How Toxic Is Your Brain?

January 8, 2019
Dr. Jeremy Flagel
How Toxic Is Your Brain?


Detox. I used to roll my eyes and sigh (at least internally) when I heard about people wasting their money on the latest trendy detox product or trend. Through medical school and residency, I learned there are certain things you needed to be aware of like obvious lead exposure, but for the most part, the body does a good job of clearing out what shouldn’t be there. That’s what your liver and kidneys are for!

It wasn’t until my integrative and functional medicine training that I began to understand the complexity of the problem.   We are exposed to a large amount of external substances and our bodies usually do a good job of getting rid of them. Like everything else, the ability to rid the body of these things is variable. It depends on your individual genetics, your unique toxic load, your continuing exposures, and how well you can eliminate the problem from your body (hint: avoid constipation).

Your Toxic Load

The process of learning the details of this area can be very frightening. The list of problem agents is long and includes names like glyphosate, BPA, phthalates, PDBE’s, 2-4 D, Atrazine, PCBs, and PFCs. They can affect our immune system, mitochondria and energy production, genetic expression, endocrine system, as well as be neurotoxic. The effects they can have on the body depend on your genetics, detoxification capacity and total toxic load. Of particular interest to me is neurotoxicity, which can appear as depression, brain fog, and confusion. Some people ultimately need more specialized testing and protocols to determine if this is a problem for them.

Reducing Toxicity

There are two simple steps to reducing your toxic load. 1) Increase avoidance where you can. 2) Speed up your body’s ability to get rid of the toxins in your system. Cruciferous vegetables are great at this (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, etc.).

To learn more, check out the folks at the environmental working group. They keep a list of the dirty dozen foods you should try to buy organic, and the clean fifteen which are the safest to buy conventionally. It’s impossible (and unhealthy) to avoid everything, but making small changes along the way can really lower your risks.

Why not start with finding a new cruciferous vegetable you haven’t had before? Cook it with garlic and you’ll get even more benefit!

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