Can Toxicity Contribute to Weight-Gain?

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Can Toxicity Contribute to Weight-Gain?

Want to drop a few pounds before swimsuit season (summer)?

Whether it is 100 pounds or those last ten pounds, toxicity could be one factor hindering your weight loss.

Want to learn why this would happen and what you can do about it?

Some toxins are water-soluble, and others are fat-soluble.  The water-soluble toxins are fairly easily processed by the liver and excreted through the urine.  Fat-soluble toxins are another story…

What does fat have to do with detoxification?  Why do people commonly report losing weight while cleansing?

Fat-soluble toxins can lodge in adipose tissue (fat).  Does this mean that one possible reason for weight-gain could be having more toxins than the body can handle?

There is some research linking obesity with organic and inorganic chemical exposure (1).  A review of the literature looked at endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) and obesity in humans.  EDC’s will alter the hormonal system in our body. A scientific literature review found several chemicals that, when found in greater amounts, were associated with an increase in body size (2).  One strong correlation was found between levels of Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), a chemical related to the pesticide DDT, and body size.

DDT is one of many chemicals that are classed as endocrine-disrupting chemicals.  We talked in the previous article in this series about the concerning and well-researched body of literature about issues associated with EDC’s.

Could the body gain weight and hold onto fat because there are too many toxins for the liver to handle?

This is an interesting question and one we don’t fully understand.  There are ideas suggesting that when toxic burden is high, the body will gain weight to safely store the toxins in fat tissue.

Another perspective is that extra fat in the body acts as a reservoir that toxins can lodge in.  The former idea points towards toxins as one possible cause of weight gain, while the latter reverses the equation and points to weight gain as a means for toxins to accumulate.

I can say that clinically, there seem to be numerous reasons for weight-gain and there are great challenges when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.

Factors that can help some to move the needle with stubborn weight issues:

  • Detoxification (under the guidance of an experienced functional medicine practitioner)
  • Proper Nutrition, especially with help from a qualified practitioner or nutritionist
  • Stress-management through time-off, relaxation, and mindfulness practices
  • Regular exercise, including weekly resistance training (weight lifting)

There also seem to be genetic predispositions, environmental exposure factors, and microbiome (gut bacteria) connections at play with weight-management issues (3).

Interestingly, though, we don’t see evidence of obesity in hunter-gatherer cultures.  So, we do have to think about and look seriously at environmental factors like exposure to toxins, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, and other factors that are present in modern-day cultures that weren’t issues in the past.

There are also functional medicine lab tests, like an organic acids urine test, that can help identify pathways of liver detoxification that may not be functioning optimally.  A good functional medicine practitioner can order this test and then suggest supplements that will work specifically on the pathway(s) that can be improved.

Actionable steps you can implement today to manage your weight:

  • Read and practice all the suggestions in the previous two articles in this series to reduce the toxic load on your body and mind
  • Find a community or support group to help motivate you to work together with others that are struggling with similar issues. 
  • Book a free 15-minute discovery call with one of our staff to find out more about working with our doctors (click here to visit our booking page to work with one of our functional medicine doctors – available worldwide)
  • Practice acceptance, gratitude, and appreciation for your body as best you can, and what is working well in your life on a daily basis. Do this while you are also simultaneously taking action towards your goals.  You can hold acceptance and be actively working toward making shifts in your life at the same time!


1. Paula F. Baillie-Hamilton. “Chemical Toxins: a Hypothesis to Explain the Global Obesity Epidemic.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. April 2002, 8(2): 185-192. [Link]

2. Tang-Péronard JL, et al. “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and obesity development in humans: a review.” Obes Rev. 2011;12(8):622–636.  [Link]

3. Koleva, Petya T, Sarah L Bridgman, and Anita L Kozyrskyj. “The Infant Gut Microbiome: Evidence For Obesity Risk And Dietary Intervention.” Nutrients 7.4 (2015): 2237-2260. [Link]

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