Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


3 Comments

We Have To Roll Back The Tide of Pesticide Use Before It’s Too Late

An anthropogenic mass extinction is underway that will affect all life on the planet and humans will struggle to survive the phenomenon. So says Rosemary Mason in a 2015 paper in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry. Loss of biodiversity is the most urgent of the environmental problems because this type of diversity is critical to ecosystem services and human health. Mason argues that the modern chemical-intensive industrialized system of food and agriculture is the main culprit.

New research conducted in Germany supports the contention that we are heading for an “ecological Armageddon” — similar to the situation described by Mason. The study shows the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years. The research data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany and has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture as it seems likely that the widespread use of pesticides is an important factor.

Cited in The Guardian, Sussex University professor Dave Goulson, who is part of the team behind the new study, says, “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life… If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

In the same piece, it is noted that flying insects are vital because they pollinate flowers. Moreover, many, not least bees, are important for pollinating key food crops. Most fruit crops are insect-pollinated and insects also provide food for many animals, including birds, bats, some mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Flies, beetles and wasps are also predators and important decomposers, breaking down dead plants and animals, and insects form the base of thousands of food chains.

The blatant disregard over the use of these substances by regulatory agencies around the world is apparent.

Rosemary Mason has been providing detailed accounts of massive insect declines on her own nature reserve in South Wales for some time. She has published first-hand accounts of the destruction of biodiversity on the reserve in various books and documents that have been submitted to relevant officials and pesticide regulation authorities in the U.K. and beyond. The research from Germany validates her findings.

Mason has written numerous open letters to officials citing reams of statistical data to support the contention that agrochemicals, especially Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup, have devastated the natural environment and have also led to spiralling rates of illness and disease, especially among children.

She indicates how the widespread use on agricultural crops of neonicotinoid insecticides and the herbicide glyphosate, both of which cause immune suppression, make species vulnerable to emerging infectious pathogens, driving large-scale wildlife extinctions, including essential pollinators.

Providing evidence to show how human disease patterns correlate remarkably well with the rate of glyphosate usage on corn, soy and wheat crops, which has increased due to ‘Roundup Ready’ crops, Mason indicates how our over-reliance on chemicals in agriculture is causing irreparable harm to all beings on this planet.

The global pesticides industry has created chemicals of mass destruction and succeeded in getting many of their poisons on the commercial market by highly questionable means:

“The EPA has been routinely lying about the safety of pesticides since it took over pesticide registrations in 1970,” writes Carol Van Strum.

Van Strum highlights the faked data and fraudulent tests that led to many highly toxic agrochemicals reaching the market — and they still remain in use, regardless of the devastating impacts on wildlife and human health.

The blatant disregard over the use of these substances by regulatory agencies around the world is apparent.

The research from Germany follows a warning by a chief scientific adviser to the U.K. government who claimed that regulators around the world have falsely assumed that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes and the “effects of dosing whole landscapes with chemicals have been largely ignored.”

And prior to that particular warning, there was a report delivered to the UN Human Rights Council saying that pesticides have catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole. Authored by Hilal Elver, special rapporteur on the right to food, and Baskut Tuncak, special rapporteur on toxics, the report states, “Chronic exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility.”

Elver says:

“The power of the corporations over governments and over the scientific community is extremely important. If you want to deal with pesticides, you have to deal with the companies.”

The report recommends a move towards a global treaty to govern the use of pesticides and (like many other official reports) a shift to sustainable practice based on natural methods of suppressing pests and crop rotation and organically produced food.

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring (1962) raised the red flag about the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, yet, despite the warnings, the agrochemical giants have ever since been conning us with snake oil under the pretense of “feeding the world.” When you drench soil with proprietary synthetic chemicals, introduce company-patented genetically tampered crops or continuously monocrop as part of a corporate-controlled industrial farming system, you kill essential microbes, upset soil balance and end up feeding soil a limited “doughnut diet” of unhealthy inputs.

In their arrogance (and ignorance), these companies claim to know what they are doing and attempt to get the public and various agencies to bow before the altar of corporate ‘science’ and its scientific priesthood.

Modern farming is in effect a principal source of global toxification and soil degradation.

Chemical-intensive Green Revolution technology and ideology has effectively uprooted indigenous/traditional agriculture across the planet and has recast farming according to the needs of global agribusiness and its supply chains. This has had devastating effects on regions, rural communities, diets, soils, health and water pollution. However, this financially lucrative venture for transnational corporations continues apace, spearheaded by the Gates Foundation in Africa and the World Bank’s “enabling the business of agriculture.”

