Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chemicals & Convenience: Consumer Be Aware! (Chapter 2)

Digestive Wellness for Children - Chapter 2

“Today, not a single child is born free of synthetic chemicals.” – Bill Moyer, PBS Documentary Trade Secrets

89% of ingredients used in personal-care products have not been evaluated for safety by the CIR, the FDA, nor any other publicly accountable institution.

FOOD. We used to eat foods that we hunted or grew, in season. Now we get foods shipped from all over the world, available all seasons, frozen, canned, irradiated, genetically modified, and microwaved. Nutrients, beneficial bacteria, and enzymes are killed or taken out to extend shelf-life. Preservatives and other additives are put in. The average American eats 14 pounds of additives per year! Before all that is done to it, it’s sprayed with pesticides!

Microwaving and Irradiation. They both change food the content and composition of food. Microwaving has shown to change the structural make up of the food in ways that conventional cooking does not change it. Irradiation uses nuclear waste materials to extend self-life and to kill all bacteria on food, however it also destroys much of the vitamin content and leaves food containing carcinogenic molecules.

Genetically Modified Foods. This involves changing the seed, altering the genetic makeup of food for purposes such as to resist herbicide so it can be sprayed and not die, among other things. Other countries have cried out and labeling is required. In the US labeling is not required. If you eat anything with corn or soy or their derivatives, unless it is organically grown, it is probably genetically modified. These crops were first developed in the mid-1990’s, the long-term consequences are unknown.

“The life in food gives us life. Once a plant is picked…a grain split…it begins to lose its enzymatic activity.” Processed foods no longer contain these enzymes. Whole foods in balance as in nature, will benefit us.

ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURES. Environmental toxins pose a serious health issue with the EPA citing 50,000 synthetic chemicals dispersed into our environment, many with interfere with the body’s functioning. Children facing the largest risks because they are exposed to more chemicals relative to their weight than adults, they absorb more and eliminate less. A study found an average of 200 industrial chemicals in the umbilical cord tissue of newborns.

Heavy Metals. “A child’s nervous system begins forming long before birth, as embryonic neurons branch out and make the connections that transport information to and from the brain and body…The neural pathways formed in your child’s first three years of life are the basis for his/her ability to learn and develop; during this time, exposure to heavy metals can have significant, detrimental consequences.” High levels of metals such as lead and mercury have been found in children with autism, ADD, and learning problems. Although still an issue, lead is becoming less of a problem, because of active campaigns to remove it from products, while mercury remains serious danger from fish, vaccinations, dental amalgams, and coal-powered fuel plants. It has serious ramifications for neurological development and readily passes through the placenta into the fetus.

PERSONAL-CARE AND HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS. Consider what is in these products. We assume that they have been tested for safety, but only a small portion of the 75,000 chemicals registered with EPA have been tested. Again, children are more susceptible to the toxic effects of these chemicals than adults are.

MY COMMENTS. Foods, as close to how God created them as possible, are the best for us. He put things in food and created the balance our bodies need. When we mess with that, our health suffers. Whether it’s pesticides, genetic modification, irradiation, adding things, taking away things, homogenizing, microwaving – they all alter what God created. It’s the simplest healthy diet principle I’ve found – eat it how God made it, or as close to it as possible. For more information look at my Nutrition page.

Environmental Exposures. With a very sensitive child with autism, I nearly drove myself crazy trying to stay away from all environmental toxins. I quickly leaned it’s not possible. So I control and limit the exposure to what I can and what would be the most frequent exposures – water (purified, not just filtered), personal care products (the ingredients read like a recipe), fragrances and perfumed things (only essential oils in this house!), cleaners/detergents (all non-toxic, many made from what’s in my kitchen), no pharmaceuticals (only herbs and things), vaccines (nope), yard insecticides (dichotomous earth), pots/pans/baking/grilling/leftover storage (stainless steel, stone, glass or ceramic), sunscreen, bug spray, pools, the list goes on…slowly but surely we’ve converted so much of our house. There’s more we could do, there always will be. For more information look at my Toxicity page. To look up the toxicity or safety of specific  body care products go to Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Database.

Why is this so important for autistic children? They are already toxic, with more burden than their bodies can eliminate (that’s why they have issues). It’s crucial to limit the amount toxicity being added, so that their bodies can eliminate (with extra help) what has already accumulated. If, instead, more toxicity is piled on, the body cannot heal. For more information look at my Causes and Treatment page.

It became so routine to scrutinize everything for chemical safety, I didn’t realize how aware of it I was. One day as we were leaving the zoo, I was several steps behind the boys and the nice gate lady stamped their hands. I saw it coming, I started to leap ahead to say, “NOOOO.” But it was too late. I stopped myself before my yell erupted. Although my internal anger did flash at that lady who just put toxic chemicals on my son!!! I realized in that moment how careful I had been about everything that went in, touched, or was present in my son’s environment. I was acutely aware of how every little thing affected his health. The thing is, it is true for all of us, just not to the same degree. These chemicals do affect our health, it just may take longer and manifest differently. It may not even be us that see the effects of our choices, it may be our children or grandchildren as some of these chemicals alter the health and structure of our genes.


  1. What do you do w kids paints or glue or kid craft stuff?

  2. I don't stress about it too much. With paint, I have him use a paint brush rather than finger paint (and get the washable kind). And I use elmers glue or a glue stick rather than stuff with a strong chemical smell. Play doh is an issue. I have heard of stuff called Soy Yer which claims to be all non-toxic and has allergen free versions. I haven't personally tried it though.