The Surprising Way Toxins Can Enter Your Body

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

NOTE: If you have not yet listened to the first episode of this five part series, we highly recommend that you get back to The Toxin Solution Part 1.

In this episode, we’ll be talking about the importance of being aware of the things/products that we are using or consuming and ensure that we don’t expose ourselves to unnecessary toxics.

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Donny Osmond: Hi, I'm Donny Osmond and welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way hosted by my friends Daniel and Tana Amen. Now in this podcast, you're going to learn that the war for your health is won between your ears. That's right. If you're ready to be sharper and have better memory, mood, energy, and focus, well then stay with us.

Donny Osmond: Here are Daniel and Tana Amen.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... back to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I am here with Tana.

Tana Amen: Hi, everyone.

Dr Daniel Amen: We are blessed to have Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, founder of Bastyr University. He's really been a pioneer in health for many, many decades. And he has a new book that I read and gave him a quote for. And I loved his book, The Toxin Solution. It's just so practical. And one of the chapters in there that was particularly important to me was the chapter on personal products.

Tana Amen: Yeah. It sort of turned our house upside down.

Dr Daniel Amen: It certainly did. I mean it's just such a simple concept. What goes on your body goes in your body. And he recommended downloading an app called Think Dirty. I downloaded it, scanned everything in my bathroom, and threw 80%-

Tana Amen: It took us like a day.

Dr Daniel Amen: Because, I mean just things. I mean, I'm bald for goodness sakes. And I use this Paul Mitchell mousse for the 14 hairs I have left, and on a scale of one to 10 ... So that's what Think Dirty does. It gives you on a scale of one to 10 how quickly is something killing you.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: And it was a nine.

Tana Amen: And I know what I like, and you can talk about this in a second Dr. Pizzorno. But it actually tells you what ingredients are the toxic ones. And when you came into my bathroom, I just want to jump in here because women are going to freak out right now. We have a harder time with this because we are sort of raised to be primping and grooming and all of these things. And so he came in the bathroom and started scanning my stuff and I'm like, "You need to leave." Because almost everything was coming up nine and 10, and I freaked out. But things, like what I found were the most toxic were things like hairspray, which are very hard to get or even the organic ones were not great. So we really had to do some work and research in this area, and it was all because of you.

Dr. Pizzorno: Well that sounds good and bad.

Tana Amen: It turned my whole house upside down.

Dr. Pizzorno: I take credit for the, give you some guidance to improve your health, and I apologize for making your life more difficult.

Dr Daniel Amen: So talk to us about personal products and your experience educating people and then helping them change their habits.

Tana Amen: Well, and we have to be realistic, okay? Because there are some things women are not going to give up. So let's try to come up with some healthy alternatives for them. I'm not going gray. I'm sorry. We've got to do a better job though of making it to where it's doable and yet we are decreasing that toxic load.

Tana Amen: One of the things that I want to point out as you begin to launch into this Dr. Pizzorno, because I know it's going to go deep. One of the people on my community really didn't like this topic. It really bothered her for obvious reasons, same reason it bothered me, but she said, "Well, isn't that the liver's job? Your liver takes care of all of that." As though the liver is some indestructible organ that handles everything. It's super human. So talk to us about that, and what can we do to make it better?

Dr. Pizzorno: Great. Lots of excellent questions. So when I was writing The Toxin Solution, one of the things, I was trying to make it really practical for people. So one the first things I looked at it as well, where are the toxins coming from? And it turns out as best as I can assess, and you, you're familiar that might be different as more research becomes available. It looks to me like about 70% of toxins come from food and packaging materials. But 10% comes from health and beauty aids. Now the challenge with health and beauty aids is that they intentionally have chemicals added to them to, of course, make them work better. And the worst class of chemicals being added are what are called phthalates. What the phthalates do is they act as cybilizing and stabilizing agents for fragrances. So anytime you're using something that smells nice, almost certainly it has these phthalates in it, in them.

Dr. Pizzorno: So the problem with the phthalates is that not only do they easily penetrate the skin and get into our bodies, but when you do things like for example, spraying with hairspray or you're in the hot shower, you're washing your hair or putting conditioner on and such. Well you're volatilizing well these toxic chemicals, and there's no more efficient way to get these things enter our body than by breathing them. So that's one reason why the hairspray is problem because you're breathing as it comes in.

Dr. Pizzorno: And what the phthalates do is their endocrine poisons. And what that means is that they tend to block in a receptor sites for a testosterone receptor sites for thyroid, et cetera. And not only that, and this is a big factor with diabetes. They blocked the insulin receptor sites on the cell walls.

Tana Amen: Holy moly.

Dr. Pizzorno: Oh yes. Dr. Amen, think back when we were in medical school a while ago. When I was initially in medical school almost half a century ago, diabetes was rare. It affected like one half of 1% of the population. I remember in my first year of practice in 1975, I was so excited when I finally saw a diabetic patient. Well now it's 20 times more common. What's happening is the phthalates get into health and beauty aids by blocking the insulin receptor sites. Now the pancreas has to overproduce insulin in order to get the cells to get the message to let sugar in. Well, that's fine. Our bodies have this remarkable adaptive ability. Well, you do that for 20 or 30 years and now you've overused your pancreas. Your pancreas burns out and now you've got diabetes. Well you don't suddenly get diabetes. You have to work at it. And unfortunately with all of these chemicals we're being exposed to may of them, not just the phthalates, are blocking even some receptor sites.

