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Environmental Toxins_Final

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>> Hey, there. It's great to see you again. When we think of things that are harmful to gut health, we tend to think of the foods that we eat, but diet is only one factor of gut health. In this module, we are going beyond diet to explore common toxins that can potentially threaten the delicate balance of the microbiome on a daily basis. I know it's not pleasant to think about but the fact is we are surrounded by toxins every day. It's not possible to live a toxin-free life. But there are steps that we can take to reduce our exposure to some of the biggest offenders like pesticides and antibiotics. We can also take measures to improve the purity of the air and the water in our homes. Little changes here and there can make a big difference in the long run. First, let's start by clarifying what is a toxin. Simply put, toxins are harmful agents found in the environment. But the word toxin encompasses everything from digestive and metabolic byproducts to environmental chemicals that can pass through and collect in the body. An important thing to understand about toxins is that the toxicity is often dose-dependent. That is a particular substance in certain amounts is dangerous when it interacts with the body. As Paracelsus said, "The dose makes the poison." Many chemicals and even foods can have toxic effects on the gut when consumed in significant amounts. These toxins can enter the gut through diet, chronic use of NSAID medications, oral antibiotics, chronic constipation which allows toxins to be reabsorbed across the gut lining, modern conventional farming practices, and pollutants in our air and water. Remember, the digestive tract is in contact with the outside world. It is important to stay mindful of what goes in because while the gut lining is protective and tries to limit what can enter the bloodstream, it's also a point of entry for harmful substances. Environmental toxins have been linked to various health problems that have connections to gut health and the microbiomes such as diabetes, obesity, gut dysbiosis, and immune function. The microbiome can either buffer against or exacerbate toxins, which is another important reason for keeping it in good shape. The microbiome engages in a complex interaction with toxic substances that come into our system. In some cases, the gut can help detoxify certain substances like mercury. In fact, it has been suggested that the gut microbiome maybe as important as the liver in detoxifying orally ingested substances. But in other cases, the microbiome may actually activate certain toxins making them even more problematic. Therefore, the way each individual reacts to a particular toxin may depend not only on genetics but also their particular microbiome. Here's something interesting, studies where mice were exposed to toxins have shown that mice who had all of their bacteria removed, experienced more adverse effects than normal mice. The implication here is that health isn't as black and white as being exposed to something harmful or not. The resilience of our gut plays a role. When the microbiome is compromised, it puts our health at a disadvantage. Keeping this in mind, let's take a closer look at some of the most common toxins in our land, water, and air, and how they impact the digestive system. We'll start by taking a look at what's in our dirt which also makes its way into our food and water. Many commonly used herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides can cause digestive symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal pain, and other digestive issues. For example, copper sulfate, a common fungicide that's considered organic and is used in gardening can lower the amount of probiotic bacteria in the gut. Currently, one of the most hotly debated pesticides is glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the Monsanto herbicide. Roundup is commonly used in commercial growing operations and in lawn and garden pesticides. Here's how it works. Plants take up the Roundup which blocks a metabolic pathway inhibiting their growth. Crops that are resistant to Roundup survive but the weeds don't. These Roundup resistant crops are genetically modified organisms or GMOs. It's suspected that glyphosate levels are increasing in wheat and other crops even those that are not genetically modified. Its presence may be a contributing factor to the rise in conditions like celiac disease. This maybe a result of the pathways and enzymes it disrupts. As I mentioned, glyphosate is largely used with crops that are genetically modified to resist it. However, according to ANH-USA report, it's now making its way into many common foods we consume such as oatmeal, bagels, whole grain bread, cereal, eggs, and even coffee creamer. This could be for a variety of reasons from runoff entering our water to Roundup sprayed crops being used for animal feed. In fact, a large majority of glyphosate crops are fed to animals. Also there are many crops where glyphosate is used as a desiccant or drying agent. Glyphosate is an anti-microbial and is patented as an antibiotic, meaning it has negative effects on microbial populations. But remember, you can't just kill or eradicate bacteria. You need to put something healthy in its place. So the million dollar question is how can you avoid harmful pesticides? The best place to start is to avoid common GMO foods that are Roundup ready since these foods have been found to be high in glyphosate. Roundup ready crops include conventional corn, canola oil, cotton, sugar beets, alfalfa, and soy. Encourage your clients to become savvy consumers. Products are not required to disclose whether they contain GMOs but more and more companies are proudly disclosing that they are GMO-free. Whenever possible, shop organic and local. If you buy produce from a farmers market, ask your farmer about the pesticides and herbicides used, and make sure that the feed given to animal products you consume is not GMO or high-end glyphosate. Education is a great ally. The Environmental Working Group publishes The Dirty Dozen, an annual list of the foods with the highest amount of pesticides. This is a great resource for determining which foods are most important to buy organic. To help you out, we've included a handout called Lessen Your Toxic Load with more great information. The more we know about where our food comes from and the chemicals we used to grow it, the more we can all work toward a feasible solution. Like antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides help to increase food production and yield higher crops. However, as we learn more about their dangers, we can advocate for a balance of productivity, and safety, and search for better alternatives. Now that we've talked about what's in the dirt, let's take a look at what's in the water. Fluoride. The problem with fluoride in water is that intake isn't easily controllable. Fluoride levels can add up especially if a person uses toothpaste and other dental products high in fluoride. There are a few studies suggesting a correlation between high fluoride levels and neurodevelopmental issues. And fluoride can cause stomach issues such as nausea and