Environmental Toxins, Obesity and Diabetes

When it comes to treating obesity, most doctors and dietitians focus on the amount of calories taken in versus the amount of calories burned. The treatment of diabetes is focused on dietary changes and prescription medications. But, sometimes neither works. Why?

According to research and evidence, there is a link to environmental toxins and obesity and diabetes, which means a person could be following all of their dietary and prescription medication protocols and still have obesity and diabetes.

There are many proposed mechanisms on how this occurs, which includes:

  • increased inflammation
  • interference with blood sugar and cholesterol metabolism
  • increased insulin resistance
  • oxidative stress
  • mitochondrial injury
  • disruption of endocrine signaling pathways

Our environment, and as a result our food, is contaminated with thousands of chemicals reaching dangerous levels that our body cannot handle. If a person is toxic, they can become obese and diabetic independent of diet and exercise.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) did a study on the industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides found in umbilical cord blood and their results were astonishing. They found that on average 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants were found in umbilical cord blood coming from pesticides, consumer product ingredients and wastes from burning coal, gasoline and garbage. During the most critical time of system development, we are being exposed to extremely dangerous chemicals.

Human exposure to environmental toxins damages many of the body’s natural weight-control mechanisms, and their effects may not be apparent until much later in life. From the beginning of our life we are exposed to damaging chemicals that push our body toward obesity and diabetes.

What can we do to reduce the toxin burden on our body? Remove toxins from your body and environment and enhance your detoxification systems through diet, herbs and supplements. Follow these tips:

  • Eat as much organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, sustainable and clean food as possible. Avoid conventionally grown produce with the highest toxin load. Use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ and Clean 15™ lists to know what to buy and what to avoid. Organic produce is higher in powerful phytochemicals that act as antioxidants, detoxifiers and protectors against inflammation. Buy meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from animals that are raised without hormones, routine administration of antibiotics or pesticides. Choose pasture-raised, grass-fed and free-range. Use the Natural Resources Defense Council’s wallet card when choosing fish. Avoid heavily contaminated fish and limit consumption of fish with low mercury levels.
  • Increase consumption of cruciferous vegetables (kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, arugula, radish, mustard greens and turnips), green tea, dandelion, beets and sulfur-containing foods (eggs, garlic and onions). These foods support detoxification and help cleanse the body of toxins.
  • Drink clean water. Aim for 4 to 8 cups of water per day and avoid water from plastic bottles.  Plastic leaches chemicals into food and beverages. Drink filtered water and carry it in a glass or stainless steel container.
  • Milk thistle is a powerful liver cleanser and detoxifier. Incorporate ground milk thistle into your diet or buy it in supplemental form.
  • Look for non-toxic household products, cosmetics and sunscreens. Mainstream consumer products are full of dangerous chemicals. Use to help guide your purchases.

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Elizabeth Blessing

Elizabeth Blessing is co-founder and chief nutritionist of Green BEAN Delivery. Originally from Noblesville, Ind., Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Indiana University and a Master of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. After graduating from Bastyr, she worked as a nutrition educator for Washington State University King County Extension’s Food $ense Program. While at Food $ense, she co-authored nutrition education curriculum. Now Elizabeth is the on-site Nutritionist and a Food Service instructor at The Chef’s Academy, the Indiana Business College’s culinary school. Get her nutrition tips and recipes each week on the Healthy Times blog.
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