Saturday, 15 January 2011

How our Bodies Get Weak and Sick

What a sobering thought it is to realize how so many of us are getting sick.  What is the problem? What is the solution? Let's examine some environmental factors.

After the industrial revolution in the late 18th century, more developments came about. After the last world war, more changes or innovations took place in the developed world that brought about changes in our daily lives - in our work routine and work environment, our living conditions, and to be noted is the change in our diets, to include processed foods and fast foods. All in the name of efficiency, we welcomed these changes. We knew little of how these changes would affect our lives.

With the the growth of commercial agriculture, due to the growth and continuing expansion of the food industry, what we eat now is so different from what we used to eat before. As a child, I used to wait for the farmer who used to deliver fresh carabao milk at our front door, every morning at 7:00. Before heading for school, my mother used to crack an egg for me, and I would drink it raw. I used to go to market with our cook as she chose the live chicken that was going to be our meal in a couple of hours. These are some of the memories I have and my children and many of you did not get to experience them.

CHEMICAL AGRICULTURE

In the farming sector, the use of artificial, chemical fertilizers have brought us bigger, more perfect, and pest-free bountiful crops. This agricultural system, which started about 150 years ago,  began to damage our ecosystem and made our soil unhealthy and consequently contaminated our water tables with the introduction of agrichemicals. As the soil became weakened, pest control became the next farming problem. The solution was to use pesticides and other toxic chemicals.  These have changed the quality of the products of the fields, which in turn were eaten by animals, and then by us. At first, the agrichemicals were thought to be harmless, until we eventually heard about the studies that indicated how they had found their way into the meat, poultry, and dairy products, and even in mothers' milk. Agrichemical farming is a major factor in polluting our sources for food supply.

Sadly, the human body had no coping mechanism to deal with these ingested poisons. The tragic consequences affected fetuses, newborns, and children. All sorts of diseases started to be manifested in their weakened, developing bodies. Then, the adults, too. This is a continuing tragedy.

Now the debilitating effects of agrichemicals in the food chain are better understood. Not too long ago, genetically modified seeds were introduced to farmers,  seeds where quantities of pesticides had been added to them to make them pest resistant. In effect, we are consuming some residues of toxic substances in fruits and vegetables, and in the meat and poultry. Overtime, our bodies are no longer able to fight to stay healthy. We have been living on toxin-enriched but nutrient-deficient food. The consequences to our daily lives are experiencing more illnesses and pain more often, suffer from  infections, common colds; find difficulty in sleeping; feeling blue; and develop chronic diseases.

Even water, a natural resource, has become big business because it has to be made safer for human consumption after it is cholorinated, fluoridated, and further treated chemically, due to toxic waste products finding their way into the water ways and reservoirs. There have been reports, too, of drug-contaminated drinking water supply from Southern California to Northern New Jersey.

We need to go back to basics. We need to have nutrient-enriched food on our tables. It is a blessing that organic farming is gaining ground and organic produce is available in the stores and in the open markets, alongside the regularly sourced food supplies. Organic food, free of chemicals/pesticides, is what we are to eat to regain our optimum health.

There is an industry now that gives gardeners and farmers a healthy option: natural fertilizers. You can also make your own gardening supplies to replace chemical fertilizers.

MEDICATIONS

Drug companies have taken a major share in providing treatment for the diseases, in our time. When before "One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses NOT to take medicine" (Sir William Osler, 1849-1919, medical historian called the most influental physician of his age) there now seems to be a "pill for every ill." As time has shown, the negative side effects of many drugs can no longer be overlooked. Some are fatal, while others lead to sickly conditions. Can we, therefore, say that all "drugs are toxic"?

For our not so serious conditions, there are home remedies you can prepare instead of taking over-the-counter or prescribed medicines. For our life threatening diseases, a complete dietary change can spell the difference between being well and cured and getting by with symptoms being alleviated by medication.

FOOD ADDITIVES

Then, comes the expansion of the food industry. If you check the ingredient labels of the package food developed for us, there are words that are hard to pronounce, much less understand what they are unless we are food scientists. With over 4000 thousand developed additives, they enhance the flavor profile, make the food look good, and enhance shelf life.  We would be deceived to think that these are all good for us when they are synthetic and chemicals that have been made to mimic flavors, scents, and colors, in place of nutrients that we expect to get. Serious allergic reactions from these ingredients can cause behavioral problems, mood swings, fatigue, while long-term use can result in developing heart disease and cancer. We need to go back to the "stone-age diet...eat only foods from which nothing has been removed, to which nothing has been added, and which go bad if you didn't eat it right away." 

If what you buy has any of these ingredients, Acesulfae K, Artificial Coloring, Aspertame, BHA & BHT, Caffeine, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Nitrate and Nitrite, Olestra, Potassium Bromate, and Sulfites, it's time to research and know what their contributions to our ill-health are.

The fast foods were a welcome addition in their early days. We brought our young families to enjoy a family meal and have a fun family time. We had an idea of what we were eating, some deep fried, some pan fried, and some baked. Then the waistlines of the regular patrons started to widen. Transfat was brought into the spotlight - it was something we unknowingly ate in the fried foods, and the effects were detrimental to our health.

The advantage of preparing your meals at home is you know exactly what you will be eating. We can choose our healthy ingredients and the manner of cooking. If ever you use prepared additives like flavors and spices, be sure to check what's in them. Otherwise, seasoning your recipe with fresh onions, garlic, vegetables, sea salt and pepper, fresh herbs for cooking or garnishing work very well.

