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Counselor Morgan Randall's blog, bookstore and more. A place to explore the paradigm shift to systems thinking that views body and mind as one

Health Coaching

As your counselor at Bodymind Counseling, it’s part of my job to help you get healthier physically, because we cannot separate the mind from the body. Together, we examine not only how your behavioral patterns and relationships are affecting you, but also take a look at daily nutritional supplies (from which your brain and nervous system are built) that effect your behavior and relationships.

It is amazing how many folks arrive in my office not realizing that some of his or her emotional life is negatively skewed by coffee. For the more sensitive, toxic food additives such as those mentioned in the informative article below can tilt the physical system over the edge into viewing the world through the lens of a toxic mind.

There are many aspects to your health that we can explore together to help you move in the positive direction you want to go!–MR

Cluster of Culprits – Ingredients of Disease: Chronic diseases and disorders under the influence of environmental toxics

by Jodi Buller, Natural Inquirer, Skagit Valley Food Co-op, Spring 2012

In a short time, 100 years or so, science and technology have unleashed a host of new chemicals into the world, and tested a relative very few of them for safety, (and even fewer in combination). These days, one in four Americans lives within four miles of a hazardous waste site. We bear repeated and cumulative exposure to toxic chemicals through the use of everyday products. We watch our rates of autism, ADHD, asthma, thyroid, hormone disorders, and syndromes rise–and we take pharmaceutical medications to manage our symptoms and depressions. Then those pharmaceuticals end up in our water supply, adding to the toxic load. We have often hidden, or left unmarked, our places of toxicity, and we don’t like to talk about them—it gives everybody a sinking feeling. We are polluted, and it is affecting us.

This is scary stuff, and there is no one company or practice or pesticide or technological breakthrough to blame, fight, beat in court, and stop for good. It’s not that kind of story. It’s a long slow slog through rising disease clusters in industrial areas, sifting through stories and research studies for common threads, impassioned campaigns to raise awareness and drive comments to the FDA or EPA or USDA–and then we find our governing bodies rely on research studies from agencies whose findings are often “inconclusive by design.”

The seemingly endlessly revolving door between corporate and government agencies hasn’t helped the public’s case any, since corporate science is not governed by the precautionary principle which guides European research and development. The idea that “first, we should do no harm” is glaringly missing from pharmaceuticals, genetic engineering, and material technologies development. The EU Cosmetics Directive has banned 1,100 chemicals with known harmful health impacts from personal care products. The FDA only bans or restricts eleven of those chemicals.

So, we are saturated in chemical substances and endocrine disruptors that do, in fact, do harm–especially in combination, especially over the long term–and we are seeing it in our physical health and in the rise of disorders and syndromes and diabetes and obesity in emerging generations. It’s “the cumulative effect of multiple toxic exposures” that author Britta Bell explores in her recent book release The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates. Bell looks at the elements that make up our chemical world, the scientific studies researching the toxic and chemical indicators in disease and disorders, and the community fights to protect the public in terms of chemical safety.

Since our regulating agencies are sucking at their job, it is now more than ever up to us to advocate for a world of safer chemicals and pro-active legislation to handle our existing chemical “problem children”. It turns out some of these substances we can move out of our systems over time, and some (the “persistent” ones) will stay with us forever. Mercury is one of the primary chemicals implicated in autism and other disorders; as mercury from coal-burning power plants and other sources reaches the sea and is ingested by fish, it transforms in the water into hazardous methylmercury, which is easily absorbed in tissues and difficult for fish and for us to eliminate, especially if you have autism. Dental fillings and vaccinations are other ways we could come in contact with mercury.

Other chemicals implicated in rising autism rates are Benzene (inhaled from petroleum refineries) and Triclosan–an endocrine-disrupting chemical added to boost antibacterial, anti-microbial, and antifungal properties of toothpaste, soap, clothes, furniture, and kitchenware. Triclosan enters our watersheds through home septic systems.

