10 Inflammatory Chemicals You Need to Quit
9 minute read
Food allergies and environmental toxins could be taking more of a toll on your body than you realize. For those who suffer from food allergies, they are very real but there are a lot of skeptics too. The problem with denying they exist is that you could be suffering and not even realize it.
Just because you don't go into anaphylactic shock does not mean you are not sensitive to certain foods. Numerous people have food allergens and their guts are taking the hit.
Food Allergens and Inflammation
Foods can cause you to have an immune reaction; if continued, a hyper immune-inflammatory response can occur. It is this hyperstimulation of the immune system that demonstrates the link between food allergens and autoimmune inflammatory conditions.
There are a number of reasons why our bodies react to certain foods as foreign and therefore initiate the attack.
1. Much of the food we buy today is genetically engineered so is no longer recognized as part of a natural diet, which means they are foreign and marked for attack.
2. Pesticide residue may be attached to food particles and the food carrying them into the body is marked as a threat.
3. Poor food preparation keeps some compounds in foods in a non-digestible state or anti-nutrient form, which irritates the intestines and prompts an immune reaction.
4. Sometimes we are too clean with all of our hand sanitizers and anti-microbial sprays.
5. Overuse of these items limits our exposure to bacteria and viruses. Our immune system actually needs exposure to this in order to become strong.
6. Genetics can also play a part because allergens do run in families. Specifically it is the overstimulation of the IgE immune response that is genetically controlled.
Autoimmune diseases are basically out of control of immune responses. The response is triggered and a constant inflammatory cycle begins. Allergens cause the response and their continued presence keeps it going.
This eventually causes the immune system to become hypersensitive to the allergen and the immune system starts to attack particles it normally would not have, such as our own tissues.
The Different Food Allergy Responses
The reason many people do not realize they have food allergies is because they associate allergies with anaphylactic shock. What most people fail to realize is that there are a number of immune response pathways that can be activated, so their reactions get confused as something else.
IgE response Type I: The immune system immunoglobulin antibodies produce a response to food and the response is often immediate. Symptoms can be extreme like anaphylaxis or milder resembling seasonal allergies with congestion and sneezing.
IgG or IgM response Type II: Also known as a cytotoxic reaction, this pattern mimics bacterial or viral invasions. Antigens are produced to a food and the antibodies are produced in response to those antigens.
IgG or IgM response Type III: This is a stronger and more damaging cytotoxic reaction similar to type II except that the antigens attach to your cells and the antibodies released to attack the antigen and cell it is attached to. What you end up with is acute inflammation and if exposure to that allergen continued, chronic inflammation.
Chronic stress additionally alters our genes, causing the immune system to become overly reactive even when there are no stressors present. Chronic stress causes chronic inflammation, which leads to the development of more diseases.
The Most Common Food Allergens
While everybody can develop allergens to any food, there are ten culprits that are very well-known for their links to triggering the inflammatory response.
♦ Dairy Products
♦ Common cooking oils
♦ Trans Fats
♦ Feedlot-Raised Meat
♦ Red Meat and Processed Meat
♦ Refined Grains
♦ Artificial Food Additives
Environmental Toxins and Inflammation
Not only do we have to be careful what we put into our bodies in terms of food but we need to be aware of our surroundings, too. The environment contains numerous toxins and chemical products that can also trigger inflammatory responses.
1. Pesticides: Pesticides are often controlled and exposure, limited, but there is a definite link between pesticides and inflammation. Pesticides are foreign and something our bodies are not used to; therefore, once in our system, they are marked as invaders. Continuous exposure makes the reaction more severe, causing a hyper-reaction and sensitivity to other cells that also end up getting attacked.
2. Environmental hormones: Endocrine disrupters are chemicals that change our body's natural hormone production. They are present in our foods and in the environment. By mimicking hormones, an imbalance is created. These chemicals can bind to receptors to block the natural functions of our hormones.
Any hormonal imbalance leads to increased inflammatory hormones kicking off the autoimmune cycle. Always look for dairy and meat products that are free of synthetic hormones to be sure your natural balance stays in check.
3. Preservatives: Many of the chemicals in our food supply are plastics and endocrine disrupters. Other chemicals are commonly used as preservatives. You may get a longer shelf life for your food but you also get an increased risk of a disrupted immune system and inflammatory response.
4. BPA: Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to manufacture baby and water bottles, as a protective coating in plastic food containers, and as a dental material. Plasma levels in the blood are related to inflammatory markers, as well as visceral obesity and insulin resistance.
5. Phthalates: Used to make plastics harder to break, these chemicals may also be used as solvents. They are used to manufacture vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, plastic clothing, and personal care products, as well as certain children’s toys.
People are primarily exposed by eating or drinking from containers containing phthalates and they are found in measurable levels in the U.S. population. Exposure has been linked to oxidative stress and inflammatory markers.
6. Formaldehyde: Exposure to formaldehyde in homes has been linked with inflammatory responses in the airways of healthy children and adults. It is also a suspected carcinogen. The odorless chemical is used in building and insulating materials, as well as household products and is present in tobacco smoke.
7. Constant antibiotic use: Our natural gut flora benefits both our immune and digestive systems. When we overuse anti-microbial spray and soaps, take antibiotics for every ailment or they are present in the meats we eat, we run the risk of decreasing their numbers. Fewer probiotics in our system mean we are more at risk for inflammation.
8. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: This chemical compound and related chemicals allow for foaming in body washes, shampoo, and other cleaning products. This compound has been linked to oxidative stress and inflammation. It is also a possible carcinogen.
9. Water chemicals: The fluoride in our water is thought to be beneficial to dental care; however this has recently become controversial. Fluoride, in large amounts, is actually very toxic and associated with thyroid and pineal gland disease. Chlorine is another water additive that we rely on to kill bacteria and other contaminants but this, too, comes with risks. Continual low dose exposure is linked to immune inflammation and increased lung inflammation, which leads to asthma.
10. Carrageenan: This thickener is found in just about everything including almond milk, salad dressings, and granola bars. It has been directly linked to stimulating the hyper-immune responses, as well as irritating intestines and contributing to IBS.
The Bottom Line
Whether the chemicals are delivered through food or from the air around us, exposure to toxic materials causes internal disruption. While it is impossible to control your surroundings, you can be aware of what you eat and choose foods that lower your risk of chemical exposure.
Your immune system can take care of things for the most part. It is only when continual exposure to an allergen or chemical disrupts the balance that we start to see severe problems. Make a conscious effort to monitor what goes in your body to make sure you support your immune system rather than aggravate it.