There is almost universal agreement among scientists and physicians that the environmental toxins and chemicals to which we are increasingly exposed are interfering with the immune system’s ability to distinguish self from non-self.

– Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D., neurologist and neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from the forward to The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson-Nakazawa

Toxins are the big reason autoimmune disorders are becoming epidemic. Babies are born today with an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in their umbilical cord blood.1A Benchmark Investigation of Industrial Chemicals, Pollutants and Pesticides in Umbilical Cord Blood, Environmental Working Group, July 14, 2005, http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns Talk about an unfair start!

According to health educator, Chris Kresser, Toxic burden is determined by two factors: the levels of toxic chemicals and microorganisms that we’re exposed to, and the function of our innate detoxification system. If our exposure to toxins is high and our detoxification system is compromised—due to genetic predisposition, environmental factors, or both—then our toxic burden will be high.”

Nearly half of us have mutations in our detoxification systems, and more than 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released into the US environment each year, including 72 million pounds of recognized carcinogens. Only a small percentage of these chemicals are tested for safety.2The Great Chemical Unknown: A Graphical View of Limited Lab Testing, Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-great-chemical-unknown/ We must protect ourselves proactively from the onslaught. And we’re not just talking about toxins “out there.” We also mean toxic foods, negative thoughts and emotions, and people who drain your energy.

Here are ten things you can do to lighten your toxic load:

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    Kick the Sugar Habit

    If you were to make just one change to positively impact your health, you’d be wise to remove added sugar and processed foods, which quickly convert into sugar in your bloodstream. Accumulating evidence shows that sugar plays a lead role in screwing up your metabolism, developing insulin resistance (your pancreas can’t keep up with the demands for insulin), obesity (your body stores excess sugar as fat), type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.3Hypertriglyceridemia, insulin resistance, and the metabolic syndrome, Scott M Grundy, MD, PhD, American Journal of Cardiology, http://www.ajconline.org/article/S0002-9149(99)00211-8/abstract Each of those preventable and reversible disorders puts you at a heightened risk for autoimmune conditions, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.4Role of “Western diet” in inflammatory autoimmune diseases., A. Manzel, et. al, Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2014 Jan;14(1):404. doi: 10.1007/s11882-013-0404-6., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24338487

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    Do an Elimination Diet

    Pick a month and commit to following the elimination diet 100%. Remove the top autoimmune triggering foods: gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, beans/lentils, coffee, alcohol, citrus fruits, nuts, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers & eggplant). After 30 days, reintroduce each item one at a time and slowly; meaning wait at least 48 hours before introducing a new item. Pay attention to how you feel. If you have gastrointestinal issues, headaches, aches and pains, or brain fog, you may have a sensitivity to one of these foods. Best to keep it out of your diet for another month and then try reintroducing it again. If you’ve already done this and are still dealing with autoimmune issue, you may want to jump straight to testing. Two good options are ELISA/ACT, which offers reactive lymphocyte response testing, and Cyrex Labs, which offers antibody testing.

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    Dispose of Chemically-Based Home and Body Care Products

    Home cleaning and body-care products are filled with harmful chemicals like parabens (a preservative), phthalates (found in fragranced lotions, soaps, even toilet paper!), and chlorine (found in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, and your drinking water!). Each of these are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors and carcinogens (cancer-causing). Dispose of these products at a “hazardous waste” drop-off location. A good rule of thumb is to only use products with ingredients you can identify or would eat. For guidance on which ingredients and products are safe and which contain potentially toxic chemicals, consult the Environmental Working Group: www.EWG.org.

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    Turn Off The Tap

    Most tap water is far from pure, containing numerous chemicals, metals, solvents, herbacides, pesticides, heavy metals, arsenic, and even pharmaceutical drugs like anti-depressants.5Fluoride and Other Chemicals in Your Drinking Water Could Be Wrecking Your Health, Dr. Mercola, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/28/fluoride-drinking-water.aspx Filter the tap water in your kitchen and bathrooms to avoid consuming or soaking in these hazardous chemicals.

