For many of us, sore muscles, unsocial sleeping schedules and low moods that just won’t quit are relatively everyday occurrences. However, these problems may also be a sign that your body is trying to tell you something. In fact, if you’re feeling under the weather more often than not, your body could be signalling that it’s overloaded with toxins.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory, we currently know of 595 substances that can negatively affect our wellbeing. These chemicals can cause cancer or lead to other acute health problems, among other unpleasant conditions. And they can also have a devastating impact on the environment, too.
For their part, toxins typically enter our bodies and shake up our DNA to the point where they impair cells and inhibit their typical functions. Formaldehyde counts as a toxin to humans, for instance, although it’s rife throughout the cosmetics industry. And the chemical proves particularly dangerous to pregnant women, as a number of those who have been exposed to it have sadly born children with birth defects.
Not all toxin exposures lead to such detrimental side effects, though. And our bodies work hard to remove much of these substances from our systems as soon as possible. The liver and kidneys, in particular, pump out any toxins that have made their way into our bodies through sweat, urine and waste. However, because so many toxins hide in today’s cosmetic products and grocery store foodstuffs, our organs can’t always scrub out everything that’s harmful.
Therefore, the unprocessed toxins start to accumulate in the body, and they can wreak havoc in our systems. And this process can culminate in a dangerous condition known as toxin overload. When this happens, so many harmful substances have seeped into the body that they interrupt the organs’ and glands’ activities.
And more worryingly still, toxin overload proves to be a slippery slope. Once the body is flooded with poisons, you see, the liver and kidneys struggle to keep up with their workload. Eventually, then, the sheer volume of toxins inhibits the organs’ abilities to rid our bodies of these harmful substances. And because these chemicals are, indeed, toxic, they often leave us feeling sick or deflated when they stick around in our systems for too long.
But an accumulation of toxins can result in much more than bad moods. Apparently, some of the most common afflictions we face could be due to excessive amounts of such unsavory substances in our bodies. So, how do you know if you’re suffering from toxin overload? Well, experiencing any of the following symptoms might mean that you do – so it could be time for a change.
For starters, toxins can negatively affect your mind and your ability to think on your feet. Some who suffer from the mental haze – dubbed “brain fog” – note that they can’t concentrate as well as they used to. Conversely, others feel confused or struggle to remember things. And all of these symptoms can be traced back to an excessive amount of toxins in people’s systems.
According to scientists, subjection to pesticides – even in small amounts – can stall people’s cognitive capabilities and hinder their concentration. And taking certain pharmaceuticals can occasionally have the same result, too. In a 2018 interview with Bustle, Dr. Janette Nesheiwat used a metaphor to explain why toxins have such an effect on the mind.
“You can even think of it like a car that breaks down when it has bad oil in it,” Dr. Nesheiwat explained. In other words, when our bodies have toxins coursing through them, they don’t run as they should. This has adverse effects throughout our systems, too, including our mental abilities. And suffering from a mental haze is just one potential side effect.
Meanwhile, another symptom of toxin overload is struggling to fall asleep. But before you grow too worried, remember that it’s not uncommon for us to have trouble bedding down for the night. Yes, according to The National Institutes of Health, around 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. alone find it hard to nod off. Of course, it’s believed that part of this is down to scrolling through social media in the evening or eating too late at night.
But toxins can also play a part in people suffering from a poor night’s sleep, too. Indeed, The National Organization for Rare Disorders revealed that an accumulation of heavy metals – including mercury and lead – in our bodies can also complicate our sleeping schedules.
And even if you can doze off with ease, a toxin overload could still make you feel tired and sluggish. Experts consistently link an accumulation of harmful substances in our systems with fatigue, after all. Apparently, a toxin overload can make you feel drained; no matter how much coffee you chug or how many Z’s you catch at night.
As previously mentioned, our livers and kidneys work to cleanse toxins from our systems through producing sweat and bodily waste. When too many of the harmful substances pile up, however, the organs have to work harder and for longer than usual. And Neshiwat explained how this would directly cause fatigue.
