How many of us stop to think about the growing, production and processing of our food, and what the long-term effects those things will have on our health. Do you ever wonder why cancers, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, autism, alzheimer’s heart disease and obesity are skyrocketing?
According to a recent article in the New York Times. for the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents. The report, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, says, “the prevalence and severity of obesity is so great, especially in children, that the associated diseases and complications – Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, cancer – are likely to strike people at younger and younger ages”. The health effects of being obese depend on many factors, like one’s fitness level and type of diet.
People today are eating more processed food and not getting enough exercise. There are more toxins in the food we eat and in our environment than ever before. There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today, but only about 200 of them have been tested for safety. This is because the Environmental Protection Agency only requires safety testing after there is proof that a substance poses a health risk under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 — the only major environmental regulation that has not been updated. Did you know there are are an average of 200 chemicals and pollutants in babies’ cord blood at birth? Some of these include pesticides, consumer product ingredients and wastes from burning coal, gasoline and garbage. This can have a profound effect on developing organs of babies and children. And even subtle changes can have permanent consequences that can’t be fixed later on, whether it’s the brain, the lungs, the blood cells or any other system in the body. The placenta offers great protection while in the womb, but certain chemicals can seep through and have an impact on the development of cells and organs before birth.
Interestingly, children who were conceived in June, July or August have, on average, test scores for math and language that are 1 percent to 1.5 percent lower than scores of kids who were conceived during other months. Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine found this correlation is due to the increased pesticide exposure the fetus receives during the summer months. Birth defects are also more common between April and July, as are premature births. Mothers who live near landfills also have been found to be at greater risk for birth defects. Girls appear to be reaching puberty at younger and younger ages, and studies suggest that environmental chemicals that mimic hormones might be involved in this phenomenon.Those chemicals include DDE,, a breakdown of the pesticide DDT, and compounds used to make plastics, including bisphenol A, or BPA, and phthalates. This applies not only to women who who are pregnant right now, but also those who want to become pregnant in the future. Also families with young children right now, and any adult who would like to keep their own chemical burden to a minimum.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your chemical exposure for you and your family.
⦁ Buy organic fruits and vegetables and dairy products whenever possible.
⦁ Buy grass fed meats and free range eggs and poultry. Eat wild caught fish instead of farmed.
⦁ Use all natural cleaners in your home instead of chemicals.
⦁ Use natural brands of cosmetics and toiletries. Most health food stores carry chemical free bodywash, shaving cream, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. There are several DYI recipes that are cheaper and just as effective as the ones loaded with chemicals.
⦁ Choose glass storage containers for your food and drinks when possible, and avoid heating your food in plastic containers or covered in plastic wrap.
⦁ Filter your water. You can buy a good water pitcher to keep in the fridge that will filter out fluoride and other chemicals. Use BPA free or glass water bottles for on the go.
⦁ Reduce the use of plastic in your home. Use glass containers for food storage. Most plastic wraps, plastic food containers and drink containers contain plasticizers and other chemicals that are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Plastic toys can be harmful to your child’s health. They can contain such chemicals as phthalates. Toys from wood, cloth, natural fibers and paper are better choices, but be careful of painted wooden toys – check that the paint is non-toxic.
⦁ Avoid charring meats or other foods on a barbecue and always cook foods on gas or electricity, not with charcoal products. Some cookware is unhealthy when heated, such as Teflon pans. Teflon contains PFOA (perfluuoro-octanoic acid) which is considered to be a potential carcinogen. Stainless steel, cast iron and ceramic-coated steel are good choices. Lining skillets and baking pans with parchment paper is good for non stick cooking.
⦁ Buy less processed food. Cooking from scratch takes more time and effort, but the results are well worth it. Getting your family involved in planning healthy meals and snacks, shopping at a farmer’s market, and taking turns preparing meals will teach good eating habits, and is a good way to spend quality time together. Preparing meals in large batches and freezing them in small (BPA-free) containers can save money and make mealtime prep easier on busy days.
⦁ Stay away from genetically modified foods, such as soybeans, corn, cotton, canola oil, sugar beets, potatoes, and tomatoes. We eat many products derived from these crops—including some cornmeal, oils, sugars, and other food products unaware of their genetically engineered content.
Always read labels so you know what you are eating, and where it’s produced. . If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it or use it on your body!