The toxic world we live in – staying ‘clean’ in an unclean world
The Foundation of Health: seeking Purity and Sufficiency while avoiding Toxicity and Deficiency.
Avoiding toxicity unfortunately comes with adopting a healthy lifestyle. This is not easy in today’s world. As cancer and autoimmune disease continue to increase, we have to face the reality that environmental exposures are one of if not the main cause.
If you live in Bejing, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the poor air quality. But what if you live in Colorado and have the benefit of beautifully clean air and water? There are ‘dangers’ lurking in your food and … elsewhere.
1) Start first with your home – toxicity is real and it comes from many sources including regular cleaning products (floor, countertops, toilets, showers), and laundry products – detergent (containing phthalates), fabric softeners, bleach products.
2) Personal care products – your toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hair dyes & straighteners, eyeliner, mascara, body lotion, sunscreen.
3) Your tap water. Sad to say that in our modern world, municipal water supplies are often contaminated with highly toxic chemicals (nitrates, fluoride. lead).
4) Food – this is where things get more complex and more serious – our food supply has multiple levels of danger:
a) Man-made fats: processed vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils: canola, soy
b) ‘Normal’ or regularly ‘accepted’ or used chemical additives:
i) Sweeteners such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Nutrasweet), and sucralose (Splenda)
ii) Chemical additives, preservatives, flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, monosodium glutamate (MSG), colorings, artificial flavorings, binding agents, thickeners, anti-caking agents (i.e. in salt – sodium aluminosilicate or magnesium carbonate ), and other chemicals: sodium benzoate, benzoic acid, potassium bromate, sodium caseinate, and more [for a great overview of these chemicals and their potential harmful effects read here]
c) Hidden or ‘unknown’ chemicals now commonly present in our foods (and not ‘listed’ on ingredient labels): pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, waxes (think cucumbers, apples)
i) At the top of this list would by glyphosate (weedkiller/herbicide under brand name Roundup, made by Monsanto, now Bayer-Monsanto). Glyphosate is found in many prepared foods, especially those made with wheat, oats, corn – i.e. cereals. Glyphosate has been classified as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ by the World Health Organization, and has been legally found responsible for causing cancer.
ii) What EWG calls ‘Forever Chemicals’ – under the category of PFAS (per- or polyfluoroalkyl): Teflon, Scothguard – these chemicals have been found to increase risk of cancer, kidney disease, thyroid conditions and auto-immune disorders, and interfere with the body’s hormones.
d) Drugs – our world, our lives are now impacted by the insidious intrusion of drugs into the environment – our food, our drinking water, etc.
i) Prescription drugs – direct: it’s rare, if not impossible for prescription drugs to not have side effects. We’ve all heard the TV commercials where at the end, there’s a quickly spoken ‘laundry list’ of potential adverse effects; sometimes those ‘side effects’ are more serious than whatever condition the drug was originally prescribed for. For example, recently ADHD drugs were called out for their potential to cause ‘new onset’ psychosis. In the past, anti-depression medications have been found to be linked to an increase in suicide and violence.
ii) Environmental drugs: contamination of drinking water [“Pharmaceutical drug contamination in our groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuaries and bays is a growing problem” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pharmaceuticals-in-the-water/], meat, supplements and other ‘food items’ we consume. This has resulted in athletes potentially being tested positive for the inadvertent intake of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
WHAT TO DO
Once your eyes are opened to the reality of the ‘minefield’ modern life’s relentless exposure to toxicity presents, what do you do? It seems nearly overwhelming. Here are a few basic action steps for you and your family:
1) Go through all the cleaning products you use – you’ll find that many can be replaced with a spray bottle containing 1/2 white vineger, 1/2 water.
2) Find a natural and fragrance-free laundry detergent – Seventh Generation is a trusted brand. Add white vinegar to your laundry loads.
3) Brush your teeth with coconut oil and baking soda.
4) Do your homework – find makeup and other personal care products not filled with toxic chemicals.
5) Food – you should be preparing from scratch, from whole food ingredients, no less than 18-19 of the 21 meals you eat each week.
a) Shop at your local Farmers’ Market – this will enable you to avoid many chemicals (and you’ll be contributing to less packaging waste). Similarly find a food co-op that sources meat from local farmers.
b) Stop or minimize the purchase of packaged and processed foods – this will accomplish multiple goals: reduce your exposure to many chemicals, and simultaneously reduce/eliminate your consumption of grains, cereal, sugar and processed vegetable oils.
6) Install a quality reverse osmosis unit at your kitchen sink.
7) Ditch all of your ‘non-stick’ cookware and get quality, heavy duty stainless, ceramic cookware (you can often find good deals at stores like Marshall’s, Ross, TJ Maxx). Concerned about food sticking? Use more butter, or some other ‘high smoke point’ oil (> 400 degrees F) – coconut, peanut, sesame, grapeseed, sunflower oil. Oh, and stop using your microwave for ‘cooking’.
HELPFUL REFERENCES – educate yourself, prepare for those people who dismiss the risks or have a cavalier attitude and say ‘A little won’t kill you’:
- Chemical Additives in Food: http://www.lchef.com/the-most-common-chemicals-you-eat-every-day/, or https://medicalxpress.com/news/2010-01-chemical-additives-food.html
- Personal Care Products: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep
- Tap Water: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/ and https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2019/06/ewg-news-roundup-614-nitrate-pollution-us-tap-water-could-cause-12500 [shop here: http://wowwater.com/shop/]
- Artificial Sweeteners: https://bonfirehealth.com/your-worst-enemy-artificial-sweeteners/
- Pesticides: https://www.ecowatch.com/us-pesticide-usage-bans-2638789192.html?
- Glyphosate: https://www.ecowatch.com/errors-new-scientific-paper-glyphosate-2638680626.html? and this: https://www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/monsanto-weedkiller-still-contaminates-foods-marketed-to-children/?
- PFAS (Forever Chemicals): https://www.ewg.org/key-issues/toxics/nonstick-chemicals
- Drugs in drinking water: “Pharmaceutical drug contamination in our groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuaries and bays is a growing problem” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pharmaceuticals-in-the-water/
- Meat contaminated with drugs: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22447758
- Phthalates: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/feb/10/phthalates-plastics-chemicals-research-analysis