NICOTINE & ALCOHOL

Because of  big profits generated, both the tobacco industry and the alcohol-drink manufacturers are not going to be shut down any time soon. Plus, add the revenues they bring to the medical and pharmacheutical industries. 

If you are a smoker, please know that the cigarette you smoke to enjoy can kill you and others, too, as it attacks the body's whole system of natural defense. Both the smoker and the inhaler of second-hand smoke suffer. Yet, this bad, addictive habit persists. 

Alcohol is not a health food. Taken occasionally and in limited amounts may be alright. Otherwise, excessive drinking leads to alcoholism, which leads to serious, chronic diseases

If you are a smoker or a habitual drinker, you can do something about it. Just do it. Quit cold turkey. Save your life and the lives of others.

COSMETICS & GROOMING AIDS

Unbeknownst to the majority of women is how toxic cosmetics and lotions can be because of the use of a wide range of parabens (with anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties), primarily used as preservatives.  Aside from parabens, there are other ingredients to watch out for.  The toxins from these products are promptly adsorbed through the skin and go directly to our bloodstream, bypassing any metabolic sytem in our bodies.

One of the most common western product is the deodorant. Check what you are using. If it has aluminum, that is toxic as it is absorbed by the lymph glands in our underarm and goes straight to the lymphatic system. I suffered from inflamed lymp nodes in my underarm, once before. I am now  using sodium bicarbonate as foot and underarm deodorant, and for other things.

Take stock of what ingredients you have in your make up, lotions, toiletries, hair dye, soaps, perfumes and colognes, and other grooming aids. It's quite a bit of damage we do to our bodies when we use these products blindly. Our visits to the beauty salon for a haircut, hair-coloring treatment, manicure and pedicure, subject us to inhaling toxic fumes at very high levels, in that enclosed room. That is not good for our lungs and our brain cells. Just imagine what it does to the people who work there regularly.

My bag is feeling up and ready to be tossed out. It looks like it's time to let my grey hair show! I am about to embark on making my lotions and creams from scratch. I was happy to find some organic shampoo, facial cleanser, and hand lotion in the store. 

HOUSEHOLD CLEANING-PRODUCTS

If you have read the "WARNING" on canisters and packages of househld products and wipes - cleaning, disinfecting, bleaching agents - we are told to use them in areas with good ventilation and not to use them in combination with other products. The chemicals used to manufacture them are carcinogens and cause indoor pollution.

I am back to using vinegar to disinfect and clean counter tops and the floor, something I learned when I was very young. Make your own home-made household cleaning products. It will keep the air you breath healthy, while cleaning. Be sure to label each bottle clearly, before you store them.

IMMUNIZATION - VACCINATION

For the parents with newborn and very young kids, vaccinations can be helpful or they can be lethal. When your child is going to be immunized, research the side effects. Do not just rely on what the pediatrician says. A well-informed parent may come up with reasons not to immunize their children below two-years old.

ELECTROMAGNET FIELDS

We are a gadget-addicted generation - from the young to the old. The electromagnetic field around us is changing, increasing. It started with the invention of the incandescent light bulb, followed by lamps, television sets, radios, regular ovens and microwave ovens, computers, and many more electronic things in our homes and in the office.

Today, no one can be without a cell phone - the means to instant communication, locally and globally, at all times. The more advanced models, with computer capabilities, make us so dependent on them that they sit right next to our bodies most of the time. 

There have been no formal studies regarding the environmental impact of the increase in the electromagnetic field on our health. In areas where radio mast/towers have been put up to transmit signal, "clusters of diseases" are being reported, specifically cancer. There are also complaints of "sleep disturbance, more incidence of headaches, skin rashes, heart palpitations, and vertigo." Dr. Robert O. Becker, twice nominated for the Nobel Prize has identified the "proliferation of magnetic fields" to be " "the greatest polluting element in the earth's environment." 

There are ways to minimize the debilitating effects from the constant use of these gizmos. Turn off your units and keep them away from the bed when you go to sleep. Have indoor plants to absorb some of the radiation.

STRESS

Stress is a major factor. It is what attacks our body's defense system from within. It is our "fight or flight" response when we face dangerous threats. In our lifestyle, we face threats that are mostly "non-violent,"  related to our personal relationships, family or business. In protracted cases, where the issues do no get resolved right away, we go through the response phases of alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. How we handle our stress will spell the difference in our well being. Some face it with inappropriate means, through alcohol, smoking and drugs; acting out; unhealthy eating; taking sleep aids to fight insomnia; taking too much caffeine, etc. It is the reaction  to the stress, and not the stress itself, that is causing the downhill trend in one's emotional and mental well being. 

There are sensible ways to deal with stress, along with taking healthy nutrition. 

Do you get the big picture of how we got to this point, how our bodies have become weak and sick? You are part of the solution. We each need to take over taking care of ourselves. A lifestyle change in how we nourish and how we live in our environment should be our priority now.  We each need to redesign our meal plans; reorient our tastes to what is really good, nutritious food; make an effort to be environmentally friendly at home and out there. This entails an investment of our time and efforts.

Together, let's be healthy once again and reclaim the world we live in.

Reference:
Gerson, C. & Bishop, B. (2010) Healing the Gerson Way - Defeating Cancer and Other Chronic Diseases, (Ch. 5 Breakdown of the Body's Defenses - pp. 29-58). California: Gerson Health Media

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