Health comes down to 2 primary categories, sufficiency and purity. It’s easier to create sufficiency because you can keep adding good and necessary steps. It’s tougher to create purity because you have to remove or avoid things that you most likely love. Toxins are one of those things that are all around us and we have to be diligent to avoid.
Toxin: A substance (physical or energetic) that places a stress or challenge to the physiological systems of the body and whose net effect at a given time is inflammatory, poisonous, depleting, and/or disrupting to the harmonious functioning of a whole being.
To make it easier, I’ve created a Toxic Top Ten of things that I feel people often overlook in their health journey. Many focus on just the chemical toxins around us and get overwhelmed. Start with these not-so-obvious toxic top ten to jump start your detox. These are in no order of hierarchy.
Worry is a powerful stimulator of the fight or flight response. If someone is constantly in fight or flight, the body will move into a series of events that rips the body apart. Digestion, fertility, thyroid function, and immune function get thrown to the way side. How do you combat worry? You put things into perspective.
If I find myself worrying, I play worse case scenario of that event actually happening. I just opened up a new office and there is a bit of worry that goes with a risk like that. What is the worse case scenario if it flops? Is my or my family’s life going to be in danger? Nope. Will my or my family’s health be in jeopardy? Not likely. Could we lose our house? Maybe, but not for a year. People live in foreclosed houses for months after foreclosures and in that time, I can go delivery pizza or something to make ends meat.
I would have life, I would have shelter, and I would have health. There’s not much to worry about then is there? The worry comes from comparison of your previous situation or future anticipation. When you actually sit and take a moment to be thankful for what you have and realize, life is pretty good, worry is hard to do. You can’t worry and have gratitude at the same time. Someone in prison has all they need. It’s the comparison of what they had or could have outside that jail cell that sparks worry and discontent.
Dave Ramsey defines gossip as ‘discussing a problem with someone that can’t affect the outcome.’ If people stopped talking every time they were about to discuss a problem with someone that can’t affect the outcome, we would live in a quieter, more peaceful, and productive world. An end result would be a lot more solutions in this world.
Instead of gabbing about problems with someone that has no power, that person will take action and create change. Less gossip, more action. You don’t like the action? Instead of sitting around talking about the most recent change with someone that can’t do anything about it, go make your own change. Be the change you want to see in the world.
It’s estimated that 150 years ago, Americans spent 90% of their awake time on their feet. Today, American’s are spending 60% of our awake time on our keisters. Let’s assume you are awake for 16 hours/day. It’s likely that you’re sitting for 9.5 hours.
The Sax Institute in Australia has been surveying and following over 250,000 people over age 45. They are finding that adults that sit for over 11 hours per day have a 40% increased risk of dying in the next 3 years compared to those that sit less than 4 hours/day. Movement is life is a an understatement.
For those of us that work in an office, what’s the solution? Stand up. Many companies are allowing employees to change to a standing work station. In my office, the reception desk is a standing station. In my office, I assembled an inexpensive solution on the wall. I found a closet organizer with shelves at Lowe’s from Rubber Maid for less than $100. Now I can say that I am part of the population that sits less than 4 hours/day. I just used this, 3 of these, and the shelf with brackets at the store but doesn’t appear to be online.
Sitting deprives humans of one of the most important elements of cognitive and social development…play time.
“In the natural world, play is an essential part of any significant learning process. All intelligent animals play. The more intelligent the animal, the more it plays. Chimps, dolphins, and dogs play more than snakes, turtles and bugs. Humans are the smartest animals and play the most. When an intelligent animal is deprived of play, it will not develop into a normal adult, and will instead experience problems with learning and social behavior.” -Hargrove
Belief in What we Hear vs. Belief in What is Right
Our tendency isn’t to believe what is right. Our tendency is to believe what we hear most often. We see this all the time in the nutrition world. Every decade is seems that a superfood is now a villain and the next decade, that villain is now the superfood. Most often, our common sense can discern these reports.
The greater toxicity comes in our personal perceptions of ourselves. Let’s say you had an teacher or parent that told you that you were stupid as a kid. That person is in position of authority and you respect them so you take those words as truth. Instead of working to prove them wrong, you work to prove them right. Because you now think you’re stupid, you think studying for the exam is going to be a waste of time because you’re stupid. When the time comes to take the test, you are poorly prepared and get a failing grade, which just perpetuates the lie that you are stupid.
You were more concerned about being right and proving that the others were right by saying you’re stupid opposed to the pursuit of truth that you’re NOT stupid, that you may have had a bad day or were not prepared.
Who has spoken a lie into your life that you still hold onto today as truth? Did someone say that you are ugly, or stupid, or that you won’t amount to anything, or that you’re not worthy of being loved, or that no one likes you? This can be a toxicity that follows you for a lifetime. Recognize it’s a lie and start adding the sufficiency of positive affirmations and surrounding yourself with people that know those are lies.
It’s no mystery that sugar isn’t good for us but do you associate it with a toxin like you would with arsenic or mercury? Do you associate sugar with insulin resistance and inflammation which are pillars in breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, alzheimer’s, dementia, PCOS, ADHD, auto-immune conditions, Flu, migraines, allergies, asthma, and atherosclerosis?
Sugar may be the most readily available poison to our world. The irony of sugar is that we all know the hyperactive outbursts kids have after consuming it, yet it seems most rewards are sugar based. Kids in school get ‘treats’ for good behavior, test scores, and participation. Sugar plus sitting is a recipe for making our kids dumber yet that seems to be the prevailing model of learning in our school systems. For some reason, the solution is to throw more money at this system. It’s not the lack of resources making our kids perform poorly.
