Why Body Composition May Be a Sign of Toxin Exposure

Why Body Composition May Be a Sign of Toxin Exposure

Most clinics use Body Composition testing for weight loss. However, Restoration Healthcare introduced the practice of using body composition for every patient at the clinic as part of their Outcome Progress monitoring. Body composition testing and other novel diagnostics may aid in determining if a person’s health is affected by accumulated toxins. It is just one of many unique aspects of how Restoration Healthcare diagnoses complex-chronic conditions exacerbated by toxin exposure. This article will explore why body composition may indicate toxin exposure.

Body Composition is one of many diagnostic tools used at the clinic to evaluate a patient’s health status at baseline and to measure outcomes throughout their treatment for complex-chronic diseases. The data collected by body composition scans help Restoration Healthcare physicians and patients better understand their health status. “As people see the data change and improve, it empowers them to make better decisions in their daily life,” says Dr. Bakman.

What are Common Toxins in Our Daily Lives?

Our water, food, air, soil, and many of the household items we use daily contain toxic heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), persistent organic pollutants (POPs), poly-fluoroalkyl substances, PFAS or “forever chemicals.” These chemical classes are dangerous to human health, particularly POPs and PFAS because they resist biodegradation and do not break down easily or quickly. Toxins can lead to serious health problems like cancer, obesity, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, decreased fertility, liver damage, and hormone suppression, according to the EPA.

Though POPs were banned years ago, these toxins remain in the environment. According to the National Institutes of Health, thousands of forever chemicals in food and water are in household items, like nail polish, dental floss, toilet paper, cleaning products, and non-stick cookware. These chemicals easily dissolve in fats, accumulating in the body’s fatty tissue, which is why a body composition test that measures body fat mass can be a valuable tool for doctors to uncover toxins.

Can You Check Your Own Body Composition for Toxins?

There are a lot of different types of scales on the market that measure body composition. They are helpful for fitness and weight management, but they do not have the specificity of medical devices used at Restoration Healthcare for diagnosing complex-chronic illnesses and toxin exposure. The other limitation is that home body-scan scales do not come with the knowledge of licensed providers to interpret the results and develop a comprehensive integrative healthcare treatment plan.

Body composition at Restoration Healthcare clinic helps evaluate and measure:

  • Disease progression and improvement
  • Clinical outcomes
  • Toxin exposure
  • Chronic infection
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Metabolic disturbances
  • Cellular membrane structure
  • Mitochondrial health
  • Hormone imbalance and disruptions
  • Cognitive and neurological health
  • Muscle-mass and aging
  • Sarcopenia related to illness
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of quality sleep
  • Stress (physical, mental, and emotional)
  • Lack of consistent physical activity
  • Poor diet and low nutritional status

What Does Body Composition Say About Toxin Exposure?

Body fat composition measures muscle, water, and fat. The data collected from composition scanning reveals an individual’s lean muscle mass, water composition, and fat mass. The data tells physicians how well the body is regenerating tissue for muscle mass and helps understand if a loss of muscle is associated with aging and specific conditions. A person’s fat mass analysis can tell if there are issues with toxin exposures, metabolic disorders, and many other factors. Fat accumulation is a good tell-all for chemicals like POPs and PFAS because they stay stored in body fat.

There are two primary types of fat – adipose tissue (AT) body fat and visceral adipose tissue (VAT). Both types of fat have specific functions in the body energy, mitochondrial function, and hormone regulation. But when fat stores are too abundant, the cells become the perfect vessel for toxins like POPs and PFAS. Chemicals and toxins are attracted to fats, and fat cells have a large cavity where the chemicals collect and harbor. When this happens, this can prevent the toxins from concentrating in the bloodstream, which is a good thing. However, when there are too many fat cells, such as in obesity, this places an undue burden on the body, particularly when a person loses weight. The accumulated toxins may release into the body’s circulatory system at a dangerous rate, which is not good. This is why Restoration Healthcare first establishes whether a person has been exposed to an overabundance of toxins before treatment begins for any condition. From here, the doctors develop a care plan to rid the body of accumulated toxins safely and treat the respective condition.

Is There a Difference Between Fat Types and Toxin Accumulation?