A recent article by Tom Laskaway in Grist magazine reflected another potential toxic-autism link:
“A provocative new peer-reviewed study published in Clinical Epigenetics, researchers led by a former FDA toxicologist purport to have found a very real link between HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) consumption and autism.

The study’s argument is complicated but deeply disturbing. It pieces together what’s known about the genetic and metabolic factors involved with autism, including the growing evidence of a link between autism and mercury and organophosphate pesticide exposure.

Essentially, HFCS can interfere with the body’s uptake of certain dietary minerals–namely zinc. And that, when combined with other mineral deficiencies common among Americans, can cause susceptible individuals to develop autism. Industry wants to us to believe that if no harm is proven, no harm is done. Yet scientists are discovering ways that highly processed foods, foods we did not evolve eating, may have alarming genetic effects.

Yet, as the authors of a recent study on the links between endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA and obesity and diabetes observed, it is all but impossible to prove a direct link between chemicals that affect us through chronic, low-level exposure and the health effects they are thought to cause.”

A 2005 study of Washingtonians turned up some other baddies of the chemical world (and there are many, but let’s stick to the ones that show up most often in products and in our bodies) in pretty much everybody. The full study and report are online at www.pollutioninpeople.org, but here’s a quick run through and some suggestions for limiting your exposure:

Lead is a cranky old villain in the fight against toxic chemicals–banned in paint since 1978, its widespread use mid-century means it still lingers in soil, dust, dishware, water pipes, older mini blinds, and even jewelry. If you’ve got old pipes, run the tap for a full minute before using the water, and do not use hot tap water to drink. A water filter is not a bad idea either, as arsenic is still a contender in the toxic pig pile.

Flame retardants, PBDEs in particular, were added to flooring, electronics like computers and TVs, foam, furniture, and clothing for the past 30 years. The EPA is requiring them to be phased out by 2013 but the PBDEs are “persistent”–they do not break down–and accumulate in the environment and living creatures, concentrating in the fatty tissues of poultry, red meat, and fish. They often migrate into household dust and are also (ironically?) released by burning. If you are re-doing your carpet–use a dust mask and HEPA-filter vacuum and seal the work area. Dispose of old foam and electronics at a hazardous waste site.

Plastics are not stable, it turns out–the chemicals in plastics come loose over time and release into the air, water, soil, and food. Plastics in the ocean (seen photos of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch lately?) eventually wear down to tiny pellet size and act like chemical magnets for other pollutants, before being ingested by fish and marine life. Less obviously, the plastic migrates into food and liquids, especially when heated or frozen. Both paths lead to us—way, way up on the food chain–taking in the pollution that our food picked up on the way to our plates.

BPAs and phthalates are the primary problematic health disruptors in plastics: storage containers, canned food linings, coffee makers, and baby products are all implicated. Minimize your exposure by switching to glass for food storage, buying bulk foods, and keeping plastic containers out of the sunshine, microwaves and dishwashers.

Food Prep Materials are responsible for every meal you eat. Teflon is a revengeful friend–food may come out beautifully in those pots and pans, but if you scratch your Teflon or non-stick tools, you will begin to absorb perfluorooctanioic acid (PFOA) on a regular basis… Just about all of us have it in the bloodstream already, and the EPA’s science advisory board calls it a likely carcinogen, linked to numerous cancers. PFOA is also used in packaging–French fry containers, microwave popcorn bags, and “heat in packaging” foods – as well as carpets, couches, and even the ubiquitous northwest Gore-tex clothing. Anti-bacterial/Stain Resistant/Waterproof might actually mean “chemically-induced harm with each use”. To minimize: use stainless steel, cast iron, or enameled pots and pans, cut back on fast food runs, and on “packaged for heating” foods. Read the labels on your electronic and furniture purchases. I don’t know if you want to give up the Gore-tex though . . .