vomiting when consumed in large amounts. Some studies have shown that large amounts of fluoride can be consumed through significant drinking of unfiltered tap water. Fluoride can be an enzyme disruptor but this is often a matter of bio-individuality. An individual's sensitivity to fluoride may depend on their nutritional status and the volume of digestive fluids in their stomach. Chlorine is also added to our tap water to kill pathogens, perhaps, at the expense of our gut bacteria. Of course, we need to keep unwanted microbes out of our water supply, but as we've seen with antibiotics, we can have too much of a good thing when we over purify and kill off the good bacteria too. Heavy metals are also common in our water supply, not surprising, since pipes are made out of metal. The bacteria in your gut can either protect against or intensify heavy metal toxicity. A healthy and diverse microbiome mitigates exposure to heavy metals. Clients often wonder, "Is it better to drink bottled water?" Unfortunately, many bottled water contain chemicals and toxins, many of which leach into the water from the plastic. A study by the Environmental Working Group found an average of 38 chemicals in the top 10 brands. Plastic leaching has been shown to negatively alter the gut microbiome. The good news is that exercise can help mitigate the negative effects of plastic. However, this doesn't mean that you should grab a plastic bottle on the way to the gym. When you consider the health effects, the cost, and the environmental impact, bottled water doesn't seem so attractive. The best thing you can do to minimize exposure to toxins in water is to purchase a water filter for your home and a glass water bottle to fill up when you're on the go. Charcoal can help filter out the chlorine. Carbon filters help reduce herbicides and pesticides. Reverse osmosis filters remove even more contaminants but they also waste more water. If you can't buy a filter, you can remove some toxins from your water by leaving it out for 24 hours or boiling it for 20 minutes. Now that we've talked about toxins in the land and water, let's move onto the air. Air pollution can negatively affect the microbiome. This means that smog, exhaust, pollen, factory emissions, and other toxins in the air. Toxins that are inhaled can pass from the lungs into the gut on their way out of the body. And we have to remember these toxins add to the overall toxic load that our body is already dealing with. When you have the wrong kind of gut bacteria making a home in your microbiome, they can reactivate toxins into active molecules that mimic estrogen which can then be reabsorbed by the body. When the body sees something it perceives to be useful, like what appears to be a hormone, it will try to salvage it rather than letting it go to waste. When this is ongoing, it can contribute to estrogen dominance. One study in 2013 looked at the rising levels of air pollution and the rising levels of Crohn's disease throughout the world. Air pollution does not cause Crohn's or any form of IBD but it may be another contributing factor to dysbiosis. This may be because air pollution can negatively affect short-chain fatty acid production like Butyrate which alters the gut lining and can increase inflammation. This is another way that air pollution can contribute to an increase in gut permeability or a leaky gut. So what can you do to protect against air pollution? One tip is to avoid exercising outside when pollution levels are high or when it's very hot outside because pollution is worse on hot days. Also try to stay off of high traffic streets when exercising outdoors. To purify the air inside, fill your home with houseplants, they are nature's air filters. Air purifiers can help too but only if you remember to change your filters often. Smoking can also introduce toxins and influence the microbiome contributing to digestive upsets. By now, we don't have to tell you that smoking is bad for your health. But it's also worth considering that smoky environments are full of toxins. Lastly, let's talk about antibiotics. As you know, antibiotics kill off gut bacteria, taking out the good along with the bad. This takes a toll on how well we can handle day-to-day toxicity that otherwise might not be a problem. The gut cannot detoxify as well after coming off of a round of antibiotics which is another reason it's so important to repair the gut after antibiotic use, and to only take antibiotics when necessary. But there's also the threat of antibiotics beyond medication. Antibiotics are commonly administered to our livestock and found in animal products. In fact, 80% of all antibiotics produced are given to livestock. When buying meat or animal products look for organic products that are completely antibiotic-free. The common claim, "No antibiotics added" means that no antibiotics were administered to the animal. But this claim does not account for what was in the animal's diet. Some companies are exploring the use of probiotics in animal feed instead of the overuse of antibiotics. A little bit of hope on the horizon. Antibiotics are also lurking in our water. They can get there in two ways. Excess that passes through our bodies and from pills that are flushed down the toilet. Improper use of antibiotics contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance. This refers to the strengthening and subsequent overgrowth of certain strains of bacteria that are able to resist the threat of antibiotics. These bacteria become super strains that are very difficult to kill. Only the strongest survive and they share their genes with other bacteria creating more resistance. To recap, we've learned that environmental toxins can impact the health of the gut microbiome. Toxins are any environmental substances that at certain levels can interact with the body in a harmful way. Modern farming, antibiotics, and polluted air and water can all add to our toxic load. The gut can help detoxify some substances but it can amplify others. In order to minimize the effects of environmental toxins, it's best to avoid GMO foods and conventional produce on The Dirty Dozen list. House plants and air filters can help purify the air in your home. And a quality water filtration system and glass water bottles are the keys to safe drinking water. Antibiotics can diminish the gut microbiome and its ability to detoxify and protect. Avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use and eating animal products free of antibiotics can help reduce your exposure. We've gone over a lot of information and we get how this can feel intimidating if you're in step one. Remember, slow and steady changes, one step at a time will cumulatively add up to big differences. What is one step that you can take this week to start reducing your exposure to environmental toxins? Let us know in the Facebook group. We hope you feel empowered to take the next step forward on the path of healthy living. Until next time.

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Duration: 15 minutes and 6 seconds
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Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Views: 5
Posted by: integrativenutrition on Jun 28, 2018

Environmental Toxins_Final

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