“If we put our kidneys into overdrive it can get ‘backed up’ and cause toxin buildup, which in turn causes the symptoms of fatigue and low energy,” Nesheiwat said. Some common causes of fatigue are a build-up of metallic substances such as mercury and pesticides in our systems – and these affect us mentally and physically.
Of course, toxins don’t just cause problems in the liver and kidneys. You see, unnatural substances such as artificial colorings, flavorings, pesticides and preservatives exist in the processed foods that we eat. And if we regularly chow down on these processed meals, this can mean that toxins accumulate in our intestines, too.
When toxins build up in the intestines, all the activities that we associate with this organ become backlogged. This inactivity could leave you with an upset stomach, for instance, or constipation. And, if these symptoms don’t cause enough discomfort on their own, constipation can also spawn headaches, body pains and tiredness. Dr. Nesheiwat also addressed these problems in her interview with Bustle, saying, “These could be signs of toxin overload, and your body telling you to slow down and take care of yourself.”
Meanwhile, another symptom of toxin overload could be difficulty losing weight. Of course, much of a person’s weight-loss success will have to do with the various foods that they consume as well as the exercise that they undertake. Without adopting a set of healthy eating habits – and opting for toxin-free foods – it’s difficult to cultivate the type of robust gut bacteria that increases your metabolic rate.
As well as this, some toxins count as obesogens, meaning they can be a contributing factor if you’re piling on the pounds. And one of these types of substances has made its way into our lives in particular: Bisphenol A, also known as BPA. You see, back in the ’50s chemists discovered that BPA made plastic stronger, and the chemical is still used in commercial products including hygiene products and food receptacles today.
But human contact with BPA has been found to be harmful in a number of ways. For one, the chemical is proven to linger in the environment. And secondly, BPA’s presence in our bodies can prevent us some shifting excess weight. In fact, it can cause quite the opposite to take place. The same goes for other heavy metals, pesticides and phthalates, too.
This weight gain occurs because toxins – whichever kind are present – can cause a shift in our metabolic functions. Multiple studies have reported evidence of this phenomenon: toxins enter our systems and wreak havoc. Not only do the substances put pressure on our livers, but they also unbalance hormone levels and close off thyroid receptors. And all of these factors play an important role in weight maintenance or weight loss.
In a similar vein, according to research by George Washington University, consuming fast food adds to the number of chemicals in the body. And this type of toxin build-up contributes to another symptom of overload: routinely achy muscles and joints. You might be able to explain away such pain with a recent workout or an uncomfortable night’s sleep, but if you can’t figure out why you’d be achy, it could be due to toxin overload.
Yet sore joints are just one way that your body shows you that your toxin intake has caused your immune system to go haywire. This then leads to your system turning inward and hurting itself, as every harmful substance that resides in its tissue is damaging your wellbeing. Elsewhere, other autoimmune problems that can be attributed to toxin overload include fevers and rashes.
And skin issues often crop up in those who suffer from an abundance of toxins. This is because a number of hair and skincare products contain chemicals, and the skin absorbs the toxins with which it comes into contact. As Dr. Nasimeh Yazdani reminded Bustle, “Skin is the largest organ and can expose your entire body to penetration of toxins.”
Rashes represent just one of the ways in which these skin issues can manifest, though. In some people, toxins cause irritated patches to form on their skin, and an abundance of toxins can even lead to a chronic condition: eczema. Others deal with acne and breakouts or puffiness under their eyes. So, if you’ve noticed an unexpected change in your skin condition, it could very well be a sign of toxin overload.
The same goes for our bodily odor, too. Strange-smelling urine or sweat, for example, can also be a sign that various toxins have accumulated in our systems. Dr. Nesheiwat told Bustle, “The body creates gases and odors, which are by-products of metabolism and the breakdown of everything that we inhale, ingest or are exposed to.” So, an irregular scent could indicate that something unsavory has entered your system.
