Know your toxins before they own you


I remember sitting in my Nutrition and the Environment class on the first day and thinking holy hell batman – we are in BIG trouble here! I wanted to cover my ears or bolt out the door. The only solution I could come up with was to move away to the mountains in Peru and live a life of simplicity, peace and fresh(er) air. Whenever we learn something new that is tough to swallow, we often want to put our blinders back on and crawl back into the perceived warmth and comfort of ignorance. Although your first instinct may to stop reading this post right now, I encourage you to stick with me for two reasons:

  1. The old adage that knowledge is power holds true: We can’t change something that we are not aware of. Once we are informed, we can make wiser decisions in the future to move us in a more positive direction.
  2. Together we stand, divided we fall: We have come to a critical point in time on the planet where we can either come together as human beings and create sustainable, healthy societies, or continue to participate in the craziness of mindless consumption, industrial pollution and destruction of land and resources.

For those of you who are still with me, I will try to keep it brief and to the point. While we can reduce our exposure to many of these toxins, we cannot avoid them completely, as they are in the air we breathe and the water we drink. However, by making conscious changes in diet, lifestyle and individual environment, we can lower our exposure. Mindful detoxing, which has been touched upon in the previous post and will be discussed further in future posts, can help our bodies cope with the continuous assaults. Lastly, don’t underestimate your power as a consumer – only support businesses and products that do not poison you or the planet.

Which of the following toxic exposures can you commit to eliminating today?

  1. Our food – chemicals in processed foods (preservatives, additives, dyes, rancid fats), sugar, BPA in metal can linings and plastic, industrial agriculture pest management (herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, GMOs), antibiotics and stress hormones in meat
  2. Drugs – prescription, over the counter and recreational drugs, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine
  3. Beauty care and household products – carcinogenic chemicals like parabens, heavy metals (esp. lead)
  4. Industry –industrial chemicals (i.e. petrochemicals, formaldehyde, etc.), heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, nickel and aluminum), flame retardant in clothing, lead in dishware
  5. Municipal water supply – chlorine, fluoride, chemical/drug residues, heavy metals
  6. Electromagnetic Radiation from microwaves, computers, TVs, cell phones, plane travel and medical testing
  7. Our intestines can harbour toxins in the form of waste products from bacteria, yeast and fungi
  8. Negative psychic or spiritual influences, thought patterns and emotions

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, and even depressed when you first learn of the magnitude of our toxic exposure. You might feel outraged and hopeless. Trust me, I’ve been there and I still have moments where I just want to take off to the mountains in Peru. However, once you raise your consciousness surrounding this issue and empower yourself to do what you can to reduce your toxic exposure and support your body, you can also start to see the ways that we are revitalizing the planet and our health. For instance, look at how many more farmer’s markets have popped up over the years, providing affordable, fresh, local and organic vegetables and fruit. Big grocery store chains are now carrying organic beauty care products free of harmful chemicals. Why? Because we are waking up and demanding it. There is a shift taking place, slowly but surely. We can choose to thrive or mindlessly sink into this toxic, chemical soup.

Some great resources for this topic include Ecoholic, Environmental Working Group and David Suzuki Foundation.


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