused a higher risk of depression.
A 2002 study published in the Annals of Epidemiology reported high clinical depression in farmers and their spouses exposed to environmental toxins via pesticides in Colorado.
If you find yourself depressed often, it might be due to food and environmental toxins accumulating in your body.
7. Bad Breath
If your breath constantly reeks and brushing your teeth does not help, the problem might not be your teeth but your digestive system. The digestive tract is home to a mix of friendly and harmful bacteria.
When we consume processed food, we introduce a rush of carbohydrates in the body. The carbohydrates break down into excessive sugar, upon which the harmful bacteria thrive and grow. These bacteria give off toxins that deposit in our digestive system and mouth, inducing a filthy smell.
A white plaque buildup may accompany toxin-induced bad breath. Excessive burping is also a vent for bad breath and an added symptom of intestinal toxicity and indigestion.
Furthermore, bad breath may also indicate problems in the kidneys, which are responsible for removing toxic chemicals from the blood by creating urine.
8. Muscle Pain and Spasms
You can develop muscle pain and spasms without an actual injury due to excess toxins in the body.
Constant exposure to toxins from food products, household cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and the environment activates the immune and the stress-response systems.
This strains the body’s stress-defense mechanism, gradually weakening it. This leads to excessive stress affecting every organ in the body, including the muscles.
Stressed muscles constrict capillaries, obstructing smooth blood flow through the muscles. This causes oxygen deprivation and further strain. When the muscles try to resist the stress and overexert themselves, it may cause physical pain.
Muscle pain accompanied by fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a toxic overload. Massage therapy can help to overcome muscle pain and spasms.
People working on farms and in factories, people consuming processed foods regularly, and people living in houses with toxic lead paint on their walls or using detergents and air fresheners that contain lead may suffer from insomnia.
The central nervous system is able to readily absorb certain substances. These substances are lipophilic toxins – they absorb quickly into the blood – and travel to the brain, settling there. The presence of these toxins in the brain causes sleep disorders.
Since the brain flushes out toxins when we are asleep at night, insomnia further inhibits detoxification. If you suffer sleepless nights and cannot explain why, your body may be trying to tell you to unload the toxins.
10. Body Overheating and Sweating
When there is a toxic buildup in the body, it naturally means that the digestive system is unable to function efficiently.
This leads to a toxin-laden flow of blood from the digestive tract to the liver. The liver then exerts itself to purify the blood.
An overworked liver usually shows symptoms like a spike in body heat and excessive perspiration.
While sweating is a great way to rid your skin of toxins, excessive sweating might just be your body’s way of telling you it is working extra hard to unclog your system.