Billowing smokestacks. Car exhaust and sewage spills. These are typically the types of things that pop into your head when you hear the word “pollution,” right?
We normally imagine noxious nonsense, endlessly harming the environment, our air, our lakes, and our oceans. But the reality can be much more insidious. The kind of pollution that most directly affects us on an everyday basis is actually sitting right inside the majority of our homes.
Our bodies absorb a lot, whether through ambient or direct contact. The compounds to which we expose ourselves regularly can build up in our tissues over time (a concept known as bioaccumulation), and the body toxicity that can result from the accumulation of harmful chemicals can have serious consequences.
Nerve damage is one of them.
Overwhelming Your Natural Filtration System
These days, we’re intoxicated by a variety of new pollutants. Every moment, we are carrying around with us the toxic chemicals that we keep in our homes, many of us not even realizing that we’re living with so many dangerous substances in such close proximity.
The world has always been full of things that are bad for us, though, so we have a naturally-occurring filtration system designed to keep toxins to a minimum. The liver, kidneys, colon, skin, and other parts of our bodies are in charge of making sure bad news doesn’t build-up, but they can become overwhelmed.
When too many toxins are making their way into our tissues, our filtration system has a tough time cleaning it all out, and the result can be body toxicity that eventually leads to long-term nerve damage. This has recently become even more of a clear and present danger due to the fact that life today has, for lack of a better term, become super-duper toxic.
How Body Toxicity Comes to Be
Toxins, once they’ve made their way into the body, can have a surprisingly wide range of effects, almost all of them negative. Many of these compounds might even be relatively safe, provided that they’re not allowed to accumulate past a certain degree. However, body toxicity can occur when certain things are allowed to build up within our system.
The mechanism by which toxins cause disease can vary. Since our nerves are quite delicate, for one thing, and are connected to just about every bodily function you can think of, for another, the impacts of body toxicity eventually spill over into what we call toxic neuropathy.
Toxins Can Damage Your Organs
Key organs play an important role when it comes to acting as a “natural filtration system.” When they become overburdened or lose functional capacity, however, they are less able to properly filter out accumulating toxins they get bombarded with daily.
Dysfunction of just about any organ system can have catastrophic impacts on the health of your nervous system. Your entire body is working together, in a finely-coordinated dance. When a single link in the chain breaks, the rest can follow.
Further complicating things, organ dysfunction caused by body toxicity just leads to further toxicity, since your organs are in charge of mitigating these toxins in the first place.
Toxin Damage on a Cellular Level
The cells within your body occupy an almost dizzying range of different functions. They all, however, play an important part in keeping the whole system working. Certain cells, when damaged by body toxicity, can fail to do their jobs properly, resulting in potentially serious consequences.
For example, damaged blood cells might not receive the necessary signals from insulin, causing dangerous blood sugar levels which can eventually cause nerve damage over time. Or when kidney cells become damaged due to things like hypertension, diabetes, or genetic disorders, they become less able to filter, thereby leaving your body more toxic and inflamed, which in turn may contribute to further damage.
Your hormones are important chemical messengers, traveling throughout your body to let certain systems know when to take appropriate action. According to the Institute for Natural Medicine, “[toxins] induce, inhibit, mimic, and block hormones.” In other words, they create chaos in the hormone signaling system that is supposed to keep your body operating normally.
We more or less rely on enzymes to help fuel a variety of different body functions, any one of which can have serious consequences when interrupted. Just one example of enzyme interruption that can have effects that carry over to the nerves might impact something like the production of hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin is an important part of our blood, which helps to reduce oxidative stress. Free radicals, which are chemically unstable compounds that ricochet throughout our tissues and cause damage as they do so, are typically mitigated by the hemoglobin in our blood.
When we don’t have enough due to enzyme poisoning, our blood becomes unable to help our nerves maintain optimal levels of health…until they eventually die off.
Your Body, Overworked
Another way to describe the way body toxicity takes its toll is to say that toxins simply work your body and its systems harder than they’re meant to be working. Too many toxins in the body overwhelm your natural filtration systems and send your other body functions into overdrive as they attempt to make up for the imbalance.
As our environment becomes more and more harsh, our bodies are having to work harder than ever to filter.
