The environment around us has changed drastically over the course of the years. When our grandparents were young, they were likely buying their produce from a local farm or even growing it themselves. The soil was richer and contained nutrients that were more bioavailable. Unfortunately in today’s world, growing your own food is rare. Even those who buy all organic meats and produce are bound to eat foods that contain small amounts of pesticides (either from runoff, cross-contamination, or proximity to non-organic crops).
Additionally, more than 100,000 chemicals are now unregulated and found in everything from our personal care products to our cleaning supplies. Humans have a built-in detoxification system in place which helps to ensure the body eliminates a good amount of these chemicals. However, we also know that while some people are able to detoxify these chemicals just fine, others are negatively impacted by their presence in the body. More specifically, those with impaired detoxification systems (gene mutations, autoimmune diseases, and cancer) may already have trouble detoxing chemicals from the body. Additionally, one of the body’s main detoxification pathways is methylation, which can be affected by an MTHFR mutation. Methylation is required for effective detoxification.
What Are Some of the Well-Known Toxins That Are in Our Environment Today?
Dr. Rawlins gave an interesting presentation here on the common chemicals and toxins that are found in our environment. Some of these include Arsenic, BPA, lead, and mercury. When heavy metals build up in our bodies, our detoxification pathways become overwhelmed. Additionally, some medications can also impact these detoxification pathways.
Here are some tell-tale signs of a heavy metal build-up:
- Poor concentration and memory
- Fibromyalgia (People with this condition genetically have difficulty clearing heavy metal toxins from the body)
- Hair loss
- Liver dysfunction
Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA is an estrogen-like compound that is a well-known hormone disruptor. It has been added to common plastic items like shampoo and conditioner bottles, soup cans, plastic packaging, receipts, and even baby toys. Studies in rats showed that buildup of BPA can inhibit methylation. BPA, like arsenic, is also known to block a methylation pathway in the body.
So, Can We Avoid These Toxins?
The first thing you should try to do is limit your exposure to heavy metals and chemicals. Some ways you can work towards limiting your exposure include Purchasing BPA/BPS-free foods and toys, switching to safer cleaning products, and purchasing organic rice and other foods (since conventional rice can be contaminated with arsenic). Learning how to read a label is also important because some companies add chemicals and metals to products under different names.
If Limiting Exposure to Toxins Proves Difficult, What Else Can We Do?
Through the research, we know that glutathione is an antioxidant that clears heavy metals from the body. It is capable of preventing damage to healthy cells in the body that can be impacted by things like oxidative stress. Interestingly enough, you need methylfolate to make glutathione. Supplementing with glutathione will only work if there is a sufficient amount of folate in the body or if you supplement with methylfolate as well.
It is important that you check with a doctor before taking supplements solely based on your symptoms. However, if you know that you have an MTHFR mutation and already have trouble detoxing, supplementing with methylfolate may help keep glutathione levels in check and give your detoxification pathways the extra bump they need to work optimally.