Health Notes: Pesticides, toxins and an overview of health and health care
Go organic, eat well and take your anti-oxidants!
Note: this article is an overview of research on health and health care, and does not exclusively address parkinson`s and pesticides. To your health! Please read on…
This may not be an essay in philosophy per se, but as my favourite writer said, `The greatest of philosophers have found answers to life`s problems, not only in theory, but in practice.` (Henry David Thoreau) Here then, is an essay dedicated to your health, and to the health and well-being of all of your loved ones. Bon appetite! (The bad-tasting news comes first, then the nourishment of the good – as it generally must.)
A new study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine shows that pesticides are a major cause of neurological degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s. The basic finding is that toxins create oxidative stress – which has been shown before – and in particular, that such oxidative stress from toxins, in this case pesticides, causes the brain and nervous system’s ability to eliminate harmful compounds to be impaired. In other words, toxins damage the body, and also damage the immune system, making the body less able to eliminate toxins or protect itself from them. The etiology or central pathways of disease and disorder here are oxidative stress and also one of its derivative results, chronic systemic inflammatory conditions, both of which harm the body and also impair the body’s defense and regenerative systems.
Oxidative stress is now shown to underly a whole host of degenerative diseases, causing molecular and cellular damage, chronic systemic inflammatory conditions (see Scientific American), and disrupted organ and body-brain-mind systems. Oxidative stress and chronic systemic inflammatory conditions due to toxins are now shown to cause or contribute to neurological and nervous system disorders, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, ASD, Asperger’s, ADHD, and behavioural, mood and learning disorders, along with immune disorders, digestive, reproductive and hormonal system disorders, and cardio-vascular and respiratory disorders, along with increasing the growth of cancer cells and acting as major if not primary causal factors in the onset and development of cancer.
What is to be done? Well, we should be cleaning up our environment for one thing, of course, eliminating pollution and switching en mass to organic agriculture. On a personal health level, a bit of vitamin C, A or E here and there won’t cut it. Our bodies are under heavy attack from toxins and stress. We need to go organic, eat well, avoid toxins and take mega doses of anti-oxidants daily.
Gary Null, one of the best health experts you will find anywhere on the planet, recommends we should be drinking lots of water of course, and also four glasses of organic fruit juice and four glasses of organic vegetable juice, along with a large mixed vegetable and greens salad daily. He also strongly recommends very high doses of essential oils, which are natural anti-inflammatories, as well as being essential for virtually every major organ and body-mind system.
Foods high in essential oils include: salmon, herring, venison, almonds, avocados, freshly ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, flax and hemp oil, almond oil, olive oil, butter and ghee, goat’s milk and goat’s cheese.
More broadly, and in terms of more general health and wellness knowledge, there are healing fats and harmful fats. Healing oils and fats include: olive, almond, avocado, flax, hemp, salmon, butter, ghee and grape seed. Ideally, only grape seed oil should be used for cooking, as all other oils will break down under heat, turning into trans-fats, which are among the most toxic substances we can ingest. Other oils can be added at the end of cooking, to enhance flavour or for health benefits, or used for salads or cold dishes.
Foods high in antioxidants are colourful fruits and vegetables in general – eat your veggies! And drink them! Blueberries, pomegranates and green tea are particularly high in anti-oxidants.
Yes, coffee and chocolate have anti-oxidants, but more than one cup of coffee a day damages the kidneys, strains the heart and depletes the adrenals, disrupting and unbalancing the hormonal system, making you weak and chronically fatigued, and probably moody, at greater risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Of course the coffee industry loves this bit of one-sided information, but in reality, when all aspects are considered, coffee is anything but healthy. In addition, if you’re not drinking organic coffee, then you’re probably ingesting some of the most dangerous and highly toxic, cancer-causing, neurotoxic pesticides on the planet along with your daily brew, for the most notorious pesticides, which have been banned in Europe and North America, are routinely used on coffee plantations around the world. A little DDT with your cappuccino? That’s pretty close to spraying an agent orange froth on your mocha-frappa-cappa-latte. At least go organic, and moderate the caffeine intake.
Chocolate may have antioxidants, but it is usually high in very toxic, low-grade fats, as well as refined sugars – both of which are the next thing to rat poison in terms of human health. Unless you’re eating only organic chocolate sweetened with pure cane sugar or honey, and made with only the best quality ingredients, and only in small amounts of course, chocolate is far from healthy. Corporate marketing campaigns and lobby groups can do amazing things with spin, using a little truth and a lot of deception. Even Wonder bread markets itself as healthy and wholesome! Ya gotta wonder at what people will believe!
