Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Environmental Threats

We all need to be diligent in protecting our families from the myriad of food safety and product safety issues related to environmental and chemical toxins.  Follow these steps to reduce your family’s exposure to environmental threats.
  1. Buy local and organic foods whenever possible. Reducing the time from “farm to table” preserves nutrient composition.  Eating organic foods reduces your exposure to pesticides.
  2. Drink clean water.  Instead of buying water in plastic bottles, consider using tap water or using a filter to purify water from the tap.
  3. Use glass instead of plastic and choose smart plastics and avoid putting them in the microwave or the dishwasher where they can degrade under excessive heat.
  4. Replace cleaning products with non-toxic, pesticide-free, biodegradable, natural products that don’t contain carcinogenic chemicals.
  5. Reduce meat consumption to reduce your chances of developing chronic conditions like some types of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  6. Look for meat and dairy products that are hormone, antibiotic and steroid free.
  7. Remove all air fresheners, especially plug-in air fresheners.

The Problem with Plastics

Phthalates and Bisphenol A are man-made, endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals also called EDC’s or endocrine disruptors can mimic the body’s own hormones which can lead to negative health effects.

Phthalates are industrial chemicals added to plastic products to make them softer or more flexible. These products include toys, flooring, vinyl (tiles, shower curtains, raincoats, etc.), plastic bags, inflatable toys. Phthalates also are also added to many cosmetics and personal care products as stabilizing agents. These products include scented lotion, shampoo, perfume, aftershave, nail polish, and hair spray. They are even included in baby products. The danger in phthalates is that they are not chemically bonded to the product, which means that the chemicals can leach out over time. For example, a new vinyl shower curtain can elevate indoor air toxics concentrations for over a month. (Environmental Working Group)

Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. “BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles, and baby bottles and cups. They may also be used in toys and other consumer goods. Epoxy resins can be used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, baby formula cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA. And certain thermal paper products, such as cash register receipts, may contain BPA.” (Mayo Clinic)

The National Institue for Health describes “Why People are Concerned about BPA?” “One reason people may be concerned about BPA is because human exposure to BPA is widespread. The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people six years and older. The CDC NHANES data are considered representative of exposures in the United States. Another reason for concern, especially for parents, may be because some animal studies report effects in fetuses and newborns exposed to BPA.” (National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences – National Institute for Health)

More recently it was noted in the New York Times that “Human Exposure to BPA ‘Grossly Underestimated‘”

How these affect our bodies, in short, BPA mimics estrogen, while phthalates block testosterone action. BPA is already, irreversibly, in our bodies, our soil, our air. The body burden has been researching the impact of the buildup of these chemicals in our bodies. And the results of their research is alarming.

“In a study led by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, in collaboration with the Environmental Working Group and Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 91 industrial compounds, pollutants, and other chemicals in the blood and urine of nine volunteers, with a total of 167 chemicals found in the group. Like most of us, the people tested do not work with chemicals on the job and do not live near an industrial facility.

Scientists refer to this contamination as a person’s body burden. Of the 167 chemicals found, 76 cause cancer in humans or animals, 94 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 79 cause birth defects or abnormal development. The dangers of exposure to these chemicals in combination has never been studied.” Environmental Working Groups Body Burden

 “Of the more than 80,000 chemicals in commerce, only a small percentage of them have ever been screened for even one potential health effect, such as cancer, reproductive toxicity, developmental toxicity, or impacts on the immune system. Among the approximately 15,000 tested, few have been studied enough to correctly estimate potential risks from exposure. Even when testing is done, each chemical is tested individually rather than in the combinations that one is exposed to in the real world. In reality, no one is ever exposed to a single chemical, but to a chemical soup, the ingredients of which may interact to cause unpredictable health effects.” (The Body Burden)

It’s not just activist groups that report the lack of testing; the US environmental protection agency reports that “Of the 3,000 chemicals that the US imports or produces at more than 1 million lbs/yr, a new EPA analysis finds that 43% of these high production volume chemicals have no testing data on basic toxicity and only seven percent have a full set of basic test data.” (US EPA HPV Chemical Hazard Data Availability Study).

And unfortunately, until the time that scientists can prove that endocrine disruptors like BPA and phthalates are causing these problems, these chemicals will continue to be used.  In fact, there are so many unregulated products on the market with endocrine disruptors being used today that t if a time comes when we do have direct links, it will be nearly impossible to recall all these products. Even more frightening, it will be too late for our health, as these chemicals leech into our environment and are already present in our soil, water, air and bodies. Currently, oversight and testing on chemicals, regulation and legislation about chemical use and disposal is horribly antiquated.

