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The Toxicity of Microplastics: How They Infiltrate Your Body and How to Eliminate Them

Podcast cover art for: The Toxicity of Microplastics: From Infiltration to Elimination

Season 2 of the Science of Self-Healing Podcast has a NEW host! Please welcome Dr. James Odell, the Medical and Executive Director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years.

Join Dr. James Odell as he explores the world of microplastics and their impact on our health. In this informative and eye-opening podcast, Dr. Odell delves into the various pathways through which microplastics infiltrate our bodies, shedding light on the alarming consequences of their presence.

Discover practical strategies to shield yourself from this plastic invasion as Dr. Odell guides you through ways to minimize your toxic exposure. Learn how simple changes in your life can make a significant difference in reducing your microplastic burden. Additionally, we'll explore the world of supplements and how they can assist your liver in detoxifying your body from this pervasive pollution.

Come along as we unravel the microplastic mystery, and become empowered to take control of your health!

Transcription for The Toxicity of Microplastics: How They Infiltrate Your Body and How to Minimize Them

Dr. James Odell: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Science of Self-Healing podcast. For health and wellness knowledge from a different perspective. Produced by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI.

We are your source for unparalleled information about how you can naturally support your body's ability to regulate, adapt, regenerate, and self-heal.

I'm your host, Dr. James Odell, the medical and executive director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years.

And remember, this podcast is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the direct care of a qualified health professional who oversees and provides unique and individual care. The information here is to broaden our different perspectives and should not be construed as medical advice or treatment. Let's get started.

In this episode, I will present information on the topic - the very interesting topic - of microplastics - how they enter the body, cause harm, and potential ways to avoid them and even assist the body to eliminate them.

In the environment, plastic waste is subject to biotic and abiotic degradation. Biotic degradation is performed by microbes. So in the body, the microbes in our intestinal tract help to break down toxins. Outside, it's other kinds of microbes that break down the plastic abiotic degradation is usually due to UV exposure, weathering and the result of winds and waves and things like that.

These processes lead to the formation of smaller plastic fragments which are considered microplastics. So, microplastics can be defined as particles less than 5 mm in length.

Microplastics have infiltrated every part of the planet. They've been found buried in Arctic sea ice, within the guts of marine animals, inhabiting even the deepest ocean trenches and in drinking water around the world. Plastic pollution has been found on beaches of remote uninhabited islands and it even shows up in seawater samples across the planet. But they're not only ubiquitous in water, they are also spread widely in soils on land too, and often end up in the food we eat.

Unwittingly, we may be consuming tiny fragments of plastic with almost every bite we take. Bioaccumulative microplastics are also in the air and we absorb them through our lungs and skin, so it's pretty hard to avoid them. So microplastics are everywhere and so tiny we can't see them.

The University of Newcastle study found that an average person consumes about 2000 tiny pieces of plastic each week, or about 5 grams, which equates to the weight of an average credit card each week.

Plastics don't break down or biodegrade. Instead it breaks down into smaller pieces of itself, down to the nanometer scale, 1,000,000,000th of a meter. Science knows that particles of this size can migrate through intestinal walls, membranes and travel to lymph nodes, glands and bodily organs. They often end up in the extracellular matrix that's the space between the cells, which is sort of the depository for a lot of different types of toxins.

Plastic is toxic and it has been proven to cause cancer. Plastic toxicity weakens the immune system and alters metabolism and the endocrine system. The toxicity of microplastics depends on many aspects, including the type of plastic, the particle size, its concentration, and exposure duration of the microplastics. Well, we've all had long term exposure duration of microplastics.

So microplastics are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic our own hormones. They bind hormone receptors and disrupt the body's normal hormonal actions. They can have a powerful response, often more powerful than a natural response. In some cases, they can even have a completely different response than its natural counterpart would have had created.

Endocrine disruptors are typically measured in parts per million, which is indicative of the fact that even very small amounts can have a disturbing or disrupting effect on us. Endocrine disruptors are very stable. They often get stored in our fat cells and tend to stick around for a really long time.

Microplastics can also absorb toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases and release those chemicals into animals that consume them, like fish, aquatic creatures, and humans who eat those fish. Thus, they bind to toxins and carry them.

