Reducing the Toxic Load
REDUCING THE TOXIC LOAD
By Eve Prang Plews, Licensed Nutrition Counselor
Reprinted from Natural Awakenings Magazine
Sarasota, FL October 2007
Twenty plus years ago when this author began to study homeopathy, the world’s second largest health treatment after herbs, I met Luc Chaltin, N.D. This Belgian born engineer had survived a tuberculosis diagnosis at age 40 after fate put a book in his hands, a book on homeopathy. Dr Luc, as he’s known to all who have learned from him, had not yet been chosen to serve on the National Institute of Health Alternative Medicine Board. Nor had he started the American Academy of Clinical Homeopathy, or written his books and trainings. But as my teacher, he often talked about illness being caused by "toxins and viruses." These all pervasive toxins interfere with the metabolism in the cell; they gummed up the works, as my daddy used to say. If it wasn’t a toxin that made our cells go kaput, it was a virus, "toxins and viruses, toxins and viruses," over and over. It seemed that was the answer to so many of the questions of why- why did this person get sick? What caused this problem? How did good function go awry? Toxins and viruses were Dr Luc’s refrain. After two decades practicing nutrition in Sarasota in addition to a decade prior in Sedona and Boulder, I’m here to say that what causes the most illness and disability is toxins and viruses. Thanks Dr. Luc.
Toxins – What and Where
Can we reduce the Total Toxic Load or TTL? ABSOLUTELY! First you reduce the toxins coming in. Then you begin to remove what’s already in the body. You can help toxins get out of your blood, your connective tissue and most often, your fat! Our fat is the major toxic waste dump.You have to be motivated, you have to want to build a cleaner, better functioning body. Perhaps to change the all-too-common disability zone, that degrades the last decade of life, into thriving instead of just surviving day to day.
My grandmother said we should "live, live, live, croak." A much better fate than becoming medically maintained, waiting for a test result only to get another drug, another appointment, then another test and on and on. "Retangularizing the morbidity curve," is the $5 term meaning we live great for 85 years or so and it all comes apart quickly at the end. Reduce your TTL and quality life can be yours for decades. It’s an effort with a big payoff. What effects do low dose toxic exposures pose to us over a lifetime? We all know toxic compounds can kill in high doses, but what about a lifetime of a "little bit," especially a little bit of a lot of different chemicals and heavy metals piled one on top of another over decades. Ignoring these risks is foolish, expensive, and even dangerous. Yet we can not live toxin free in this dirty world we’ve polluted.
Water, Water, Water!
What’s realistic? Where are our efforts going to provide the biggest benefit? Start with water. Pure, clean, water – an oxymoron? We need tons of water over our lifetime. Yes tons. One quart = 2 pounds. A 128 pound person needs 2 quarts a day or over 7 tons of water in 10 years. That’s a lot of potentially toxic fluid to send through our bellies, kidneys and bloodstream. From private wells to city water, filtered, bottled or infused with vitamins, there are lots of water choices. Chloroform, both toxic and carcinogenic, is formed as a chlorine by-product. The very beneficial chlorine that delivers bacteria-free water has an evil twin, trihalomethane or THM produced as a by-product when chlorine reacts with naturally occurring substances in water, even in swimming pools.
The President’s Council on Environmental Quality states that "there is increased evidence for an association between colon, rectal and bladder cancer and the consumption of chlorinated drinking water." Incidents of cancer are 44% higher among those using chlorinated water. Nearly 40% of all pharmaceutical drugs contain Chlorine as do most pesticides. Chlorine competes with the critical nutrient iodine, necessary for reducing cancer risks, especially in the breast. Too many dollars are spent looking for the "cure." What about looking for prevention? For years, it was thought that Japanese women had low breast cancer rates from eating soy foods. Now it is suspected that the protective effect of iodine is what lowers their breast cancer risks. Most of us know iodine is critical to make thyroid hormones but few know that it lowers risks of heart disease. It is best to go back to simple iodized salt and save the expensive sea salt for occasional use.
