7 Toxins That Weaken Immunity and How To Detox
Your immune system is your body’s defense system and works to fend off bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and toxins. Unfortunately, our world is full of toxins that can compromise your immune system and increase your risk of infections, illness, and disease. Fortunately, there are some natural support strategies that support detoxification, weakened immunity, and your health.
In this article, I will discuss the importance of healthy immunity. You will learn how toxins may disrupt your immunity. You will learn about the top 7 toxins that may weaken your immunity. I will share my top tips to detox and support healthy immunity.
Importance of Healthy Immunity
Your immune system is an incredibly important system. It is your body’s defense system, it is your friend, your protector, and your personal bodyguard. Your immune system’s job is to protect you from infections and health problems caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and toxins.
Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs. Together, they help to stop invaders, foreign pathogens, and malignant cells from entering your system and help to remove them if they get inside your body to protect you.
Having healthy immunity is critical for your overall health. A healthy immune system lowers your risk of getting an infection, getting sick, or developing a disease. A healthy immune system may support a quick and successful recovery from infection and illness. A compromised immune system may have a more difficult time protecting you and may have a more difficult time supporting recovery.
A healthy immune system is also able to down-regulate your immune response against harmless triggers, such as food or pollen, or your own body tissues. If a compromised immune system is unable to do this, it can increase your risk of allergies, inflammation, and autoimmune disorders.
How Toxins Disrupt Immunity
Your immune system may get compromised due to a variety of reasons, including a poor diet, a lack of sleep, stress, poor lifestyle choices, and environmental toxins. Toxins are one of the major factors that may disrupt and weaken immunity.
According to a 2019 research published in iScience, environmental toxins may weaken your immune system against infections (1). According to scientific findings published in the book Biological Markers in Immunotoxicology, toxic agents may lead to a compromised immune system and immunosuppression (2). According to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, bacterial toxins may disrupt an adaptive immune system (3).
Toxins that may disrupt your immune system are all around us. They are hiding in non-organic food as pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics. They are in our air and hiding in our homes as mold, air pollution, and cigarette smoke. They are in our tap water, plastic packaging, dental fillings, conventional body, beauty, cleaning, and other household products, and clothing. To lower you toxic exposure and protect your immunity, you need to be aware of the top toxins that may weaken immunity.
Top 7 Toxins That Weaken Immunity
Knowledge is your first step to recovery and health. You must know the sources of various toxins that impact our body and weaken immunity.
While it is impossible to avoid exposure to these things altogether, it is critical to minimize your exposure and open up your drainage pathways to eliminate these chemicals from your body. Let’s learn more about the top 7 toxins that may weaken your immunity.
Glyphosate is the most widely produced chemical in the world that acts to weaken immunity. It’s been used to control broadleaf weeds and grasses since the 1970s. It’s used in herbicides and over 700 agriculture, forestry, and home products. It is also the primary chemical used in Roundup, a popular chemical used by the biotech giant, Monsanto. It’s also found in other herbicides.
So why is glyphosate so bad? It is created to kill weeds by targeting the enzymes that produce the amino acids tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine. The problem is that many bacteria may be susceptible to glyphosate and glyphosate may change the gut flora and compromise the health of many animals and humans.
Though the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that glyphosate has no risk to human health, several studies, including a 2015 research published in Lancet Oncology and a 2003 research published in Occupational Environmental Medicine found that glyphosate may have carcinogenic effects. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that it is ‘probably carcinogenic’ (4, 5, 6, 7). To learn more about glyphosate, I recommend reading this article.
Mold & Mycotoxins
Mold and mycotoxins are some of the most prevalent toxins in your environment that weaken immunity. Mycotoxins are a specific type of fungi-like mold. They are very adaptable and can grow almost anywhere as long as the conditions are moist, damp, and warm.
They are often found in your bathroom, damp basements, kitchen, wallpaper, ceiling tiles, fiberglass insulation, and elsewhere. Mold and mycotoxins are not always obvious and visible; they can be somewhere more hidden.
They may also grow on your food after harvesting or before storage. They pose a serious health risk and may cause an array of symptoms from respiratory symptoms, headaches, and fatigue to gut health issues, hormonal issues, and mental health issues (8). To learn more about mycotoxins, I recommend reading this article and this article.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are incredibly toxic and weaken immunity. They are the most commonly found cosmetics but may be found elsewhere. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are “used in hundreds of products, such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, and personal care products, such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, and other fragrance preparations” (9).
