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The Impact of Excess Toxicity on Our Gut Health

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

We are exposed to a large variety of toxins on a daily basis

Did you know that we come across countless toxic chemicals on a daily basis? We have toxins in the water we drink, the food we eat, and the environment we live in. If you suffer from fatigue, mood swings, brain fog, or an autoimmune condition, the cause for all of these could be increased exposure to toxins.

Let's take a closer look at the toxic substances we encounter every day, and examine the effects of toxicity on the digestive system and on our general health.

Most of us don’t really stop to think about what contains the water we drink, the soil our food grows in, the air we breathe and the cosmetics and toiletries we use! Most of us don't think about the impact of excess toxicity on our gut health. Unfortunately, there is no good news there. We are exposed to a large variety of poisons, pesticides, and glyphosates on a daily basis and this has a devastating effect on our bacteria in the body especially in the digestive system.

How does excess toxicity effect our health?

Excessive toxicity is among the leading causes of a constant increase in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Why do so many people suffer from hormonal problems, decreased fertility, diseases such as Hashimoto's (autoimmune thyroid disease), psoriasis, and allergies? As a Naturopath I encounter these situations almost every day.

Excess toxicity also has a profound effect on the composition of the bacteria in our gut. Diseases and digestive disorders such as Irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut (intestine permeability), Sibo, liver diseases Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis can erupt as a result of contamination found in the air, water, or food we eat.

Toxicity creates a vicious cycle because all these digestive disorders increase intestinal permeability even more and allow toxins and harmful bacteria to enter the blood and the lymph system and trigger an autoimmune response, which may progress to an autoimmune disease.

Types of toxins in our food

One of the things I am really concerned about is the food additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, flavoring, fragrancing and coloring that are added to many foods and the effect they have on our health.

It is no longer a secret that these substances significantly disrupt the composition of our intestinal bacteria. It does not make sense to me that certain foods would sit on the shelf for a year or more, and still be edible!

There is a natural life cycle of food. Natural food at some point gets broken down by bacteria, in other words, rots. The decay returns this food back to the soil. When we prevent this process from happening, by adding preservatives, we actually harm the natural food cycle. If preservatives keep bacteria away from food, think about what they do to our friendly bacteria in the body once we consume them. Mass extermination!

Artificial sweeteners and various food colors (which by the way are found in many sweets, candies, and lollipops) are also very harmful to our health. Some are known to dramatically alter the gut microbiome and put us at risk for serious infections.


Pesticides are chemical substances used to control, repel or kill pests that pose a threat to crops, livestock, humans or the environment. They are designed to kill insects, weeds, fungi, bacteria, rodents and other organisms that damage or interfere with agricultural production, public health or natural ecosystems. The problem is, that they also have a devastating effect on our microbiome and may disrupt many systems in the body.

 So what can be done about the pesticides? The best way to avoid consuming them is to try and eat as much organic food as possible. The foods that most tend to absorb pesticides are mainly leafy vegetables and green herbs such as lettuce, baby leaves, parsley, cilantro, spinach, celery, and cucumber, as well as vegetables that grow in the soil such as potato, sweet potato, butternut squash and carrot.

The foods that are least exposed to pesticides are fruits and vegetables which have a protective peel, such as papaya, mango, pineapple, avocado, melon, etc.

If you don't have access to organic fruits and vegetables, you can remove a good amount of the pesticides from the green leaves by soaking them for about 10 minutes in a bowl with cold water and a tablespoon of baking soda.

What can be done to reduce toxicity?

Try to be mindful about the food that you bring home. It is important to read the label on the products and check for any harmful ingredients. Aim for simple, natural foods, with as few additions and ingredients as possible. It is better to buy a small amount of fresh foods each time than a large amount of processed foods that have a 25+ years shelf life. Replace colorful and artificial foods with natural products based on fruits and vegetables, or simply just eat fresh fruits and veg!

