Counteracting the Effects of Dioxins Through Diet

Counteracting the Effects of Dioxins Through Diet
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Phytonutrients in certain plant foods may block the toxic effects of industrial pollutants, like dioxins, through the Ah receptor system.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“It is not very common that…a single molecule attracts enough interest to merit international scientific conferences of its own,” but the Ah receptor “belongs to the rare elite of such molecules.” That’s the receptor on our intestinal immune cells activated by broccoli. and other cruciferous vegetables. The latest conference offered “exciting new reports [about] the way plant-derived compounds in our diet are necessary for a fully functioning immune system of the gut.” One study in particular expanded “our understanding of how diet impacts immunity and health by showing that a plant-derived nutrient profoundly shapes the capacity for intestinal immune defense.” And, intestinal defense is not just against the pathogens we may ingest, but the toxins as well.

We’re constantly exposed to a wide range of toxins “in cigarette smoke, in exhaust fumes, furnace gases, cooked meat and fish, dairy products, and even in mother’s milk,” because of what they themselves are exposed to. And, many of these pollutants exert their toxic effects through the Ah receptor system. For example, “[d]ioxins invade the body mainly through the diet”—more than 90% of exposure, as it concentrates through the food chain, presenting “a serious health concern.” 

But, there are phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine, and beans that block the effects of dioxins at close to the kinds of levels you can find in people’s bloodstream after eating fruits and vegetables. But, it took like three apples a day to cut dioxin toxicity in half, or about a tablespoon of red onion—more than most people eat in a day, unfortunately. And, the half-life of these phytonutrients in the body is only about 25 hours, so we have to keep it up day after day. But, if we eat enough, the intake from a plant-based diet should be enough to inhibit the cancer-causing effects of dioxins.

See, at first, we just thought it was just cruciferous vegetables that were able to lock in these receptors, and fend off toxins. But, does that make evolutionary sense? “Given the variety and flexibility of most mammalian diets, a specific dependence on cruciferous vegetables for optimal intestinal immune function would seem overly restrictive. Rather, it seems [likely] that many other foods contain compounds with similar immunostimulatory properties.”

And indeed, “the search for foods containing similar immunomodulatory compounds has begun.” Now, we know that a wide variety of natural plant compounds can counteract the chemical pollution to which we’re all exposed. Though there is actually one animal product that has also been shown to potentially block the cancer-causing effects of dioxins—camel urine. Camel urine, but not cow urine, was found to inhibit the effects of a known carcinogenic chemical. Importantly, the researchers emphasize, virgin camel urine showed the highest degree of inhibition—found better than pregnant camel urine, for example. So, the next time our kids don’t want to eat their fruits and veggies, we can just say hey, it’s either that, or camel pee.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“It is not very common that…a single molecule attracts enough interest to merit international scientific conferences of its own,” but the Ah receptor “belongs to the rare elite of such molecules.” That’s the receptor on our intestinal immune cells activated by broccoli. and other cruciferous vegetables. The latest conference offered “exciting new reports [about] the way plant-derived compounds in our diet are necessary for a fully functioning immune system of the gut.” One study in particular expanded “our understanding of how diet impacts immunity and health by showing that a plant-derived nutrient profoundly shapes the capacity for intestinal immune defense.” And, intestinal defense is not just against the pathogens we may ingest, but the toxins as well.

We’re constantly exposed to a wide range of toxins “in cigarette smoke, in exhaust fumes, furnace gases, cooked meat and fish, dairy products, and even in mother’s milk,” because of what they themselves are exposed to. And, many of these pollutants exert their toxic effects through the Ah receptor system. For example, “[d]ioxins invade the body mainly through the diet”—more than 90% of exposure, as it concentrates through the food chain, presenting “a serious health concern.” 

But, there are phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine, and beans that block the effects of dioxins at close to the kinds of levels you can find in people’s bloodstream after eating fruits and vegetables. But, it took like three apples a day to cut dioxin toxicity in half, or about a tablespoon of red onion—more than most people eat in a day, unfortunately. And, the half-life of these phytonutrients in the body is only about 25 hours, so we have to keep it up day after day. But, if we eat enough, the intake from a plant-based diet should be enough to inhibit the cancer-causing effects of dioxins.

See, at first, we just thought it was just cruciferous vegetables that were able to lock in these receptors, and fend off toxins. But, does that make evolutionary sense? “Given the variety and flexibility of most mammalian diets, a specific dependence on cruciferous vegetables for optimal intestinal immune function would seem overly restrictive. Rather, it seems [likely] that many other foods contain compounds with similar immunostimulatory properties.”

And indeed, “the search for foods containing similar immunomodulatory compounds has begun.” Now, we know that a wide variety of natural plant compounds can counteract the chemical pollution to which we’re all exposed. Though there is actually one animal product that has also been shown to potentially block the cancer-causing effects of dioxins—camel urine. Camel urine, but not cow urine, was found to inhibit the effects of a known carcinogenic chemical. Importantly, the researchers emphasize, virgin camel urine showed the highest degree of inhibition—found better than pregnant camel urine, for example. So, the next time our kids don’t want to eat their fruits and veggies, we can just say hey, it’s either that, or camel pee.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Nota del Doctor

What is this Ah Receptor thing? Check out the “prequel,” The Broccoli Receptor: Our First Line of Defense.

I report different mechanisms but similar outcomes in Plants vs. Pesticides and Eating Green to Prevent Cancer. So, this all suggests a double benefit of eating lower on the food chain, since it would also entail lower exposure to toxic contaminants in the first place (see Industrial Pollutants in Vegans).

How Chemically Contaminated Are We? Check out the CDC Report on Environmental Chemical Exposure. Where are dioxins found, so we can avoid them in the first place? See Dioxins in the Food Supply.

For further context, check out my associated blog post: Counteracting the Effects of Dioxins through Diet.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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