01 Mar Living in a Toxic World!
In the US today, 80,000 chemicals are approved for commercial use and very few have been tested for their health effects on humans and the environment.
We are ALL carrying chemicals in our bodies. These chemicals have been linked to cancer; are toxic to the nervous system; are known hormone disrupters; are toxic to the reproductive system; are toxic to the immune system; and are associated with birth defects and abnormal fetal development. A recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Mount Sinai Medical School tested study participants for 210 toxins. They found 167 and an average of 91 such chemicals in the blood and urine of each of the study participants. (These participants were your “average Joes”- that is, they were not occupationally-exposed to these toxins).
The vast majority of us carry dioxins, DDT (and its metabolites), PCBs, phthalates, solvents, chlordanes, organophosphates, and heavy metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, etc). Most of these toxins are fat soluble. This means that obese people tend to carry a higher burden of toxins. Excess fatty tissue is linked with cancer and diabetes and, indeed, we find this association is true of environmental toxicity too. The brain and nervous tissue, which are made up largely of fats tend to be greatly affected by these fat soluble toxins.
Although toxic burden increases with age, in the world within which we live, we are toxic from birth. In a second study, the EWG identified 287 chemicals and an average of 200 toxins in the cord blood of newborns! In addition, many of these toxins (including perchlorates, a component of rocket fuel and PBDE, used as a flame retardant) have been found in high amounts in breast milk. (Please do not interpret this to mean that a woman should not breast feed if she is able- the benefits still greatly outweigh the risks). We must be aware that our children are especially susceptible to toxin exposures because of their relatively low body weight and their increased susceptibility to harm during some critical development windows.
In addition to chemical exposure, living in a wireless world means that we are also bombarded with electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, computers, and other appliances. The long term effects of such exposure are not well documented but evidence is slowly mounting that this form of radiation is harmful; again, particularly in children.
Obviously this information is alarming. So, what can we do about this? Below, I have listed a number of easy and practical strategies to incorporate into your life in order to decrease your toxic load:
* Drink green tea or oolong tea on a daily basis
* Eat berries and other brightly colored fruits
* Eat cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale)
* Add spices to your cooking (especially turmeric, ginger, onions, and garlic)
* Incorporate seaweed in your diet (nori, wakame, etc.)
* Increase fiber in the diet (esp. rice bran and oat bran)
* Boost your intake of chlorophyll by upping your greens (spinach, kale, dandelion, beet greens, etc.)
* Sweat it out through exercise and saunas
* Drink only filtered water and consider a filter for your shower head
* Avoid plastics and canned foods
* Consider organic produce and animal products. Foods which are highest in pesticides include: peaches, apples, pears, spinach, strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, green beans, and winter squash
* Eat wild caught fish (this is true for most species), avoid large fish and “bottom feeders”
* Carry your cell phone away from your body (in a purse, for example). Use speaker phone mode. Switch ears when talking on the phone. In general, limit the use of cell phones and cordless phones.
* Get good quality sleep every night
Since attending a continuing education lecture about environmental toxicity, I have decided to form a new detoxification program for those of my patients who are interested. I will be offering laboratory testing for heavy metals and other toxins. We will discuss nutritional and lifestyle interventions to enhance detoxification. I will also be recommending targeted supplements, herbal therapeutics, and homeopathic remedies to decrease the patient’s specific toxin load.
Environmental toxicity is a reality; one with which we have to live. But even more so, one with which our children will have to contend. That being said, there are many small, yet powerful things each person can do to decrease their toxic load. Incorporate a few of the above suggestions into your life today.
For more information about environmental toxicity, please refer to the following resources:
Healthy Children Healthy World (CHEC) website: http://www.checnet.org/
Environmental Working Group (EWG) website: www.ewg.org
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website: www.epa.gov
Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment.
If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact Dr. Leat Kuzniar, ND at 201-757-5558 or, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.