4 Ways Environmental Toxins Might Be Affecting Your Mood
It is a sad fact that we are exposed to increasingly high levels of pollutants and toxins on a daily basis. These have the potential to have an accumulative effect on the body and lead to various imbalances and health issues.
The brain and nervous system can be particularly susceptible to compromised function when impaired by toxins. Symptoms may include more obvious things such as headaches and memory disturbance, however, there is growing discussion around the impact of toxins on anxiety, depression, brain fog & insomnia.
Toxins create inflammation
– pollutants and contaminants that we are regularly exposed to can accumulate in the body and lead to inflammation. This can circulate and create damage to tissues, including organs such as the brain, which can then impact its function. Inflammation is a leading modern theory in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, and there is much interest in how the immune and nervous systems interact with each other.
Toxins can lead to hormone imbalance
– many common environmental toxins can behave in a hormone-like way confusing the body and potentiating hormonal imbalances. Imbalances in hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, can directly cause symptoms such as anxiety, low mood, and poor sleep.
Toxins burden the liver
– a heavy toxin burden on the body can overload the liver and compromise its function. Good liver function is required for essential processes that impact the production of feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
Toxins can inhibit neurotransmitter transmission
– everyday toxins can interfere with the transmission of neurotransmitters between cells. This means that neurotransmitters like serotonin are blocked from reaching a receptor site on a cell and this might cause symptoms of low serotonin. Although there is usually more going on than a simple neurotransmitter imbalance in mood disorders, low serotonin is implicated in depression and is often the target of anti-depressant medications.
7 Tips to Reduce Your Toxic Load
Drink adequate water
– drinking adequate water each day (2 litres) is essential for successfully flushing out toxins. Tap water is naturally full of contaminants and I strongly recommended that water is filtered – a simple filter jug is fine for this purpose.
Look after your gut
– along with a plentiful supply of colourful fresh vegetables and fruit, always choose wholegrain varieties of bread, pasta, and rice. This provides fibre and promotes regular daily bowel movements. Constipation is a major source of a toxic load because substances that have been processed by the body for excretion can sit in the bowel and become reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.
Buy organic where possible
– unfortunately many modern farming methods incorporate heavy use of pesticides and other toxic compounds. Whilst farming is undoubtedly tough, these chemicals are accumulating in soils and our bodies. Opting for organic produce where possible helps to lessen out toxic burdens. This is especially important for dairy, eggs and meat. The EWG produces a dirty dozen list each year which indicates which 12 fruits & vegetables have been found to possess the greatest pesticide residues and should ideally be sourced organically. They also produce a clean fifteen as a list of fruit and vegetables that don’t necessarily need to be purchased organically.
Choose natural personal care & household products
– the home can be a significant source of toxins that can lead to an accumulative effect. Try to avoid synthetic fragrances and air fresheners and seek out non-toxic toiletries and household cleaning products.
Avoid plastic packaging and plastic food storage
– toxic substances in plastics can leech out into foods, especially when hot. Avoid drinking through the plastic lid of your takeaway coffee!
Buy some house plants
– house plants not only add a peaceful, green quality to the home, they also are good at naturally purifying the air. It’s also a good idea to open your windows daily for this reason.
– gentle exercise daily helps mobilise the lymphatic system and promotes better excretion of substances out of the body. Avoid exercising near busy roads where possible.