Activists have been fighting to have the seriously outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) revised and replace with the Safe Chemicals Act. But until then, it is up to us to be aware of these chemicals and do our part to minimize exposure to them. Further, because that is likely not enough, I believe it is also up to us to fight to get these chemicals removed until proven safe, not vice versa.

While estrogen is a naturally occurring hormone, high levels, especially artificially high levels have been linked to increase in many cancers, including breast, prostate, testicular, thyroid, and pancreatic cancers. In December the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) added estrogen to its list of known cancer-causing agents.” (Columbia University Health Sciences article “Estrogen’s Role in Cancer”)

“It’s disconcerting to think that a natural hormone circulating in significant amounts through the bodies of half the world’s population is a carcinogen, but it’s now official. In December the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) added estrogen to its list of known cancer-causing agents.” (Columbia University Health Sciences article “Estrogen’s Role in Cancer”)

While the link between estrogen and cancer and so many other chronic diseases may be new, the connection between BPA and estrogen is not new. In fact, BPA was first developed as an estrogen replacement and was only used in products when scientists discovered that it also had the ability to make plastics clear and strong.


Do 3 Things to Improve Your Nutrition

It can be overwhelming to change our habits and when it comes to improving our health we soon realize that our habits aren’t the only things that need to change, but also our attitudes, our shopping patterns, our routines and our whole lifestyle! Once this hits us, we are prone to want to give up. It seems overwhelming and even impossible. But, it is possible to make big changes with small steps. Each of these three things will improve your health, save you money, help change your attitude toward health and best of all, will get momentum in the right direction. The best thing about making your lifestyle more healthy is that it takes on a life of it’s own. We want to feel better, have more energy, have restful sleep, enjoy our time with friends and family. When we see how small changes in one part of our life can impact and improve all parts of our life, while also giving us undeniable evidence that it is working through energy, reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep we want to continue on the path and adopt more healthy habits. So, if you want to make health a priority, try changing these three things this week. Or try changing 1 of the 3. Any step in the right direction is a step.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. — Martin Luther King Jr.

1. Eat at Home

The benefits of eating at home are well documented and include saving money, improving nutrition, and smarter kids!

When you eat at home, you are in control of ingredients and portions. You can limit use of processed foods, easily store leftovers for the next day and easily control portions to reduce over-eating. And while for many, “time is money” there are still ways to cut down on the time it takes to cook at home without giving in to the convenience of eating out. You can subscribe to meal planning lists to cut down on your planning time, order groceries only, you can even order organic and non-GMO foods online and have them delivered to your home.

A study published in the March 2000 Archives of Family Medicine showed that families eating meals together “every day” or “almost every day” generally consumed higher amounts of important nutrients such as calcium, fiber, iron, vitamins B6 and B12, C and E, and consumed less overall fat, compared to families who “never” or “only sometimes” eat meals together.

According to the British Columbia Medical Association, children who eat at least one meal a day with their families in the home develop more nutritious eating habits, are more likely to have higher grades, better vocabulary and improved communication skills.

2. Stop Drinking Soda and Energy Drinks

In addition to the well known link to increased risk of obesity and diabetes, soda is also linked to kidney stones and other renal problems. In a study published in the journal Epidemiology, the team compared the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people. After controlling for various factors, the team found that drinking two or more colas a day — whether artificially sweetened or regular — was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease.

Risks of caffeine poisoning, irregular heart beat, hallucinations brought on by consumption of energy drinks has been well publicized in recent weeks as the popularity of energy drinks has taken off. Some organizations are moving toward regulating caffeinated drinks

“There’s many physiological effects large quantities of caffeine can have. Increasing blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate. In some, it can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, and hyperactivity and anxiety in young people.” Bruce Goldberger, professor and director of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

There’s no benefit to soda and energy drinks and a lot of risk. For hydration, drink water. For variety, drink green tea for its antioxidant and stimulant properties or drink something like all-natural Performance for flavor and hydration.

