Uncovering Hidden Health Hazards
Holistic health is concerned with disease prevention and finding the cause(s) of disease rather than treating the symptoms of disease with medication and surgery as conventional health care normally practices. (This is referred to as “sick care” by many since the focus is on the disease rather than the overall health of the client.) Most people are unaware of the numerous hidden health hazards that affect our health and well-being. Becoming aware of these disease- influencers can empower us toward making informed lifestyle changes that may both prevent illness and improve our current state of health. Some of these hazards include:
• Water – Water quality involves much more than the seemingly “A-OK” water report your town sends you every year. Water departments typically do not test for toxic chemicals, leaving you uninformed about the true quality and healthfulness of your water. Consider a carbon block filter to help filter out toxic contaminants including medications present in most water supplies. For more info go to Silent Spring.
• Food – There are a multitude of hidden health hazards in our foods. I recommend EWG.org for information on foods with the highest and lowest amounts of toxic pesticides, nutritional content of various foods, and other crucial information.
• Radiation – Half of our exposure to radiation comes from natural sources found in the earth, air, and cosmic rays. The other half comes from man-made sources, including medical imaging. To reduce your exposure, ask your health care provider or emergency room physician to consider standard x-rays or ultrasounds rather than CT scans which can have up to a 1000 X higher radiation dose! Also, limit or avoid microwaving and reduce your use and reliance on wireless devices.
• Personal Care Products – Most of us use an average of 9 – 12 personal care products daily. Shouldn’t we be concerned with the ingredients in these products and their potential for causing disease? There are over 84,000 man-made chemicals used in this country and more than 13,000 of those are in cosmetics and other personal care products. Few of these chemical ingredients have been tested for safety. You might want to consider checking your products’ “score” at SafeCosmetics.com.
• Air pollution – While difficult to avoid, air pollution from coal-fired power plants, auto exhaust and other sources of industrialization contribute untold health effects. Options to reduce risk include avoiding heavy traffic and consideration of indoor air filters.
• Endocrine disruptors – Many people do not realize that many chemicals can actually disrupt our endocrine (think “ hormone”) system, exposing us to a vast array of health issues such as diabetes, obesity, and thyroid disease. Some of the more commonly used chemicals in this class include:
o Dioxin – Mainly by-products of industrial manufacturing, dioxins find their way into food sources such as meat, cheese, and fish where we ingest the toxic contaminant. For more info – World Health Organization
o Atrazine – While the safety of this common week killer is often debated, there exists a wealth of evidence that it is toxic to marine life and to humans. And, according to NRDC “Atrazine was found in 80 percent of drinking water samples taken in 153 public water systems. All twenty watersheds sampled in 2007 and 2008 had detectable levels of atrazine, and sixteen had average concentrations above the level that has been shown to harm plants and wildlife.” More info:
o Phthalates – These are ubiquitous chemicals used in plastics, personal care products, home furnishings, etc. Difficult to avoid, we can lessen our exposure by avoiding products containing “fragrance,” avoiding plastics with recycling codes 3 and 7, and eating organic foods.
o Perchlorate – A contaminant primarily from military operations, perchlorate causes hypothyroidism. (Is anyone concerned about the numbers of people currently taking thyroid replacement medication to treat this disorder?) Again this toxin has been found in drinking water and food sources.
o Fire Retardants (PBDEs) – While flame retardants have been removed from clothing, they still remain in most of our home furnishings. Since household dust contains these chemicals it is advised to dust and vacuum frequently (using a HEPA filter.)
o BPA (Bisphenol A) – BPA and other chemicals leach out of plastic food and water containers, food cans, and medical devices such as IV bags, endangering our health. It’s a known fact that newborn babies have over 200 toxic chemicals in their cord blood! Some folks are still microwaving food in plastic, an even riskier practice. BPA-free plastics are probably no better, found to release estrogen-like chemicals. What to do? Avoid plastics, never heat plastics, and avoid canned foods. More info at Mother Jones:
• Medication – We only need to tune into the evening TV commercials to realize the potential negative effects of medication. What many people don’t realize is that all medication has side effects and potentially negative effects, averaging 70 per drug! This doesn’t include the oft neglected issue of “polypharmacy” interactions that can occur when more than one drug is taken. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of medication is the “Here take this” mentality which encourages the use of medication as a first line to treat disease and illness. Could this mentality be the root cause of our current opioid epidemic?
This is quite a list of hidden health hazards although I haven’t listed all known contenders. Use this information to empower yourself – invest in a home water filtration system, avoid plastics (use glass for food storage), inform yourself on the level of toxins in your personal care products and household cleaners, avoid unnecessary medications and medical imaging, and eat organic.