The Effects Of Contaminants On The Body

by Optimum Nutrition Admin
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Contaminated water can have tremendous consequences on the health of entire communities.

Clearly, water is the basis for all life which is why we cannot live beyond 4 or 5 days without it. We can actually survive longer without food than water. Unfortunately, water is one of the single greatest sources of the contaminants found in the body such as harmful microorganisms, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, heavy metals and disinfectants. To list of all the possible adverse effects of these toxins and infectious agents on the body is impossible. However, all health problems, even conditions and symptoms that are attributed to the normal aging process or genetic predispositions, are either directly caused or exacerbated by contaminants.

When a harmful stimulus enters the body, the immune system’s primary function is to excrete or expel it. This is typically accomplished by the digestive and urinary systems in the form of fecal matter and urine but expulsion also occurs through perspiration, saliva, menstruation and earwax and mucus secretion. For example, when a person has what is considered a “common cold” and they are coughing and sneezing, the body is most likely attempting to eliminate a contaminant. That foreign substance may be a virus, bacteria, protozoa, parasitic worm or other form of microorganism or it may be a chemical to which the person was unknowingly exposed. Another biological immune response is inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s attempt at self-protection; the objective again is to remove the harmful stimuli (e.g. toxins, irritants or pathogens) and to begin the healing process. Inflammation is followed by suppuration (the discharge of pus) and then granulation stage (the formation of tiny, rounded masses of tissue).

If the immune system is unable to destroy or expunge the contaminate and heal the affected area, the body will continue to its efforts to prevent cell penetration. In the case of toxins, it will attempt to isolate them in a type of storage unit as a cyst, tumor, in fat cells or some other abnormal tissue mass. In this manner, the body does not allow the toxin inside the cell where it could inflict irreparable damage. When exposed to pathogens, the body will generate an antibody and/or a cell-mediated response, both of which are intended to expel or destroy the pathogen. Antibodies will typically attack extracellular microorganisms (in tissue spaces) while a cell-mediated response targets intracellular pathogens (inside host cells). When contaminants are able to penetrate the cell, damage to its chemical reactions and/or DNA can result in cell mutation, cell malignancy and even cell death. If the body is unable to destroy the offending substance, the function and viability of an entire organ, gland or other tissue may be permanently compromised.

Contaminants also disrupt the natural functions of homeostasis. This is a multitude of highly complex interactions which allows the body’s systems to operate within a normal range. These interactions promote compensatory changes supportive of optimal physical and psychological responses. The body’s inability to maintain homeostasis (homeostatic imbalance) may result in disease or death. Just some of the conditions caused by homeostatic imbalance include many liver and kidney disorders, heart failure, diabetes, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, dehydration, gout and any disease expressed by the presence of a toxin or infection in the bloodstream.

Toxins that are fat soluble or possess specific ionic structures easily infiltrate our brains and nerves while others, especially large complex molecules, have difficulty penetrating the blood-brain barrier. Some neurotoxins, once they have entered the nervous system in large quantities, spread widely and produce generalized effects. Other neurotoxic chemicals effect only specific groups of cells or fibers and produce localized damage. In other words, the disorders caused by toxins within the nervous system vary widely in terms of form, scale and scope.

Many toxins disrupt the chemical balance and functioning of nerve cells without actually destroying their form. Some of these types of impurities can cause problems in the central nervous system. An effected person may become confused and delusional, turn drowsy or even comatose, display cognitive impairment or have seizures. Other toxins in this group attack the peripheral nervous system and cause paralysis or abnormal sensations. Another type of neurotoxin deforms the structure of nerve cells. This damage can occur in both the central nervous system and the peripheral nerves. There are a few contaminants that can even produce multiple and severe illnesses following the very first exposure. For example, a single exposure to some organophosphates (the basis for many insecticides and herbicides) may result in a sudden, sometimes fatal, paralysis followed by peripheral neuropathy shortly thereafter.

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