Category Archives: toxic chemicals

More toxic substances proposed for our food supply

I recently received this warning from one of my favorite food safety organizations.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking comments on a dangerous proposal that will put our farms, our food, and our environment at risk.

The EPA is proposing a dramatic expansion of the use of the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo. Enlist Duo is a mixture of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup®) and the even more toxic 2,4-D (part of the chemical mixture Agent Orange). If approved the pesticide cocktail could be used on corn, soy, and cotton in 34 states — up from 15 states where the product was previously approved for just corn and soy.

Tell EPA to reject the expanded use of Dow’s toxic mix of glyphosate and 2,4-D >>

The rush to expand the use of Dow AgroSciences’ toxic chemical concoction of glyphosate and 2,4-D for use on the next generation of genetically engineered crops comes only one year after the EPA asked a court to revoke its previous approval due to the unknown risks it posed, and now EPA suddenly wants to more than double the number of states where the pesticide can be used.”

Unfortunately we will likely see an acceleration of such proposals under the Trump administration. Trump has discussed terminating the EPA altogether. It is going to be a difficult four years for food safety.

Be careful out there. Things are about to become very NASTY.

Bob Hansen MD

Roundup and GMOs, are dangerous to your health and threaten the future of family farms in America

There is a brief discussion of Roundup (Glyphosate) on Medscape.

Our Toxic World; Is Roundup Slowly Killing Us?

The discussion covers several important issues. To Pique your interest in reading further here are a few salient quotes.

Glyphosate is the most used herbicide in the world, the pride and joy (as well as a great cash cow) of mega-giant chemical manufacturer Monsanto. Although ubiquitous as Roundup® and generally presented for many decades as safe for humans and animals, in 2015 The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”[3]

The European Union (EU) is trying to determine whether Monsanto should have its license to sell Roundup renewed this year. With that renewal in mind, in the spring of 2016, 48 members of the EU Parliament, representing 13 nations, volunteered to have their urine tested for glyphosate. All were found positive by a German lab.[4] In May 2016, a University of California, San Francisco, lab working for The Detox Project, funded by concerned individuals, reported positive urine tests for glyphosate in 93% of 131 urine samples from across the United States.[5]

Is this widespread presence of glyphosate in humans incidental and harmless or are we all in danger of being poisoned by this Monsanto product? That is a very good question.

Remember the gut microbiome? We are learning a great deal about how it influences so much of human health. There is a project called Qmulus, at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and funded in part by Quanta Computers of Taiwan. Under its auspices, authors Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, in a 40-plus-page review[6] with 286 references, paint a very troubling picture of glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 enzymes. For example, one role of this enzyme is to detoxify xenobiotics. The authors propose that the consequences of this inhibition, when coupled with other synergistic disruptions, may insidiously induce many diseases associated with a Western diet, including diabetes, obesity, cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s, and others.

A 2015 paper[7] by the same authors takes these and new findings and deductions even further to manganese deficiency in cows fed genetically modified Roundup Ready feed. This update is 55 pages long with 328 supporting references. Both are in open access; peruse them if you choose. [Editor’s note: Links to the full text of these papers are included with the references.]

If you want to learn more about Roundup, GMOs, and the worsening global threat to our food safety (no exaggeration) you can learn more by visiting www.CenterForFoodSafety.org.

I learned about this organization while watching the film The Future of Food. Although this hit the screens in 2004 it is still worth watching. If you think ROUNDUP is safe or that GMO foods are OK, think again. At least give this movie and website a look before you settle back into contentment with Monsanto and all the other bad actors in the food-seed-pesticide industry making decisions that WILL destroy the ability of farmers in the US and possibly world-wide to use their own seeds.

Monsanto has genetically engineered and patented a suicide gene and placed it into all of it’s seeds (cotton, soy, corn) so that farmers must buy seeds EVERY YEAR. This seed produces crops whose seeds are sterile. If this seed is carried by wind, animals, or other common mechanisms, from Monsanto’s’ crops to non-GMO fields, the gene will hybridize with natural seed crops and after several generations render a majority of crops infertile.