It took a long time to curtail the activities of big tobacco. Tackling big agribusiness and its entrenchment within the heart of governments and international institutions is urgent. Unfortunately, given the scale of the problem and what is at stake, time is not on our side.

10/26/2017    Colin Todhunter    Independent Writer/Analyst
 
Advertisements


Leave a comment

Toxic Chemical Bpa Still Common In Blood Samples: Survey

OTTAWA – Seven years after Canada declared bisphenol A, or BPA, to be toxic to human health, a national survey of chemicals in Canadians’ bodies shows more than 90 per cent of Canadians have it in their blood and the exposure may actually be getting worse, not better.

BPA is an industrial chemical used in plastics and commonly found in food and beverage containers such as cans and reusable water bottles. It has been linked to brain and behavioural issues in babies and children as well as high blood pressure and infertility in adults. Some studies even suggest early exposure to BPA may make people more prone to obesity.

Health Canada on Thursday released its fourth version of a survey monitoring the presence of toxic chemicals in blood and urine based on testing done on 5,700 Canadians across the country in 2014 and 2015.

The survey used blood and urine samples collected from people between three and 79 years old in 16 different locations in seven provinces.

The results detected the presence of BPA in the blood of 92.7 per cent of the people tested, compared with 92.2 per cent of people tested in 2011 and 2012.

In 2010, the federal government formally declared BPA to be toxic, and banned its use in baby bottles that same year.

The formal declaration was supposed to make it easier for Canada to ban the use of BPA with regulations rather than requiring time-consuming legislative amendments.

Since then, there have been voluntary reductions in the use of BPA in such products as infant formula packaging, food tins and some reusable water bottles, but Canada hasn’t formally banned its use in anything else.

BPA is an industrial chemical used in plastics and commonly found
in food and beverage containers such as cans and reusable water bottles.

While BPA is listed on Environment Canada’s list of toxic substances alongside arsenic, asbestos, lead and mercury, Health Canada also concludes that the current amount of BPA exposure Canadians get from food and beverage containers is low enough that it doesn’t pose a health risk when used in those products.

Muhannad Malas, the toxics program manager for Environmental Defence, said the biomonitoring survey results clearly show any efforts to reduce exposure to BPA thus far are not working.

“I think that sort of points to the inadequacy of the regulations we have on BPA,” said Malas. “So seven years ago BPA was banned in baby bottles after it was declared toxic, seven years later we’re not really seeing BPA levels going down and that’s because it’s continued to be used in things like cash register receipts and food cans.”

Last year Environmental Defence participated in a study with some U.S. organizations which found the presence of BPA in 81 per cent of food cans on store shelves.

Malas said equally disturbing is that the substances being used to replace BPA are not proven to be any safer than BPA.

Environmental Defence Thursday called for Canada to use the results of this report to help guide its decision on what to do about the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. In June, a parliamentary committee made 87 recommendations for improvements to the law, which is the main statute governing the use of chemicals in Canada.

Among those recommendations were to amend the act to make it the principal statute to regulate products containing toxic chemicals, give cabinet more authority to demand data and testing results on products to help assess their risk to Canadians and that the act require all products containing hazardous substances to have mandatory warning labels.

Health Minister Jane Philpott and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna need to respond to the committee recommendations by mid-October.

McKenna said Thursday the government is still studying the recommendations:

“The health and safety of Canadians is a top priority for us and we’re always looking at how we can improve and do better to make sure that we keep Canadians healthy and safe.”

The Canadian Press    Friday, August 25, 2017 
source: ctvnews.ca


Leave a comment

How To Choose The Healthiest Seafood

Choosing the healthiest seafood can be tricky: While many fish are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, some contain unwanted levels of toxins. These tips will make your decision easier.

The Usual

Shrimp They’re loaded with protein and vitamin D. Too bad that a 2014 Oceana study found that 30 percent of shrimp in stores and restaurants were mislabeled or misrepresented–e.g., some were sold as wild-caught Gulf shrimp when they were actually farmed. (Most farmed shrimp come from polluted waterways in Asia and are heavily treated with antibiotics.)

The Fresh Pick

Oysters These low-calorie morsels are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids as well as iron. And thanks to their short life cycle and algae-based diets, oysters are less likely to pick up harmful pollutants from their environment or their food. This makes them one of the healthiest types of seafood you can eat–cooked or raw.

The Usual

Swordfish It may be hearty and satisfying, but swordfish has been found to contain high levels of the industrial pollutant mercury, which it picks up by eating smaller contaminated fish. Mercury can harm development of the nervous system. That’s why the FDA recommends that women who are pregnant or planning to conceive, as well as children, avoid swordfish altogether.