Happily, fluoride is not added to Sarasota water, unlike the 100 million Americans who don’t get a choice. While fluoride may reduce cavities, the overall drop off in cavities nationally has been in both fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas. Perhaps just better dental hygiene has initiated the decline. Yet the potential risks of cancer are noted all over Europe where fluoride is used with more caution. Fluoride, like chlorine, competes with iodine thus increasing risks of cancers. Think twice before exposing yourself or your kids to more fluoride from toothpaste, dental sealant and mouthwash.
It is surprising to learn what environmental pollutants the Environmental Working Group found in Sarasota County water in the study it ran from 1998 – 2003. There were 56 total contaminants detected above "health based limits." Read the report yourself at www.ewg.org. You’ll find that the Sarasota County Water Quality Summary mailed to your home to inform you that your tap water is safe, fails to reveal key water quality testing information. Some toxic compounds are not yet required to be tested. Only two herbicides are tested for by the county yet 25 were found by EWG’s investigation. What can you do to reduce your risk?
Use a solid block or compressed carbon or charcoal filter at home. For $100-300, an "absolute one micon" filter will not only capture bacteria, parasites and heavy metals, it will also tackle many of the spilled gasoline, dry cleaning solutions, pesticides and other harmful compounds found by the EWG U.S. Tap Water Quality Database testing.
The current push to stop using plastic disposable water bottles should focus attention on the harmful bisphenol A containing plastic bottles (the one with the triangle symbol 7) and more emphasis on using bottles marked 1, 2, and 5 as safer alternatives.
Refill your own stainless bottle from your filter at home. With rainfall down nearly 50% this year, it is impossible to endorse reverse osmosis water systems no matter how clean it gets the water. This inefficient system is not only costly ($300-3,000 plus installation) it wastes 5-10 gallons of water for every one gallon it produces. Reverse osmosis it not an ecologically sound way to deliver good water plus essential minerals have been removed.
Picnics & Chicken
Arsenic in drinking water affects 140 million people in 70 countries. A known carcinogen, arsenic is fed to 70% of U.S. chickens in their feed as Roxarson to inhibit bacteria and parasites! Some commercial chicken suppliers from Bell and Evans to Tyson Foods have refused to give arsenic laced feeds to their birds. But 90 of fast food restaurant chicken items tested, contained detectable arsenic. Yet another reason to buy organic!
Arsenic and Old Picnic Tables
Letting the kids play on the deck made from that green tinged lumber banned in 2002 is another sure
way to get arsenic exposure. CCA, (chromated copper arsenate) lumber makes up 90% of decks, docks, fences, patios and playsets. Arsenic leaches into the surrounding soil and the water below the docks. What kid doesn’t play in the dirt, eat a sandwich off the picnic table and put their hands in their mouth? Two of five backyard or playground sites tested for arsenic qualified as a Superfund Toxic Waste Site. Yikes! The age of the wood didn’t matter. Arsenic was released by new tables, barely 6 month old as well as picnic tables that were 15 years old. Use a tablecloth. Seal decks and docks every 6 months and replace the handrails.
The Dirty Dozen
The DO NOT EAT, EVER list would include: Swordfish, shark, tilefish, King Mackerel, white or sushi grade tuna. One of the arguments for vegetarianism is to reduce exposure to DDT, PCB’s, mercury, persistent chlorine-rich pesticides, long ago banned, but still showing up in the meat at the dinner table. How about part-time vegetarianism?
Eat at least one meat and dairy free meal per day. Reduce portions of meat to 3 or 4 ounces. Add more whole grains and beans to the diet. From Alar® in apples to Temik® in watermelons, the risk index for today’s pesticides is low even though there is extensive multiple exposure. Peel non-organic vegetables, especially carrots and potatoes. Avoid the "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables.
They typically have 2-3 different pesticides in each sample. Actually up to 45 were found in one fruit! What are the most contaminated produce items? Peaches followed by apples, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, imported grapes and pears. Five of the Dirty Dozen are vegetables. Sweet bell peppers, celery and lettuce are followed by spinach. Popeye would be very upset to find that this macular degeneration preventor contained 10 pesticides on average. Washing reduces but does not eliminate contamination. If you don’t buy any other organics, buy these 12. Remember these lists come from the USDA Pesticide Data Program where foods are washed prior to testing.
If you limit what goes in and work on eliminating what’s already in your body, you have a much better opportunity to live a long, less toxic life in this dirty world.