Responses To Toxins
All conditions and substances that are detrimental for our health and body are considered to be toxin. The manner in which our body reacts to toxins is subject to the vulnerability of an individual as well as the type of toxin involved. Reactions to toxins generally differ from one individual to another. In fact, the types of toxins also differ greatly.
Susceptibility to toxins
The susceptibility of different people to the negative effects of toxins differs greatly. Precisely speaking, the susceptibility as well as reaction of an individual to toxins differ depending on their gender, age, health condition, nutritional condition, enzyme metabolism, genetic factors as well as their lifestyles. All these aspects may result in a great difference in an individual's reaction to toxins.
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- Age and health status
- Despite the fact that at their birth babies have enzymes that help in detoxification, their pace of detoxification is much slower compared to that of the adults and this makes them more susceptible to toxins. In fact, compared to healthy adults, children as well as aged people are more vulnerable to toxin exposure.
In addition, people with compromised immunity or damaged defense mechanisms like the lungs, skin and the gastrointestinal tract, are especially susceptible to toxins. Since liver undertakes the major part of the detoxification process, those suffering from liver problems can be easily harmed by toxins.
- It is interesting to note that compared to males, females are more susceptible to toxins. As they are usually smaller in size than men and have a lesser weight, exposure to chemicals make them fall ill more quickly. In addition, women posses additional adipose or fatty tissues and, hence, their body has more fat cells that are ideal places for depositing fat-soluble toxins.
In addition, the levels of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase are lower in females and, hence, their ability to detoxify alcohol is also less. On the other hand, the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone are elevated in females making them more susceptible to toxins, because enzymes that help the detoxification process are especially responsive to hormones. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy may influence the actions of enzymes that work to detoxify the body, thereby augmenting the capability to get rid of a number of drugs.
- Genetic factors
- The variations in vulnerability to toxins that are determined genetically are known as ecogenetics. It may be noted that genetics finds out the particular enzymes that are accessible for the detoxification process of the body and there are people who do not possess sufficient levels of the particular enzymes that help in detoxification.
A genetic theory says that the more people come in contact with chemicals, the more number of people will be detected having susceptibility to chemicals. At the same time, it will reveal more anomalous enzymes. The genetic variations that are observed presently possibly embody only a small part of the entire range that will be discovered eventually.
- Genetic enzymatic defects
- It may be noted the just one or sometimes more of the roughly 50 enzymatic flaws inherited by an individual can influence his/ her vulnerability to chemicals. For instance, an enzyme called alpha-I-antitrypsin shields the lungs constantly from the proteolytic enzymes discharged by the leucocytes (white blood cells). Individuals who are suffering from a deficiency of alpha-I-antitrypsin are likely to be additionally susceptible to air pollution and experience more negative effects of air pollution compared to people who do not have this deficiency. Similarly, people who have a homozygous deficiency (two flawed genes) have more chances of developing emphysema (a chronic, irreversible lung disease).
However, instances of flawed enzymes are very exceptional and the examination of pharmaceutical drug metabolism has led to the identification of such enzymatic defects - and not studies with regard to environmental pollutants. It has been detected that the metabolism of a number of pharmaceutical drugs is regulated by a solitary gene. Scientists are of the view that more researches on this subject will possibly show that a single gene has the aptitude to organize the metabolism of several drugs.
- Enzyme metabolism
- The effectiveness of the detoxification enzymes has a direct effect on the pace of the detoxification process. There are a number of enzymes that work to metabolize chemicals and drugs and debrisoquine hydroxylase is one of them. A single gene that exists in various forms (polymorphism) regulates the actions of this particular detoxification enzyme. It has been found that compared to people in Asia, many Europeans are found to have sluggish rates of debrisoquine hydroxylation, resulting in poor metabolism of chemicals.
In fact, lung cancer among smokers as well as Parkinson's disease are related to the sluggish chemical metabolism by the detoxification enzyme debrisoquine hydroxylase. Findings of many epidemiological researches have suggested that Parkinson's disease is related to the use of pesticides. In fact, people who are unable to metabolize as well as eliminate pesticides from their body are more vulnerable to Parkinson's disease.
There is another enzyme that works to metabolize the chemical called S-carboxymethyl cysteine. It has been found that several people having food sensitivities are not able to metabolize this chemical appropriately. However, taking vitamin C supplements occasionally helps to augment the effectiveness of this detoxification enzyme. Perhaps, this somewhat explains as to why taking vitamin C in very high doses is useful for some patients who are susceptible to allergies.
In a number of instances, the sluggish metabolic actions of a different enzyme group are said to have resulted in augmented risks of having bladder cancer as well as a condition called peripheral neuritis (tender nerves inside the hands and feet). Several of these slow acting enzymes belongs to the cytochrome P-450 family that comprises an important mechanism for detoxifying the body.
- Nutritional status
- The level of nutrients in our body is responsible for determining the precise vitamins, fatty acids, amino acids and minerals that our body can avail. There are several enzymes that need specific vitamins and/ or minerals for their proper functioning. When these nutriments are not available, these enzymes turn out to be inactive and no detoxification can take place, which in turn enhances the vulnerability of an individual to new toxic substances. Therefore, our diet is extremely vital for refilling the body with the required nutriments.