The Fresh Pick

Rainbow Trout Protein-packed rainbow trout has flaky white or pink flesh and an almost nutty flavor; the freshwater variety tends to have a milder taste than seagoing trout (also known as steelhead). Either way, trout is a safe pick: The type you see at the market was likely raised in man-made rivers (called raceways) where it has little to no contact with pollutants like mercury.

trout_fish

The Usual

Atlantic Salmon Salmon is a healthy-diet staple, but because it’s raised in crowded offshore pens, farmed Atlantic salmon is sometimes given antibiotics to prevent disease. It’s often imported (the name now refers to the species, not the ocean it came from); some nations may have looser restrictions on antibiotic use.

The Fresh Pick

Wild Alaskan Salmon All types of salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phosphorous and the essential vitamins D and B12. But most domestic salmon is wild Alaskan salmon, which swims free. Unlike its farmed cousin, this type of fish doesn’t need a protective dose of antibiotics (or an artificial boost in color).

The Usual

Tuna Although it’s a tasty and affordable source of lean protein, tuna has gotten a bad rap. The FDA does recommend that women limit consumption of albacore tuna, which can be high in mercury, to 6 ounces a week. Ahi, bigeye and yellowfin can also have unhealthy levels of toxins. However, canned light tuna, if not mercury-free, is still considered to be relatively low in mercury.

The Fresh Pick

Flounder High in omega-3s and protein, yet low in calories, flounder is an ideal but often overlooked fish. Like other types of flatfish, flounder has niacin, B vitamins and phosphorus. It’s also an excellent source of selenium, an essential mineral that works as an antioxidant to help fight damaging free radicals. As for mercury, flounder’s levels are very low.

By Suzannah Evans, SELF      10/09/2015 


Leave a comment

Study Finds Nail Polish is Messing with Your Hormones

Michelle Schoffro Cook     October 21, 2015

When you paint your nails or go for a manicure, you may be getting more than you bargained for: hormone imbalances and the potential health problems that can result.

A new Duke University-Environmental Working Group (EWG) study published in the medical journal Environment International found that the hormone disruptor triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) found in nail polish (even some seemingly “natural” ones) showed up in every woman the researchers tested, if they had recently painted their nails. The researchers tested ten different brands of nail polishes to determine which ones contained the hormone disruptor: eight of the nail polish brands contained TPHP, including two brands that did not list the ingredient on the label.

Hormone disruptors, or endocrine disruptors as they are also known, are a group of chemicals that cause hormonal imbalances, which are sometimes linked to obesity and weight gain, development of breasts in men, breast cancer and many other possible health issues.

The researchers took urine samples of the women who participated to obtain baseline readings of diphenyl phosphate (DPHP) in their urine since DPHP is a metabolite of TPHP that shows up in urine and demonstrates exposure to the toxin. Then the women painted their nails with a nail polish containing less than 1 percent of TPHP by weight and had their urine tested again 10 to 14 hour afterward. The women had a nearly seven-fold increase of DPHP in their urine, suggesting that the TPHP had made its way into the women’s bodies.

nail polish

But the researchers wanted to determine whether the TPHP found its way into their bodies through inhalation of fumes or through absorption through their nails. To do so, some women painted synthetic nails adhered to rubber gloves so that TPHP could not be absorbed. In this way, the researchers could compare their results. Urinary levels of DPHP were assessed again and found to be significantly lower in the women who wore gloves, suggesting that the primary route of TPHP into the body was through contact with the nails, not inhalation as many people might think. The researchers concluded that painting nails with nail polish is a significant source of the endocrine disruptor TPHP.

TPHP is a plasticizer that may be added to nail polishes to make them more flexible and durable. According to the Environmental Working Group, TPHP is a reproductive and developmental toxin, meaning that it can interfere with fertility and potentially fetal development. Additionally, the chemical can be toxic to the brain and nervous system and cause hormonal imbalances that could lead to many serious health effects. It is also suspected of being an environmental toxin. The organization has compiled a database of over 3,000 nail polishes, of which 49 percent disclose that they contain TPHP, but some contain the endocrine disruptor and do not disclose its presence in the products.

The scientists believe that other ingredients found in the nail polishes made the nails more permeable, thereby allowing TPHP to be absorbed through the nails into the body.