As a carrier. microplastics also have the potential to magnify toxicity of other contaminants in the environment, such as insecticides, fungicides, toxic metals, drugs, and other pathogenic organisms.

The danger of microplastics has really not been studied adequately. And of course, the plastic industry has no desire or intention of doing so, though there are many types of sources.

One prominent type of microplastic is called bisphenol A, or BPA. BPA is a man made industrial chemical and a key building block in polycarbonate plastic, which is used to make a wide variety of products. You find them in water, in juice bottles, food containers, CDs, DVDs, eyeglass lenses, and many, many other things. It's used in the lining of food and soda cans so as to prevent their contents from corroding the metal.

BPA also serves as a developer in thermal paper receipts. These receipts aren't printed with ink. Instead, they're coated with chemicals that react to heat and change color to create the appearance of a printed type. Fetal exposure to BPA has been associated with obesity, altered reproductive function, and cancers later in life. BPA was accidentally discovered to be carcinogenic. When medical researchers came to find out that rats were getting cancer during a study for something else, they found out it was caused by the BPA in water bottles.

Many manufacturers have stopped using BPA to harden plastics, replacing it with a BPA free alternative. Like the most common replacement is BPS or bisphenol S. And now we're supposed to believe or trust that BPS free plastics are also safe? Research has showed that even low levels of BPS has had a similar impact on embryos as BPA. In the presence of either BPA or BPS, embryonic development was accelerated. Additionally, BPA causes premature birth in research animals.

Another type is phthalates. They're a group of chemicals used to make plastic more durable. They're often called plasticizers. We always want to read labels to avoid any BPA or phthalates. So we probably can't avoid ingesting or inhaling microplastics as much as we would like. But we can limit the plastic consumption and keep our body in a more optimum state that always can help to detoxify itself.

The good news is that with the right diet and regular elimination of waste, some microplastic can be flushed out of our system. A properly working body can process and dispel a lot of toxins.

But an unhealthy body rids itself of toxins at a much slower rate than the toxins that are consumed and produced. And thus they bioaccumulate. And again, they accumulate within the extracellular matrix, which is like the depository for the toxins or the plastics, as well as within a lot of the architecture of your liver and other organs.

So, these are some ways to limit plastic contamination. The first and foremost is municipal water. We know that municipal water, city water is probably one of the most common sources of microplastic. This tap water also contains hundreds of other chemicals, often including the neurotoxin fluoride, which has been shown to reduce IQ, particularly in children. So, it is best, of course, to filter water, not just to drink it straight out of the tap or choose a quality bottled water.

Which brings us to the topic of bottled waters, which is a very complicated topic actually. Most bottled water is sold in plastic. Number 1, it's also known as polyethylene tetraphylate or PET. Research shows that PET may be an endocrine disruptor altering our hormonal system. Although this type of plastic is BPA free, phthalates in bottles can still seep into your water, especially when exposed to high temperatures or stored for extended periods of time. So if you put your bottled water in a hot car for a while, then this can seep into the water. So BPA has been linked to multiple adverse health effects, including fertility issues, altered brain development, cancer and heart complications. Bottled water from either municipal sources or it can be from spring or artesian wells. So of course, it's best from spring or artesian wells and not coming from municipal sources, which is dead water. And remember that bottled water in glass is safer than in plastic.

So these are my picks for the most superior bottled waters.

My personal choice in what I use at my office is Mountain Valley Water. It has a PH of 7.3. It comes from Arkansas, and it comes from an aquifer deep in the ground that is filtered through a granite type of material. And in doing so, it picks up the calcium and magnesium and potassium before being bottled at the source. I get it delivered in five gallon glass containers or five gallon bottles.

Next is Fiji Water. Now, Fiji has a PH of about 7.7. It also comes as a BPA free plastic. So it doesn't come in glass bottles. It instead comes in these BPA free plastic bottles. But it is sourced from an ancient artesian aquifer that comes from dormant volcanoes and its purity is really beyond. It's a very pure artesian well water. It also like the Arkansas Mountain Valley water contains different types of electrolytes like calcium and magnesium, which enhances its flavor.