To gain a more well-informed and honest view of diet and health, we should look to traditional Asian diets: high in vegetables (very lightly cooked – steamed or very briefly stir-fried, not boiled into oblivion), vegetable protein sources; low in meat and dairy and extremely low in processed foods. Substitute brown, red or black rice for the nutrient-empty white rice, and high quality oils for junk vegetable oil, and you have a near-perfect diet.
For sweets, try real fruit – cooked, raw or in juice; also sweet vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, squash and carrots; and honey, pure cane sugar, molasses or stevia in place of refined sugar and processed foods.
For a mild lift without harmful levels of caffeine and toxic chemicals, try green tea, genmaicha, kukicha, dandelion coffee or organic Orange Pekoe tea. For other healthy drinks, try goat’s milk, butter milk, soy milk, rice, hemp or almond milk, real fruit or vegetable juice, herbal tea, lemon water or shakes and smoothies.
For power shakes or smoothies, throw your favourite fruit in a blender, add ice and a little water – or soy milk, rice, hemp, almond, goat’s milk or butter milk – and in a few seconds you have six servings of delicious and healthy drinks. Put it a pitcher in the fridge, or a thermos for travel, and the sodas, so-called “energy drinks” and other junk drinks can stay on the shelf, saving damage to your wallet as well as your health. Add whey protein, lecithin, powdered maca and/or freshly ground flax or hemp seeds for a super nutrient-rich, high energy meal in a glass. Whey protein gives not only protein but also complete amino acids, some of which are known to be greatly healing and also energizing. Lecithin is high in choline, a brain food and liver tonic, and is also excellent for circulation. Flax and hemp seeds are high in essential oils and fibre, and can be ground freshly in a coffee grinder to preserve the essential oils, with what’s left after making the shake (three to four tablespoons) stored in the fridge. Maca is also known as Peruvian ginseng, and is renowned for its healing and energy-boosting properties. Taste-wise: also amazing, I would say. (Substitute hemp seed for flax if you dislike the texture of ground flax seeds. I like it, but some don’t.) My favourite blend: some combination of blueberries, banana, pineapple, and whatever else you feel like, with the other health and energy-boosting ingredients added in when I have them on hand, which I try to keep in stock.
For healthy snacks, substitute nuts, seeds, trail mix, fruits or raw veggies in place of processed foods that are high in harmful fats, refined sugars and toxins. For veggie dips, a yogurt base makes it easy. Recipes are easily found online, and they tend to be fast, simple and delicious. Pre-made dips from the store should be checked for ingredients carefully, but even if they’re not so great, at least you’re getting veggies with them.
For wholesome meals to go or in a rush, prep in advance: make large batches and store them in the fridge or freezer, possibly in single serving containers. Soups can be made in large batches and blended when done, then when cool, put into a thermos to take to work, school or on the road: carrot soup, cauliflower, broccoli, tomato, squash, lentil, vegetable… and many are good hot or cold. See Epicurious.com for great recipes: every one I’ve tried was relatively easy and turned out delicious. Nori rolls – vegetarian sushi rolls – make great snacks or portable meals. Hearty sandwiches or cheese and crackers are always a standby.
Cooking with red wine also provides powerful health benefits, and adds great flavour. Other healing foods include buttermilk and cranberry juice – excellent for kidneys, urinary tract, digestive system and immune system; artichokes, lemon grass and cucumber – the most healing foods for the liver; Jerusalem artichokes – best food for the pancreas; cherries, apples and lemon juice – excellent for the gall bladder; green tea and pumpkin seeds – best foods for the prostate gland; basil, especially holy basil (eat lots of pesto!) – antidepressant and digestive aid; ginger – circulatory tonic and digestive aid; rhubarb and sauerkraut – excellent for intestinal health; olive oil, flax oil, hemp oil and other sources of essential oils – excellent for the heart, circulatory system, nervous system, hormonal system, and just about every major system of the body; and pineapple – a natural anti-inflammatory and digestive aid.
Along with eating well and getting regular exercise, managing and reducing stress and cultivating a positive frame of mind, there are other powerful sources of healing and well-being. Among these are Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, naturopathy, botanical medicine, yoga, chi gong, Tai Chi, meditation, shiatsu, acupuncture, massage and Chi Nei Tsang. These are vastly more powerful, especially in combination, than many people realize. Drugs and surgery are last-resort measures of desperation. Prevention first, then least-invasive measures, is best policy generally speaking. We should remember the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.” Holistic health care, especially when practiced in an integrative fashion, is often superior to conventional mechanistic methods in terms of effectiveness, and with fewer side-effects and greater safety. But this is getting into a broader topic than the scope of this short article was intended to address.