Monsanto produces not just pesticides but pesticide resistant seeds that produce sterile crops. Monsanto is playing monopoly and quickly eliminating independent seed producers and destroying family farms that have every year used their own seeds which have been bred to thrive in the local environment of the family farm.

Other issues abound. Roundup resistant crops, eaten by American consumers, have high levels of ROUNDUP and other pesticides that have been demonstrated to cause tumors in > 50% of animals within 1 year. Monsanto only tested ROUNDUP for 3 months in animal studies and declared it safe. The USDA did not test it. The FDA did not test it. Government scientists and university scientists who expressed concerns were silenced by the economic power of this massive multi-national corporation.

When independent scientists published their alarming results (carcinogenesis), Monsanto used it’s financial resources to shut those scientists down. You can learn about this by watching The Future of Food or visiting www.CenterForFoodSafety.org.

Like big Pharma executives cycling between the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA, Monsanto executives and lawyers cycle in and out of the FDA and USDA. We have allowed the fox to guard the chicken pen and the stakes are high. Family farms have been put out of business by Monsanto’s unethical and predatory behavior, eliminating generations of private seed banks and wreaking havoc for family farms across America. Don’t believe it? Watch the movie. Many farmers have gone bankrupt fighting legal battles with Monsanto because the wind has blown Monsanto’s patented seeds onto their private lands and Monsanto successfully sued them for patent infringement. This predatory behavior has been going on below the radar for many years and it started when the Supreme Court ruled that Monsanto can patent seeds.

In fact, Monsanto has gone into the US national seed banks, collected samples of thousands of different seeds, and patented them! This outrageous and ridiculous scenario has allowed a private company to patent thousands of heritage crop seeds.

If this sounds incredible, you are right, but it is true.

In the meantime, support mandatory GMO labeling and support food retailers who have promised to carry only NON-GMO foods.

To your health.

BOB Hansen MD.

Don’t drink beverages or water from plastic bottles.

This week the European Court of Justice  ruled that the European Commission has not adequately identified and banned harmful endocrine disrupting chemicals that play a role in hormone related cancers like prostate, thyroid and breast as well as obesity and type two diabetes.

The FDA, European Union and Canadian authorities have claimed that BPA exposure likely does not pose health risks but the endocrinology societies, research scientists, and now the European Court of Justice thinks otherwise.

Most folks have heard about BPA (bis-phenol A). But there are over one hundred endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)  in our environment. These chemicals interfere with our hormone function by mimicking hormones or blocking normal hormone signals. Using BPA free plastic bottles and cans does not guarantee you are safe from the toxic effects of these chemicals because BPA is often replaced by one of many other disrupting alternative chemicals. There are 13 types of bisphenols alone, along with over one hundred total identified EDCs. Many beverage and food items come in plastic containers or cans lined with EDCs, exposing us to the  unnecessary risk of endocrine disruptors. Acidic beverages and acidic foods (such as coffee, soda, lemon juice, etc) are particularly more likely to leach out these chemicals into the foods and beverages contained therein. Extremes of temperature (hot or cold) will also increase the amount of chemicals leached into the food and then into your body. So sipping a hot coffee or tea through a plastic lid is not an innocuous event, yet millions of Americans do it every day. Serving “bottled water” in plastic containers that have been sitting on shelves, shipped in hot trucks, or sitting in the sun at a party may not be very helpful to your guests.

Emerging evidence has established a role for these endocrine disruptors not only for cancer but for obesity, diabetes, ADD and autism.

A recent study has suggested that because of endocrine disruptors in our environment, we must today consume less calories and exercise more to avoid obesity. (Obes Res Clin Pract. 2015; DOI:10.1016/j.orcp.2015.08.007).