Research is ongoing when it comes to the toxic effects on phthalates and how they weaken immunity. According to a 2009 study published in the Philosophical Transactions B, phthalates may have adverse health effects and further research is needed (10). According to a 2010 study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, exposure to phthalates may increase the risk of breast cancer (11).
Heavy metals are one of the major toxins you may get exposed to throughout your life. Heavy metals are metals with a density of 5 g/cm3 or more. In large amounts, they have adverse effects on living organisms, on our environment, and weaken immunity. Besides being potentially harmful, they also serve absolutely no beneficial role in the human body.
According to a 2014 study published in the Interdisciplinary Toxicology, some heavy metals interfere with normal biological processes and have toxic effects (12). They bind to proteins in your body that would otherwise be activated by normally occurring minerals like zinc and magnesium. They can cause oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and cellular interference.
Some common heavy metals that you may encounter include lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and aluminum. Lead can be found in lead-containing paint, contaminated municipal tap water, cosmetics, contaminated food, and tobacco products. Arsenic can be found in pesticides, commercially grown produce, apple juice, rice products, glass work, smelting, and semiconductor production. Mercury can be found in larger seafood, dental amalgam silver tooth fillings, and some vaccines. Cadmium can be found in tobacco, metalworking, soldering, battery manufacturing, and contaminated foods. Aluminum can be found in some vaccinations, antiperspirant deodorant, municipal tap water, canned food and drinks, and some processed foods. You may learn more about heavy metals by reading this article.
Organophosphates (OPs) are chemical substances with toxic effects. They are produced by the reaction of phosphoric acid and alcohol. Back in the 1930s, they were utilized as insecticides, but during World War II they were developed into neurotoxins by the German military. They may affect neuromuscular transmission by acting as cholinesterase inhibitors.
Some OPs are used as pesticides or insect killers in both household and agricultural applications. According to research findings and review published in the book, Gulf War and Health: Volume 1. Depleted Uranium, Sarin, Pyridostigmine Bromide, Vaccines, long-term exposure to OPs can lead to serious neurological, neuropsychological, and/or psychiatric outcomes, and short-term, low exposure may produce negative outcomes (13).
Xylene, xylol, or dimethyl benzene refers to any of three isomeric dimethyl benzenes or the combination of some or all of them. Xylenes are used as a solvent, as raw materials for the manufacturing of film, dyes, and fiber, feedstock manufacturing of polymers, and in aviation fuel and gasoline.
According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, xylene may pose a serious occupational hazard and can lead to health consequences (14). According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), xylene vapors may irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs, inhaling xylenes can lead to headaches, nausea, drowsiness, sleepiness, dizziness, and serious exposure can cause irregular heartbeat, sleepiness, stumbling, fainting, and even death (15).
Lipopolysaccharides (LPS), or endotoxins are toxins that are found inside a bacterial cell. They release as the cell disintegrates. They often result from bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine (small intestinal overgrowth, SIBO) or from sepsis. They may occur as a result of non-bacterial infections. Endotoxins may be released from candida and parasites resulting in a complex health issue from multiple harmful microorganisms.
When talking about endotoxins, we must talk about your gut health. Gut dysbiosis means that there is an imbalance in your gut microbiome that creates a compromised gut flora, lowers your body’s ability to fight invaders, and increases your risks and symptoms of endotoxins and biotoxin illness. Gut dysbiosis is a breeding ground for Candida and other yeast infections, bad bacteria, parasites, viruses, and pathogens. It increases your risk of harm from endotoxins that weaken immunity.
According to a 2018 study published in Environmental Health, even low levels of airborne endotoxins may have adverse respiratory health effects (16). To learn more about biotoxin illness, including the negative health effects of endotoxins, I recommend reading this article.
How To Detox and Support Immunity
When dealing with toxic exposure and a high toxic load, the first step is to do our best to avoid the main sources that weaken immunity. Once we have done that, we want to focus on opening up our detoxification and elimination pathways. Our primary drainage pathways are from our lungs, skin, kidneys, and colon. We literally need to enhance our respiration, perspiration, urination, and defecation systems to eliminate these toxins from our bodies.
Detoxification can sound scary, but once you start reading my recommendations on how to detox and support your immunity, you will realize that it is actually a simple and straight-forward process. Here is what I recommend to detox and support your immunity:
Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Plan
To support detoxification and healthy immunity, I recommend following an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan. First, eliminate all inflammatory foods and drinks, including refined sugar, processed foods, refined oils, deep-fried food, junk food, soda and sugary drinks, artificial ingredients, and low-fat or diet products.