Similarly, bad breath can also point to a toxin build-up, especially if brushing your teeth or popping some gum doesn’t get rid of it. Granted, for some people, bad breath points to digestive issues. If you don’t struggle with any stomach-based problems, though, unpleasant odors could mean that your liver is having difficulty pumping out the toxins that you’ve accumulated.
And another stinky sign of toxin overload is excessive sweating. Again, this symptom is all to do with the liver, too. When the organ becomes inundated with toxins to process, you see, you might experience a sudden raise in body temperature. Then, you sweat more than usual to get rid of all the built-up toxins that have plagued your organs.
Alternatively, you may notice that strange or unusual scents bother you, especially if they come from perfumes. If you are experiencing pains in your head or your stomach simply from smelling something strong, in fact, this could be more than just a sensitivity to a chemical in said scent. Indeed, your body may be in the midst of struggling with toxin overload.
If you’re experiencing discomfort in your feet, though, this could also be a sign that your body is overwhelmed by poison. Interestingly, some say it’s gravity that brings the symptoms of toxic overload to this area. And we can see the physical effects in our toenails, too. As our feet are regularly covered up in socks and shoes, these body parts are the perfect place for toxins to take root and fungus to grow.
And as fungus takes hold, our toenails lose their strong, smooth finish and become breakable. In some cases, you can remedy the problem with an ointment or cream designed to remove fungus. When you think that toxins caused the change in your toenails, however, you might require a more in-depth fix – more on that later.
Conversely, a similar situation can arise at the opposite end of your body. Yes, some people experience hair loss as a result of toxin overload. This typically happens when we’re exposed to strong metallic toxins such as lead, arsenic and thallium. And you can find these – and other chemicals – in cigarette smoke.
We already know that these heavy metals can be damaging to our organs and interfere with hormones, but they can also upset our hair follicles. With time, such damage can leave you with hair that falls out more rapidly than usual or strands that stall. And, in the worst case scenario, you could suffer from advanced hair loss and begin balding.
Finally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, an overload of toxins can leave us depressed. This can result from consuming processed and chemical-laden foods that can have us feeling sluggish after just one serving. And over time, the toxins build up until it reaches the point that, even if we eat healthily, the feel-good nutrients don’t make it to the receptors in our brains.
Fortunately, those who suffer from toxin overload have options for reversing the effects. Britta Aragon has dedicated her career to boosting awareness of toxic ingredients in the beauty industry, and she gave advice on reducing and removing such chemicals from your system in an article that she penned for online magazine Mind Body Green.
For starters, Aragon suggested “support[ing] your liver” with a slew of natural remedies. Dandelion tea, for one, has liver-detoxifying properties. Furthermore, parsley can bolster the liver from future harm; it has been shown to help stave off damage to the organ caused by diabetes. The green guru also mentioned that cilantro and milk thistle are helpful dietary additions.
Aaragon suggested another easy way to remove toxins, too: fill up your water bottle. Drinking water helps to rid our systems of harmful toxins through waste products including urine and sweat as well as other substances. And you can amplify the effects by adding 30 minutes of daily exercise into your routine, as movement boosts your blood flow and keep toxins moving toward filtering organs.
As foods that contain probiotics improve the body’s digestion capabilities, Aragon advised incorporating everything from yogurt to sauerkraut into your diet to stoke your metabolism. The food expert also suggested plumping for organic options as often as possible, as they’re pesticide-free.
Aragon also discussed the importance of adopting an all-natural skincare regime. According to her, anything without fragrances, parabens, phthalates and sulfates is ideal. As well as this, the healthy living expert said purchasing a tongue scraper could be a worthy investment, as the tool removes some toxins from the mouth that you might miss with a tooth brush. And even simple things like deep breathing could help rid the lungs of toxins, she added.
Some experts might suggest that, on top of these steps, you should begin a detoxification program designed to remove any harmful substances from your body. You shouldn’t embark on such a lifestyle change without first speaking to a healthcare professional, though. This is especially true if you’re expecting, diabetic, under 18, in your advanced years or if you have struggled with an eating disorder. But however you choose to proceed, you now know the warning signs – so look out!