“for a given amount of caloric intake, macronutrient intake or leisure time physical activity, the predicted BMI was up to 2.3 kg/m2 higher in 2006 that in 1988 in the mutually adjusted model (P < 0.05).”

From a Medscape report on this topic:

“A European ( study ) reported earlier this year suggested that health effects from endocrine-disrupting chemicals cost the European Community €157 billion annually, and this report linked prenatal exposure to BPA to childhood obesity, with associated lifetime costs of €1.54 billion.”

Links to some articles and resources are listed below.

Be careful out there!

Dr. Bob

Emerging Picture on Role of EDCs, Microbiome in Obesity, Diabetes

Endocrine Disruptors Cause Range of Diseases; Cost 157 Billion Euros

US Endocrine Society Warns Again on Endocrine Disrupters

Endocrine disruptor – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

endocrine disruptors AND obesity – Google Scholar

endocrine disruptors AND cancer – Google Scholar

endocrine disruptors AND autism – Google Scholar

endocrine disruptors AND attention deficit disorder – Google Scholar

 

 

Endocrine Disrupting chemicals in food, containers and environment results “in a range of human diseases and abnormalities.”

The findings of four articles recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism were presented on March 5 at a press briefing held at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, ENDO 2015, Despite the incredible public health implications of these four studies little has been reported in the popular press.

I have previously discussed the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen toxic chemicals | Practical Evolutionary Health as well as the impact of environmental toxins on our epidemic of auto-immune disease Babies born with more than 200 toxic chemicals in their blood | Practical Evolutionary Health .

The press briefing and the findings of these four studies were reported on-line Endocrine Disruptors Cause Range of Diseases; Cost 157 Billion Euros

The estimated health effects of pesticides, chemicals used in personal care products, aluminum can liners, flame retardants in clothing, mattresses, furniture,  etc., included the following

From pesticides:

  • 59,300 infants born with intellectual disability
  • 28,200 people aged 50-64 years with type 2 diabetes
  • 13 million lost IQ points in each EU country

From Phtalates used in food wraps, cosmetics, shampoos, vinyl flooring

  • 24,800 deaths among 55-64 year old men
  • 618,000 additional assisted-reproductive technology procedures to treat infertility
  • excess of obesity and diabetes among women aged 50 to 64

Flame retardants in electronics, furniture, mattresses:

  • 3290 intellectually disabled children
  • 873,000 lost IQ points
  • 6830 cases of testicular cancer
  • 4615 children born with undescended testes

Other estimates from endocrine disruptors included:

  • 316 autistic 8 year olds EACH YEAR
  • 31,200 ten year olds with ADHD

Here are some snippets from the on-line Medscape report.The economic costs are reported in Euros since this was a study of European data. Bear in mind that the European Union has more stringent environmental protection than the United States. As a result, a study using US data would likely show even greater damage.

The papers cover overall costs of selected disorders attributed to specific endocrine-disrupting chemicals, as well as more detailed analyses of costs related to endocrine-disrupter–linked obesity and diabetes, neurobehavioral deficits/disease, and male reproductive disorders/diseases.

“Limiting our exposure to the most widely used and potentially hazardous endocrine-disrupting chemicals is likely to produce substantial economic benefit,” lead author of the overview study, Leonardo Trasande, MD, from New York University, said at the briefing.

The European Union defines an endocrine-disrupting chemical as an “exogenous substance that causes adverse health effects in an intact organism or its progeny, secondary to changes in endocrine function.”

With exposures occurring via pharmaceuticals, industrial solvents, personal-care products, aluminum-can linings, plasticizers, pesticides, and environmental pollutants, chemicals known to be endocrine disrupting include diethylstilbestrol, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) , dioxins, perfluoroalkyl compounds, solvents, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene organophosphate/organochlorine pesticides, and polybrominated diphenyl.

Affected hormones include estrogen, androgen, thyroid, retinol, aryl hydrocarbon, and the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) pathway. In all, 13 chronic conditions have strong scientific evidence for causation by endocrine-disrupting chemicals, Dr Trasande said.

