As kids, we all learned the importance of clean surroundings. We would often be told to keep our rooms tidy. To keep it dust-free. We were given multiple reasons – it helps the house look organized, it creates a better vibe, it will help us get more points on Santa’s list. They forgot one reason. A clean surrounding also keeps us away from toxic body weight.
Yes! Toxins from our surroundings can literally lead us to gain bodyweight or plateau weight loss.
Now that we are adults, it’s time we understand the real health consequences of our surroundings. In this read, we promise you no exaggeration. Just a heads up on what we are not observing around us.
What even is a clean surrounding?
A clean surrounding is more than just fluffing your pillows and throwing your socks in the laundry bag. It also means opting for products that are not releasing toxin chemicals that enter our body.
To better understand this, let’s look at some examples.
Many of us already know that paraffin wax candles releases carcinogenic (cancer-causing) snoot. So many of us now opt for soy wax or coconut wax or other alternatives. But even in these soy wax, many manufacturers use artificial fragrances.
While these fragrances give you the “feels”, they also give you allergens, hormone disruptors, particles that trigger asthma. The same goes for paints, diffusers, hair and body care products, house cleaning products. The list is really long when you observe your surrounding closely.
We are already surrounded by a lot of toxic particulates in the air, in the fruits and vegetables we consume (via chemical fertilizers), in the water. Our body naturally detoxifies these harmful toxins, but we all have a limit.
We can only eliminate a certain amount. When we surround ourselves with more than our body can handle (and most of us do, unknowingly), we pay in really grave consequences.
What have toxins to do with our body weight? Let’s understand this next.
But before we proceed, here’s a fun fact. In US commerce, ~22,000 chemicals are used to manufacture different products. Out of these, only 200 have been tested for proper safety. Marketing gimmicks and clever copy makes us buy overly priced products, but also literally harm us physically. This topic rarely gets covered in any weight loss advice or fitness services. However, there are a lot of risk factors associated with toxins we have introduced ourselves into our surroundings.
How is it all related to bodyweight?
Our bodies are really complex. I mean stress can cause back pain, and gut health can give us pimples. It is all inter-connected. Even understanding weight loss or body fat is not black and white. Similarly, toxins promote body weight gain or hinder weight loss in multiple ways. It affects your metabolism, interferes with normal hormone regulation, promotes poor sleep, plays with your brain function, it is bad for your blood pressure.
Let’s look at some correlations between toxins and weights.
- Toxins are stored in our adipose tissues:
When we intake more toxins than our body can eliminate (through sweat, excretion, exhaling), we store these toxins. These are usually stored in the adipose tissues near the liver and digestive system areas. This excessive storage leads to weight gain. It also causes hormonal balances and loss of energy (which could further prevent weight loss).
Over time, the accumulation of these toxins also slows down the liver detoxification process. This just adds up to the fatty liver and ultimately, weight gain.
It is very much possible to lose these toxins. Our body naturally converts these fat-soluble accumulations into water-soluble and excretes them out. However, this can only happen when we make a conscious effort not to let more toxins enter our bodies than we can eliminate.
- Energy loss:
Everything we do requires energy. Whether it’s our natural processes (like digestion) or conscious efforts like walking, exercising. The more energy we use, the more calories we need and burn. Calorie deficit causes weight loss and excess calorie intake cause weight gain. Toxins can interfere with our process of weight management.
Further, toxins have the potential to poison the mitochondria (the cells that generate energy) when in excessive amounts. This inhibits the enzymes in the electron chain. In simple words, it decreases our energy.
In addition, toxins can also decrease our capacity for fatty acid utilization. Low energy levels mean a lower ability to do things. It means lower use of our calories. Lower use of calories means storing more in our body leading to weight gain.
- Indirect ways:
As we all know, our body functions are interrelated. So, it’s not always a direct cause-effect. For instance, toxins produce inflammatory chemicals in our bodies. Inflammation might not directly cause weight gain or hinder weight loss. However, inflammation can cause digestive issues, mood swings, body stress, and a lot of other symptoms that lead to weight gain or restrict weight loss.
Toxins sometimes take good nutrition and convert them into toxins too. You could be eating all green vegetables, fruits, avoiding sugar, doing the low carb thing, and still not feeling healthy. It’s the toxins at play.
In some cases, toxins create more sugar than normal and create excessive fat storage and leaky guts. All of these can prevent weight loss or even lead to weight gain.
Toxins need your attention
Even though the harmful effects of toxins are an important topic in many systematic reviews, it hasn’t caught the attention of mainstream health media. We have enough research and data to prove the harmful effects of toxins and their relation to weight loss.
When we talk about diet, tips for weight loss, weight gain advice, nutrition, none of these talks cover toxins. However, all of these topics need to throw some light towards them.
Another reason for toxins not getting their deserved attention is that it does not affect everyone in the same way. Some people are more sensitive to certain chemicals. Others not so much. This is also why not everyone experiences the effects in a similar way or can point towards toxins as an exact cause. But when we are constantly exposed to any toxin for a prolonged period and more than our body can eliminate, all of us are affected.
Weight gain or plateau in our weight loss is not the only consequence of toxin accumulation. Loss of a good night’s sleep, high blood pressure, digestive and kidney diseases, risk of type 2 diabetes, respiratory issues, skin irritation can all be toxin-related conditions. The list for such chronic conditions is long when you study all the possible threats of toxins in our surroundings.
