I have spent much time in the pool over my life. I took swimming lessons when I was young. In my late teens and early twenties, I worked as a swim instructor and lifeguard, and in the summers I’d recreate in the pool quite often.
To keep pools clean, chemicals need to be added. Even in saltwater pools, chemicals must be used.
One of the most common chemicals used in pools is chlorine and less common, bromine. These chemicals are strong disinfectants that keep the pool clean and crystal clear.
The problem with these chemicals is that they are detrimental to your health.
If you are going to be swimming in a pool, or have children that are swimming in a chlorinated pool, there are a few simple things you can do to mitigate the damages.
Chlorine is added to pools (and municipal water) to kill bacteria and other living things. When you immerse your body in chlorinated water, the chlorine can be absorbed transdermally (through the skin) into the blood stream. It can also enter your body through inhalation (higher exposure in indoor pools and home showers/baths) and from drinking chlorinated water.
As I’ve mentioned before, we are covered in bacteria on the inside and out. In fact, bacteria outnumber human cells 10:1. Chlorine kills many of these probiotics (good bacteria). The best way to deal with this die-off is to replenish your stores by taking a good quality probiotic.
There are a group of elements on the periodic table known as halogens. The halogens are fluoride, chlorine, bromine, and iodine. They all compete for receptors sites in the body.
Chlorine and bromine are toxic, and fluoride is toxic in higher dosages. One of the reasons they are toxic is that they “push out” iodine. Iodine is required mostly by the thyroid, but high amounts are also concentrated in the breasts, prostate, skin, kidneys, spleen, liver, blood, salivary glands, and intestines. When it is displaced by the toxic halogens, those tissues suffer. 1
Ensure adequate iodine consumption before and after chlorine, bromine, and fluoride exposure to mitigate some of their toxic effects. Iodine is found in seaweeds, with kelp having the highest concentration, and some fish.
One of the issues with the toxic halogens (iodine excluded) is that they are strong free radicals in the body. This means they are highly prone to damaging tissues. The consumption of antioxidant foods and supplements can greatly mitigate this effect. My favorites, especially for children, are green powders. Green powders are made up of many fruits and vegetables which are packed with antioxidants.
Swimming in a pool can be one of the best activities on a hot summer day, but be sure to take some simple precautions to mitigate the damages of the chemicals used.
(Photo Credit: Zev Gitalis)
- 1. Brownstein, David. Iodine: Why You Need It Why You Can’t Live Without It. Medical Alternative Press: 2009 ↩
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