“There are safe and simple steps that families can take to limit their exposure to endocrine-disruptive chemicals. They can avoid microwaving plastic. They can avoid eating from aluminum cans or drinking fluids from aluminum cans. They can eat organic. Or even simply air out their homes every couple of days to remove some of the chemical dust…that can disrupt hormones in their bodies.”

Using estimates based on the literature and established statistical methods adapted from those used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Trasande led a 12-member scientific steering committee, which determined that there was probable causation of endocrine-disrupting chemicals for IQ loss and associated intellectual disability, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), childhood obesity, adult obesity, adult diabetes, cryptorchidism, male infertility, and mortality associated with reduced testosterone.

Using mid-point estimates for probability of causation, the panel calculated a median cost of €157 billion, or 1.23% of the EU gross domestic product, with a lower median range of €119 billion and a high end estimate of €270 billion.

Dr Trasande summarized results from the four papers at the briefing, including these data points:

  • By health effect, the greatest cost was for neurological problems, including ADHD, at €132 billion. By endocrine-disrupting chemical type, pesticides were the most costly, accounting for €120 billion.
  • Pesticides accounted for 13 million lost IQ points in each EU country, costing €124 billion in earning potential. They were also responsible for 59,300 infants born with intellectual disability (€24.6 million), and 28,200 people aged 50-64 years with type 2 diabetes, at a cost of €835 million.
  • Phthalates, used in food wraps, cosmetics, shampoos, and vinyl flooring, resulted in 24,800 additional deaths among 55- to 64-year-old men, costing €7.96 billion in lost economic productivity; and 618,000 additional assisted-reproductive-technology procedures, costing €4.71 billion, Dr Trasande reported. Phthalates also accounted for an excess of obesity and diabetes among women aged 50 to 64, totaling more than €15.6 billion.
  • Flame retardants used in electronics, furniture, and mattresses resulted in 873,000 lost IQ points, leading to €8.4 billion in lost earning potential; 3290 intellectually disabled children, costing an additional €1.9 billion; 6,830 new cases of testicular cancer, at €850 million; and 4615 children born with undescended testes, at €130 million.
  • Other estimates of burden and disease and costs include 316 autistic 8-year-olds each year from multiple endocrine disrupting chemicals, costing €199 million; 31,200 10-year-olds with ADHD (also from multiple endocrine-disrupting chemicals), at €1.7 billion; and BPA used in aluminum-can linings and thermal-paper receipts, being associated with 42,400 obese 4-year-olds at an annual cost of €1.54 billion.

Dr Trasande said that a similar analysis for the United States would be “the logical next step” and that he would anticipate analogous findings, although there are some differences. Brominated flame retardants are more stringently limited in Europe, for example, but levels of phthalates have decreased 17% to 37% in the United States between 2001 and 2010.

Keep in mind that these studies were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. They do not represent a governmental agency report, which is frequently tainted by the influence of lobbyists and scientists with conflicts of interest. Whether the European governments respond to this data in a meaningful way remains to be seen. Given the Republican majority in both the US Congress and US Senate as well as the sad state of journalism in the US it is likely that this scientific data will fall on deaf ears.

Nevertheless, we all have the opportunity to educate ourselves about these dangers to the health of our families and make changes in our daily lives that might limit the damage to our personal health and the health of those we love.

Do not drink water from plastic bottles. Do not drink soda or fruit juices from plastic or aluminum containers. Do not microwave food in plastic containers or store warm food in plastic containers. Eat organic vegetables and fruits whenever possible and avoid especially non-organic produce from the Dirty Dozen

Despite the manufacturers claims to the contrary, BPA used to line aluminum cans is not safe, same for BPA used in thermal paper receipts. “BPA free” hard plastic containers and metal containers lined with BPA replacements will likely prove to be unsafe in the future.

