Archive for January, 2017

Airline crews wearing new uniforms may be “canaries in the coal mine”

Perhaps you have heard that American Airline’s new uniforms have become a hot topic. Surprisingly, it isn’t about the style. I link here to an article in the Chicago Tribune that gives a good summary of the situation. It reports that roughly 10% of the flight attendants issued the uniforms last fall claim that something in the material causes everything from: “blisters and wheezing to rashes, itchy eyes, and sore throats” as well as “fatigue and vertigo”. After reportedly spending more than $1 million on testing, the airline cannot identify a cause. My thoughts:

  • The dyes and other fabric-processing chemicals used were probably tested for safety on mice, not people. People do not always react the same way rodents do.
  • Testing of chemicals is typically of short duration. However, a little of something daily for a long period can have an accumulating
  • The chemicals were undoubtedly tested individually, not in the mixture
  • Some folks are less able to detoxify A person could already carry a significant toxic load. Or he or she might be missing key nutrients or beneficial bacteria that are required for detoxification. I believe that this individuality issue is at least one major factor in the vaccine / autism debate. I mean that sub-groups of children may well be having bad reactions, but that nuance is lost in the data which averages great numbers of vaccinations. Note: the reason canaries were used as a first warning that coal mines had become dangerous with carbon monoxide was that the birds were more sensitive than people.
  • Not all people are allergic to the same things.
  • Reactions like rashes and wheezing are easily recognized. And, if they happen soon after the exposure, easily linked to the culprit. However, the accumulated effect on the body’s cells and systems may cause serious chronic conditions much much later. Then the link to the chemicals will be much harder to prove, especially for folks who didn’t have the early visible reactions.

As so often is the case with exposure to low levels of toxins, the manufacturer will declare themselves innocent because the chemicals meet “government requirements”. I’m sorry, that does not ease my mind. In too many cases, such as with the glyphosate class of herbicides (e.g. Roundup®) the government evaluates only acute poisoning…not the health effect of getting a little bit each day for years on your breakfast cereal.

I wish the flight attendants good luck. They are permitted to use substitute uniforms. But, what if they are working alongside other crew in the new suspect uniforms? They may still suffer as we do with secondhand smoke.

Sucralose (Splenda) may cause thyroid trouble, weight gain and more problems

Last Saturday on our show, Dr. Frank King discussed that an upset in the P.H.A.T. system is an overlooked cause of weight gain. The “T” of that glandular grouping is the thyroid. It is a gland that is not sufficiently appreciated for its important role in our health. For starters, this little gland in the throat controls our metabolism. Metabolism affects not just the burning of fat, but the energy usage in every cell. That means it also affects heart health, cholesterol levels, digestion, sexual function, energy levels, the brain and much more (symptom quiz). I was understandably concerned to learn that sucralose (Splenda) may cause thyroid trouble, weight gain and more problems. A new STUDY showed that this widely used artificial sweetener inhibits the normal function of the thyroid gland.

Granted, that study was done on rodents, but a rodent model was picked for a thyroid study because it has historically proven to be predictive for human thyroid reactions. Human studies are not only expensive, but also unethical for toxicity studies, so rodents are used by manufacturers to “prove” safety. I put prove in quotes because those product studies are usually quite short-term and answer only the specific questions that are asked. For an artificial sweetener, researchers (being paid by the supplier) typically only look to make sure the substance doesn’t make the rats drop dead right away or develop tumors in a few weeks. They certainly have no incentive to look for reduced thyroid function. An under-performing thyroid will cause disease down the road.

The poor thyroid has also suffered from other relatively recent changes in the food supply. Thyroid hormone requires iodine. That mineral is found in seaweed (like kelp), seafood and vegetables grown on iodine rich soils. Because we weren’t getting enough in some parts of the country, the government had it added to salt. Few manufacturers use iodized salt. Sea salt contains some, but not as much as iodized salt. I do worry a bit that the government has recently been recommending sodium intake at what I think for most people is an unreasonably low level. Iodine was formerly used in bread, but commercial bakers now use bromines instead. Those are endocrine disruptors that compete with iodine. Good multivitamins contain a small amount of iodine. Using a sprinkle of kelp flakes on foods might be good added insurance. Professional testing might be advisable before taking an iodine supplement.

Goitrogens are another enemy of the thyroid gland. These are foods that, while healthful in moderate doses, if eaten too frequently, interfere with the thyroid’s ability to take up iodine. It is tempting to assume that a daily drink of green plant foods would be a great health boost, but this article by pharmacist Suzy Cohen tells how to be sure that the one you use isn’t suppressing your thyroid function. (Clicking the “Buy Now” button doesn’t force you to make a purchase and it will give you an HBN discount on any purchase.)

Back to sucralose / Splenda. This stuff has not been shown to prevent diabetes or obesity which is the main reason anyone would want to use it. Worse yet, it seems to encourage both problems. Excess sugar is not good for us, but this stuff is worse. There are so many reasons to be concerned about sucralose…disturbing gut bacteria as well as potential issues with kidney, liver, nerves and cancer that I recommend avoiding it all together, but especially in hot liquids and baked goods.

6 simple health resolutions that almost anyone can keep

Don’t beat yourself up. Ambition and positive thinking are great, but unrealistic goals set us up for failure. Below are six New Year’s resolutions that are easy to follow. And yet they can give our health a good boost or at the very least lay a nice foundation for other more challenging promises that we make ourselves. (Hmm, like going to the gym every day or cutting out all desserts?)

  1. Fill a pitcher with filtered water in the morning. Set a timer / computer reminder / phone alarm to remind you every hour to drink a glass of that water. If the daily goal is something like ½ ounce for every pound of body weight, you can figure out how big that glass needs to be.
  2. The same reminder source can serve to make sure you get up, stretch and move at least a couple of minutes hourly. (It is now widely accepted that being sedentary is a major health risk.) If twice a day you can do 15 minutes of real exercise so much the better.
  3. While you are up, take a few relaxing deep breaths. Not only does that help reduce the accumulating stress, a little extra oxygen is good for your immune system.
  4. At the end of the day, whatever type of work you do (including management of the home), make a to-do list for the next day. That way you can let go of those things and not have them cluttering your mind when you are trying to unwind or sleep.
  5. Do something good every day for your intestinal team. The science reviewed in my book, The Probiotic Cure, shows that these friendly bacteria are crucial to virtually every function of the body. They are so very fundamental to good health that I recommend, in addition to eating fermented foods, a probiotic supplement. Ohhira’s is the only one that contains prebiotics (the food the bacteria eat), probiotics (the microorganisms) and postbiotics (all the beneficial substances that the bacteria have been busy making during their 3 years of fermentation).
  6. Listen to Healthy by Nature every week because our experts give us more ways to take charge of our health. For example, in case you’d like to lose some fat, this week Dr. Frank King will teach us how homeopathic medicine can help. If you are not available on Saturday morning, at this link you can find other ways to listen such as podcasts and archives.

If you are all fired up to make more changes in 2017, check out the information in our Library—for example: The ABC’s of Healthy Eating, 16 Reasons to Exercise plus Tips, and 24 Stress Reduction Ideas.

 


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