By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 5/25/2018
Posted: 6/15/2010
Topics/Keywords: #Health #NaturalHealth #Toxins Page Views: 1225
How environmental toxins are the secret cause of all our fat woes.

Am I the only one who's had this experience? I get frustrated with my weight, and I go on a diet, which works well for a few weeks and I start slimming down. But then, four or six weeks into it, when my weight loss should have me feeling light and terrific, instead I am achy and tired, and get depressed and hopeless at the very idea that I will be able to stick with the diet. So I wound up going off it…and staying off longer than I intended…until I've put all the weight I lost, back on. Then I feel progressively guiltier until the entire cycle repeats.

If this sounds familiar to you, don't be surprised. Apparently, as everyone from me to Kirstie Alley can attest, it's pretty much what happens to everyone who diets (except those imaginary models on diet food ads). The good news is, there's a doctor who has figured out the actual, underlying cause to this pattern. He's written a book about it. And I have an appointment with his office next Monday.

Dr. Walter Crinnion

One of the instructors at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) is Dr. Walter Crinnion, who is the world's premiere expert on environmental toxins. Some years ago, he began to examine the link between the toxic substances that surround us all every day, and weight gain.

In order to understand how these substances can affect us, it's first important to understand what toxins are. Dr. Crinnion expands the scientific use of the word, which is limited to poisonous substances created by living creatures, to the more intuitive meaning of any poisonous substance that can get into the body in minute amounts, unnoticed in its effects until, suddenly and seemingly unrelatedly, cancer or heart attack or obesity occur. Since the ingesting of the toxin may have occurred many years before, or imperceptibly for a long period of time, the connection isn't generally obvious and, indeed, few doctors ever make it.

Toxins aren't new. Mold is a toxin. Poisonous mushrooms contain toxins. Various bacteria emit toxins as waste products, which is why infections make us feel sick. But it's no secret that today's world contains a vast array of chemicals that are also toxic, for all that their manufacturers downplay that fact. How can we imagine that insecticides, sprayed in the house to kill cockroaches and ants, would have no effect on us? That antiseptic sprays, designed to kill germs, would have no effect on our own, structurally-identical cells? When I was little, I asked my mom, who never encountered a spray can she didn't trigger, about this and she explained that we were safe from insecticide because we were so much bigger than cockroaches. True enough. But we also live a thousand times longer, and the toxins that instantly kill a cockroach, remain in our bodies through the years, accumulating until they kill us, too.

But first, they affect our health in a variety of ways. Because, when it comes to toxins, it's not a binary matter of alive-or-dead. There is an infinite range of states between perfectly healthy and perfectly dead, and very few of us are at either extreme end of that spectrum.

Clean, Green & LeanI heartily recommend Dr. Crinnion's very readable book, Clean, Green, and Lean: Get Rid of the Toxins That Make You Fat for the details; but here's the premise in a nutshell.

First, you must understand that toxins are not like rocks. They consist of single molecules, which makes them millions of times smaller than a single cell. But they affect the workings of a cell in the same way that a rock tossed into a complex machine can prevent it from working.

Second, like almost all other substances, toxic molecules are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. The first type dissolves in fat; the second, in water. Remember how "oil and water don't mix"? That's an expression relating to this basic property.

Soaps and detergents are the exceptions to the rule. That's because they are made of long molecules; one end is attracted to water; the other to fat. That's why detergent can pull an oily stain from cloth while plain water can't.

Third, the water-soluble toxins pose no problem, because if they get into our bodies we pee them right out. But the fat-soluble toxins are another problem entirely. Our bodies, which use fat as a precious resource, have no easy way to flush out fat-soluble toxins. Moreover, the body, which recognizes these petite poisons as deadly, tries to put them somewhere that they will cause the least harm. Since they are fat-soluble, there's only one place for them: In fat.

So, the body adds to its fat reserves by encouraging adipose tissue to get jiggy on us and fill with all the fat it can hold. The toxins then move into this tissue, where they stay quietly and harmlessly for years.

And if all the toxins you were ever exposed to didn't amount to much—that is, you actually lived in the Garden of Eden—you would never get noticeably overweight and you'd stay healthy.

But if you live where there's motor traffic you breathe exhaust fumes. If you live in a town or city you drink chlorinated water. Even in the country, you probably drink water drawn through PVC pipes or, if it's a really old place, lead pipes. Then there's the insecticides in your house and on the produce you eat, growth hormones in your meat, mercury in your fish, and even room deodorizers and trash can spray sanitizers and hand sanitizers and perfumes and colognes and chlorine in your toilet paper and swimming pools and DDT molecules in the air you breathe…

Suddenly, it seems like a miracle that any one of us can survive living in this deadly soup with which we've surrounded our planet.

Well, it is a miracle: The miracle of our bodies, safely storing those toxins in body fat. But wait—this mechanism was designed for the world of our ancestors, with far fewer toxins. So what happens? We become obese, as our bodies must build up more and more fat to store these massive quantities of toxins.

But, wait: Not everyone is obese. What makes them so special?

Well, we have a tendency to think that everyone eats like we do and lives similar lifestyles. But if you ask, you'll find that thinner folk are either younger (less time to accumulate toxins) or live a less-toxic lifestyle (live in the forest, don't eat extra-toxic fast food, eat more produce and fewer products, don't use scented soaps and sanitizers, etc.).

Now, here's what happens when you diet.

It doesn't matter what diet you use—Atkins, The Zone, Grapefruit or whatever. When you take in fewer calories, your body burns stored fat to make up the difference. But when the fat disappears, the toxins it stored aren't burned with it. Instead, they are released to roam around the bloodstream, until eventually they encounter a cell and, like a rock thrown into a factory machine, get caught in the cell's machinery (called mitochondria) where they gum up its works. If this only happened to one cell, you'd never notice. But as your diet progresses, it happens to millions and, then, hundreds of millions of cells.

As it happens, the mitochondria of the cell is the mechanism that converts blood glucose (which, in a diet, largely comes from converted fat) into actual, usable energy. But each cell that is gummed up with a toxic molecule can't do its job. The result is fatigue, diabetes, loss of healing ability, aches and pains, irritability and depression. (And, at an extreme, it can also be cancer, atherosclerosis, and even more severe effects.)

Now, the body, which is very delicately and cunningly designed, knows that the toxins are loose and causing problems. So it begins to play with your mind. Just as it makes you look for something to drink when it needs water, it makes you give up on your diet when it needs a safe place to store those toxic molecules. And so the cycle concludes: You give up, gain back the fat you lost, and feel better even though you are heavier than is healthy for you.

Now, this isn't bad news. That's because, finally understanding the mechanism behind persistent obesity means it can be defeated. The trick is, simply, to induce the toxins to leave the body entirely. And Dr. Crinnion knows how. And, best of all—when the toxins are gone, the body itself releases the stored fat it no longer needs. You don't have to make an effort to diet or exercise.

As I go through this process, I'll share what I learn with you. But first, in tomorrow's post, I will use myself as an example of how a normal, relatively clean-living life can nevertheless accumulate enough toxins by middle age to result in a middle-aged spread.