Perspiration, or the sweating process, does more than soak the body with hot moisture on a sunny day. Did you know that sweat can actually benefit your health by assisting with toxin elimination?
Sweat occurs when the body experiences an increase in thermal load, which activates a heat loss mechanism known as sweating. Sweat can be produced by the body on a hot day, during exercise, or in reaction to other heat-producing elements, such as the heat from a near infrared sauna.
In fact, one of the biggest reasons that people choose to sauna is because of it's ability to quickly stimulate sweat. This is because sweat is as well known as the most immediate and effective excretory routes for toxins.
How Toxic Are We?
Virtually everyone alive today has some level of accumulated toxins circulating throughout their bodies, all due to various levels and lengths of exposure. Increased levels of toxin accumulation is dangerous to human health. Without a means for elimination, any one or more toxins cause a wide variety of serious human health conditions.
There are many different things people do to try to limit toxic exposure, and rid their bodies of inner toxins. These methods can include changes in diet or the intake of various supplements. But one of the best ways to naturally remove bodily toxins is by getting the body to produce sweat. Near infrared sauna-induced sweating is regarded as one of the lowest risk detoxification and cleansing processes, and is considered extremely effective at eliminating toxic elements from the body without strenuous exercise.
Six Major Toxins Excreted through Sweat
Many chemicals are considered essential for the body, but there are some with no known advantages to humans. These six toxins, Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, BPA, and Phthalates, are found everywhere – and they have no physiological benefits. In fact, they are known for contributing an array of toxic effects towards the body’s vital systems, including the nervous, endocrine, renal, musculoskeletal, immunological, and cardiovascular systems. This is all the more reason to want to minimize exposure, and take steps to eliminate them from the body.
It is unfortunately difficult to reduce exposure to toxins that are found so often in the environment, but it is possible to effectively eliminate these six toxins through sweat. Here is a breakdown of each toxin, how we become exposed, and how sweat can help remove them from the body:
Arsenic is a natural component of the Earth’s crust, and can be found in small concentrations in soil and minerals. It can disperse into the air, water, and land, from wind-blown dust, as well as water run-off. Volcanoes are a major source of Arsenic, but human activity also contributes a large amount, such as fossil fuel burning.
Humans can be exposed to Arsenic through air, food, and water, as well as skin contact from soil or water with arsenic in it. Arsenic levels in food are typically low, but higher in fish and seafood, since they absorb the water they live in. People who work with Arsenic, live in houses that contain conserved wood, or live on farmlands where Arsenic-containing pesticides were applied, are at highest risk of exposure.
Health effects of Arsenic exposure can include:
- Stomach and intestine irritation
- Decrease in red and white blood cell production
- Lung irritation
- Skin changes
Significant exposure to inorganic Arsenic may increase changes of cancer development, result in infertility and miscarriages, and cause infection resistance, heart problems, and brain damage. Studies have recently proven conclusively that significant levels of Arsenic are expelled from the body through exercise or sauna sweat.
Cadmium is mostly found in the Earth’s crust, but it can also be a by-product of Zinc, Lead, and Copper extraction. It is found in manures and pesticides, and tends to enter the environment through the ground. Half of Cadmium is released into rivers due to the weathering of rocks. Some Cadmium is released into the air by forest fires and volcanoes, while the remainder is the result of human activities, such as manufacturing. The majority of Cadmium is used in Ni-Cd batteries, but some can also be found in pigments, coatings and plating, and stabilizers for plastics.
Human exposure to Cadmium mainly occurs through consumption of food, such as liver, mushrooms, cocoa powder, shellfish, and dried seaweed. Exposure level significantly increases for smokers, as tobacco smoke transports Cadmium into the lungs. High exposures are also seen in people who work in the metal refinery industry, or who live by hazardous waste sites or factories that release Cadmium in the air.
Health effects of Cadmium exposure can include:
- Lung damage
- Excretion of body’s essential proteins and sugars (due to Cadmium accumulation in the kidneys)
- Diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting
- Reproductive issues
- Central nervous system damage
- Immune system damage
- Psychological disorders
- DNA damage
- Cancer development
Several studies of Cadmium excretion in sweat have proven that exercise or sauna sweat releases the highest levels of cadmium, and saunas were used as the preferred medium for sweat generation in two of the most recent studies.
Lead naturally occurs in the environment, but most concentrations are due to human activities. Lead salts enter the environment through the exhaust of cars, and go on to pollute soils or surface water. Smaller particles remain in the atmosphere and fall onto the earth when it rains.
Humans can consume Lead through food, water, and air. Foods including fruit, vegetables, meats, grains, seafood, soft drinks, and wine can contain large quantities of lead. Lead can also enter drinking water through pipe corrosion.