Do toxins tend to accumulate in one type of fat over another? To better explain, let’s look more closely at the two types of fats. As mentioned, each has a positive role in the body, contributing to poor health if too many fat cells accumulate.

Adipose tissue is an endocrine-related organ and a connective tissue below the skin. It is primarily made up of white adipose tissue (WAT) or brown adipocyte tissue (BAT). White adipocytes are the most common fat cells held in reserve for the body’s energy needs. By comparison, brown adipocytes are much less prevalent in adults. Brown adipocytes are full of specialized mitochondria that mobilize lipids (or fats) to produce cellular energy and heat to maintain body temperature. Mitochondria are essential organelles for energy production, and recent research shows that pollutants like toxic heavy metals, POPs, and PFAS target mitochondria.

Visceral adipose tissue lies deep within the abdominal cavity and protects essential organs like the stomach, liver, and intestines. It is hormonally active and releases various biochemical molecules and hormones, including leptin, responsible for hunger signaling, and adiponectin, known for protecting against insulin resistance and slowing cell proliferation and inflammation. Conversely, fat also releases tumor necrosis factor, a multifunctional cytokine with positive and negative properties in tumor growth; resistin, a hormone that links obesity with diabetes; and interleukin 6 (IL-6), with both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties. Given VAT’s hormonally active properties, it’s easy to see why an over-abundance of VAT can be a potential risk for severe diseases, like hormone imbalances, diabetes and insulin resistance, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and cancers like prostate, breast and colorectal.

Researchers recently examined which fat accumulates more toxins, AT or VAT. Various studies have called out each type of fat as a better bio-accumulator of toxins, but in the end, most scientists agree that it depends on the person, the kind of toxin, and the level of exposure. To date, there is also no connection between race and gender and which type of fat is worse than the other for attracting and storing excess toxins.

How Prevalent are POPs and PFAS?

Though many persistent organic pollutants are no longer allowed in the U.S., they remain in the water, air, and soil. Developing countries are less stringent in their control of POPs, so exposure is still possible. The most well-known chemicals in this category include DDT and PCBs. Other sources of POPS that continue to enter the environment are industrial processes, combustion from the city and medical waste incineration, and backyard burning of trash that releases dioxins. The pollutants travel in dust and are transported in the air from weather patterns, so no one is safe from exposure.

According to the EPA, as many as 98% of Americas have some level of PFAS in their system. According to the Environmental Working Group, as of June 2022, 2,858 locations in 50 states and territories are known to be contaminated with highly toxic PFAS. They cite evidence that the number of U.S. communities confirmed to be contaminated continues to grow (see map below).

A report from the National Academy of Sciences found the following:

    1. The people who live, work, and play in environments where PFAS contamination exceeds standards do not know how to protect themselves from the health risks of exposure.
    2. Many have been exposed to PFAS for decades and may continue to be exposed in their homes or workplaces.
    3. Some members of communities that have discovered that their exposures exceed health advisory levels are calling for a medical program to prevent, lead to early detection of or treat diseases related to the health risks they may face.

Communities Contamination with PFAS

In March 2023, the FDA set a new rule to set drinking water standards for six forever chemicals commonly found in drinking water. Under the new rule, municipal water systems will have to monitor for these chemicals, notify the public about PFAS levels and work to reduce them if levels go above the allowed standard.

PFAS can be found in the following:

      • Public drinking water and private water wells
      • Soil and water at or near landfills and disposal waste sites
      • Fire extinguishing foam.
      • Manufacturing and chemical production facilities that produce or use PFAS
      • Food packaging from grease-resistant paper, containers, wrappers
      • Household cleaning products
      • Varnishes
      • Clothing and fabrics
      • Shampoo, dental floss, and cosmetics
      • Fertilizer from waste treatment plants

In 2022, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued guidelines for doctors to test, diagnose and treat millions of people with a history of elevated exposure to these chemicals. Restoration Healthcare has years of experience helping diagnose and address toxin exposures using integrative medicine. If you believe these chemicals have impacted your health and you live in Southern California, don’t hesitate to contact our clinic to inquire about care.

Schedule your appointment online today, and we’ll follow up with a brief phone call to get you set up. That’s all there is to it! To get started right now, call us at (949) 535-2322.