Chemicals In/On Food harm farmworkers and conventional eaters of all kinds–especially kids. Not all fruits and veggies are equal when it comes to pesticide application. USDA test data found 57 different chemicals on conventional peaches, and many of these linger even after washing or peeling. Each year the Environmental Working Group releases the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists, to help consumers prioritize which produce to purchase organic. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has a downloadable app called Chemical Cuisine, which describes the potential health risks of over 130 food additives. To get out of pesticide-land, buy organic, preservative and additive free, whole foods–the less processed, the better.

Personal Care and Cosmetics are currently a huge area of concern, as many of the daily cosmetic and personal care products, including “pink ribbon products” from brands who claim to be fighting cancer, are home to a host of toxic chemicals: lead is the big offender in lipstick brands, phthalates in fragrances, formaldehyde in hair straighteners and the “toxic trio” of ingredients: dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene in nail polish.

There are toxins in men’s and children’s personal care products too–this isn’t just the glamour gear that’s hazardous. The beauty industry has very few labeling policies (so packaging terms like “natural”, “pure” or even “organic”, a term which IS regulated in the food industry, can be misleading) and the current legislation guiding the FDA is seventy years old. The Safe Cosmetics Act, which was introduced to Congress in 2011, to ensure that personal care and cosmetic products are free of “lead, reproductive toxins, and cancer causing chemicals like formaldehyde”, is stalled out, and the fight in the cosmetics industry is getting contentious. There are brands, and we carry them, that have re-formulated their ingredients or avoided the toxic baddies altogether. Do some research into the brands that you use.

Cleaners are problematic, too. “Non-toxic” as a label doesn’t legally mean anything, people: Simple Green is the best example that I know, of a cleaner that I wanted to be okay to use–look at the name! Turns out that a hidden ingredient chemical additive called butyl cellosolve, destroys red blood cells and causes minor birth defects. Please read ingredient disclosures on each and every cleaning product under your sink–then think about whether you want to cover the surfaces of your home with a substance that will poison you slowly over time.How to clean without toxic chemicals? How about Vinegar–three cheers for vinegar! And baking soda–yay! That Pine-Sol smell and shine does not mean clean, it means chem. . . .

Which brings us back to Fragrances, or “fragrance”, which, when listed in an ingredient list, often means “phthalate”. Dryer sheets, air fresheners, industrial perfumes, and most scents in conventional cleaning and personal care products contain phthalates, which mimic hormones in the body, and cause significant impact on reproductive health, and ultimately our capacity to keep going as a species. Read those labels and look for “phthalate-free” or unscented options. Essential oils are a great choice, and we’ve got free classes showing you how to use them in everyday applications.

Oof. So, what to do? Visit www.saferchemicals.org for some ideas about how to reduce your own personal chemical loads. Share what you are learning with your friends and family, if you’d like life-long relationships with them. Call upon your senators and elected officials of all sorts to get their muscle behind the legislation reform necessary to begin regulating our chemical impacts upon the environment. And by environment, I mean us, who eat and breathe and are permeable. We need to puzzle out where the damage is and how it’s affecting us, and we need to know what everyday habits and products are hurting us.

END

References:

http://www.saferchemicals.org/ – with link to petition to president obama http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6639/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4873
http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6639/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9696 (photo of boy with cape and sheriff star – very nice)* action page
http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/what-in-the-world-are-you-putting-on-your-skin
http://www.safecosmetics.org/
http://www.noharm.org/

Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations and religious groups.

http://pollutioninpeople.org/
http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/ehs/toxic/Leadgeneral.aspx

How to reduce BPA exposure:
Switch to stainless steel and glass food storage and beverage containers.

Move foods to ceramic or glass food containers for microwaving.

Consider a French press for coffee–home coffee makers may have polycarbonate-based water tanks and phthalate-based tubing.

Eat out less, especially at restaurants that do not use fresh ingredients.

Limit canned food consumption.

Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, and frozen if not.

Soak dried beans for cooking (you can make extra and freeze them).

BPA free at the Co-op: Muir Glen tomato products, Amy’s kitchen, Eden foods, Hatch enchilada sauces and chili.

July 28th, 2012 | Permalink

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morgan randall, ma lmhc
Mental Health Counseling and Health Coaching
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