4 Ways to Limit Your Exposure to Environmental Toxicants and Pollutants

When looking at possible irritants that might play a role in contributing to the rise of food allergy, and modern chronic illness in general, we cannot overlook the role of environmental toxicants and pollutants. As you may know, cigarette smoke is associated with increased risk of asthma and a number of chronic illnesses. Inhaled pollutants, such as car exhaust, are also associated with asthma. Exposure to diesel exhaust in pregnancy has been shown to affect fetal gene expression, as does cigarette smoke. This shows that environmental pollutants can modify development through epigenetic changes. (1)

There are thousands of other pollutants that we don’t know much about. In the 2006 EPA Inventory Update Review Program, chemical manufacturers reported producing or importing 6,200 chemicals weighingin at 27 trillion pounds in 2005 and that’s not even including fuels, pesticides, medications, or food additives. (2)  Industrialization has led to many new environmental chemicals that did not exist in traditional societies. Common sources of pollution and toxicants are skin care ingredients, pesticides, food additives, preservatives, heavy metals, air pollution, etc. These persistent organic pollutants (POPs) contaminate our air, food, and water. Some common toxicants include polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, dioxins and phthalates.99 These pollutants accumulate in our body fat over time and can increase with each generation. Many POPs have been detected in breast milk. In regards to chemical management the American Academy of Pediatrics issued the following statement:

Continue Reading

Before You Eat that Avocado Seed

avocado seed 2

Avocados are one of my favorite foods. They’re a perfect addition to an anti-inflammatory whole-foods-based diet. They are so versatile and can be used in a number of different and creative ways. I’ve seen recipes for chocolate avocado pudding, lemon avocado mousse, fudgy avocado brownies, avocado deviled eggs, etc. (although, I usually stick to slicing them up and putting them on my food–hey, I like to keep it simple).

But the latest trend going around is eating avocado seeds. Yep, people are going wild drying out avocado pits by placing them in the oven for 2 hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, removing the outer skin, and pulverizing them before adding them to smoothies and green juices.

The reason most people added it to smoothies is because it tastes pretty bad and they want to conceal the flavor.One friend of mine decided to eat the pit by just baking it and slicing it into pieces. It tasted very bitter and she didn’t feel that well after eating it. I’m not all that surprised that it wasn’t fabulous. I imagine it would taste like a wooden ball, if I had ever tasted a wooden ball.

I’ve built BrightFire Living around the concept of simple, toxic-free, allergy-friendly living so I have to tell you this…

Avocado pits have been used medicinally in South America to treat high-blood, pressure, diabetes, and inflammation. While they do contain beneficial nutrients and fiber, avocado pits (and leaves) are mildly toxic but adults can usually eat them safely in small amounts. So, if you do decide to eat them, be sure to eat them in small quantities and pay attention to how your body reacts.

If you’re pregnant, you might want to forgo the seed. I wouldn’t recommend feeding them to children either. There just hasn’t been much research on the potential toxicity of consuming avocado seeds. Obviously, if you have an allergy to avocados, you want to avoid eating the pits as well as the fruit.

You also want to keep them away from your pets, as they are toxic to horses, birds, and possibly other domesticated animals.  According to Dr. Robert Clipsham, DVM:

“The parts of the [avocado] tree containing the toxic chemical are limited to the bark, leaves, and pits. There is no current evidence that the fruit has caused toxicities in any species of animal. Due to the parts of the plant which carry the poison, the most commonly affected animals tend to be horses, cattle and goats; however, cases have been reported in mice, rabbits and birds. Drying of the plant does not seem to modify the toxin as animals have been
poisoned by consuming dried leaves and pits. The nature of the toxin is unknown…”¹

 

Here’s the good news

The good news is that you don’t have to eat the bitter seeds to get the health benefits of avocado. The flesh of the avocado, especially the dark green part next to the skin, is loaded with phytosterols, polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs) and omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation.

They’re also a good source of potassium, antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, in addition to being low in sodium. This makes them great at protecting against high-blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.