Dr. Pizzorno: Well, then you might say, as you asked, well, isn't our liver supposed to take care of these things? And the answer is yes, our liver does take care of these things. Now remember our liver has limited capability. And what that means is that after we reached a certain threshold, we can't get rid of all of it. But not only that getting rid of these toxins, breaking them down is not, you might say a pretty process. To do that, we have to use up nutrients that are important, but also, these chemical toxins we're being exposed to not are they themselves directly increasing oxidative stress within the body, but they're dramatically increasing oxidative stress within the liver and they're depleting the liver of the most important intracellular and intra mitochondrial and toxin available to us [inaudible 00:06:45]. So it turns out that more people are exposed to toxins, the more oxidative damage they have. And we were talking about neurological system.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr. Pizzorno: The worst thing we can do for our nerves is expose them to oxidative damage that depletes glutathione as well as to things like neurotoxins, which is a whole nother topic we could spend hours talking about.

Tana Amen: Yeah, now you just scared me even more. You know, why do I always have friends that do this?

Dr. Pizzorno: Sorry about that.

Dr Daniel Amen: It's just such, such an important issue. And I now after I got Think Dirty and then there's another app, Healthy Living from Environmental Working Group.

Tana Amen: And Skin Deep too.

Dr Daniel Amen: We are in Hawaii. And so automatically I didn't trust what they had at Turtle Bay in the bathroom. And so we went to the grocery store and it was so simple to just start scanning things, to read the labels and then scanning. And then we're in Honolulu and Tana and Chloe went to this-

Tana Amen: All natural cosmetic store.

Dr Daniel Amen: All natural cosmetic store called Lush. And they're so excited about finding these natural products until I started reading the label. And I'm like this stuff is toxic.

Tana Amen: And what's weird is a lot, that's one of the big problems with "health products" right? So there were about 10 to 15 that were truly great. And then all of a sudden you're sort of led down the rabbit hole of buying other products that we're not. But you've already made the assumption that their products are all great.

Dr Daniel Amen: Read the label.

Tana Amen: You got to read labels.

Dr. Pizzorno: Absolutely.

Dr Daniel Amen: Read the label.

Dr. Pizzorno: Something I want to add to this and that is it's not just the toxicity of the health and beauty products, it's a number of health and beauty products you're using. So for example, you can look at someone like myself and I use basically no lotions and potions, things like this.

Tana Amen: Now I'm in the lotions and potions phase like most women my age. So this is why it's so important.

Dr. Pizzorno: So there was one study where they looked at, they took a 25 healthy young men, supposedly healthy young men. And they had them avoid all these health and beauty products and they measure level of phthalates in their body and the news is that after a few days the blood levels of phthalates goes down pretty dramatically. Then they started doing things, they added lotion, then they added cologne, then they added hair gel. Anyway, they just kept on adding the typical things that people will use and by the time they're done the people were using a minimum of six health and beauty products, which were what the average man uses. That person's phthalate levels where then 300 times higher, not 200%, 300 times higher than the people not using any of that stuff.

Tana Amen: Well now if you add cosmetics and perfume women are really in trouble.

Dr. Pizzorno: Women use more than men. The bottom line is the more you use, the more you got these chemicals in your body, they're making you sick.

Tana Amen: So we need, at some point we need to talk about some simple things that people can do to help sort of "detoxify". I know there's no magic potion to make it all go away. But what are some things we can do besides the fact that we started cutting back at our house dramatically on those products. There are some we still use and I try to get the least toxic I can find. But what can you do? Like is it something you eat? Are there supplements? Are there ... I've heard green drinks can help. I mean, help us out with some little tips.

Dr Daniel Amen: Well we're going to do a whole-

Dr. Pizzorno: That's a great question.

Dr Daniel Amen: We're going to do a whole podcast on detoxification.

Dr. Pizzorno: So it turns out there are a number of things we can do. And it comes down, it comes back to what we were talking about in terms of helping our liver get it's job done properly. Now there are a lot of things we do, but there are two which I think are most important.

Dr. Pizzorno: Number one, when our liver is breaking these things down it dumps these things into the gut. Now it's expecting when it dumps it into the gut for there to be fiber there to then bind to the toxins and get it out through our stools. Well that's system works great if you're on a diet that we evolved on as human species. As we evolved as human species, we are consuming 100 to 150 grams of fiber every day. Now the [inaudible] hardest person in North America consumes 15 to 20 grams of fiber a day. So after the liver goes through all this trouble to get rid of these chemical toxins, it then reabsorbs most of them through something called enterohepatic recirculation because since it wasn't bound to the fiber, the [inaudible] freely. And because the body wants to retain some nutrients for the liver, it then reabsorbs these things.

Tana Amen: So if what I'm hearing is correct, consuming more fiber can be helpful, correct?

Dr. Pizzorno: Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: Okay, so we're going to talk about [inaudible]. We're, going to do a whole a podcast on detoxification. What I want people to hear now is the best way to start detoxifying is to decrease your load. So eating organic, using less products or using products that-

Tana Amen: Are less toxic.

Dr Daniel Amen: -are less toxic-

Tana Amen: And an increase in fiber.

Dr Daniel Amen: So you download Think Dirty or Healthy Living by the Environmental Working Group, some apps. Just start educating yourself. Initially you'll be horrified. Therapy will be good for that. And then be empowered and you can get that toxin solution at you can learn more about Dr. Pizzorno's work. We are going to come back with him and we're going to talk about toxins in the environment. Huge issue. Stay with us.

Donny Osmond: Thanks for listening to today's show, the Brain Warrior's Way. Why don't you head over to That's where Daniel and Tana have a gift for you just for subscribing to the show. And when you post your review on iTunes, you'll be entered into a drawing where you can win a VIP visit to one of the Amen clinics. I'm Donny Osmond, and I invite you to step up your brain game by joining us in the next episode.