3. Eat less meat

Reducing your meat consumption will improve your cardiovascular health. Consumption of meat has long been linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a greater risk for diabetes and cancer. Recent research from Britain shows the links between consumption of meat and meat products with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Meat is difficult to digest and can take longer to process and remove from your body than plants and fibrous foods. Because meats also generally contain a high number of toxins, this means the toxins stay in your system longer too giving them more opportunity to be absorbed into your colon, your intestines and your blood stream. Dioxin, one of the deadliest toxins, is concentrated in meat at levels 22 times what are safe, according to the EPA. As early as 1961, The AMA journal stated that 90+% of heart disease can be prevented with a Vegetarian diet.

You don’t have to go vegetarian to realize the health benefits of reduced meat consumption. Simply reduce your meat consumption by preparing one vegetarian dinner a week. Once you see the incredible variety that can be found in vegetarian meals, you may decide to plan them more regularly.

Do 3 Things to Improve Your Nutrition

It can be overwhelming to change our habits and when it comes to improving our health we soon realize that our habits aren’t the only things that need to change, but also our attitudes, our shopping patterns, our routines and our whole lifestyle!  Once this hits us, we are prone to want to give up.  It seems overwhelming and even impossible.  But, it is possible to make big changes with small steps.  Each of these three things will improve your health, save you money, help change your attitude toward health and best of all, will get momentum in the right direction.  The best thing about making your lifestyle more healthy is that it takes on a life of it’s own.  We want to feel better, have more energy, have restful sleep, enjoy our time with friends and family.  When we see how small changes in one part of our life can impact and improve all parts of our life, while also giving us undeniable evidence that it is working through energy, reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep we want to continue on the path and adopt more healthy habits. So, if you want to make health a priority, try changing these three things this week.  Or try changing 1 of the 3.  Any step in the right direction is a step.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. — Martin Luther King Jr.

1.  Eat at Home

The benefits of eating at home are well documented and include saving money, improving nutrition, and smarter kids!

When you eat at home, you are in control of ingredients and portions.  You can limit use of processed foods, easily store leftovers for the next day and easily control portions to reduce over-eating.  And while for many, “time is money” there are still ways to cut down on the time it takes to cook at home without giving in to the convenience of eating out.  You can subscribe to meal planning lists to cut down on your planning time, order groceries only, you can even order organic and non-GMO foods online and have them delivered to your home.

A study published in the March 2000 Archives of Family Medicine showed that families eating meals together “every day” or “almost every day” generally consumed higher amounts of important nutrients such as calcium, fiber, iron, vitamins B6 and B12, C and E, and consumed less overall fat, compared to families who “never” or “only sometimes” eat meals together.

According to the British Columbia Medical Association, children who eat at least one meal a day with their families in the home develop more nutritious eating habits, are more likely to have higher grades, better vocabulary and improved communication skills.

2. Stop Drinking Soda and Energy Drinks

In addition to the well known link to increased risk of obesity and diabetes, soda is also linked to kidney stones and other renal problems. In a study published in the journal Epidemiology, the team compared the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people. After controlling for various factors, the team found that drinking two or more colas a day — whether artificially sweetened or regular — was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease.

Risks of caffeine poisoning, irregular heart beat, hallucinations brought on by consumption of energy drinks has been well publicized in recent weeks as the popularity of energy drinks has taken off.  Some organizations are moving toward regulating caffeinated drinks

“There’s many physiological effects large quantities of caffeine can have. Increasing blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate. In some, it can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, and hyperactivity and anxiety in young people.” Bruce Goldberger, professor and director of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

There’s no benefit to soda and energy drinks and a lot of risk.  For hydration, drink water.  For variety, drink green tea for its antioxidant and stimulant properties or drink something like all-natural Performance for flavor and hydration.

3. Eat less meat

Reducing your meat consumption will improve your cardiovascular health. Consumption of meat has long been linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a greater risk for diabetes and cancer.  Recent research from Britain shows the links between consumption of meat and meat products with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Meat is difficult to digest and can take longer to process and remove from your body than plants and fibrous foods.  Because meats also generally contain a high number of toxins, this means the toxins stay in your system longer too giving them more opportunity to be absorbed into your colon, your intestines and your blood stream.  Dioxin, one of the deadliest toxins, is concentrated in meat at levels 22 times what are safe, according to the EPA.  As early as 1961, The AMA journal stated that 90+% of heart disease can be prevented with a Vegetarian diet.

You don’t have to go vegetarian to realize the health benefits of reduced meat consumption.  Simply reduce your meat consumption by preparing one vegetarian dinner a week.  Once you see the incredible variety that can be found in vegetarian meals, you may decide to plan them more regularly.