  1. A little bit of avocado goes a long way. You only need to eat half an avocado to get 600 mg of potassium. Half an avocado also gives you about 20% of your fiber for the day.
  2. You might want to stick to half an avocado if you have a histamine intolerance or IBS. If you’re on a low histamine diet, you should note that avocados are high in histamine. If you’re on a low FODMAP diet, guess what? Avocados are a FODMAP (they’re one of the P’s for polyols). If I eat more than half an avocado at a time or in combination with a lot of other high-histamine foods or certain FODMAPs,  I have issues. It’s important to find out what amount works for you, so pay attention to your body.
  3. Obviously, again, don’t eat avocados if you are allergic to them. You should also know that there is high cross-reactivity between latex, banana, kiwi, and avocado so proceed with caution if you have one of those allergies. Pineapple is also another potential cross-reactor, among others (like melons, peaches, etc).²

Because my girls have seed allergies, I don’t foresee feeding them giant avocado seeds in the future. Plus, one daughter has a banana allergy and another one has a pineapple allergy, which means I’m usually the only one eating avocado so I don’t get too fancy with it. In fact, I very carefully pitch the seed, but hey, you might want to give it a try.

I would love to hear how you use avocados. Planning on eating the seed? Feel free to leave a comment below!

References

  1. Clipsham, Robert, D.V.M. “Avocado Toxicity.” Watchbird Apr.-May 1987: 14-15. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.
  2. Grier, Tom. “Latex Cross‐reactive Foods Fact Sheet.” Latex Cross‐reactive Foods Fact Sheet. American Latex Allergy Association, 08 Oct. 2015. Web. 06 Apr. 2016.

 

Blueberries May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

blueberries

Blueberries have to be one of my favorite foods on the planet. In fact, blueberries are the one thing that I absolutely will not go a day without eating. I love them that much.

Lucky for me, blueberries are typically easy to come by in the U.S., as they are native to North America, and they are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Studies have shown that blueberries have the highest levels of active antioxidants per serving of any food.

Blueberries also contain a high concentration of proanthocyanidin compounds which can slow the growth and spread of cancer cells. Blueberries also contain anthocyanins which protect against gastroenteritis and diarrhea, may prevent cardiovascular disease, and improve eye health.

Continue Reading

The Toxic Truth About Talc

The Toxic Truth about Talc

As you may have heard, on February 22, 2016 Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer which was linked to her life-long use of talc-based powders sold under Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower brands.

I remember working in the hospital years ago and many women patients would use baby powder to fight excess moisture and yeast. I don’t really remember ever hearing anyone advise against this practice.

In fact, I didn’t know how toxic it was until I made it my mission to weed out harmful chemicals in my personal care products and began researching the topic extensively.

When I posted about this story on social media earlier this week, I realized that many women are still not aware of the link between talc and ovarian cancer. In addition, most consumers assume that a product is safe if it is on the market. And the longer a product is on the market, the more trusted the product becomes.

In reality, Johnson & Johnson continued selling talc-based baby powder despite decades of research suggesting it’s link to ovarian cancer and despite formulating a corn-starch based version of their baby powder.

Continue Reading

The 5 Biggest Modern Environmental Health Challenges Facing Women and Children (and 5 Tips to Overcome Them)

Many modern conveniences, luxuries, and lifestyle habits seem great. And many of them are great when it comes to saving 5 Big Environmental Challenges1time and convenience. But they are not necessarily healthy for us.

In fact, most of the common chronic illnesses and conditions that we see skyrocketing today are directly related to our modern lifestyle, or what experts call, “environmental factors.”

Chronic illnesses like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, allergies, asthma, reproductive issues, Alzheimer’s, cancer, mood disorders, etc., are all triggered by lifestyle and environmental factors.

Right now we are living in what I call, “The Age of Modern Chronic Illness” which is characterized by a general state of “un-wellness” and soaring rates of diseases that were fairly rare in the western world just 50 to 100 years ago but are frighteningly common today. Unfortunately, women and children are disproportionately paying the price and bearing the brunt of our modern lifestyle challenges.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases and conditions are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.