Health effects of Lead exposure can include:
- Disruption of hemoglobin and anemia biosynthesis
- Increased blood pressure
- Kidney damage
- Nervous system disruption and brain damage
- Sperm damage
- Diminished learning abilities
- Behavioral issues such as aggression, impulsiveness, hyperactivity
Lead can also enter a fetus through the mother’s placenta, and cause severe damage to the unborn child’s nervous system and brain. Fortunately, virtually every study ever conducted about Lead excretion through sweat has proven that the highest levels of Lead are released from the body through exercise or sauna sweat.
Mercury is found naturally in the environment, in metal form, mercury salts, or organic mercury compounds. Mercury comes into the environment due to the breakdown of minerals in rocks and soil through wind and water exposure. Most Mercury released from human activities, such as fossil fuel combustion, mining, smelting, and solid waste combustion, is released into the air. The use of agricultural fertilizers and industrial wastewater disposal release Mercury directly into water or soil, where all released Mercury eventually ends up.
Mercury can turn up in food due to the spread of it within food chains by small organisms that humans eat, such as fish. The concentrations of Mercury in fish are much larger than the concentrations from the water they live in. Mercury can also enter the human body with the consumption of vegetables or other crops that are sprayed with products that contain Mercury.
Mercury is also commonly found in household products, such as thermometers and fluorescent light bulbs. High exposure to Mercury through breathing, such as when a thermometer breaks, can occurs and lead to severe effects such as nerve, brain and kidney damage, lung irritation, skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea and eye irritation.
Health effects of Mercury exposure can include:
- Nervous system disruption
- Functional brain damage
- DNA damage
- Chromosomal damage
- Allergic reactions (which lead to skin rashes, fatigue, and headaches)
- Negative reproductive effects, such as sperm damage, miscarriages, and birth defects
A 2010 Study in Canada showed that sweating, induced by exercise or sauna, released the highest concentrations of Mercury from participants.
BPA is Bisphenol A, and it is an industrial chemical used to make types of plastics and resins. It is commonly found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are typically used in the kinds of containers that store food and beverages, most commonly water bottles. Epoxy resins coat the insides of metal products, including cans of food, bottle tops, and water supply lines.
Research suggests that BPA can seep from BPA made containers into the food or beverages they contain, which leads to human consumption. BPA can also be found in dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, DVDs, CDs, sports equipment, and other electronic products.
Health effects of BPA exposure can include:
- Fetal brain development
- Heart disease
- Reproductive disorders
BPA is particularly an endocrine disruptor that can imitate the body’s hormones and disrupt the production, secretion, transportation, action, function, and elimination of the body’s natural hormones. Infants and children are particularly sensitive to health problems with BPA.
A 2011 study suggested that sauna-induced sweating may be the most efficient method for eliminating BPA from the body. There is a higher concentration of BPA excreted from the body through sweat because BPA is stored in adipose tissue, and induced sweating in saunas mobilizes BPA in adipose tissue.
Phthalates are widely used industrial chemicals. They are used to make PVC plastic products, such as toys, medical devices, car interiors (the “new car” smell), deodorant, vinyl flooring, vinyl wallpaper, and shower curtains, more flexible or softer. They are also often added into personal care items and cosmetics, such as hair spray, nail polish, perfume, shampoo, aftershave, and scented lotion.
Phthalates also are found in food, such as dairy products and meat, and water. Tap water can be tainted with industrial waste, and fruit and vegetables can also be harmed with pesticide spray.
Health effects of Phthalates exposure can include:
- Diminished female fertility
- Premature breast development
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
Phthalates can interfere with reproductive health, even more so in males. They can reduce testosterone levels and important growth factors. Exposure to Phthalates is also linked to decreased sperm count, decreased sperm motility, and sperm damage.
Sweat out the toxins with a sauna
With so many toxic sources in our products and environment, it can be difficult to avoid these health-damaging toxins. Sauna therapy is a great, well studied, and time-tested means of stimulating sweat to eliminate and prevent the accumulation of toxins in the body. Sauna use can generally be tolerated by people of all ages, though children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised health situation may first seek medical recommendation and/or supervision.
Although saunas can help the body sweat without engaging in exercise, healthy persons can induce sweating even further by exercising prior to sauna use, or by exercising within short range of a near infrared sauna lamp. This double engagement in sweat stimulation can help the body sweat out toxins even faster.
The inclusion of negative ions in the sauna will further optimize the body’s sweat production. Studies show that a person's sweat volume doubles during a sauna session while inhaling at least 20,000 ions per cubic centimeter.
Nobody is immune from toxic exposure, which can have damaging health effects. Anyone adverse to exercise should consider integrating sauna therapy as an effective and proven means to induce sweat and eliminate toxins.