That “new-car” smell and “new-furniture” smell may contain endocrine disrupting flame retardants off-gassing. So open your windows and get rid of those odors, use HEPA air-filters at home. Consider having your old furniture reupholstered instead of buying new furniture. Apply only safe personal care products to your body (visit the EWG website for more information)Consumer Products | Environmental Working Group

Live clean, eat clean.

BOB

The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen, from the Environmental Working Group

I’ve been working on two projects that have kept me from blogging. The first project was a lecture given at the January meeting of Physicians for Ancestral Health. The second project, still on-going, developed out of a new working relationship with Dr. Tommy Wood who I met at the PAH meeting. I will be sharing more about both of these in future posts.

But today I am returning where I left off with my last post about toxins in our babies and our environment. i promised to discuss the The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen, both trademarks of the Environmental Working Group . So here it is.

The EWG developed these lists to help individuals make informed purchasing decisions  relative to organic vs non-organic vegetables and fruits. The EWG analyzed data from testing for residuals of pesticides. So if you cannot afford to purchase all organic produce, you can get the most benefit from your dollar by limiting your non-organic produce to the “clean” list and purchasing only organic from the “dirty list”.

Highlights of Dirty Dozen™ 2014

Each of these foods contained a number of different pesticide residues and showed high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items.

EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list of produce includes

  1. apples,
  2. strawberries,
  3. grapes,
  4. celery,
  5. peaches,
  6. spinach,
  7. sweet bell peppers,
  8. imported nectarines,
  9. cucumbers,
  10. cherry tomatoes,
  11. imported snap peas
  12. potatoes.

“In particular:

  • Every sample of imported nectarines and 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other food.
  • A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides. Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.”

 Dirty Dozen PLUS™

For the third year, EWG expanded the Dirty Dozen™ with a Plus category to highlight two foods that contain trace levels of highly hazardous pesticides. These foods do not meet traditional Dirty Dozen™ ranking criteria but were frequently contaminated with insecticides that are toxic to the human nervous system. EWG recommends that people who eat a lot of these foods buy organic instead.

  1. Leafy greens – kale and collard greens
  2. hot peppers

The Clean Fifteen™ Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides.

EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ for 2014 – the produce least likely to hold pesticide residues – are

  1. avocados,
  2. sweet corn,
  3. pineapples,
  4. cabbage,
  5. frozen sweet peas,
  6. onions,
  7. asparagus,
  8. mangoes,
  9. papayas,
  10. kiwis,
  11. eggplant,
  12. grapefruit,
  13. cantaloupe,
  14. cauliflower
  15. sweet potatoes.

 “Notable findings:

  • Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
  • Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.
  • No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
  • Detecting multiple pesticide residues is extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.”

At the PAH meeting I spoke with Dr.Tommy Wood and Darryl Edwards , both from England, about food choices in Europe vs the USA.  We had this conversation while eating out and asking the waitress questions about the sources of food. They both commented that when eating in England or the European Union they are not often concerned about food quality because the use of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics is so reasonably regulated. Most produce is considered organic or close to organic. In addition most meats are grass-fed, free of or low in exogenous hormones and antibiotics, free of excess pro-inflammatory omega six fat and contain more anti-inflammatory and beneficial omega 3 fat, similar to the fat profiles of wild game. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) so prevalent in the US are rare in the European Union.

Food for thought and thoughts about food.

Eat clean, live clean and prosper.

Bob

Babies born with more than 200 toxic chemicals in their blood

The  Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non profit organization devoted to protecting the public from one of our greatest health threats, pollution in all of it’s forms. The EWG supported a study in which newborn infants were tested for known industrial and agricultural toxic chemicals. All of the infants had > 200 and some up to 300 toxic chemicals found circulating in their blood at birth. These babies were not born to parents living in or near toxic waste dumps, or working in dangerous industrial environments. They were born to parents living like you and me. You can read about this and many other issues here.