But here’s the good news: You can help. There are plenty of these noxious toxins that are likely hiding out in your very own home, many of which you might not even be aware of. The upside to this, of course, is that eliminating some serious sources of toxic neuropathy can be as simple as chucking a few unwise household items into the bin.
The following common household items can potentially contribute to chronic inflammation, compromised nerve health, and body toxicity, and all can be easily replaced with more natural, healthy alternatives.
Neurotoxins Around the Home to Watch Out For
1. Flame Retardant Treatments
For the most part, we don’t really want our things to be on fire. This is, of course, a very understandable desire. But since the 1970s, manufacturers have been adding flame retardant chemicals to all manner of products, in order to achieve this goal…and the results aren’t very good for our bodies or nervous systems.
Things like mattresses, upholstery, carpets, curtains, bedding, electronics, household appliances, and even pajamas are routinely treated with flame-proofing chemicals, none of which are good for the nervous system. They can be absorbed into our bodies, through the skin over time, eventually building up to the point where they cause nerve damage.
Consider replacing any flame-retardant materials with green alternatives that have not been treated with chemicals.
2. Air Fresheners, Scented Detergents, Scented ANYTHING
When it comes down to it, air fresheners might as well be called “air toxinators.” Did you know that scented products (up to and including perfume) are not required to list their actual ingredients? Since this is considered to be a “trade” secret,” many of these brands get away with simply listing “fragrance” on the packaging.
Most artificial fragrances, however, are made with chemicals that are hard on your body. Labels are your friend when picking out beauty and household products — always look for items that are unscented.
3. Cleaning Products with VOCs
Volatile organic compounds — also known as VOCs — are contained in more cleaning products and household supplies than we realize. And while we might not be directly inhaling these chemicals on a daily basis, using them in the house can slowly contribute to bioaccumulation, over time.
Be on the lookout for VOC-free and water-based products when purchasing things like cleaning materials, paints, glues, and the like. These products can be just as effective but come with less of a risk to the nervous system.
4. Herbicides & Pesticides
Poison is poison. If it’s meant to kill weeds and bugs, it’s almost definitely not going to be good for your body either.
Herbicides and pesticides make their way into a lot of the foods that we eat, thanks to the very same principle that allows them to build up in our own bodies. Bioaccumulation can cause poisons to build up in veggies and animal fats, which is why going organic is always a better option. Even carefully scrubbing fruits and veggies can leave absorbed toxins behind.
5. OTC Medications
Be very cautious with over-the-counter pain meds; they’re likely to be doing more harm than good, in the long run. Lots of OTC medications can be very tough on your body’s filtration system, like your kidneys and liver, weakening them and leaving you susceptible to increased toxicity. They even directly contribute to toxicity, as well.
If you’re considering an over-the-counter medication, do some research and see if there’s a natural alternative, or perhaps a lifestyle change that might achieve the same results. Always speak with your doctor before discontinuing any medications that you have been prescribed.
6. PVC Shower Curtains
Did you know that your PVC plastic shower curtain could be slowly poisoning you? PVC is made from a toxic chemical that can be absorbed into the skin over time. Your hot shower encourages the leaching of these chemicals out of your shower curtain and into the air. Each and every shower, then, can contribute to a slowly building level of body toxicity that may eventually impact your nerves.
7. “Big Brand” Products
Hygienic products made by big conventional corporations tend to be loaded up with harsh chemicals and additives that our bodies just don’t need. Soaps, shampoos, deodorants, lipsticks, and so forth — typically all have a long list of chemical ingredients. Naturally-made alternatives are a great way to maintain healthier body chemistry.
Just about any health food store will have a more naturally inclined alternative to any product you might find in the bathroom, and Tom’s of Maine is a great place to start.
Detox Your Home, Detox Your Body
Eliminating toxins from your immediate environment isn’t nearly as difficult as it might seem! There can be more hidden dangers than we realize, lurking under the sink, in our laundry rooms, and our bathrooms…but they’re not hard to replace, with the right strategy.
Our natural filtration systems work hard to keep our bodies clean, but they can only handle so much. By removing dangerous compounds from our homes and living spaces, we can cut down on the toxins that build up in our bodies over time, helping to preserve a healthy nervous system
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