Mold, along with other toxic elements in our environment, has been the subject of much public scrutiny lately. There is the family in Austin, Texas who suffered from a growing list of health problems – from their mother’s migraines to their youngest son’s developmental problems – for three years before realizing it mycotoxins caused by invisible mold in her house, was the culprit. Then there is lead, to which millions of children continue to be exposed dangerous health risks as a result of blood lead poisoning. People in lower-income communities are at even greater risk.
The insidious reality of toxic elements around us is nothing new. Public awareness and funding for its eradication have aided progress. In some notable historical cases, major public health efforts have imposed system-wide restrictions on the distribution of carcinogens such as DDT, lead and asbestos. And yet these chemicals continue to harm our environment, human and animal life, and ecosystems. This large and worrying class of chemicals is known as persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, because they do not degrade. Heavy metals are considered persistent because they do not dissolve and also accumulate in the body over time. So, despite some great advances, these historic efforts were far from enough.
Dangerous blood lead levels are one example of how our environment can create a chronic disease epidemic. More than three decades after lead was identified as a public health concern and subsequently banned in the United States, lead exposure continues to put certain groups at risk, and children are particularly at risk during development. Lead has a sweet taste that can tempt children to put peeling paint and certain toys in their mouths, which parents and guardians should be aware of. According to the CDC, the advocates a simple blood test to determine exposure, even low blood lead levels can have harmful, lifelong effects. In a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, the authors warn: “Everyone detectable lead content is abnormal and potentially harmful especially in young children; No safe lead exposure level for children has been identified.”
Like lead, which is easily transferred from the paint and plumbing of many American homes and schools, many of the toxic elements that threaten our health are invisible. The culprits aren’t always as obvious as the dark mold we see growing on the walls on TV. The Baehr family in Texas is a good example. It took the experts’ call to discover that the mold in her home was “growing behind the walls and blowing through the air ducts… (it) was even spotted on fruit in a bowl in the kitchen and in her drinking water.”
Arsenic, which has long been used as pesticides and antibiotics, is another example. Although the arsenic-based drug Roxarsone has been banned since 2013, it was initially used in chicken feed for decades to fight disease, promote muscle growth and make meat pink. Most of the arsenic is then excreted, allowing it to get into the water and soil that pollutes our drinking water, and some of it ends up in chicken and eggs. Old agricultural soils can still contain high concentrations of arsenic resulting from previous uses, allowing it to find its way into rice, spices and other crops.
Many toxic compounds are also chemicals that occur naturally in the environment, and asbestos, lead, mercury, and arsenic are examples. In a new one The FDA initiative “Closer to Zero“Where the goal is to reduce exposure to such heavy metals in children’s food, an important step is to address them at their source — in the fields where crops and produce are grown. Solving the problem posed by such “natural” toxins is just one piece of the puzzle. Just as important are the toxins that are knowingly added to the food supply, like pesticides, or that appear on ingredient lists, like food preservatives.
Luckily, people are starting to read the fine print and take action to empower themselves or demand change. In a famous example, healthy eating advocate and author Vani Hari — also known as “The Food Babe” — exposed the Subway restaurant chain for using the cancer-causing chemical azodicarbonamide in its self-proclaimed healthy menu option. Subway quickly removed the chemical, a bread softener also used in yoga mats, over the allegations. However, it has not been banned and other fast food chains like McDonald’s may still rely on it to soften their buns.
The complexity of our diet, lifestyle and environment in a modern world means that whether we know it or not, we are always exposed to harmful elements. There are toxins in our food, our homes, our water and our air. In many cases, our bodies can safely dispose of chemicals that could otherwise harm us. But even tiny doses can add up and lead to health problems. In addition, if you struggle with Autoimmunity-Related Symptoms, any poison in your environment can be a trigger. In order to navigate this reality, we must be aware of ways to reduce our exposure and protect our health. This includes understanding our potential risks and what symptoms to look out for so we can take steps to avoid them. While we know that avoiding toxins entirely is unrealistic, there are steps you can take to lower your exposure and reduce the buildup of harmful chemicals in your body. Here are a few good steps to follow. Read on – and don’t miss these to protect your health and the health of others Sure signs you already had COVID.
Speak with local environmental groups and housing authorities to identify common pollutants in your environment, such as mold, pesticides, electromagnetic radiation, and heavy metals, and to find and remove lead from the family environment.
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Eat a variety of fresh foods high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, iron, and magnesium. Because minerals like lead and calcium travel together, eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods can reduce unwanted side effects.
Doing all you can to ensure physiological detoxification through urination and defecation, sweating, and deep exhalation can also encourage safe removal at a slow and steady pace. Not only is exercise beneficial for weight maintenance and stress reduction, but it also improves circulation, releases toxins from sweat on the skin, promotes deeper exhalation, and increases urine production.
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If you’ve been exposed to environmental stresses, what you eat can increase or decrease your symptoms, so it helps to know your triggers. For example, if you’ve been exposed to mold, it may be beneficial to limit your consumption of certain foods for a period of time. Foods like chocolate, coffee and peanuts contain mycotoxins, while other foods with refined carbohydrates, sugar and cow’s milk can increase mycotoxins inflammation this contributes to mold disease.
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educational resources from environmental working group and Center for Disease Control can help you learn more about how to protect yourself and your family, including important dos and don’ts to avoid unnecessary risks, including protecting your children if you think they may have been exposed to lead poisoning. Free screening tools can also be helpful in assessing if any symptoms you may be experiencing are the result of toxins in your environment.
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Ask your doctor for a test for heavy metals, which can be measured in your urine or blood. More thorough functional testing to check for the presence of naturally occurring and man-made chemicals and their metabolites (breakdown materials) may also be an option. And to get through this pandemic as healthy as possible, don’t miss this one 35 places where you are most likely to contract COVID.
Follow Mymee to learn about upcoming webinars on the role of diet, lifestyle and our environment in autoimmunity. To learn how finding your personal triggers can reduce autoimmune-related symptoms, book a free consultation.