Detoxification of the body

The amount of toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis is quite scary. We may not be able to completely avoid exposure, but that doesn't mean we have to suffer from toxicity and related health problems. Our body is designed to continuously filter out dangerous substances. Water-soluble toxins are filtered through the kidneys, while water-insoluble toxins must be metabolized to an inactive form in the liver in order to be excreted from the body through the digestive system. However, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut also produces excess toxins that must be filtered by the liver. This means that the liver must simultaneously metabolize all the toxins that enter our body from outside (food, water, skin products, cleaning products, etc) and the toxins created by our gut bacteria. When the toxic overload is greater than what our liver can handle, toxins accumulate in the body and affect every aspect of our health.

There are four detoxification pathways in the body that are crucial for proper and efficient daily detoxification:

  • Breathing - taking deep breaths through the nose and exhaling through the mouth helps the detoxification process. The best ways to work on our breathing are through physical activity and breathing techniques such as meditation, yoga, and diaphragmatic breathing. The latter activates the diaphragm and allows our stomach to expand and contract, thereby letting more air in.

  • Urine - Our body eliminates waste through the kidneys and the bladder. It is important to drink a lot of clean and filtered water in order to support this detoxification pathway. My advice is to use a reverse osmosis type filter, that allows you to clean the water from various pollutants as well as from heavy metals and toxins.

  • Feces - this is the pathway through which the intestine drains the waste from the body. Normal intestinal motility and regular and daily bowel movements (preferably 2-3 a day shortly after meals) are critical to support the detoxification process and avoid constipation, which could cause the reabsorption of toxins back into the body.

  • Sweat - Sweat is the drainage of toxins through the lymphatic system. The most effective way to encourage sweating is (surprise, surprise!) by physical activity. There are other ways that can stimulate the lymph fluid to remove toxins from the body, such as rubbing the skin in the shower with a rough sponge, regular visits to the sauna, or jumping on a trampoline.

Detoxification with nutrition

It is clear that introducing fewer toxins into our system will help to ease the load of toxins in the body. Try to minimize the consumption of drinks that may impair the body's ability to clear toxins, such as alcohol, sugary drinks, and caffeine.

Consume a large amount of natural food such as fruits, vegetables, and herbs, which cleanse our body and support the good bacteria in the gut.

Try to combine more of the following foods in your diet:

  • Sulfuric vegetables such as garlic, onion, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Sulfur is the "cleanser" that our liver uses to clean out toxins.

  • Green leaves (preferably organic).

  • Foods that are rich in vitamin A such as pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato and squash.

  • Beetroot - strengthens the liver and improves its function.

  • Foods rich in vitamin C such as guava, kiwi, broccoli, peppers, citrus fruits, and berries.

  • Foods that are rich in vitamin E, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.

Sleep - a powerful tool for detoxification

The liver is an organ that works all the time, especially when we sleep! Therefore, sufficient sleep is critical to support the body's detoxification processes.

Dietary supplements that promote detoxification

As a Naturopath, I can't help but mention nutritional supplements that can be incredibly helpful in reducing the load of toxins in the body.

Here is an example of some supplements (including links to my favourite products) that can help encourage detoxification processes in the body:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid- A very strong antioxidant that supports the liver and helps it remove toxins.

  • N-Acetylcysteine ​​(NAC)- This is an extra important amino acid that ​​supports the production of glutathione in the liver, which is an extremely important antioxidant and critical in the process of detoxification.

  • Milk thistle- One of the leading medical herbs for detoxifying the body. Its active ingredient, Silymarin, actually works together with alpha-lipoic acid and NAC ​​to help create and maintain higher levels of glutathione.

  • Selenium- a powerful antioxidant mineral that has anti-inflammatory properties and helps the body use glutathione for detoxification.

In conclusion

Escaping to a toxin-free deserted island probably is not an option for us, but if we do the maximum possible to reduce our exposure to toxic and harmful substances, and make sure that our body's four detoxification pathways function properly, we can reduce and even prevent the health damage caused by high toxicity.

A diet rich in processed food, industrial fats, and various toxins such as preservatives, artificial flavorings, and food color additives are harmful to the bacteria population inside our body. When our internal environment is loaded with toxins, it encourages the overgrowth of harmful microorganisms inside the body and the development of many health diseases such as Sibo, Candida, and other infections.

The good news is that naturopathy has many tools that can help us cope better in the toxic Western world of the 21st century by optimizing the detoxification pathways in our bodies and helping us remove the toxicity from our lives.

The effect of toxicity on gut health


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