Some of the brands that contain TPHP include: Sally Hansen, Wet n Wild, Opi, Revlon, Maybelline, Essie, butter LONDON, Milani, SpaRitual, Orly, theBalm, Nuance by Salma Hayek and perhaps most surprising, Beauty without Cruelty (BWC). Check out the article, “12 Non-Toxic Nail Polish Brands” to find better options but be aware that because there are insufficient regulations surrounding the use or disclosure about use, some brands may claim to be devoid of TPHP and may still contain the toxic ingredient.


3 Comments

7 Ways To Boost Testosterone and Sex Drive Naturally

BY DR. ROBIN BERZIN      AUGUST 29, 2014 

Do you find yourself too busy, too tired, or too distracted for sex? Or does your drive just not seem to be there like it used to?

Testosterone is not responsible for libido alone. Especially for women, desire stems from a much more complicated set of hormonal and emotional interactions. But for men, while testosterone is not the whole story, it does play a leading role and the modern lifestyle may be your T’s worst enemy.

There is a new syndrome called Irritable Male Syndrome, or IMS, that’s due to testosterone deficiency. It goes beyond low libido, and includes emotional withdrawal, lack of motivation, aggression, personality changes, and anxiety. It can also present as self-destructive behaviors like gambling, alcoholism and workaholism.

If this sounds like you or your man, you’re not alone. Low testosterone affects at least 13.8 million men, with a significant number of those being men in their 30s.

The impact of low T is not just low sex drive or even mood issues. Testosterone deficiency leads to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bone fractures, projected to cost upward of $500 billion in the US in the next 20 years.

Low testosterone also increases a man’s chance of death. One study tracked 800 men for 50 years and showed that the group with the lowest testosterone levels had a 33% greater chance of death from all causes than the group with the highest testosterone levels. And another study showed that men with testosterone deficiency had 88% higher mortality levels than men with normal testosterone.

So how do you know where you stand when it comes to T? If you’re a man experiencing IMS symptoms, or noticing weight gain, fatigue, muscle loss, male pattern baldness, or changes in libido, get tested by a functional medicine doctor who can help you address the root cause of the problem.

While hormone replacement is an option for some, men who take the following seven steps are often able to rehab their testosterone, their sex drive, and the many other symptoms of T deficiency that go along with it.

1. Stay trim.

Belly fat and obesity are testosterone killers. One study showed that obese teen boys have up to 50% less testosterone than their non-obese peers. One reason for this may be that fat cells contain more aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.

Unfortunately, obesity and low testosterone reinforce each other, leading to a spiral of weight gain and hormone imbalance in men. The good news is that reversing the spiral is mutually reinforcing as well.

obesity

2. Get eight hours of sleep.

One study showed that after only one week of just five hours of sleep nightly, testosterone levels dropped 10-15%. While surviving on only a few hours may sound macho to some, it’s actually eroding your most important male hormone.

3. Avoid toxins that harm the testicles.

Phthalates and parabens in personal care products like lotions and shaving creams, and BPA in plastic bottles and on store receipts, are anti-androgens, meaning they disrupt the production and function of multiple hormones including testosterone.

So, green your bathroom cabinet, use stainless-steel reusable water bottles, and say no thanks to receipts at stores to avoid these chemicals.

4. Relax like a pro.

Stress is a major driver of low T. Ultimately your adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones and sex hormones are all interconnected in a beautiful but complicated dance.

A stress-driven phenomenon called “cortisol steal” can lead to a hormone imbalance where the production of testosterone is decreased in favor of cortisol. Stress also increases the production of aromatase and 5-alpha-reductase, two enzymes that break down testosterone.

If you relax and breathe, meditate, do yoga or otherwise boost your parasympathetic nervous system, even for just 10 minutes a day, you give your hormone system a chance to reboot and rebalance, lowering cortisol and increasing testosterone.

5. Avoid statins and eat more fish oil.

Not only do statin drugs negatively impact mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of your metabolism, they have been shown to lower free and total testosterone. This is most likely because cholesterol is the building block of all of your steroid hormones: cholesterol becomes DHEA, which in turn becomes testosterone.

Eating more fish oil will lower inflammation (inflammation lowers testosterone) and will also support the production of healthy cholesterol, the ultimate building block for T. As a bonus, fish oil also lowers sex-hormone binding globulin, the school bus-like protein that ferries testosterone around the body, so that more testosterone is free and available.

6. Take your vitamins seriously.

Vitamins A and E, and minerals zinc and selenium are like fertilizer for androgen production and testicular function. While in the developed world we may eat a lot of food, most of it is low or totally missing these important micronutrients.

Supplements are one targeted way to get more of these critical nutrients, or, eat more shellfish for zinc and selenium, carrots and kale for vitamin A, and almonds and sunflower seeds for vitamin E.

