We are surrounded by substances our bodies do not like and could cause harm. These substances can be in the air we breath, the food we eat, the water we drink or the things we touch. Examples include carbon monoxide, chemicals used to treat water, additives in foods, varnishes we use to treat wood, etc. These substances exist in trace quantities but nevertheless are toxic to our bodies. Toxicity is not an advent of modern living although it has vastly increased our exposure to it. Fortunately the body has developed ways of dealing with it.
Our skin provides the first barrier. The skin is a tightly knit barrier colonised by bacteria and covered in an oily substance which contains immune cells. All of these attributes contribute to keeping the toxins out. This why we can have paint, glue and even use strong substances like white spirit on our skin without getting sick.
If the toxins get through this barrier, i.e. if we ingest or breath them in then the next line of defence is our liver. Here the liver acts as a detoxifier. It shifts through what is in the blood separating it into bad and good. Those that are bad are reacted with other chemicals to nullify their toxicity. It is then sent to a number of places, either:
- The intestines for removal via our stools,
- The bladder for removal via our urine,
- The skin for removal via our sweat,
If the 3 routes of disposal are jam packed then the body has no choice but to store it. It does this within the fat cells of the body. The fat cells acts as an insulating container.
Where we must be careful is that like any containment system, things degrade. The nullified toxins degrade as does the fat cells and so as time goes by the chances of a leak increases. We must also acknowledge that the amount of expose to toxins is continually increasing as our technological advancements and our effect on the climate increases. Therefore the risk of overload and greater storage increases.
The simplest way to mitigate against toxic overload is to limit your exposure to chemicals. Wearing gloves when handling household cleaning products and cleaning in well ventilated rooms, minimising process foods, filtering water, wearing gloves and masks when performing DIY tasks, performing leisure activities in rural areas (e.g. a run by the roadside is not as healthy as we think. Think of all the toxins we are inhaling), etc. These are all simple ways we can reduce our toxicity levels and increase the likelihood of a healthier later life.