The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act grandfathered >70,000 industrial and agricultural chemicals already in use as “safe” and provided for no effective standardized testing requirements for the introduction of new chemicals. Heather White, Executive Director of the EWG was recently interviewed for an  Autoimmune Summit. I have attended this health related summit on-line while recovering from my surgery and was shocked to hear and then read about out environmental exposure and lack of protection.

We often think about pollution and environmental toxins as contributing to cancer, birth defects, asthma and similar problems but auto-immunity is another problem with links to our toxic exposure.

During the Auto-Immune Summit Aristo Vojdani, Ph.D., M.Sc., M.T. scientist and editor of a peer-reviewed journal on auto-immunity, estimated that 60% of auto-immune diseases are “triggered” by environmental toxins, 30% triggered by dietary components, and 10% triggered by infectious disease. He distinguished triggers from predisposing factors which represent the physiologic milieu that leads to auto-immunity. This terminology of triggers vs. predisposing factors may seem confusing and arbitrary. In a nutshell, underlying the molecular mimicry theory of auto-immunity is “leaky gut”.  The “gateway to autoimmunity” is “leaky gut” (increased intestinal permeability) which allows foreign substances to cross the intestinal barrier, enter the circulation and challenge our immune system. Leaky gut  has many contributing factors including but not limited to diet, stress, gut dysbiosis and infections.  Although the % of auto-immune disease that is “triggered by” environmental toxins (versus diet and infections) remains speculative, there is mounting evidence that all of these factors contribute to greater or lesser degrees in various patients.

The paleo community has often stressed the importance of eliminating specific foods and replacing sugar laden flour foods with nutrient dense foods. But emphasis has also been placed on eating organic foods to avoid pesticides, herbicides and hormones.

Dr Vojdani has suggested that in addition to the gut-immune related mechanisms of molecular mimicry, environmental toxins, especially heavy metals, BPA and organic solvents,  act not only has foreign invaders stimulating the immune system but also stimulate the immune system by causing tissue damage directly and thereby presenting damaged or transformed tissue to the immune system as foreign. Environmental toxins do not require a leaky gut to enter our bodies. Many are absorbed through our lungs and skin, and many are directly absorbed through our guts even in the absence of a “Leaky gut”. Heavy metals including mercury, lead and cadmium do not require a leaky gut for intestinal absorption, nor do pesticides, herbicides or hormones administered to the animal we consume. They wreak havoc not only by directly damaging our organs but also by altering our immune system.

Dr Noel Rose, Director of Center for Autoimmune Research (John’s Hopkin’s University) and Dr. Ahmet Hoke, Director, Division of Neuomuscular Disease (John’s Hopkins NIMH Center) opine that our rising rates of auto-immune disease are the result of our “unsuccessful adaptation to new environmental agents”. (See Forward written in Last Best Cure | Donna Jackson Nakazawa.)

The  Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the Federal Government’s internal watchdog agency. A GAO report ( U.S. GAO – Environmental Justice: EPA Needs to Take Additional Actions to Help Ensure Effective Implementation) revealed that 85% of the new chemicals introduced into our environment are not accessed for safety. The  Environmental Protection Agency receives 90 days notice prior to the introduction of new chemicals (industrial, agricultural, etc). Industry does not have the burden of proof relative to safety. Instead, the EPA must determine, within 90 days, if a new chemical is “safe”. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Beyond that issue we have the problem of multiple  low grade simultaneous exposures. If a given level of toxin is “safe” based on short term studies of animals or humans, how do we know that a combination of hundreds or thousands of toxins over many years are “safe”. Likewise, if  air concentrations or water concentrations of a single toxin are deemed “safe” how can we possible test the combined effects of hundreds and thousands of environmental toxins in our air, water, soil and food?

The EPA, created under the Nixon administration, was decimated during the Bush administration when budget cuts resulted in the loss of > 50% of it’s senior scientists. With that executive action most of the EPA’s institutional memory was lost and along with it many of the already limited safeguards we had in place.

