By Wendy Romig, DCNAs we launch into spring from a gentle winter, you may find yourself cleaning out closets, clearing gardens and removing the old and unwanted from your life to open space for the new and rejuvenating. Spring invites awareness to our bodies and to the earth, along with an increased focus on health and wellness. Some may use this time of year to detox their bodies in preparation for the seasons ahead. In today’s modern world, toxins are abundant. On average, we are exposed to hundreds of toxins each day, creating strain on our internal systems which can promote inflammation, hormonal imbalances and disease. Not to mention the effects on wildlife and our water systems. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most common chemicals we come in contact with based on research from the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org). Toxins found in common personal care products:Oxybenzone is another product found in sunscreens, personal care products, aftershave and makeup. Oxybenzone has been shown in studies to increase oxidative stress, putting added strain on organs, as well as increasing risk of allergies, cardiovascular disease and imbalances in the endocrine system. Parabens are found in sunscreens and personal care products. Evidence suggests that these compounds may disrupt hormone production and lead to allergic responses in the body. Phenylenediamine (along with aminophenol and diaminobenzene) are found in hair dyes. These chemicals have been associated with increased risk of liver toxicity, respiratory illness, and eye irritation. Phthalates are found in nail polishes, cosmetics, scented products and aftershaves. They have been found to disturb reproductive function, particularly in males.Retinyl Palmitate is an ingredient found in many personal care products including shaving cream, moisturizers, sun screens and makeup. Research shows that this chemical may contribute to reproductive disruptions and increased oxidative stress in the body.Triclosan is found most in toothpaste and facial cleansers. Data suggests that exposure to triclosan may increase risk of endocrine system imbalances, allergic responses and organ toxicity. This product has been restricted for cosmetic use in Canada and Japan. Toxins found in common cleaning products:Ammonium hydroxide is a chemical used in common household cleaning products which can contribute to respiratory distress, organ damage, allergies, skin irritations and vision issues. Oxalic Acid is a chemical used in many cleaning products. Evidence suggests this compound contributes to disruption of the endocrine system and may cause convulsions, vision issues or kidney damage.Sodium hypochlorite is one of the main ingredients in bleach products which may lead to respiratory inflammation, allergies, skin irritation, hormonal imbalances and digestive disturbances. While this list is far from exhaustive, it contains a few of the more aggressive toxins found in everyday products. As you consider ways to detoxify your life, you may research safer alternatives to some of these products found through the Environmental Working Group website. Many of these products can be found at your local co-op or natural food store. You may also choose to investigate DIY options like vinegar, water and essential oils for cleaning, and other recipes for skin care which are natural, safe and oftentimes more economical.
by Wendy Romig, DCN
Antioxidants, phytonutrients, superfoods: these nutritional terms are widely used in supplements marketing, on food packaging and online. But are the benefits they tout hype, or are they based on scientific evidence?
Antioxidants are an important part of our daily dietary needs, yet it’s common for people to have severe deficiencies in these essential nutrients. According to the National Institute of Health, antioxidants have health-promoting benefits which may lower the risk of chronic illness and counteract the effects of oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress results from our body’s energy production pathways leading to the release of free radicals, not unlike a car engine producing toxic exhaust fumes. While free radicals naturally occur in the body, their presence can lead to changes in our DNA, cellular damage, cellular mutations and inflammation, all of which can contribute to cancer, atherosclerosis, macular degeneration and other health issues.
Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables bind to free radicals, safely removing them from the body and protecting the cells from mutation or damage. Nutrients like Vitamins C, A, E, lutein, lycopene, and flavonoids have been widely studied over the years for their protective, anti-inflammatory effects.
Vitamin C is most commonly associated with citrus fruit. However, Vitamin C can be found in many vegetables as well, including broccoli and kale. Studies show that Vitamin C is beneficial for heart health, in cancer treatment and improved immune function. It is water soluble and an essential nutrient in our diet, meaning the only source is through our food. Deficiencies in Vitamin C can lead to bruising, bleeding gums, poor immunity and slow wound healing.
Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens. Vitamin E may be beneficial for eye health and heart disease, though one should be cautious with high dose supplementation, because Vitamin E can be stored in fat cells of the body. Vitamin E oil is commonly used topically to help repair damaged skin tissue. Vitamin E deficiencies can lead to neuropathies, vision issues, and muscle weakness.
Vitamin A and beta carotene are fat-soluble nutrients that are found in orange foods like carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, etc. Vitamin A is most commonly associated with eye health, but also is critical in pregnancy for fetal development. It’s important to note that high doses of supplemental vitamin A can be toxic.
Lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Evidence shows that these nutrients are beneficial for eye health, specifically supporting the macula of the eye. Some studies suggest diets rich in carotenoids may reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Flavonoids are polyphenols that have significant antioxidant effects in the body and are plentiful in fruits, vegetables, coffee, chocolate and green tea. Flavonoids have been studied for their benefits in cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and brain health.
Supplementation of antioxidants can offer some benefits to health, but the first goal should always be to increase your intake of foods containing these nutrients. Eating a whole foods, plant-based diet offers an abundance of antioxidants and other health benefits including improved energy, blood sugar control, better digestion and increased well-being. It’s yet another case for eating lots of veggies.
We have entered uncertain times with the coronavirus creating global unrest, illness and travel disruptions. At Sage Integrative Health, we are committed to supporting all efforts to slow the spread of this virus, while also providing useful information to our community.
I have been asked over the past couple of weeks about natural interventions for preventing and/or treating coronavirus, to which I respond that there are no proven natural remedies for this virus. Should you display symptoms of coronavirus, including fever, dry cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing, it is essential that you seek immediate medical attention to receive a proper diagnose and treatment.
If you are scheduled for a visit at Sage and have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, or have been in contact with someone who has been infected with the coronavirus, we ask that you reschedule your appointment.
Taking the appropriate measures as outlined by local, national (CDC) and world health agencies (WHO) to reduce exposure and transmission risk is essential. In addition, you may also consider ways to support immune function like improving hydration, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables and getting plenty of rest, just as you might do to prevent the flu. Some herbs and supplements may also be beneficial. While these tactics may support overall health, they should not replace medical treatment should you fall ill.
If you have questions, I invite you to schedule a 15-minute free phone consultation to discuss your concerns regarding this serious health issue.
Wishing you good health and well-being.
Wendy Romig, DCN