Follow an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan rich in greens, vegetables, low glycemic index fruits, herbs, spices, healthy fats, and clean animal protein. To avoid exposure to pesticides, hormones, and chemicals, eat organic food. If you are unable to choose only organic products, follow the list of Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. Items on the ‘dirty dozen’ list should be purchased organic or skip it altogether. To learn more about the anti-inflammatory nutrition plan I recommend, read this article.
Intermittent & Extended Fasting
Fasting offers tremendous benefits as it can lower inflammation, support cellular repair and autophagy, and support immune function. Intermittent fasting is a form of fasting that cycles between a period of not eating (fasting) and a period of eating (feasting).
Beginners should start with the Simple Fast, which involves 12 hours of fasting including your overnight sleep. For example, you may stop eating after dinner at 6 pm and you can eat again at 6 am the next day. Slowly, you can increase your fasting window. The most commonly enjoyed method is 16 hours of fasting with an 8-hour eating period.
Once you are more experienced with intermittent fasting, I recommend trying an extended fast, which can last for a few days or even a week or two. During your extended fast, you are only drinking water and possibly other non-caloric, healthy drinks, such as herbal tea, and refrain from food. To learn more about intermittent fasting, I recommend reading this article. To learn more about extended or water fasting, I recommend reading this article.
Great Hydration & Water Filtration
Good hydration is incredibly important for detoxification as it helps to remove toxins through sweat and urine. I recommend starting your day with 32 ounces of water and drinking throughout the day, every hour or so, at least 10 glasses a day total.
In additional to water, I recommend adding some herbal tea, green juices, green smoothies, shakes, and hydrating vegetables and fruits. Remove any dehydrating sodas, sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol.
Make sure that you drink clean water by investing in a good filtration and purification system, and using glass or stainless steel bottles instead of plastic. (Avoid bottled water or unfiltered tap water.) I recommend systems like Aquatrue or the Berkey system for low cost filtration. The best water is the Synergy Science hydrogen water which is what I use at home as it is powered by molecular hydrogen which reduces oxidative stress in the body and improves immune function.
Add a slice of lime for some extra flavor. Additionally, make sure to eat plenty of hydrating vegetables and low glycemic index fruits, and drink green juices, green smoothies, bone broth, and herbal tea.
Exercise & Movement
Regular exercise and movement is essential for your overall health and also supports detoxification through sweating. I recommend exercising at least 3–5 times a week for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
Mix up cardiovascular activities, such as rebounding, hiking, running, biking, swimming, dancing, or aerobics, strength and resistance training, such as weight lifting, bodyweight workouts, kettlebell workouts, or CrossFit, and low-impact exercises, such as pilates, yoga, Barre workout, Tai Chi, and light walks.
Stay active throughout the day by taking a stroll in the park, going for a walk during lunch, taking a bike ride, walking or biking for short distances instead of driving, playing with your kids and pets, playing backyard games, gardening, dancing to your favorite song, using a standing or treadmill desk, getting up from your chair and stretching regularly, and opting for the stairs instead of the elevator.
Improve Bowel Motility
Improving your bowel motility is critical for detoxification. Make sure to drink plenty of water, eat fiber-rich nutrient-dense foods, consume prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods, and exercise regularly. To support bowel motility, magnesium is a helpful supplement. I recommend Oxy Powder, a magnesium and oxygen-based colon cleanser.
Additionally, coffee enemas are another great practice for bowel motility and detoxification. Enemas may help to remove old waste stuck to your intestines and the coffee in the enema may help to bind and pull out toxins effectively. Use 3 tablespoons of organic coffee to 4 cups of water in your enema kit. To learn more about the benefits of coffee enemas, I recommend reading this article.
Daily Sun Exposure & Grounding
Vitamin D is essential for your immune health and well-being which is why I recommend daily sun exposure. Make sure to spend 15 to 30 minutes in the sun daily. Avoid the midday sun to protect yourself from damaging UV rays. Even if you live in a colder climate make sure to spend at least a short time outside daily in the sun.
Combine this practice with grounding. Walking or standing barefoot on grass, dirt, sand, or on the ground outdoors helps you to receive benefits from the electromagnetic energies of the Earth. To learn more about the benefits of grounding, I recommend reading this article. To optimize your vitamin D levels, in additional to daily sun exposure, I recommend a daily dose of vitamin D supplementation as well.
