What are Neurotoxins?
The nervous system is arguably the most vital system in the human body. The Central Nervous System (CNS) consists of the brain, the most complex organ in the body, and spinal cord. It’s essentially the body’s control system – responsible for processing and analyzing information received from our senses, and controlling body functions. There’s also the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS), which is made up of all nerves and nerve tissue that aren’t part of the CNS. These are the vehicles that transport information from other parts of the body to the brain.
The nervous system requires all of its neural pathways to be free of any blockages or disturbances in order to get information to the brain in a timely manner. When disruptions occur, especially for long periods of time, serious damage can be done. Neurotoxins are substances that have the ability to infiltrate the nervous system, wreaking havoc on the delicate electrical balance needed to maintain proper function.
Some examples of neurotoxins you may have heard of include lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and mycotoxins (toxins produced by molds). These toxins are known to cause brain inflammation, impaired brain function, and oxidative stress, which can lead to neurodevelopmental (things like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, learning and intellectual disabilities) and neurodegenerative (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease) disorders.
Other common neurotoxins include particulate matter (PM), which are complex mixtures of metals and organic and inorganic compounds that are carried in the air and can be inhaled. These have been linked to things like strokes, depression, and autoimmune disorders.
Overwhelm & Overtake
With environmental toxins as common as they are now, it’s important to understand where they come from in order to figure out how to avoid them. Neurotoxins can be found in things like herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, water, plastics, paints, leather, and much more, so being aware of what’s going into your body is a crucial part of keeping your nervous system healthy.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid ingesting and absorbing all neurotoxins, especially with a good majority of our food, water and other common household items containing some amount of them. Because of this, more Americans are experiencing the negative symptoms of toxin overload than ever before – but how exactly does toxin overload happen?
The human body is equipped with its own detoxification system, which follows a process to naturally expel any toxins that find their way in. However, this process requires a lot of support from proper nutrition, hydration, and exercise, which is something most people don’t get. This eventually leads to what’s commonly known as toxin overload. In this state, toxins are left stuck or stored in different places, leading to issues like cell and tissue damage, inflammation, brain fog, and other symptoms.
When this happens, the protective sheath around the CNS, known as the blood-brain barrier (BBB), can become compromised or dysregulated. The purpose of the BBB is similar to that of the skin, to maintain balance by regulating what goes in and out of it. If it can’t keep the neurotoxins out, they’ll start to disrupt the nervous system’s electrical balance and cause damage to neurons and nerve tissue.
Symptoms of a Neurotoxin Takeover
Like we mentioned earlier, neurotoxins can have detrimental effects on the brain and nervous system. Once they start damaging the nervous system’s key players is when most people start to notice unpleasant changes. Here are some symptoms that may indicate toxin overload in the nervous system:
- brain fog
- mood swings
- fatigue & trouble sleeping
- memory loss
- depression & anxiousness
- sensory processing disorders (SPD)
- autoimmune diseases
- motor & speech disorders
- emotional disorders
Neurotoxins have been linked to issues like Alzheimer’s disease, autism, ADHD, multiple sclerosis, and many other neurodegenerative diseases. They’re known to cause brain inflammation and oxidative stress, which are the root causes of many other disorders and diseases.
How To Fight Back
So what should you do about it? Luckily, there are many ways you can lower your contact with neurotoxins. Let’s go over a few of them.
Source Organic or Local
One of the best ways to skip the chemicals in your food is by eating USDA certified organic or locally grown produce. You can find organic options in most grocery stores, and locally grown options at your local farmers market. Farmers markets are great because you can speak directly with the person growing the food you’re buying, and ask them any questions you might have!
Invest in a Water Filter
Water filters can be lifesavers when it comes to getting chemicals and heavy metals out of your drinking water. Most people are downing water all day long, so this is arguably one of the most important decisions you can make to decrease your body’s toxin load. But it’s important to remember: not all filters are created equal. Make sure to do your research when deciding which one to buy, and make sure it’s effective at filtering out all the chemicals and heavy metals.
Avoid Plastic When Possible
This is a difficult one, but avoiding plastic is another great way to decrease the toxins in your body. Plastic is known to be full of toxic chemicals and endocrine disruptors, which can leach into your foods and beverages. Replacing your plastic tupperware with glass, wrapping your food and containers with beeswax, and putting your water in glass or stainless steel cups can be helpful alternatives.
Another tip is to make sure you’re not placing hot food in plastic containers. Wait for it to cool down before transferring it, or use glass or paper containers to reheat food. This will keep the plastic particles from seeping into your dinner!
Get a Quality Air Filter
Air pollution is one of the biggest ways that most of us come into contact with toxins. Particulate matter are compounds that carry bits of chemicals, organic, and inorganic compounds that are easily inhaled and absorbed by the body. The EPA states that indoor air quality is anywhere from 2 to 5 times worse than outdoor air quality due to the buildup of chemicals and pollutants from household cleaners, soaps and detergents, central air and heating, and poor indoor-outdoor ventilation.
A quality air filter can help with this by pulling the toxins from the air, leaving it fresh and clean. There are different options depending on what size home you live in and how much space you’re trying to filter. This can help boost your immune system and relieve allergy symptoms you may be experiencing due to toxic air.
Supporting Your Natural Detoxification Process
You can also reduce symptoms of neurotoxin overload by assisting the body with its natural detoxification process. Understanding how this process works and making a well-thought out plan to ‘detox’ can bring relief to any symptoms caused by toxin overload. If you’d like to learn more about how to do this, you can read our article on it here!
To Sum It All Up
Understanding the threat that neurotoxins pose to our brain health is essential for knowing how to keep our bodies in good health. With neurotoxins infiltrating the food we eat, water we drink, and air we breathe, we must take steps to lighten the load.
Brain fog, fatigue, emotional instability, and other symptoms can have a major effect on our quality of life, and lead to more serious issues down the road. Nuerodegeneration and developmental disorders are becoming more and more common every year, so it’s important to stay vigilant about what goes into our bodies.
By being proactive and taking steps to ensure your toxin load is low, you can greatly improve your overall health and wellness.