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
Constant fatigue is also one of the symptoms of toxic overload.
The thing is, the digestive tract breaks down food to enable the body make use of the nutrients vital for its proper function. But, when the digestive tract is inhabited with toxins, it can’t properly break down food, which leads to tiredness and low energy levels.
Toxins interfere with the many systems in the body whether it’s digestion, bowel movements or hormone secretion. This in turn triggers a stress response which makes the body work much harder to complete basic functions, which eventually weakens your immune system. This turns out to be the main cause of fatigue.
As found in a 2001 study published in Science of the Total Environment, five patients with chronic fatigue syndrome in Italy (average age of 37.5) had a compromised immune system as result of 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
Your mood and general wellbeing can also be affected by toxins from processed foods, i.e. foods with additives and artificial ingredients. For example, xenoestrogen is a food additive which is actually a toxin that acts like estrogen, thus interfering with the natural estrogens levels in the body. It’s known to cause extreme moods swings ranging from depression to exuberance.
Aspartame is just another additive that affects a person’s mood. In fact, it releases toxins that trigger extreme depression disorder. According to a 2013 study that examined the effect of sweetened drinks in American adults, drinks containing aspartame increase the risk of depression. The study was published in Neurology.
An earlier study of 2002 in Colorado, published in the Annals of Epidemiology, reported high clinical depression in farmers and their spouses exposed to environmental toxins via pesticides.
7. Bad Breath
Digestive issues, and not improper tooth care, are often the cause of bad breath.
The thing is your digestive tract hosts a combination of beneficial and harmful bacteria. By consuming processed food you increase the amount of carbohydrates in the body. Then carbohydrates break down into excessive sugar, which harmful gut bacteria thrive on. It’s these bacteria that release toxins which deposit in your digestive system and mouth resulting in bad breath.
This condition can also be accompanied by white plaque buildup. Intestinal toxicity and indigestion can also be manifested through excessive burping, which is another vent for bad breath.
Last, but not least, bad breath may also be a symptom of kidney dysfunction, your kidneys being an important detoxifying organ which eliminates 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
Toxin accumulation in the body normally signalizes compromised digestive system function.
This results in toxin-laden blood flow from the digestive tract to the liver. This means a lot more work for the liver, which exerts itself to cleanse the blood.
A liver that has overworked also gives warning signs and these normally include hot flashes and excessive sweating.
Although perspiration is a natural body mechanism of the skin to get rid of toxins, excessive sweating may actually indicate that your liver is working way too hard to detox your system.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons