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There are chemicals in our food and skin products that have been linked to disrupting our endocrine system. So what is your endocrine system anyway?
It is an interconnected system of glands in your body that control your entire metabolism! It includes the Hypothalamus and the Pineal and Pituitary Glands in your brain, your Thyroid Gland and Pancreas, your Thymus Gland and Adrenal Glands as well as the Testes and Uterus.
The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), an independent research and education organization, recently published a list of the most harmful chemicals that can throw your endocrine system off the track, opening the way for serious chronic health conditions. Let’s take a look:
BPA A chemical used in plastics (like the plastic lining most canned foods) that imitates estrogen, fooling your body into thinking it’s the real thing. It is linked to breast and other cancers, obesity, early puberty and heart disease. 93% of Americans have BPA in their bodies. Avoid It by eat fresh food rather than canned whenever possible. Wash your hands after handling receipts because the paper is often coated with BPA!
- Dioxin Dioxins build up in the body from materials manufactured with chlorine or bromine (like bleached or bromated flours) and can disrupt both male and female reproduction. It is also a powerful carcinogen. Cut down your exposure by eating fewer animal products and avoid bleached (white)flour products.
- Atrazine Atrazine is highly toxic and is used widely on corn crops and is pervasive in water supplies. It disrupts reproduction, is linked to breast tumors and can delay puberty. Avoid it by drinking water filtered through a reverse osmosis process.
Phthalates They trigger the “death-inducing signaling” in the testicular cells, causing them to die prematurely. Phthalates can trigger abnormal hormone changes, lower sperm counts, and lead to obesity, diabetes and thyroid problems. Avoid it by avoiding plastic containers, plastic wrap make with PVC (label #3), and skin products that list “fragrance”.
- Perchlorate Perchlorate is in rocket fuel and currently contaminates much of our produce and milk. It competes with iodine in your body, resulting in thyroid hormone imbalance – so critical to balanced metabolism in adults and to proper brain and organ development in infants and young children. Avoid It is pretty much impossible to avoid it in food. But, by drinking water treated with reverse osmosis and making certain you get enough iodine in your diet, you can reduce its effects.
- Fire Retardants These chemicals contaminate the bodies of people and animals all over the planet – even in polar bears! They imitate thyroid hormones, disrupting your metabolism. This can lead to lower IQ and other significant health conditions. Avoid Virtually impossible to avoid, there are some ways to help reduce exposure such as using a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner, not reupholstering foam furniture, and not using cheap carpet padding.
- Lead Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal that is very toxic to the body. It is linked to a very wide array of health problems such as permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, hypertension, kidney damage and nervous system problems. It also disrupts your hormones. Avoid Old paint is a major source of lead – its powder in the air is breathed in and children eat the lead dust off the floor. Drink water that has been through reverse osmosis (you might want to buy your own filter).
- Arsenic This toxin is in your food and drinking water in small amounts that accumulate in your body. It is a causative factor in cancer and it disrupts your hormones. It can lead to insulin resistance (which leads to diabetes), osteoporosis, and can suppress your immune system. Avoid Use a good reverse osmosis water filter.
- Mercury This is an extremely toxic material that can cause serious nervous system disorders, disrupt normal pancreatic production of insulin and the hormones that regulate women’s cycles. It concentrates in the fetal brain and interferes with its development. Pregnant women are at great risk. Avoid Many types of fish- such as tuna and swordfish – are contaminated with mercury. Wild salmon and farmed trout are good alternatives.
- PFCs These chemicals are used to make nonstick cookware and 99% of us have them in our bodies. One of its compounds (PFOA) never degrades – ever – and is linked to low sperm quality, kidney and thyroid diseases. Avoid Stop using nonstick cookware as well as stain and water resistant coatings on furniture, carpets and clothing.
- Organophosphate pesticides These are neurotoxic compounds used in pesticides to disrupt the nervous system of insects and are still in use despite a large array of scientific evidence that they affect brain development, lower testosterone levels and alter thyroid hormones. Avoid Buy organic produce (check out this RNPA bookmark to learn which produce should best be purchased organic and which are okay to buy without the organic label).
- Glycol Ethers These toxins – common in paints, cleaning products, brake fluid and cosmetics – shrink testicles! Children who are exposed have greater risk of asthma and allergies. Avoid Check out EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to select healthy cleaning materials. Avoid anything that contains EGBE and DEGME – read those labels!
Knowledge is power; you can learn to protect yourself and your loved ones in this environment heavily laced with toxins.
According to a recent study by Consumer Reports, 97% of the chicken breasts they test harbored bacteria that could make you sick.
Analyzing more than 300 chicken breasts purchased across the US, the scientists found potentially harmful bacteria in almost all of them, including organic brands. More than 50% of the breasts contained fecal contamination. Around half of them contained at least one bacteria that was resistant to 3 commonly used antibiotics. This resistance to antibiotics is becoming a major public health threat according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They are linked to at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths per year here in the US.
What are these bacteria and how can they harm us? The chief culprit is salmonella. Salmonella come in many strains, the most dangerous of which is the Heidelberg variety, the culprit in the recent Foster Farms salmonella outbreak that drew a public health alert from the Dept. of Agriculture (USDA). Christopher Braden, MD, of the CDC, reports that the Heidelberg salmonella produced these symptoms, common in most salmonella poisonings:
nausea, vomiting, severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and a low-grade fever
About 20 percent of people with salmonella end up hospitalized; almost 40 percent of those sickened by the Foster Farms-¬produced chicken did, Braden says.
So, how do we protect ourselves?
- Keep your kitchen very clean
- Cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees (use a good meat thermometer)
- Prevent cross contamination: Often when you take the chicken out of the package, you get bacteria on your hands, then touch the handle of your faucet, trash bin, or kitchen cabinet. Once they have bacteria on them, these dangerous bacteria can live on those surfaces for hours and sometimes days
Want to learn more about this public health hazard? Click on the link in the above article. Let’s all stay healthy
Could depression, anxiety, ADHD and like conditions be connected with what is happening in the rest of our bodies?
Yes! Our brains are connected to our bodies. Welcome to the world of Holistic Mental Health – the study and clinical application of the connections between our bodies and our minds.
Classically-trained psychiatrist Mary Beth Ackerley MD, MDH, ABIHM, takes a holistic approach to her practice and explains that “The holistic model supports the idea that body chemistry, spirituality, diet, nutrition, and other factors can impact the brain in diverse ways.”
Dr. Ackerley explains some of the key contributors to mental conditions that you might otherwise not suspect:
1. Blood toxicity, resulting from heavy metals or environmental chemicals (especially lead and mercury)
2. Improper diet, particularly poor quality or processed foods, or foods containing wheat, gluten, sugar, artificial sweeteners and dairy products (to which many people are highly sensitive)
3. Lack of exercise
4. Drug and alcohol use and abuse
5. Hormonal or chemical imbalances in the body
6. Psychological factors, including traumatic events, prolonged untreated stress, self-destructive beliefs, serious financial hardships, etc. Stress, so common in our society, can cause deeper problems such as fibromyalgia, insomnia and depression
7. Genetics as evidenced by a family history of mental health conditions or hormonal imbalances
8. Lack of support from family, community or spiritual groups
So what are some of the clinical approaches in Holistic Mental Health – other than medications which may be indicated?
Individual involvement in our own care, actively participating and not expecting any “silver bullet pills”
Lab testing for chemical and hormonal imbalances in the body which may be contributing to the condition
Lab testing for mold illness, a serious element in many mental conditions
Dietary changes – eating more non-processed foods and more vegetables and fruits and fewer grains
Nutritional supplementation to balance body chemistries
Lifestyle changes – such as increasing our exercise, even just walking each day for 20-30 minutes
Integrative therapies such as massage, biofeedback, talk therapies, yoga and art therapy to mention just a few approaches
How can we find a Holistic Mental Health practitioner?
Some of the organizations to explore: American Board of Holistic Medicine (AHBM), the American Holistic Health Association (AHHA), the American Holistic Medicine Association (AHMA), the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM), and the American College of Advanced Medicine (ACAM).
We will be exploring some of the approaches mentioned here in more depth in coming articles. You can learn more by clicking on the link above. Here’s to our health!