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    Pass On Plastic

    Most plastic bottles and storage containers contain BPA (Bisphenol-A) and phthalates, known endocrine (hormone) disruptors. According to the National Institute of Health, Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.” Store your water in glass or stainless steel containers, and never heat food in plastic storage containers. Did you know that even  “paper” cups you get for coffee and tea are lined with plastic? Whenever possible bring your own stainless steel containers or use ceramic mugs.

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    Remove Hidden Mold

    If you have any suspicion that there’s mold in your home it’s time to take massive action to remove it or yourself. Scientific research has been emerging that connects mold exposure with various health conditions including memory loss, headaches, autoimmune conditions, and cancer.6http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/03/molds-making-you-ill.aspx Learn more about the dangers of mold and how to deal with it in this article by Chris Kresser.

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    Reduce the Mercury

    A study by researchers from the University of Michigan claims that even at levels considered to be safe, mercury exposure may be hazardous to health, raising the risk factor for autoimmune disorders among women of childbearing age. Dr. Patrick Kingsley, the UK’s leading expert on Multiple Sclerosis (MS), reports that of the nearly 4,000 patients he has seen, only five didn’t suffer from mercury poisoning.7Multiple Sclerosis – Poisoning in Slow Motion, What Doctors Don’t Tell You (WDDTY);http://www.wddty.com/multiple-sclerosis.html What can you do to lower your risk and reclaim your health? Minimize consumption of big fish like tuna, swordfish, and orange roughy, avoid unnecessary vaccines, and explore having your silver amalgam (mercury) fillings removed by a holistic dentist.

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    Find and Treat Hidden Infections

    Growing scientific evidence indicates that chronic infections from bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi may be the primary environmental trigger for autoimmune disease.8Infections and autoimmunity: the multifaceted relationship, Sfriso, P., et. al.; March 2010, Journal of Leukocyte Biology, vol. 87 no. 3 385-395, http://www.jleukbio.org/content/87/3/385.full According to Lee Cowden, MD, board certified cardiologist, teacher of integrative health, and founder of the Cowden Protocol to treat Lyme, the key to recovery is to strengthen the resistance of the host. Strengthening resistance means getting your immune system in good fighting shape. That entails getting toxins out of the body which may be impairing your body’s resistance, and adding in nourishing lifestyle practices to optimize your immune system.

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    Catch and Release Negative Thoughts and Emotions

    Often the biggest source of our stress is our own mind. Research shows that we have about 60,000 thoughts each day and most are negative. Worrying, catastrophizing, mind reading and all-or-nothing thinking are examples of distorted, negative thinking. The antidote is to become aware of your thoughts and challenge the unproductive, distorted ones.

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    Turn Off Stressful Media

    Most news exists to do one thing: sell advertising. And even the advertising itself, like drugs with their endless lists of unwanted effects, can be stressful. As they say, “the more it bleeds, the more it leads.” Did you know that scary movies and sad music negatively impact your nervous system?9Neural correlates of fear-induced sympathetic response associated with the peripheral temperature change rate.,Yoshihara K, et. al., Neuroimage. 2016 Jul 1;134:522-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.04.040. Epub 2016 Apr 19., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27107469 Make a conscious choice to watch and listen to positive news, comedies, and uplifting music, particularly in the evening.

What will you do today to lighten your toxic load?

Take good care!

p.s. Before you go, please accept our FREE gift: Your Optimal Food Guide ebook, which can help you figure out which foods can help you reverse autoimmune conditions or just optimize your health.

p.s.s. And, if you are proactively seeking to heal from any autoimmune condition and want community, support and valuable information, please join our free, private Facebook group: Transcend Autoimmune.

For more information about triggers and toxins, check out Top 6 Autoimmune Triggers: Toxins.

Photo by Aditya Saxena