7. Get some sun!

The male reproductive tract is a target for vitamin D, and vitamin D supplementation has been shown to increase total testosterone, bioavailable testosterone and free testosterone. We have an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. If you aren’t sure of your level, get tested, and in addition to supplements, be sure to get your 15 minutes of direct sunshine a day.


1 Comment

What Everyone Should Know About Inflammation: A Cardiologist Explains

BY DR. JOEL KAHN    JULY 8, 2013 

Regular readers of MindBodyGreen are aware that a process in our bodies called inflammation is involved in many aspects of human health and disease. For example, you may have read that a breakfast of Egg McMuffins, sleep apnea, obesity and ultra-exercise are inflammatory, while turmeric, meditation and the Mediterranean diet are anti-inflammatory, and so on. Lost in the search for vitality and longevity is an understanding of what inflammation is and what can be done to tame it. In many ways, inflammation is a Goldilocks process – you don’t want too much or too little, but just the right amount.

When I explain inflammation to patients, I point out that the middle of the word is “flame,” and that it comes from the Latin “I ignite.” Inflammation is a complex process of cells and chemicals in our bodies standing ready to fight infections and other threats, and is a life saver when it’s a controlled reaction to a threat. For example, you may experience inflammation when you’re working on your deck and get a wood splinter. Maybe a mosquito lands on your back and enjoys some of your blood (hopefully full of fresh green juice!). Maybe you sprained your ankle when your perfect yoga hand stand came crashing down.

Over 2,000 years ago, the signs of acute inflammation were described as including pain, warmth, redness and swelling. This “first responder” wave of healing occurs because cells in the area are surveying their environment all the time with detectors on their surface that act much like radar watching for invaders. These detectors are called pattern recognition receptors (PRR). If a PRR detects something that has a “foreign” structure – a pathogen-associated molecular pattern, or PAMP – it will ring the fire alarm internally in the cell and surrounding blood vessels.

Chemicals begin to pour out that cause blood vessels to dilate (redness, warmth and swelling); others increase the sensitivity to pain, and the next thing you know, your ankle or finger is a hot, red, sore mess. These chemicals attract white blood cells that begin to clean up the area by engulfing foreign proteins. Enough white blood cells clumped together is called pus. After a period of increased blood flow, helping to dilute the irritant and bringing fighters to the scene, other factors that promote clotting are released and work to balance and decrease the blood flow. This is what happens when you scrape your knee and it weeps for a while but then scabs over.

inflammation

Some of the star chemicals involved in this process deserve a shout-out. Histamine is waiting to be released when an injury occurs, and causes arteries to expand and leak fluid (think of an antihistamine pill drying up your nose). Interleukins, such as IL-8, come from macrophages (“big eaters” in Greek, ready to swallow substances sensed as foreign) and bring their best friends: white blood cells. The white cells arrive to fight for your recovery because chemical attractants – sort of a white blood cell perfume – are released. Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) also is released from macrophage cells, and may produce fever and loss of appetite. Nitric oxide is a gas released by the inner lining of blood cells and can be dumped out to increase blood flow when an injury occurs.

While inflammation is a protector of our health when it’s an acute response, chronic inflammation is a different story. A diverse group of medical illness are believed to be caused in part by chronic activation of the same chemical and cellular processes described above. These include asthma, acne, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even atherosclerosis of heart arteries. In fact, in 1856 Rudolf Virchow proposed that arterial disease was an inflammation of blood vessels and now, over 150 years later, people who fear heart disease are routinely checked for this process.

So how does a natural, acute response become a chronic condition? Some of the reasons include injury to the gut (leaky gut syndrome) from processed foods, trans fats, sugars, alcohol, gluten and dairy allergies, toxins, ultra-exercise, obesity, inadequate sleep, and excessive stress and anger.

What can you do to keep your balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory reactions in the “Goldilocks” position? There are foods that you can add daily to your meals that cool down inflammation, such as ginger, turmeric, basil and rosemary. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and small amounts of olive oil, can do the same. Avoiding processed foods, dairy, wheat and sugar are also good strategies. Nutritional supplements, such as vitamin D3, omega-3 fish oil, probiotics, turmeric capsules, and boswellia can be helpful. Avoiding toxins such as pesticides and GMO foods by selecting organic products, taking care to choose skin and personal use products that do not contain irritant chemicals, and drinking purified water are solid recommendations. Getting adequate sleep, controlling your weight, and getting regular doses of  moderate exercise will help keep you in balance.

Remember, you can use these relatively simple lifestyle choices to keep the flame of inflammation at a low level and not get burned.