What can impact our toxicity?
Finding out if our bodies are carrying a toxic load can be a minefield.
There are certain symptoms which can give us clues as to whether we need to make changes to both our lifestyle and behaviours such as:
- mood swings
- mental health issues
- low energy
- muscular pain
- weight gain
- difficulty sleeping
One of the major organs which is a key player in filtering through our toxic load is the liver. The liver can become overburdened with excess toxins leading to poor metabolism, mental health difficulties and weight gain.
It provides our first line of defence by responding to infections, inflammation, and stress. Because of its vital function, nature has given it regenerating properties. It can return to full functioning capacity within a matter of months following injury. However, if it fails, without a transplant you would die.
It processes nutrients including fats and monitors our bodily functions both physical and mental.
A healthy liver will process lipids (fats) creating an efficient metabolism and therefore less likelihood of weight gain. A congested liver will become unproductive leading to weight gain. This can become a cycle for some individuals who dip in and out of various weight loss programmes. They unwittingly overload the liver by dumping harmful substances into their system causing liver congestion and inefficiency and then subsequent weight gain (explained below).
Saturated fats, rancid oils and refined sugars can stress the liver. Unfortunately, many individuals eat diets high in these foods on a regular basis or in phases of their lives. Even some diet products will have the same effect.
The liver is then forced to overwork to process these inappropriate sources of nutrition. It must process the toxins and uses the gallbladder as a dumping site. The gallbladder, which stores bile and helps us process fats via the small intestine, can become congested with thickened bile because of the toxins mentioned above. This congestion cannot be processed from the gallbladder, and it backs up causing congestion in the liver.
The above congestion will affect the flow of the bile salts and therefore the digestion of fats and in turn affect the intestine. The body’s ability to process fats becomes impeded and the cycle of storing fat is set. A knock-on result of the above congestion in the gallbladder leads to poor absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins; D, E, K and the essential fatty acids.
An article in the New York Post stated that in laboratory experiments it was proven that fructose passing through the liver will be converted into fat. This can then lead to insulin resistance which is a huge contributor to obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Emotional stress and its effects on the liver:
- mood swings
- loss of memory
- poor sleep
- personality changes
The above list is just some of the mental health and personality types which can affect the liver and lead to weight gain, diabetes, gallbladder issues, heart disease, and more. Our emotional environment can have a huge detrimental effect on our metabolism.
A key hormone in this process is cortisol also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol affects the nervous, cardiovascular, muscular skeletal, respiratory, immune, and reproduction systems. During times of stress, our bodies release cortisol. As adrenaline is released in a fight and flee response to a situation, cortisol is released as well to ensure enough glucose is released to cope with the threat. States of alert can be caused through trauma, mental state, depression, diet, and lifestyle.
Usually, insulin levels rise to counteract the increase in cortisol, but some individuals do not produce enough insulin to lower their blood sugar levels, leading to hyperglycaemia.
Hyperglycaemia can show itself as anger, mood swings, and irrational behaviour, which can have a huge impact on relationships and lifestyles. The lack of insulin will allow cortisol to maintain a high state of alert, and adrenaline to be produced. Also, the inability to utilise the excess glucose due to lack of insulin can lead to fat storage.
A burst of cortisol can help reduce inflammation as this primaeval hormonal response is designed to protect us, and ready us for an emergency, or escape, so its inflammatory properties enable us to do just that.
The other side of this ancient mechanism is that where our modern lives are high in stress, the excess production of cortisol can lead to a poor immune system and increased inflammation.
A high-stress lifestyle as described above with the associated increase in cortisol levels can therefore also lead to type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance.
Our circadian clock (or how we sleep) is also affected by our cortisol levels. Cortisol should be low in the evenings however modern lifestyles such as using screens, gaming, sugar stimulants, and alcohol, lead to an increase in cortisol and could therefore affect sleep or at the very least lead to a restless night.
In conclusion, how we manage our food, mental health, and day-to-day behaviours will affect our cortisol and adrenal levels. If circumstances lead to mismanagement of these hormones there is a likelihood of poor health, mental health difficulties and even weight gain.
- Eat fresh whole foods which are slow-release carbohydrates.
- Avoid excess use of stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and drugs as these trigger a fight-and-flee response.
- Manage your stress levels and mental health.