Environmental Toxins

Contributed by LaDetra M. Jenkins:

Toxins are Everywhere!

Avoiding toxins is nearly impossible, because they are ubiquitous.  Toxins are in the air we breathe, in the food we eat, and in the products (health, beauty, and household) that we use on a daily basis.  These substances are often referred to as environmental toxins.  They can cause cancer, respiratory illnesses, autoimmune diseases, and even death.  Toxins are metals, artificial food ingredients, air pollution, poisons, and other naturally occurring chemicals that can have negative biological effects on the body.

How Toxins Enter our Body

Environmental toxins enter the body through absorption, ingestion, and inhalation.  These are referred to as the routes of exposure.  Absorption occurs when toxins enter the body through the skin or the eyes.  It is considered ingestion when the toxin is swallowed in the process of eating or drinking.  Toxins in the air may be inhaled through the mouth or nose.  This is known as inhalation.

A Good Immune System

When a toxin enters the body, the organ systems work diligently to locate the toxin and remove it from the body before it can cause harm.  Making sure that the body is healthy plays a vital role in excreting toxins.  A strong immune system ensures that the body has enough good bacteria and vitamins to protect it from the toxins during the detoxification process.  There are several different ways that toxins can exit the body.  They are excreted through urine, feces, saliva, and sweat.

How Toxins Affect Us

If the body is unhealthy, it may have difficulty ridding itself of the toxin.  When the lungs, liver, and kidneys fail to excrete the toxin, it remains in the body and recirculates in the bloodstream.  Toxins that remain in the body accumulate and can cause serious illnesses or diseases.  The toxins may become trapped in adipose (fat) tissue and fatty organs which can result in benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) tumors.  They may also become trapped in the bones.  Some toxins can mimic hormones and occupy the receptors assigned to the hormones.  These toxins are often referred to as endocrine disruptors.

Tips to Avoid Toxins

It is extremely important to protect the body from exposure to toxins.  Washing hands before eating, drinking, and smoking can prevent ingesting toxins.  Wearing proper protective equipment when handling toxic materials, may reduce the probability of toxins entering the body through absorption and inhalation.  Eating organically grown foods can help prevent absorption of pesticides. Although completely avoiding environmental toxins is unrealistic, there are measures and practices available to take that can reduce the risk of exposure.

LaDetra Michelle Forrest Jenkins is a native of Winona, MS.  She now resides in Huntsville, AL, with her husband (Leamon) and daughter (Nelecha).  LaDetra is a veteran of the United States Air Force.  Inspired by her military training as a bioenvironmental engineering technician in the Air Force, LaDetra pursued an education at MS Valley State University (Itta Bena, MS) and earned her B.S., Environmental Health (cum laude), Minor: Chemistry.  After earning her degree from MVSU, she became a certified teacher and taught at the school that she attended as a child.  After five years of teaching, LaDetra decided to pursue a graduate degree.  She enrolled at Mississippi State University (Starkville, MS) and completed her M.S., Veterinary Medical Science (Environmental Toxicology).
LaDetra is currently employed by the US Army at Redstone Arsenal, AL, as an industrial hygiene technician and as the Installation Ergonomic Officer.  LaDetra also interns at Alabama Holistic Health, under the direction of Dr. Christina Berry.  The internship is providing training that will allow her to integrate conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease in the individual helping them reach optimal health.


Contributed by Christie Berry

Stress Is Coming!

As the holidays approach, our minds and bodies begin to experience stress. We stress for good reason; shopping, traffic, family visits, finances, more shopping, meal prep, gift decisions, traveling, more shopping, sigh. Stress is not just from bad situations, there are good things that stress us, like the excitement of the holidays. Unfortunately, we are too busy to notice  the stress and this is a recipe for poor health and makes us more likely to get sick due to lowered immune systems.

What is stress?

Stress is the most researched topic that interferes with wellness, health and relationship. It is responsible for 70-80% of the diseases in the US. 75-90% of all doctor visits are stress related ailments or conditions.

Externally, stress causes physical, mental or emotional responses to events that cause tension. Internally, it is the over-arousal of the adrenal system that protects the body from danger. It is characterized as over-excitement or over-involvement. The stress response is built to be short-lived and should be over in a few minutes. However, in today’s world, we have continued stress that is damaging.

Stress creates an inflammatory response that increases risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, low immune system and leaky gut. Recent research found correlations between stress and the onset of cancer.

Managing stress and Anxiety

Lifestyle changes:

Exercise outside to lower cortisol levels

Limit Cardio – less is more –

  • Avoid prolonged high-intensity aerobic exercise as it will increase cortisol and block fat loss even though you burn calories. Keep your “steps” at no more than 10,000/day. Limit your activity to half of your maximum effort during exercise.
  • Limit being sedentary for long periods of time, you do need to get up and move!
  • Limit exercise after 2:00pm to stretching, yoga, or a 15 minute walk after dinner
  • Monitor resting heart rate to determine too much!
  • Strength training should be done only 2 times per week and for short periods of time no longer than 10 minutes. Start and finish your weight training time with a gentle 5 minute cardio like walking or jogging. Then, focus on Body-weight exercises like sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks. These are best done in the morning.
  • Stretching is a major exercise often overlooked. Areas of tension build up and nerves called proprioceptors send tension signals to the brain. Stretching along the back is a key area that should be done daily, from the top of the neck to the back of the legs. Stretching should be done 2 seconds off and 2 seconds on and repeat to provide the best relief and loosen up the tension quickly.
  • Sleep can also be disturbed but more on that later.

Low Stress Diet

Let your food be your medicine!

Reduce sodium intake to less than 3000mg/day

Foods that reduce cortisol production:

Beets, Celery, walnuts, basil, cacao bits, whole grain barley, white beans, cabbage, brazil nuts, grapefruit, maca, sesame seeds, turmeric

Foods that replace nutrients lost due to increased cortisol:

Almonds, kiwifruit, lemons, sweet potatoes, adzuki beans, bok choy, spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocado, grass-fed beef, sea salt

Foods that help with stress and fatigue:

Beets, cardamom, carob, carrots, celery, daikon radish, dandelion leaves, dulse, ginger, mulberries, tomatillos

Military Stress Clinic


Alabama Holistic Health is proud to support our troops. To show our appreciation, we offer free pain and stress relief clinics every Tuesday from 6:30-8:00 PM.

Our free clinic is designed to help with PTSD, PTSS, and any other military related stress issues.

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