ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND FOOD SUSTAINABILITY

STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH TOXINS

REMOVE

One of the most important steps is to remove or limit toxin exposure to the body. This can be accomplished in a number of practical ways.

  • Eat organic or avoid toxin-laden foods – reduce exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, and petrochemicals by eating organic foods or purchase foods according to consumer guides by organizations such as the Environmental Working Group (i.e., Clean 15 Foods).
  • Drink pure water – have your main source of drinking water tested for contaminants and/or use a water filter (reverse osmosis or carbon filter).
  • Reduce indoor pollution – install HEPA or ionizing filter at home and place of work to reduce exposure to dust, mold, volatile organic compounds.
  • Use non-toxic household and personal care products – carefully select products free of common toxins (phthalates, parabens, triclosan, aluminum, sodium laureth sulfate, etc.).
  • Use less plastic – use glass when safely possible to avoid exposure to BPA.
  • Reduce heavy metal exposure – take precautions to avoid lead as well as mercury (see the Natural Resource Defense Council on ways to reduce mercury exposure, especially through fish consumption).

IMPROVE

It is impossible to avoid all the toxins in the surrounding environment making it important to eliminate those with which we come into contact.

  • Maintain adequate levels of hydration, ≥ 64 ounces of water per day.
  • Keep regular pattern of daily bowel movements.
  • Exercise regularly to help flush toxins out of tissue into circulation for detoxification.
  • Sweat on consistent basis through exercise or steam baths/saunas.

BOOST

Up-regulate the body's natural detoxification pathways with phytochemical-rich foods and targeted supplements to prevent the accumulation of toxins within the body.

  • Eat cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.).
  • Eat high-quality, sulfur-containing foods (whey protein, garlic, onions).
  • Cook with detoxifying herbs (cilantro, rosemary, dandelion greens).
  • Drink both herbal and green teas rich in bioflavonoids.
  • Consider supplements – vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine, alpha-lipoic acid.

ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS

AVOIDING BPA, PHTHALATES, PESTICIDES, HALOGENATED COMPOUNDS AND OTHER HARMFUL TOXICANTS

    • Limit exposures to plastics whenever feasible, avoid heating food or beverages in plastic.
    • Discard old, scratched, or damaged plastic food containers, and do not refill plastic water and beverage bottles. Any abrasion leads to chemical leaching, and bacterial contamination rates are high.
    • Avoid plastics with the numbers 7 and 3 as a rule whenever possible, until the recycling codes are updated.
    • Avoid food packaging and canned goods. (take your own glass leftover containers with you to restaurants).
    • Drink filtered H2O from non-plastic containers.
    • Avoid non-stick utensils, pots, and pans.
    • Limit animal fat - a source of lipophilic halogenated chemicals.
    • Limit lake fish and seafood to low mercury choices (CDPH, 2013).
    • Animal protein should be organic fed/free-range/hormone free whenever possible.
    • Dairy should be free of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone).
    • Use non-toxic personal/cleaning chemicals: EWG Skin Deep® Cosmetic Database.

    Resources

    CELL PHONES AND SPECIFIC ABSORPTION RATES

    Precautionary Steps

    • Limit number and duration of calls on handheld cell phones
    • Use hands-free kits where there is a greater separation between the user and the radiating antenna, or use the speakerphone option.
    • Keep the phone away from your body while using the headset.
    • Talk less on the call. The phone radiates energy when you talk, not when you listen or receive messages.
    • Text more than talk. Cell phones emit less radiation when texting.
    • If you are in a poor reception area, the phone must power up to get the signal through. Save your call for later, if possible.
    • Limit children's time on cell phones due to higher absorption rates of energy per kg.
    • Use a safer phone. Obtain information on the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) for a specific cell phone model by using the FCC identification number for the phone. FCC ID Search
    • Turn the battery away from the body when carrying the cell phone in a pocket.

    CLEAN WATER

    Some Basic Water Rules

    • Know your water source
    • Do not assume it is safe.
    • Bottled water is not necessarily more pure than tap water.
    • Do not drink from bottled water containers that have been opened and become warm due to the risk of rapid bacterial contamination.
    • Along the same lines, do not refill plastic drinking water bottles for multiple uses. The risk of bacterial contamination is high.
    • Raise awareness about disinfection byproducts and install filters in faucets and shower heads. Check NSF international for specifics in your area.
    • Well water quality should be checked at least annually, and after any natural disaster such as flooding, especially if you have an infant.
    • If you live in an area where agricultural or concentrated animal feeding operations are present, be aware of the increased risk of nitrates in groundwater.
    • Consider using a water filter for your tap water: EWG's Water Filter Guide
    • Ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis technologies may work best to remove microplastics from tap water.
    • Become familiar with the many tools available to help be a more informed consumer.

    FOOD SUSTAINABILITY

    Definition of Food Sustainability:

    Sustain means to hold something. Sustainability means capable of being maintained over the long term and meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. (From ADA Position Statement 2007 J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:1033-1043)

    Sustainability recognizes the interdependence of people, culture, economy in both urbanized and rural environments.  Foods that are "closer to nature" have a lower impact on the environment.

    What is eating sustainably?

    Meals composed of foods that contribute to human health and also encourage the sustainability of food production.

    SUSTAINABLE PRODUCE AND MEAT

    HOW TO MAKE BETTER PRODUCT CHOICES 

    ADVOCACY AND TRANSLATION GROUPS

    Advocacy opportunities in environmental medicine exist at every level, from patient counseling and hospital design to the shaping of national policy. Practitioners and consumers educated about environmental health have an important opportunity to push for change.

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