Today, the topic is, “Is My Environment Really Hurting Me?” I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but we really have to talk about some of the realities. Yes, in a nutshell, our environment does impose threats to our health and well-being. Our environment has always been part of the struggle, so our body is designed to handle toxins and infections. We have an inherent ability to heal. We have an inherent ability to process toxins. Going back to the four major organs for elimination, the urinary system, defecation, exhalation, and sweat. Those are four areas of our body that are designed to remove toxins, because our bodies make toxins. Today, we’re going to talk about how our environment contributes to the toxic load. There are big changes that have gone on since the industrial revolution. I’m definitely not that old, but, since then, public measures have been really important to sustain life in cities, where populations are condensed, and also to extend life.
I have to tell you that the life expectancy for the United States is going down substantially. The life expectancy in 2040 will be 79.8 years, and that is actually 4 years lower than everybody else. We have also dropped in ranking in life expectancy to 43rd, I believe. China has increased and superseded us quite a bit. Japan and Spain are in the top position. Our life expectancy is going down in the United States, and it is not because of our humanness, because other countries’ life expectancy is increasing above ours. We must take note and make special considerations so that we can improve our ability to process the toxic load. We also have to recognize what the toxins are.
“What can I do to prevent my body from toxic exposure and any resulting disease?”
The general answer to that is awareness. Be aware of some of the toxins and the things that are more difficult for our body to process so that you have some actionable items to improve your well-being. Lifestyle modification is really the point, and it’s about giving the health control to you. People definitely need physicians who are really capable and doing the best to care for people, but ultimately it’s the everyday activities that are impactful for your overall health.
The first step to preventing disease is awareness. It’s the first step in a lot of other cases as well. Being aware of these situations is key. I’ll tell you, some of the major toxins are air, water, food, light exposure, and anything that wasn’t around a thousand years ago. We obviously had air a thousand years ago, but we didn’t have smoke stacks or airplanes. A lot of our air exposure has been tampered with, especially inside. A lot of the materials used for building are used to maximize profits, so sometimes the products emit gasses, etc. Insulation was recalled from the 90s, so some people have that in their homes. Radon is in your home. Inside air is full of contaminants. Outside is, too, but you definitely want to get outside and breathe outside air on a regular basis. You want to be able to open your windows when you can while you sleep and have air come in from the outside. You want to keep those windows open, even if it’s just a little crack for those of us in the colder climates, to have better circulation and get some outside air in. That’s important in areas of high pollution times, areas like Sacramento, Phoenix, etc., where there are valleys, there can be stagnation. You even have air stagnation in your homes circulating through vents and ducts, and it’s going to lead to a lot more particles and chemicals that you then breathing in.
We have done a lot of bad things to water, so we should be more careful and mindful of that. We want more glacier and spring water. You want to be careful of what your city does for filtration. East Lansing does a pretty good job, but Lansing water you will definitely want to filter. It’s always good to add minerals to your water, and try to look at your water as alkaline. Your body is actually a little over the 7.0 in the pH scale, so you do not exist in a neutral state as a healthy state in your body; you are slightly alkaline. This is where a lot of discussions of being alkaline come in. We will talk about this another time, because it is an in depth topic. In general, it does help if you have a state of acidity or disease in your body, you want to look towards more alkaline things. You can find alkaline water, you can add things to your water, like minerals or electrolytes. Watermelon is highly alkaline, so that is fantastic.
Looking at food, genetically modified food changes the structure of the food. The body needs to identify food in a certain structure. If it’s a modified food, the likelihood of the body processing that information is much lower. That decreases the amount of nutrition and absorption we have, and also increases confusion in the body, which promotes inflammation. It does matter what kind of food you’re eating, obviously. It goes into your mouth, and your body is creating an inflammatory state, because it considers any food or water as a foreign object that needs to be processed and assimilated before it’s able to reduce the response in the immune system. Your immune system is on when you are eating. Food definitely has an important component. Genetically modified food is just that. You lose the integral communication between your body and your food’s chemistry. You reduce all of the things that we need from food for health.
How are toxins affecting my body?
When we eat a doughnut, it is dough, it’s been modified and concentrated. It is made primarily of flour, fried, we heat the fat, which shouldn’t be heated more than 110-140 degrees maximum. We make the fat rancid. We take it out, it dries, and we add sugar and sprinkles. It’s also what we are doing in a society, looking at how much we are taking in. That’s really important to consider; it’s not just looking outside at what people are doing to us. It’s also looking at what we are doing to ourselves that are fairly toxic. Especially food, rancid fats, and genetically modified foods.
There are things in our environment that we are seeing that are very impactful. When I was a medical student, there was a discussion about some dropping of bacteria via hot air balloons in San Francisco in the late seventies. That caused a surge in cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, but it could not be discerned who would have had a heart attack and who wouldn’t have if not for this event. It’s quite frightening when you look at these environmental situations that are, in some cases, forced upon us. That has happened a lot with agent orange. It is with deep admiration for our Vietnam vets that I talk about this, as they were exposed to a jungle-killing chemical that got into the DNA of the plants and turned the jungle into wasteland within a very limited amount of time. That is quite a powerful substance that can do that. Agent orange is now present in the sperm of many of the vets that had been exposed, and it has been transferred to their offspring. It is quite impressive, the impact that agent orange will have on our society as many children have been affected through their parents, unbeknownst to their parents. These were men and women who were committed to serving our country. Agent orange is an unfortunate example of something that we cannot change.
You can never know what is stacking the deck against you, which is why it’s important to lead the cleanest life that you can with lifestyle modifiers: excellent sleep, nourishing food, good relationships, reducing chronic stress, not being the busybody that gets everything done, but living a good, quality life.
It’s been a pleasure sharing some information today, and I can’t wait to talk more next week!