- Lifestyle factors
- An individual's vulnerability to toxic substances is also subject to the entire chemical load of his/ her body. In other words, the total amount of toxins accumulated in one's body needs to be detoxified. In fact, one's lifestyle has a direct influence on the total toxin load of his/ her body. People whose diet is poor in nutriment content and consume foods that are adulterated with the use of additives, preservative and hormones will simply increase the toxic burden of their body. In addition, drugs, counting prescription medication, consumption of alcohol in any form and smoking only add to the toxic burden. Products meant for personal care, laundry as well as cleaning too contain high amounts of chemicals and exposure to these increases the toxic load of an individual. Most importantly, people who do not exercise and lead an inactive life are more susceptible to toxins. Therefore, it is essential that you should exercise regularly with a view to get rid of the accumulated toxins and metabolic wastes from your body.
Many people are exposed to innumerable toxins, but never make any effort to cleanse their bodies. Such people will find that their body is overloaded with toxins. In our body, toxins as well as chemicals are amassed in brain, fat and other lipid tissues, for instance, the cell membranes. When the body is already overloaded with toxins and harmful chemicals it becomes impossible for the body to metabolize the new chemicals entering our system. It is possible that the detoxification system itself may be destroyed by chemicals already accumulated in our body. In addition, they may also severely damage the endocrine, immune system as well as the nervous system.
Nature of toxins
Responses of different people to toxins also differ subject to the type of the toxin. Several toxins, especially those that are external, are basically chemicals. Compared to other types of toxins, there is enough proven information relating to the consequences of xenobiotics, chemicals that are alien to our body. According to an estimation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as many as 500,000 different types of chemicals are used in present times and every year over 5,000 new chemicals are incorporated to this long list. Every day, our body comes in contact with several of these harmful chemicals resulting in an increase of toxins in our system.
It may be noted that the body's response to different chemicals may vary depending on the chemical's structure. While a number of reactions to toxins are immunological, many other are of different nature. For instance, several people suffer from asthma when they come in contact with plicatic acid present in cedar. An antigen-antibody reaction set off by the immune system is responsible for this type of asthma. In fact, plicatic acid in cedar works in the form of an antigen and in reaction to this, our body makes antibodies to combat the effects of the chemical. There are many other people who suffer an asthma attack the moment they come in contact with formaldehyde, but they never have any antigen-antibody reaction. A different mechanism is responsible for their response.
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Our body takes up several chemicals, which have a propensity to stay put inside the tissues for a prolonged period. Majority of such chemicals are actually lipophilic, denoting that they easily dissolve in fat - a major constituent of the cell membranes. Lipophilic, also known as lipid-soluble, chemicals are very composite which makes it difficult for the body to break them down and expel. On the contrary, chemicals that dissolve in water may be eliminated without them undergoing any change or following simple metabolic modifications. Provided a chemical is soluble in lipids and non-polar (meaning uncharged), it will require undergoing two chemical phases in order to be a water-soluble and polar (charged) chemical. There are specific enzymes which are essential for this type of chemicals to undergo such transformations.
The amount as well as the duration of exposure to chemicals may also have an influence on the body's response to a specific toxin. Compared to small doses of exposure for a brief period, large and prolonged exposure to chemicals may prove to be additionally toxic and affect an individual immediately. In addition, the effectiveness of one's detoxification mechanism, sensitiveness of his/ her tissues to any particular chemical as well as the competence of the body's excretion systems also has a direct effect on the harmfulness of a chemical.
Our body deals with or detoxifies various harmful substances, such as cholesterol, vitamins, hormones and fatty acids, which are formed by the body itself much in the same manner as it decontaminates xenobiotics. Despite the fact that all such substances comprise natural substances as well as metabolic end products, they (internal toxins) turn out to be deadly if they are permitted to accumulate inside our body. Our body makes use of the same detoxification means to decontaminate and get rid of the internal toxics that it uses to detoxify xenobiotics.
Apart from chemicals, there are several other types of toxins, such as weather, noise, altitude, emotional trauma, geopathic stress, radiation, electromagnetic fields, loss of faith and spiritually as well as cumulative experiences of one's life. A variety of mechanisms, subject to the nature of the toxin, are employed to get rid of such non-chemical toxins from the body. Some of these non-chemical toxins are eliminated by means of mechanisms present in the body itself, while external techniques and processes are used to get rid of the others. For instance, techniques required to detoxify the mind and the spirit toxins are very much different from the techniques need to eliminate the chemical toxins.
- Importance of detoxification
- Early methods of detoxification
- Phases of detoxification
- Minor routes of detoxification and excretion
- Organs of protection and detoxification, the liver, the kidneys, the gastrointestinal tract, the skin, the lungs
- Organ cleansing, liver, colon, kidney, lungs, skin, lymph, blood
- Detoxification baths
- Detoxification saunas
- Detoxification diet & juicing
- Detoxification fasting
- Detoxification exercises
- Detoxification herbs
- Detoxification nutrients
- Topical detoxification
- Detoxification methods for kids
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