Also extremely healing are saunas. A study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found, through careful measurements of tissue biopsies before and after, that just 30 days of mild saunas, one hour a day, reduced the ten most common toxins stored in our bodies by 77-99%. These are stunning figures. Considering what is now know about the primacy of toxins, along with stress, in causing disease and degenerating health and wellness, and the abhorrent levels of pervasive pollution and toxic exposure in our society, we should all be taking saunas – or sweat lodges – as often as possible. It is a great way to reduce stress as well as clear toxins from the body, and afterward, you feel much more relaxed and energized, and also more clear of mind and light of mood. Saunas are truly a God-send.
Also excellent for health, by aiding the body’s natural detoxification and elimination systems, are: dandelion, milk thistle, burdock, red clover, stinging nettle, plantain, lemon grass, cucumbers, artichokes, cherries, apples, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, psyllium, garlic, onions, daikon radish, pickles, sauerkraut, and rhubarb. Some of these can be eaten as foods, others taken as herbal teas or drinks, or in capsules or tinctures.
If you are broad-minded, I would highly recommend looking into the research done on the healing power for body and mind of meditation, yoga, visualization, tai chi, chi gong and chi nei tsang; along with the writings of Deepak Chopra on the healing power of the mind, the research summaries on the healing power of prayer done by Larry Dossey, and that of humour, love and intimacy done by Bernie Siegel and Dean Ornish; as well as the writings of Lama Zopa Rinpoche on Medicine Buddha practice (which you do not have to be buddhist to benefit from).
I would also strongly recommend to anyone that they look into integrative medicine, naturopathy, herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and/or Tibetan medicine – each of which has far more depth, subtlety and empirical grounding than conventional modern Western medicine. That may be a shocking statement to some, but in truth, as many health professionals and bio-medical scientists and researchers know well, the current medical model of modern Western conventional medicine is not only incomplete and subject to further revision, but is radically flawed.
For example, a former NASA scientist has empirically demonstrated the existence of the human energy field, which interacts with the human body and mind in subtle and powerful ways, yet conventional Western medical science (sic) does not admit to the existence of the human energy field. This is simply moronic, as well as anti-empirical.The Western medical establishment has recently acknowledged, after it could deny the fact no longer, that acupuncture works. They don`t know why it works (because their radically limited and flawed medical model, and their bigotry, presumption and ideological idolatry, along with their slavish servility to the establishment and the pack and their heavy dose of conditioning and indoctrination, won`t allow them to) but they now admit that it does indeed work. If acupuncture is proven to work, then it would seem logical, rational, imminently sane, to give at least some credence to the medical model that undergirds it – which is Traditional Chinese Medicine. When people can have major surgery without anesthetic and without pain through the use of acupuncture, or recover the use of paralyzed limbs through the use of acupuncture (also demonstrating the regeneration of nerve tissue, which was thought by Western medicine to be impossible until we were shown otherwise), and U. S. judges are sentencing crack addicts with a choice of either prison or a recovery program centred around acupuncture, which addicts say allows them to recover fully and without the agony of withdrawal, perhaps we should think twice about our glib dismissal of the medical model and system which underlies these amazing, proven results.
But alas, the revolution in medicine and health care which is unfolding now, and which is a shift toward integrative medicine and the acknowledgement of the knowledge of other cultures and healing systems other than the presumptuous and arrogant, highly myopic conventional Western medical system, is slower than we might wish for.
The corporate dominated media go into hysterics when eight people in a nation of a hundred million die of swine flu, but not a peep is mentioned as to the fact that two hundred thousand people die every year from diseases contracted in hospitals that they did not have when they arrived; or worse, that two hundred thousand people die every year from taking pharmaceutical drugs – correctly prescribed and correctly taken, according to the Office of Technology Assessment of the United States Congress. This is the equivalent of two fully loaded 747 jumbo jets crashing to the ground every day. But we remain oblivious, and the corporate and government media mention not a breath about this. We the people panic over a few cases of avian flu, but have no clue as to the death toll caused by the pharmaceutical industry every single day. Maybe we should rethink our rather smug and unexamined, highly flippant presumptions, and do a little research before we dismiss the knowledge of other cultures and medical systems, which have founded themselves on over 5,000 years of empirical research.