There is another one that comes from Italy. It's called Aquapanna and it has an even higher PH than the higher the PH, the better here. And it again comes from Italy. It's also very pure and it does come in glass bottles that are recyclable as well as the BPA free plastic bottles. Nestle has recently acquired Aquapanna P-A-N-N-A as they're acquiring a lot of different water companies.

Another one that's worth mentioning is Voss V-O-S-S. It has a PH that's rather low. It's 5.5 to six and it's bottled also in glass. And it's from an artesian well deep in the wilderness of southern Norway. But it's a very pristine water. My only concern about it is it does have a low PH and it is quite expensive.

Another one with a higher PH is Icelandic Glacial. It comes in glass and it's filtered for like 5000 years through layers of lava rock. It's collected at the source from Iceland, from the Ölfus Spring in Iceland. The bottles are made from BPA free plastic or glass so you can get Icelandic Glacial in glass.

Now, there are other types of water. Many of them come from, unfortunately, municipal sources, though they will say that they are filtered. But from what I've researched and seen, those that come from municipal sources, this is dead water. It doesn't have any life. It needs to come from the Earth, which gives it a charge or a frequency, a vibratory frequency. So I consider many of these municipal waters even though that they've been filtered rather inferior to natural sourced waters, to artesian well or spring waters.

Some of the ones that you might want to stay away from are the Nestle Pure Life, that's of questionable quality, as well as the Coca Cola Dasana. Dasana has a PH of only 4.7 and it also comes from municipal water.

Also PepsiCola makes Aquafina, which has a low PH of 5.9. And it also comes from municipal water that's been purified.

So generally you're trying to purchase water that comes from the Earth, like a springer and artesian well as well as have a PH of greater than seven because we want to keep the body alkaline. And the body is composed of about 75% water. So it only makes sense that we want water that is alkaline and also water that comes from or is bottled in glass. Unfortunately, there's a lot of privatization of water that's happening now. So our sources are becoming more and more limited and it's becoming more pricey all the time.

Other than choosing a water that is very pure and hopefully free from microplastics other ways that we can eliminate plastic in our environment is from our home.

It makes good sense to really keep your air in your home filtered. So if you can get an air purifier or air filtration system then that's going to help to cut down on the microplastics and toxins that are in the air. It's really worth also vacuuming and dusting a lot.

One of the main areas of the home that is a source of microplastic consumption is your kitchen. So you want to transform your kitchen space. These are some things you can try.

First off, don't use plasticware - tupperware, bakeware and plates made of plastic. They release chemicals and microplastics into your food.

So the second source is also dishwashing items. Studies reveal that plastic sponges and brushes also release significant amounts of microplastic that stick to your tableware and later can be consumed. So you should choose natural kitchen brushes that are made from like loofah sponges. These are a perfect alternative without adding any plastic into your diet.

It's also a good idea to read labels of personal care products like shampoos, soaps, moisturizers and makeup, making sure they are paraben and PBA free.

Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages or coffee and soda refills.

Avoiding canned foods manufacturers that use BPA in the lining to avoid the metal contamination. You should find most canned products also in glass instead, which is really of course much safer. If there's no glass option, check the product label and try to avoid producers that are known to use the BPA in their linings.

I've mentioned that certain receipts are also high in BPA, so you want to avoid the BPA receipts. Some receipts even contain as much as 250 to 1000 times the amount of BPA typically found in a can of food. And if that isn't scary enough, BPA transfers readily from the receipt to the skin and it's difficult to wash off. Different types of receipts contain varying levels of BPA. One of the ones that I know of that contains a lot of it is usually the gasoline receipts.

Next is the saddest part of it. Some seafood also is known to be exposed to microplastic than others, particularly like mollusks like clams, mussels, oysters and scallops for example, have the highest level of microplastic recorded.

Of course, fish too or fish not only have microplastic, but a lot of the bigger fish are of course contaminated with mercury and other types of metals and toxins from the sea. So taking the fresh meat or fish from the counter instead of prepackaged can also limit your exposure. In other words, packaged meats in plastic are something to avoid. You really want to, if you can, find it plastic free, not in already wrapped up.

