Staying Healthy In A Toxic World
Do you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome? Do certain foods or exposure to chemicals like pesticides, car exhaust, or perfumes cause unpleasant reactions or make you feel sick? Do you suffer from persistent digestive problems or acid reflux? Do you have hay fever, asthma, or chronic sinus or respiratory issues? Do you seem to get an unusual number of colds or flu? Do you feel tired all the time no matter how much you sleep? Do your joints ache? Are you plagued with debilitating headaches or migraines? Do you have eczema or other chronic skin rashes? Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease? Do you have trouble concentrating, or have you been told you have ADHD? Are you struggling to find solutions to persistent allergies and other chronic problems that afflict your kids?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. In fact, these kinds of problems — unfortunately — are now so common that the level of ill health and chronic disease in the U.S. and other industrialized countries is increasingly being described as an epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, almost half of American adults have at least one chronic disease, and the incidence is rising.
The Scope Of The Problem
Numbers detailing the true incidence of the myriad health problems people suffer from often conflict and are hard to come by, if they exist at all. That caveat notwithstanding, here are some statistics that give an idea of the scope of the health crisis we face:
- According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control 46 million people in the U.S. now have rheumatoid arthritis.
- 24 million Americans—75% of whom are women—suffer from autoimmune disease, according to the book, The Autoimmune Epidemic.
- The National Fibromyalgia Association estimates that 10 million Americans and 3-6% of the world population are afflicted with this painful and often disabling condition.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 1 million Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome. Other sources say the incidence is much higher.
- Food allergies, which can range from annoying but relatively mild reactions to life-threatening anaphylaxis, are also on the rise, with one conservative estimate putting the number of allergy sufferers in the U.S. at 15 million.
What's Happening To Our Kids?
The 2010 book A Compromised Generation: The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children notes that in the 15 years between 1995 and 2010, the rate of autism in kids soared 6,000% from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150, both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and allergies rose 400%, asthma increased 300%, and the rate of childhood diabetes more than doubled.
The website www.EpidemicAnswers.org, reports 54% of kids have at least one chronic condition. 1 in 12 kids younger than 4 years old have “true” (IgE-mediated) food allergies, and one-third of all kids now have bad reactions to particular foods. 1 in 5 kids have allergic eczema, an autoimmune reaction, and 40-60% of children now suffer from seasonal allergies in the form of hay fever.
The incidence of a wide range of behavioral issues—mood disorders, neurobehavioral disorders, developmental delays and learning disabilities—are also skyrocketing. According to EpidemicAnswers.org, 1 in every 10 kids has ADHD, 1 in 30 are bipolar, and 1 in 6 have a learning disability.
These statistics reflect only those who have been diagnosed with one condition or another. For every person who is diagnosed, there are countless others who aren’t diagnosed but are nevertheless suffering from chronic illness.
Why Is This Happening?
Since World War II, our environment—the space within which we exist—has become saturated with a wide range of chemicals and other substances that our bodies were not designed to co-exist with. The Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital (CEHC) in New York points out that since World War II, more than 80,000 new chemicals have been invented, many of which are widely dispersed in the environment. Specifically, the CEHC website notes:
Nearly 3,000 chemicals are high-production-volume (HPV) chemicals. They are produced each year in quantities of greater than one million pounds. HPV chemicals are used extensively in our homes, schools, and communities. They are widely dispersed in air, water, soil, and waste sites.
Over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released by industry into the nation's environment each year, including 72 million pounds of recognized carcinogens.
Of the top 20 chemicals discharged to the environment, nearly 75% are known or suspected to be toxic to the developing human brain.
These chemicals include synthetic pesticides, which are formulated to kill various life forms (insects, plants (e.g., weeds), fungi, etc.) and chemicals that are supposed to make our modern lives easier.
Into the latter category are things like plastics, flame retardants (PBDEs), Teflon and other non-stick cooking surfaces, which are proving to be particularly widespread and problematic. For example, The Autoimmune Epidemic notes that PFOA, the main chemical in Teflon, is found in the blood of 96% of the U.S. population. PFOA has been linked to thyroid disease, immune system dysfunction, cancer, ulcerative colitis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and arthritis.
Flame retardants are pumped into or coat nearly everything surrounding us—our mattresses, pillows, sheets, furniture, the foam seats in our car, the insulation in the walls of our houses, our shoes and clothing, the plastics in our computers, TVs, smart phones, and other appliances. As the New York Times reported in July 2014, they are found virtually everywhere, from breast milk to the Antarctic. PBDEs have been linked to lower birth weights and difficulty conceiving, male infertility, male birth defects, lower IQs and behavioral problems in children exposed in utero, early puberty in girls, and cancer. PBDE exposure has resulted in autism and obesity in animal studies.
Besides exposures of these chemicals, we also have to deal with endocrine disruptors, heavy metals, pathogens, pharmaceuticals in our water, petrochemical contaminants in our air and soil, toxins in our food (not to mention the “edible foodlike substances” that pass for food), EMF bombardment, ionizing radiation exposure, and on and on.
Many factors—an individual’s genetic make-up, environmental exposures, and life experience—determine who will get sick and when. In describing the development of autoimmune disease, The Autoimmune Epidemic, likens our bodies to barrels:
You can fill a barrel to the absolute rim, and even while water hovers about the edge, not a drop will spill. But add one more minuscule drop of liquid and the water will begin to cascade over the sides.
I think this is analogy is particularly useful in explaining what is happening and why so many people are sick.
What Can We Do?
We need to take a multi-pronged approach to dealing with the poisoning of our environment and our bodies:
- Limit our own exposures.
- Consciously strengthen our immune systems and health.
- Work to prevent new environmental assaults and insist that old sources of contamination are cleaned up.
Limiting toxic exposures involves understanding the threats and doing something to prevent them. That could mean choosing non-toxic products over ones filled with toxins, and choosing organic whole foods instead of foods highly processed and produced with chemical additives, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetic engineering.
There are many, many ways we can strengthen our immune systems and our heath, from using appropriate vitamin supplements, herbs, and homeopathic remedies to practicing meditation and other relaxation techniques to seeking help from a wide variety of healing practitioners. Because BioSET, The Emotion Code/Body Code, and EFT are all specifically designed to identify symptom-causing energetic blockages in the body and then remove them, I have found these methods to be particularly helpful.
Looking at the larger picture, it’s also very helpful to spread the word about environmental hazards to other citizens and our elected leaders, and actively work to address the many environmental threats we face. Though we need to approach this problem individually, we will be much more successful if we can work collectively to halt the environmental assault, which, after all, affects us all.
Contact Karen Charman Karen@YourBodyKnows.info