Dry Brushing & Epsom Salt Baths
Dry brushing and Epsom salt baths are both wonderful for your health. Dry brushing supports your lymphatic system and helps to remove dry, old skin and toxins on the surface of your skin. It is best to practice dry brushing daily before your shower or bath. Use a soft, natural brush and brush your body in circular motions towards your health.
Epsom salt baths help to pull out salts and toxins from your body and allow magnesium and sulfate to enter to support your health. Add 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bath and soak for 20 minutes. To learn more about dry brushing, I recommend reading this article. To learn more about the benefits of Epsom salt baths, I recommend reading this article.
Infrared Sauna Usage
Infrared sauna therapy is a form of sauna that uses infrared heaters that release infrared lights you experience as heat as it gets absorbed through the surface of the skin. It utilizes Far InfraRed Technology (FIR), which is a non-invasive light therapy that can penetrate your body as much as three inches.
It supports detoxification, offers immune support, and lowers inflammation. I recommend Syndergy Sauna™, a full spectrum infrared sauna that allows deep penetrating and detoxifying heat through powerful infrared rays. This sauna is small, easy to store, simple to use, yet incredibly effective and beneficial to your health. To learn more about infrared sauna therapy, I recommend reading this article.
To detoxify your body and reduce toxic exposure, treating your air at home is incredibly important. Remember, mycotoxins and allergens can hide anywhere and release their spores and toxins in the air. A good air filtration system is critical for filtering out microscopic toxins from your air at home and, if possible, at your workplace.
I recommend that you get a HEPA filter that meets the necessary standards and captures 99.97 percent or more of pollutants at 0.3 microns. I recommend the Air Doctor with a hospital-grade HEPA filter for your home along with dual action gas trap VOC filter to deactivate major indoor air toxins.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that helps to pull out toxins from your body by squishing oil in your mouth. This practice is great for dental and oral hygiene, skin and hair health, reducing pain, and fighting parasites and other toxins.
Start your day by swishing a tablespoon of coconut or extra-virgin olive oil in your mouth, then brush your teeth thoroughly. To learn more about the benefits of oil pulling, I recommend reading this article.
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil packs have been around since ancient Egypt. They may help to promote the circulation of blood around an organ, around an area of your body, and increase the flow of fluids through your lymphatic system. They support detoxification.
I recommend Queen of Thrones castor oil packs. To use castor oil packs, relax on your back, add some castor oil on your belly and massage it clockwise, put a flannel cloth on your belly, place a hot water bottle on top, and cover it with a towel. Relax like this for 45 minutes to an hour. To learn more about the benefits and usage of castor oil packs, I recommend reading this article.
Use Bioactive Carbons
Bioactive Carbons are a form of carbon that helps to create and sustain life in a cell. They support detoxification and overall health. They include two essential plant-based acid extracts: fulvic and humic acid. Both of these extracts are compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, the exact same elements that also makeup nearly all of your body.
It is not surprising that bioactive carbons may help your body to fight pathogens and toxins, support your immune system, and improve your overall health. Depending on your goals, there are a variety of bioactive carbons you may try. To detox from mold, ammonia, or gut-induced endotoxins, I recommend Bioactive Carbon BioTox. I usually have my clients do 1–2 caps, 2–3 times daily for 3–6 months to help clear these toxins.
To detox heavy metals and glyphosate, I recommend Bioactive Carbon MetChem. I usually have my clients do 1–2 caps, 2–3 times daily for 3–6 months to help clear these toxins.
To support the mineralization of your body and cell energy, I recommend Bioactive Carbon Minerals which is a great thing to use while taking the bioactive carbon binders in order to support mitochondrial energy levels. To learn more about bioactive carbons, I recommend reading this article.
Your immune system is incredibly important to protect you and fight bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and toxins. The problem is that our world is full of toxins that can compromise your immune system and increase your risk of infections, illness, and disease.
Fortunately, you can support a weakened immunity naturally. Follow my top tips to detox and support healthy immunity to cleanse your body, repair your cells, and regain your health and vitality.
If you want to work with a functional health coach, I recommend this article with tips on how to find a great coach. Our website offers long-distance functional health coaching programs with our world-class team of health coaches. For further support with your health and other goals, just reach out—our fantastic coaches are here to support your journey.
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