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Take a Load Off, America

20 J0000009UTC 2011

I listen to people. It seems like feeling crappy is often the norm. Constipation? “Yeah, I’ve been that way since I was a kid.” Seasonal allergies? “Every year.” Hives, eczema, acne? “My skin just sucks.” Annual flu, daily diarrhea, clogged ears, painful joints, terrible periods? “That’s just normal for me.” Obesity? “Isn’t that supposed to happen after 40?”

These crappy symptoms are not normal at all. The body is designed to run way more smoothly, but it will subtly accommodate a host of unnatural toxins through lousy conditions (see above), until it poops out from chronic disease.

We can live better by reducing “total body burden” or “total load.” Body burden or total load is the entire toxic weight placed on the cells, tissues, organs and systems of your body. It’s what your body (mostly your small intestine, brain, liver and kidneys) has to contend with in order to keep breathing, circulation, digestion/elimination, thought, sleep, hormone production and energy production for exercise and everyday function running smoothly. It’s the yucky stuff that goes in that your body needs to either store or eliminate.

I bet you’re wondering what “goes in.” I mean, most of us are not heavy drug users, stopped eating paste back in first grade, try to eat healthfully and shower at least twice a week. So what burdens the body, making it more susceptible to chronic disease, weight gain and everyday issues like acne, congestion, seasonal allergies, achy joints, frequent colds (depressed immune system) and migraines?

Environmental Toxins– This is the external stuff that you breathe in or that gets absorbed via the skin and mucous membranes. Growing up on a farm near herbicides and pesticides, exhaust and fumes from constant traffic, methane from ranch work, radiation.

Heavy Metal Poisoning– This one is serious and relatively uncommon. Included here are mercury dental amalgams often used a few decades back. Lead, arsenic, aluminum and cadmium are also culprits.

Workplace Toxins– Super common, so use your imagination. New carpet and paint constant computer and cell phone usage (electromagnetic field); salon work; asbestos in construction and demolition; one that hits home– plastics, foams and metals in building walls for climbing gyms. I just found out that a huge percentage of the fire fighters that survived 9-11 now have cancer from dealing with the fumes of technology.

Household & Cleaning Products– These seem clean but are a huge culprit for many who would otherwise be free of asthma, food sensitivities, migraines and the like. Laundry soaps, dryer sheets, tub scrubber, carpet powders, dusting spray, dish soap, wipies, diapers, bubble bath and (huge ones) candles, air fresheners and room deoderizers (think Glade). A big culprit in several cases I have seen is Clorox Bleach. Conditions that have lasted over ten years have abated after chucking the Clorox. See One Green Generation’s website for how to make easy, effective natural cleaners.

Personal Care & Beauty Products– your basic Target or Macy’s purchase that keep you looking fresh and pretty. It’s a different story on the inside, affecting your endocrine, respiratory and central nervous system. Lipstick, hairspray, body wash, deoderent, toothpaste, nail polish, shampoo, the lot. For a way more comprehensive list of what ingredients to look for and alternative options, see Simple Organic’s website. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to see how your favorite products rate.

Thankful women on Prilosec.

Drugs– Over the counter, prescription and recreational. Whatever you take, especially if it’s ongoing (note, Ibuprofin, Zyrtec, Lipitor, Prilosec, Rolaids, birth control pills), you are going to have connected issues, felt or not.

Food– These science experiments are found in a massive amount of common grocery store items. Herbicides and pesticides on/in conventional produce; hormones, antibiotics and lousy feed (primarily discarded corn) in conventional meat, poultry, dairy, eggs and even some fish; dyes and colorings found in nearly everything in a box or bottle– even kid’s cough syrup and vitamins; additives and preservatives, even in your Healthy Choice meal; hydrogenated oils, chemically altered fats that alter your cells; aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) and MSG (flavor enhancer), excitatory neurotoxins shown to exacerbate epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s; and my favorite, high fructose corn syrup in nearly everything, which baffles the liver and causes the body to store fat, leading to a host of diseases.

Diet Cola & Aspartame = Brain Dysfunction

It’s not that any single one item in the list above, used or eaten a couple of times, is going to cause you to keel over. It’s the accumulation of several (or many) of these over a period of time + your personal level of resilience + your family history + your stress level + genetics + childhood trauma + your psychological fortitude + your desire to ‘win’ or ‘lose’ + your support system, family and friends + your experience of love and kindness that will determine what goes on in there. That is total body burden or total load. This is why we sometimes do not know or understand why someone gets the disease they get.

It’s complicated. But it’s not hopeless.

First line, you control most of your household and body care. If you can’t change them all, you can change a lot– even one at a time. Experiment. No longer scrubbing the bathroom with Comet and Clorox might change things in your lungs.

Organic Produce Stand

Next line, you can change a lot of your food. Even if you can’t change your grocery budget, you can start reading packaging. Unfortunately our food industry has made more scientifically complicated, more disgustingly compromised food way cheaper for the consumer– so, for those of us who are living on the cheap, it is hard to buy healthful foods. Read labels and choose the best items you can.

Third line- if things are serious, change jobs or move homes or regional locations. If asbestos, mold, pesticides or acid rain is literally killing you, you have to choose whether to stay for money or family or whether to leave for your life. It’s never quite that easy, but you don’t have to stay.

You always have the power to change something, even one small variable. Maybe you have a chance to completely overhaul your pantry, cleaners and body care products.

Bottom line? Unburden your body so it can work right for you.

Resource: Bauman, Ed. Therapeutic Nutrition, Liver and Detoxification, 2010.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anji Redmond permalink
    20 J0000009UTC 2011 3:20 pm

    Great points made and as usual – exceptionally written, particularily since you stopped eating paste in the first grade whereas most stopped in kindergarten. 🙂 All kidding aside – very good article.

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