Here are just a few statistics you should know:

• As of 2012, about 50% of all adults had at least one chronic health condition (CDC).
• 65.8% of US women are overweight or obese (source: NHANES, 2011-2012).
• 78% of people affected by autoimmune disorders are women (source: AARDA). As a group autoimmune disorders make up the 4th largest cause of disability in the US and they are increasing.
• The #1 cause of death for women (and men) is heart disease (source: CDC, 2013).
• The #2 cause of death for women (and men) in the US is cancer (source: CDC, 2013).

The good news is …

As I mentioned above, chronic illness is preventable. Research shows that only 5-10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90-95% have their roots in environment and lifestyle. In fact, lifestyle and environment account for 90-95% of MOST chronic illnesses, not our genes.¹ This is good news because we can’t change our genes but we can change our lifestyle and environment.

Here are the 5 Biggest Modern Environmental Health Challenges:

#1 Threat:  Exposure to Toxic Substances

This is one of the biggest health challenges we face in the modern world. There are thousands of chemicals in use today and only a small portion of them have undergone toxicologic evaluation to determine whether or not they are safe.
In fact, research shows that many of them are not safe and have a significant impact on our health and the environment.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, environmental toxins may contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, reproductive issues, cognitive impairment and many other chronic health conditions. Children are particularly susceptible to chemical exposures and exposures during child development may contribute to health problems that arise later in life.

In a recent report issued by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, it states that the widespread exposure we experience in daily life to toxic environmental chemicals, such as pesticides, plastics, and metals (like lead), can lead to fertility problems, stillbirths, miscarriages, cancer, and neurological problems.²

What can you do today? Begin reducing your exposure to toxic substances in your home. Choose paper, cloth, glass, wood, or stainless steel containers over plastic whenever you can. If you live in a home that was built before 1970, consider lead testing. One way to reduce your exposure to pesticides is to buy organic foods as much as possible.

For more ways to reduce your family’s exposure to harmful pesticides download my FREE guide, “Pitch the Pesticides: 5 Strategies to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Pesticides.”

Click Here to Get the FREE Guide: Pitch the Pesticides

Continue Reading

Research Shows a Low FODMAP Diet Helps Manage Symptoms of IBS

People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)  typically report symptoms of abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, and/or diarrhea. Recent Young casual girl woman is having stomach ache.studies support the use of a Low FODMAP diet to help manage symptoms of IBS and other digestive disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Disease.

FODMAP stands for Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPS are osmotic, which means that they pull water into the digestive tract, may not be digested well and could be fermented upon by intestinal bacteria when they are consumed in larger amounts. This process is what leads to the symptoms mentioned previously.

FODMAPs in the diet include:

  • Fructose (ex. some fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup, etc.)
  • Lactose ( ex. milk)
  • Fructans (ex. wheat, onions, garlic)
  • Galactans (ex. legumes)
  • Polyols (ex. sweeteners and stone fruits)

Continue Reading

June 2014 is Scleroderma Awareness Month

Did you know that June 2014 is Scleroderma Awarness Month? If not, I’m not surprised most people haven’t even heard of Scleroderma, not to2014_scleroderma_awareness_icon_1 mention Scleroderma Awareness Month.

According to the Scleroderma Foundation, Scleroderma is a chronic, often progressive, autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own body.

Scleroderma means “hard skin.” It can cause  thickening and tightening of the skin. In some cases, it causes serious damage to internal organs including the lungs, heart, kidneys, esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. As scarring, or sclerosis, of these organs and organ systems progress, they work less effectively, and can lead to organ failure and death.

Here are some quick facts about Scleroderma:

  • Approximately 300,000 Americans have scleroderma
  • An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people have systemic scleroderma
  • Approximately three to four times more women develop scleroderma
  • Scleroderma can affect any age group, but onset is most frequent between 25 and 55
  • 90 percent of people living with systemic scleroderma also have Raynaud’s Phenomenon, an autoimmune disorder in which there is constriction of blood vessels in the ears, nose, fingers or toes
  • Lung disease is a major cause of scleroderma-related deaths.

Continue Reading