Why is isolation a toxin? Humans are pack animals, we require community. It’s no different than a zoo. Many of the ‘info’ plaques at a zoo tell a tale of the animal you are seeing as a pack animal but when you look into the cage, you see 1 or maybe 2 animals.
Humans are no different. We are animals. We have just become the largest pack of domesticated animals. We sit in cubicles or a classroom and told to stay quiet, don’t interact unless a meeting or break, and then we go home to jump right back on a computer or internet device to ironically communicate with others.
At the gym, we throw on headphones. At the playground, we watch the cell phone more than the kids. As a result, we require more vacations to isolate ourselves because we need a break from the isolation we have already created. Ironic or what?
I’m not anti-medicine. I’m anti-medicine when they bill it as healthcare. Medicine is great for emergencies. If I get mauled by a bear, rear ended in a car accident, or break an arm snowboarding, I want the drugs so I don’t feel a thing until I’m patched back up. This is a short term solution for my sanity.
The problem with medications is that they have these things called side-effects. The statements that take a 20 second spot into a full 60 second commercial. The reason a medication has side effects is because it’s toxic. There is no medication that isn’t toxic. The more meds a person is on, the more toxicity and damage that is caused for the sake of altering a single analyte in the body. Medications may lower cholesterol but at the expense of your liver, nervous system tissue, kidneys, antioxidant producing capabilities, and immune function.
The toxic load only goes up as meds are placed on top of meds. How toxic? We don’t know, they never test them in conjunction. Instead, many new symptoms are treated as a new condition instead of being recognized as side effects of the meds. It’s a vicious cycle. The best solution for decreasing your medication need is to increase your health outcomes.
Busy means ‘foolishly active.’ A toddler is busy and that’s ok. When adults are busy, they are wasting time. Of all the resources we have in this world, time is the one thing we can’t increase. We all have only 24 hours each day and we are constantly trying to put more in those hours than we have time.
Most of those activities contribute nothing to our life and family purpose. In fact, those busy activities take priority over what is really important and you don’t get done what needs to get done. As a result, you worry more, become glued to your phone to check your busyness, need a sugary caffeinated beverage to keep going, and end up sitting in the doc’s office for drugs because you just can’t figure out why you are so fatigued, lethargic, and have low sex drive. Maybe it’s your thyroid?
Busyness is much like credit card debt. You spend more time than you can manage and when something important comes up, you’re spent and can’t be helpful to others. You have nothing in your emergency time fund.
The next time someone asks you how you have been doing, carefully use the word busy. If you have been goofing off, then use busy. If you were getting stuff done, use productive. Break busy before busy breaks you.
Entitlement is the belief that you are inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. Unfortunately the younger millennial generation gets pigeon holed as the entitled generation but it’s every generation. They are only learning from the previous generations.
We have created an entitlement nation with regards to healthcare and insurance. There’s 2 problems. One is that healthcare does not produce health. If drugs and surgery produced health, we would have the absolute best health outcomes of any nation on the planet. This is not the case.
The other problem is that health is never owned, it’s only rented, and the rent is due every day. Having a plastic card in your wallet or government program doesn’t make you healthy. It only gives you access to a system that has proven ineffective at producing health for the masses. The more people have this entitled thought pattern, the more we as a nation will go into debt and get sicker. I don’t know how far you have to be in debt to declare bankruptcy but I would think we’re close as a nation. Yet, the government feels entitled to keep spending.
The moment we can step back and stop asking “who is paying for this,” and start asking, “what are we paying for?”then we will shift away from entitlement to responsibility.
Apathy is a lack of concern. A lack of concern could be because you’re just not aware of something. Today, with the abundant access to any and all information, you probably can’t declare ‘I wasn’t aware.’ The apathy I’m talking about is knowing what you should do yet not doing it. Some would say this is a lack of integrity but I call it apathy.
I know we all have our passion for a certain cause or injustice. What gets me fired up is an apathetic attitude towards health. There’s not a moment in life that your level of health affects you or those around you. There’s also not a moment in life that the level of health of those around you affects that person or you yourself.
Many times this toxin is compounded by other toxins, especially busyness. “I was too busy to be productive, and therefore I didn’t have time to take care of myself. I know I should do something but in all reality, I don’t care.” That is my translation of what most people tell me of why they should do this but instead do that.
Honestly, this apathy can stem from a compound of the other toxins. If they have been told they couldn’t do something and believed it, it will be harder to change until that lie is broken. The apathy may be a symptom of another toxic cause.
What about all the other toxic substances in our world?
It’s true, there are hundreds of thousands of chemical toxins in our life that we can’t see, hear, feel, touch, or taste. They can range from pesticides, GMO’s, electronics, flame retardants, tap water, heavy metals, ionization, and the list continues. We live in a toxic world and no matter the type of toxin, it will trigger the 5 pillars of chronic illness.
Why I listed the not-so-obvious top ten toxins is because you have more control over those ten because it starts with you. Your actions are a direct indication of what you believe and most of the toxins I listed have something to do with your beliefs. When you change beliefs you change behaviors long term. Your situation may suck but you can control how you react to that situation.
Make a realistic goal of working on 1 of the toxins each month for the next 10-12 months. Start with the easiest ones first and build up the purity snowball. Start with tackling worry by writing down gratitude statements each day. Have fun with it and feel free to share this post.
Great perspective and insight. I find myself guilty of many on this list which has impacted my overall health and wellbeing in small increments that build up year by year. Good article, Dr. Kurt!
I think the more you can recognize these emotions and not just stress but as actual poisons, it’s easier to combat. The greatest and easiest way to combat is through gratitude, whether verbally or even keeping a gratitude journal. Thanks for the encouragement.