Do A Good Chemical Clean-Up: chemicals make you fat and fatigued!
We live in an increasingly polluted world containing an increasing number of toxic chemical which are toxic to our genes, to our brains, to our internal metabolism and to our immune system. These nasty chemicals almost certainly account for our ever increasing incidence of cancer and birth defects and our declining fertility due to life time exposure. I believe they also make us more susceptible to chronic fatigue syndrome because they are toxic to the immune system, to the brain, to our hormonal control and our internal metabolism.
It is impossible to completely avoid every chemical - if I did blood tests I would find a wide range of organochlorine pesticides in everybody. However anything which can be done to reduce the chemical load will be helpful in allowing our bodies to recover.
I was very interested by a book published in 2002 called "The Detox Diet" by Dr Paula Baillie Hamilton which explains how chemicals in foods and the air interfere with internal metabolism to make us fat and lethargic - indeed she points out that farm animals are deliberately fed hormones, antibiotics and pesticides to make them fat and lethargic, and therefore they do not have to eat so much in order to put on weight (cheap meat!). Many chemicals are persistent and concentrate up through the food chain - it is very likely that if we were the farm animal we would be declared too toxic to eat.
The following issues need to be addressed to reduce your chemical exposure:
- Eat small amounts of the best quality food.
- Choose foods grown as naturally as possible.
- If organic food is available, go for it.
- Eat foods as unprocessed as possible - most foods in tins or packages have preservatives or have been irradiated.
- Eat foods which have not been plastic wrapped - the plasticiser gets into the food.
- Avoid foods wrapped in aluminium foil, or in aluminium cans.
- Eat fresh foods - if they have to be stored, deep freezing is probably the least harmful.
- Contact the Soil Association (here) or Henry Doubleday Reseach Association, now known as Garden Organic (here).
- A clean water supply is essential - the water companies are largely interested in bacterial counts - there are many possible chemicals in water. The two I have most concerns over are fluoride and chloramine. See Chloramine Infocenter for details of problems with chloramine. I consider bottled (ideally in glass) or filtered water an essential for regular use.
- If you can smell it, it can make you ill - the obvious offenders are air fresheners, sprays, perfumes, cleaning agents but there are a host of other chemicals in everyday use.
- New paints and carpets (especially rubber backed, stuck down) out-gas toxic fumes for months after - use water based paints whereever possible.
- Pesticides - dog and cat flea treatments, fly repellents, house fumigations, timber treatments all contain toxic pesticides which persist for months and years.
- Gas central heating and gas cookers can make some people ill.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning can present with CFS.
- Nearly all deodorants contain aluminium which when applied to warm sweaty areas is readily absorbed. Aluminium is extremely toxic and has a known association with Alzheimer's disease. Perfumes and smellies can be a real problem especially with multiple chemical sensitivity. Read the report prepared by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics entitled Not so Sexy - The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance
- Many are extremely toxic. Children should not be allowed to play on treated lawns for at least 6 weeks after spraying.
- Most CFSs know that alcohol makes them feel awful. This is also true of many prescription drugs such as beta blockers, antidepressants, cholesterol drugs, diuretics, hypnotics etc. If prescribed, each one should be tried with great caution.
- Head lice treatments contain pesticides and should not be used at all. Lice can be easily controlled with wet combing or electric "zappers".
Outdoor air pollution
Many industries discharge pollutants directly into the local air, water and soil. The worst offenders are power stations which burn toxic waste, manufacturing industry, nuclear power stations leaking radiation and the drug and chemical industry. Busy roads create traffic fumes. Nasty chemicals are dumped at toxic waste sites where they pollute ground water and soil. You need local knowledge to identify these issues - further information from Friends of the Earth (here). Ask specifically about:
- Heavy metals - arsenic, cadmium, nickel, copper, lead, aluminium etc
- Radioactive waste
- Pesticide residues - organochlorines and dioxins, organophosphates, pyrethroids etc
- Small particulate matter (down to PMs 2.5 - don't settle for PMs 10 -- see here for a discussion of particulate size and particulate measuring devices)
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - solvents, benzene compounds
- Polluting gasses (SOx, NOx, COx - sulphur, nitrogen and carbon compounds)
This is highly protective against toxic stress - this is further reason to take nutritional supplements - we all have nasty toxins on board which cause on-going damage to the body. Good levels of antioxidants (vitamins A,C,E and selenium) help protect, good levels of B vitamins help detoxify, good levels of protein, essential fatty acids and other minerals help to repair the damage.
A good example of this in action came out of the research into thalidomide. This drug prescribed to women in pregnancy as a "pregnancy safe hypnotic" caused serious birth defects if the women took it between the 38th and 42nd day of pregnancy. But not all babies were affected. This drug was tested in rats - no offspring were abnormal. This was a mystery to researchers, until someone had the bright idea of putting the rats onto nutritionally depleted diets. Then they started to get the foetal abnormality of phocomelia ("flipper limbs"). It was a combination of toxic stress (the drug) and nutritional deficiency which caused the problem to become apparent.
- Nutritional Supplements
- Chemical Poisoning and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) - how to reduce your daily exposures
- Chemical Poisoning and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) - how to reduce the body load
- Alcohol intolerance in CFS - gives us a clue as to the mechanisms of fatigue
- Dr Paula Baillie-Hamilton website
- Not so Sexy - The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance - a report prepared by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
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