While a lot of toxin accumulation is reversible by elimination. Not all toxins are easily eliminated. For instance, Persistent Organic Pollutants (mostly found in the food chain). These are very hard to break down. When accumulated in risky amounts, they can cause real long-term harm. Toxins really need our attention and conscious efforts. It needs to be discussed when we talk about weight loss, healthy weight, risk factors, nutrition.
Starting your toxin-free journey
It is not a one-time activity. Staying toxin-free is a continuous process. You don’t and cannot eliminate everything around you. That is unrealistic advice. However, there are some realistic ways to start you on a healthier journey. These steps will also help you with weight loss or weight management.
There are two angles to this process. Reducing the intake of toxins, and eliminating more toxins from the body. The ultimate goal is to reach a balance between our intake and elimination.
Reducing the intake
Do you sometimes walk into a store or a new place and immediately get a headache. It is most likely due to a chemical toxin that you are sensitive to. In this case, it is very evident that something is stressing your body. In most cases, it is not so evident. So the first step in this journey is education and awareness.
Pick up common culprits:
Let’s go back to our candles example. Artificial fragrance is a very popular culprit. Think about all the products around you that have fragrances. Detergents, personal products, cleaning products, sanitizers. Check the ingredients and see if the fragrances are natural or chemically processed. Start opting for fragrance-free or natural fragrant products. Find other common culprits to slowly switch to healthier alternates. To get you started, here is a free e-book of the top 10 invisible killers. It also explains how each product is harming you and suggests alternatives. A good starting point for everyone on the journey.
Go for old school solutions:
Our food packaging, plastic bottles, containers – they all contain plastic. In the spirit of convenience, we all try to opt for one-time use materials like plastic so we can use them cheaply and throw. However, this plastic leach into our water or food over time. Many such culprits around us. One easy way to eliminate these substances is to opt for old-school methods. Earlier, we had water bottles made of copper or clay. They are a much better alternative to plastic. Think of other “modern” solutions that could be harming us and switch to old-school. Think stainless steel instead of heavily coated non-stick.
Slowly, over time, you will develop a good knack for identifying possible toxin culprits. Think about your 5 senses – touch, smell, hearing, taste, and sight. While sight and hearing may not be so bad, think of the products that you taste, smell, or touch (like skin creams). Slowly steadily find alternatives for things that surround you.
Increasing the elimination:
Do you know there are almost 2 million Saunas in Finland for a population of 5.3 Million people? Saunas provide us with relaxation, pain relief, and a lot of other benefits. It also makes us sweat and helps release toxins. So increasing the elimination does not have to be a very heavy effort or boring. The idea is to understand the core concept and then find your own ways that suit your interest and your body.
Our body predominantly eliminates waste through sweat, pee and poop, and exhaling. When you know this, you can think of ways to increase the elimination. Simply, exercising or saunas help you sweat more. Drinking healthy tea and lots of water helps you pee more. Eating fibrous food can help you with healthy poop. Even activities like skin brushing, foot soaks, and the likes can help you release those stubborn toxins.
Now, this is a term that has so many meanings. Thanks to the juice cleanse and goop retreats, the term has become a marketing gimmick. It is not even just about avoiding sugary foods (e.g. fruit juice) or processed foods. It is not all about diet and exercise, but the combination can support the detox process.
In a true sense, our bodies know how to detoxify themselves. We can support it with certain diet types and physical activities. For toxin elimination, we can also do targeted detoxification. We discussed how excessive toxin is stored near our livers. There are certain foods that can support liver detox and also provide antioxidants to deal with oxidative stress from the process. For instance, Dandelion roots, vitamin C-rich foods, bioflavonoids (grapes, strawberries).
Customize your approach:
Our bodies have the exact same core functions and processes. We all have the same process to digest our food. Yet, each one of us takes our own time, approach, and produce different result even when we eat the same diet.
Similarly, not all our bodies detoxify the same. The good thing is our body communicates to us if we listen to it. Try different elimination processes, see how you feel after it. Better energy levels, better mood, feeling lighter, less lethargic, and so on. See what doesn’t work.
Over time, you will have your very own method of dealing with the toxins in your body. It is not about eating the trendy grains or low carb or following any fad diet. It is about self-monitoring your body and how it reacts to certain nutrition and exercise.
Reach a balance between our intake and elimination
An ideal scenario would be to not intake any toxin, but we promised you no exaggeration. Hence, the ultimate goal is to not intake more than we can eliminate. This is not black and white. Neither is this evidently visible or quantifiable. This is also majorly why the topic of toxins does not get the attention it deserves. When you can’t see or measure something easily, it is difficult to work on it.
However, when you truly understand the effects of reversing toxins in our bodies, you can experience it. Our bodies are complex, but also a wonder. They communicate to us the problem. When you have a balanced diet, you will experience better energy levels. When you eat a high protein breakfast and low carb diet, you will notice quick and modest weight loss.
In your toxin elimination, you will notice similar changes. You might not see immediate weight loss. You will however see better digestion, good sleep, high energy levels as some of the quicker outcomes. There is scientific evidence for toxin’s relation to our weight, but there is not much said about the exact cause and effect. It’s a lot about finding your own journey.
Our weight loss journey or weight management, in general, is usually very tricky. Even with healthy eating, regular exercise, proper supplements, tracking all our meals and nutrients, reading all of Healthline media – there are still some factors hindering your process. Toxins could be one of them. There are enough scientific references on the topic, but it’s time it gains the mainstream media attention as well.