In addition to avoiding contaminated foods, you should also try to limit the exposure of your groceries to plastic packaging and bags.

So when you walk into a grocery store, you should have your own bag and put your vegetables and fruits and things like that in your bag and not in those little plastic bags that you get at the grocery store. So you try to keep a reusable bag nearby, and when you go to the store, just pick it up and take it with you or keep it in your car. Even better.

Also, you want to avoid styrofoam. I don't know why they still use styrofoam, but it's a very toxic product.

Use matches or invest in a refillable metal lighter in avoiding the plastic disposable lighters. They actually release plastic particles. And so if you're lighting up a cigarette or something else with that type of lighter, then you could be contaminated with plastics.

Using cloth diapers. Disposable diapers are extremely toxic to the environment and the baby.

Avoiding cheap supplements. Many contain fillers and questionable additives, and so you want to really buy quality supplements anyway.

So these are just a few ways that you could potentially try to avoid toxins. But what can we do about actually helping the body detoxify?

If you research this, there's not a lot of information about that. So we could only assume that plastics can be broken down to teeny tiny particles in the body and hopefully eliminated much like other types of toxins. The liver is an incredible organ for detoxification, as well as just most of it probably comes into your mouth and goes out with your waste, but some of it really gets stuck inside the body and we have to think about what other kinds of ways that we can potentially help the body detox.

The first off is to stay hydrated. So it's important to keep your body hydrated well so that it could flush out any kind of toxins, particularly these plastics.

I mentioned the liver is one of the main organs of detoxification. It enzymatically breaks down different types of endogenous and exogenous toxins, and then it conjugates these with some kind of substrate like sulfur or glutathione or glucuronic acid. There seems to be some information out there saying that the glucuronic acid conjugation, or also called glucuronidation, may help to improve the elimination of plastics. So what happens is you enzymatically break toxins down and then you bind it to glucuronic acid, and then that's released into the bile, the bile into the small intestine, and then it's on its way out of the system. So anything to improve glucuronidation can be helpful.

One of the simplest ways is to, with the supplement calcium D-glucarate.

Another thing that you could try is with foods having two or more servings of cruciferous vegetables a day. This helps to rev up the detoxification of toxins in general. This includes, like cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radishes, watercress, arugula, turnips, collard greens, kale, rutabaga, and there's others.

Garlic, too, is a known detoxifier. It contains sulfur, which can also activate the liver and the sulfation process in the liver.

Ginger and turmeric are also known to have positive effects on digestion and are antiinflammatory.

Green tea contains polyphenols. They're known to be antiinflammatory and have antioxidant properties. The problem with tea is some tea bags actually contain plastics, so you might want to research that or either just use loose leaf tea.

Different types of berries are also rich in antioxidants and different types of healthy vitamins.

And a fiber rich diet like you could add chia seeds or flaxseeds to help the bowel movement and support digestion.

Lastly, but not leastly is a sauna. Far-infrared saunas are an excellent way of eliminating toxins from the body, and there's a chance that this can also help to eliminate microplastics.

Well, I hope this helps you in understanding some of the ways that you could avoid as well as eliminate microplastics from your diet, from your water, from your environment. We're inundated with different types of toxins, whether it be from the air, food, water, drugs. It just is endless. And so microplastics are another thing that we have to consider because these are really forever chemicals. They don't break down like many other kinds of chemicals do, and they get stuck in the architecture of our body.

Well, this concludes this BRMi podcast. I invite you to tune in again in two weeks for another episode. Thank you and be well.

Thank you for your time today. And remember that this podcast is made possible by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMi, a nonprofit, global, non political, non commercial institute to promote the science and art of bioregulatory medicine. We extend our gratitude to each and every one of you for listening today. And if you haven't already, make sure to visit us at A treasure trove of invaluable information awaits you there. Connect with us across various social media platforms as well. Come and become a member of our thriving tribe. If you've enjoyed today's episode, we invite you to show your support by rating us, leaving us a review, or sharing the podcast within your circle. Our podcast and mission flourish through sharing, and your participation means the world to us.

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In just two weeks, we'll be back delving into another captivating topic. Until then, we thank you once again for listening. May wellness and wisdom be your path. Be well.


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