Idolatry of ideology dies a slow death, kicking and screaming all the way. Let it go. We`ve had quite enough. It is time for some freshness of perspective, and a little empiricism for a change. And yes, modern Western science – that supremely arrogant, anthropocentric and frankly racist juggernaut of scholasticism and corporate influence – is far less empirical that it piously supposes itself to be: as David Hume, Bertrand Russell, William James, Aldous Huxley, Alan Wallace, Holger Kalweit, Vandana Shiva and Vine Deloria, Jr., among others, have shown.
Most doctors, health professionals and medical researchers are honest, and sincerely care about human health and wellness, but the system of indoctrination, and the pervasive fixation on ideology over science and empirical evidence, rends most of them incapable of any serious rational thought.
The medical establishment in North America, for example, is thoroughly dominated by an almost tzarist AMA and CMA, which rules with supreme power over what medical and health professionals can and cannot do, or even say. The medical colleges in turn dominate the academic realm of medical `science` and medical training (sic); and the medical colleges and the AMA and CMA are in turn, by and large in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry, which is, by testimony of the record of their behaviour, and not mere rhetoric, is far more dedicated to profits than to human health or wellness.
Finally, governments – which we would hope would perhaps work in the interests of the people, and not simply the astronomically rich financial and corporate elite – along with the major international health associations, including the WHO, are so deeply indebted to and dominated by corporate powers, that they dare not speak out, let alone act in the public interest, when this would require stepping on the toes of their patrons. The watch dogs of big government are in bed with the criminals and merchants of mass public exploitation, to put it frankly and succinctly.
All of this should come as no surprise, since we live in a corporatocracy, in which the largest 1,000 corporations rule the world, and either dominate or outright own all of our major institutions: including our political, economic, media and medical institutions, and to a frightening degree, our educational and academic institutions.If we want excellent health and health care, we will need to think for ourelves, sometimes go outside the narrow and blinkered confines of orthodoxy and the medical establishment, and also, sooner or later, overhaul the entire system, including, most essentially, reclaiming our society from the corporate robber barrons.
Modern Western science and medicine have been great boons, on the whole, but they are also deeply flawed and extremely limited. It is time we broadened, deepened and refined our views. (Thomas Kuhn has more than a few words to say on this extremely important subject of ideological fixation and paradigm shift. Please see, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.)
In short, these other systems of medicine and healing, including naturopathy, herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and Tibetan medicine, should be used conjunctively along side conventional Western medicine in many if not most cases; and under certain, carefully determined circumstances, in place of conventional Western medicine.
For preventative medicine and also for many if not most chronic and degenerative illnesses, Western conventional medicine is extremely limited in its usefulness, and often causes more harm than good, through the rash and excessive use of pharmaceutical drugs and surgery, both of which frequently entail great risk and serious negative side effects. Integrative medicine is the medicine of the 21st century, and in many cases, these other modes of healing are either complimentary or superior to the present norms of conventional Western medicine.
All of that being said, health and healing are deeply personal issues, and it is essential, of course, that the final say in health care choices remains always with the individual, or that person`s parents or guardians. I would urge a broader and deeper look into these matters than most people are inclined to do, but that is entirely up to you. I simply wish all beings to have health and well-being. It is the individual’s choice as to how that is approached.
As for myself, my own lifestyle and diet is far from immaculate: I seem to be more concerned with other`s health than with my own. But I do try to drink two tall glasses of Redoxon every day – which gives, I believe it is, 2,000 mg of vitamin C, along with two pints of water – along with a cup of genmaicha (green tea with roasted brown rice), a cup of herbal detox tea, a glass of Greens + Detox formula, and a smoothie made with blueberries, pineapple, banana, whey protein, buttermilk, essential oils, freshly ground flax and hemp seeds (grind it in a coffee grinder and keep it in the freezer), lecithin, powdered maca and fo ti. I`m not always on top of this, but the effects are amazing when I do manage to do these things. I also try to do squats (a Taoist Tai Chi excercise called donus) and a little yoga and meditation. I`m not very disciplined with these either, but the effects are even more amazing in terms of the well-being, relaxation and energy they bring to body and mind. I do manage to consistently cook at least one super-nutritious, hearty meal just about every day, packing as many nutrients as possible into the dish. These simple things make an enormous difference for body and mind, from my experience, and they really are relatively easy.
In conclusion, if I were to say just one thing only about health and wellness, it might be this: as Hippocrates, the founder of Western medicine said, “Let food be your medicine.” Eat well, live well, love well, pray well and play well. And be well!!
Wishing all of you perfect health and happiness,
June 29, 2011
Recommended health and wellness resources:
IFOAM (the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements)
Slow Food International