The concept of “eating clean” minimizes exposure to the potentially harmful effects of anti-nutrients  and immune stimulants (harmful plant lectins and saponins, excess phytic acid, excess omega 6 fatty acids) and more importantly encourages the consumption of nutrient dense foods (lots of colorful vegetables, grass fed meats, wild seafood). But “eating clean” also requires avoiding environmental toxins, including pesticides and herbicides.

To achieve that goal within a budget you can consult the EWG’s lists of foods that have the most and the least amount/variety of pesticides/herbicides. These lists are called the “dirty dozen” and the “clean fifteen”.

To avoid heavy metal exposure (especially mercury) eat seafood that is low on the food chain (less opportunity to accumulate mercury in their tissue). Many people do not realize that most of the mercury in our seafood comes from burning coal. Multiple heavy metals are present in coal. When coal is burned to generate electricity the heavy metals are released into the air and are then washed into our rivers, streams, lakes and oceans where they can accumulate in fish. As the heavy metals work up the food chain they accumulate in tissues. The best/safeest sources of healthy omega three fats are in smaller cold water fish (sardines, anchovies, small mackeral, salmon, trout). And do not forget oysters, scallops,  mussels,  and clams which may have less amounts of omega 3 fats but are safe with respect to heavy metals being low down on the food chain.

The concept of “living clean” involves more than being selective about food and cooking techniques. It involves avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals which can be found in our water (drinking and bathing), air, soil, clothing, furniture, make-up, deodorant, toothpaste and household cleaners. You can learn about these exposures at the EWG’s website. Consumer Guides | Environmental Working Group

Here is a fact that might get your attention, 90% of red lipstick has mercury in it. That’s right, 90%. Every day women around the world are painting their lips with lipstick that has mercury. The average American uses 10-12 personal care products per day which exposes us to 120 or more toxic ingredients. The law that regulates personal care products was written in 1938 (after a woman became blind from using mascara). It needs to be updated and there is much lobbying against better regulation (lots of money in personal care products an make-up). In the meantime we need to be more aware about what we put on and in our bodies.

Our environment is filled with “endocrine disruptors” which mimic and interfere with our hormones. The most common one is BPA (plastic) which has estrogen like effects.

What are our greatest exposures to BPA? Answer: plastic lids on coffee/tea to-go cups, plastic bottles of soda and plastic bottles containing citrus juices. Heat and acid both leech BPA (and probably other toxins) out of plastic into the liquids we drink. The most acidic beverage by far is SODA (as low as pH 2.2). So toxic chemical exposure is yet another reason to avoid soda. Do not serve your guests soda or water in plastic containers at parties. Set an example. Store your foods in glass containers and especially do not put warm or hot food into plastic containers. Get a water filter for your drinking water. Some even go so far as to get a water filter for their showers and baths.

Finally, flame retardants (furniture and clothing) required by law represent major health hazards by filling the air of our homes and exposing our skin to toxic substances. Mothers and toddlers have an estimated 3 times greater risk for this exposure which has been linked to neuro-development disorders, ADHD and endocrine disruption. Firefighters have very elevated levels of toxic chemicals derived from flame retardants. Some patients with a variety of illnesses have seen improvement in symptoms by having their furniture re-upholstered with coverings that do not contain flame retardants (anecdotal reports). Consider getting a HEPA air filter for your home and office. Remember hurricane Katrina? Remember the great number of illnesses reported by families made homeless by Katrina who were relocated to live in temporary portable housing. Those buildings were releasing formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals and produced illness within just a few days.

In my next post I will provide the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists to help you make decisions about organic food purchases if you cannot afford to purchase 100% organic. In the meantime check out the EWG website. Also coming soon is a recipe for tumeric-ginger tea/marinade as an anti-inflammatory alternative to NSAIDs.

Live Clean and Prosper

Bob Hansen MD.