Prevent premature aging with a healthy diet. We can do a lot to protect ourselves from the ravages of aging by knowing a few important details about the aging process and how foods can protect us.
Now more than ever, our diets need more: more spices, more herbs, more superfoods.
Before the ages of modern technology (and chemicals) we may have been able to subsist on a more basic diet.
Here I will present you with some information about chemicals in our foods, health products and environment that may surprise you; I know it did me.
These foreign chemicals enter our body and simply must go through a process of detoxification by our liver and our intestines.
When there is not enough ability to detoxify these chemicals, they can wreak havoc on you; increase cancer risk, heart disease risk, and cause premature aging of your DNA.
The detoxification process requires nutrients, plant substances, and antioxidants from your foods to occur most effectively.
Safety Testing in Products
Did you know that absolutely ZERO safety testing is required for most household cleaning products, industrial factory products, and personal healthcare products before they are brought to market?
Innocent until proven guilty. Or innocent until many people are sick from exposure.
When I learned this fact at a functional medicine conference years ago, I was shocked.
I really was under the impression that regulatory agencies had a modicum of consciousness about this. That there is a level of protection for the people. It’s not true.
Take this for example: Triclosan, an antibacterial that has been on the market for a long time was just removed by the EPA because it has questionable safety and reasonable concern for health.
Triclosan is in your toothpaste that you use every day.
This and 24 other chemicals that our common in healthcare products are getting phased out over the next year. For more information about this recent ban, clickhere.
How many new chemicals (without testing) enter the marketplace each year?
There is no way to know, but as of 1994, over 80,000 artificial chemicals are commonly used and over 2 million are in existence.
According to Chemical Industry Archives, part of the Environmental Working Group:
The EPA reviews between 2000 and 2500 applications for chemical approval each year, or between 40 and 50 new chemical applications each week. (EPA 1997, pg. 6 and 44) (1).
- 8 out of every 10 are approved within three weeks, with or without test data (EPA 1997, pg 36).
- 90% of 23,971 chemicals approved by EPA between 1976 and 1994 were approved with no restrictions on their proposed use and production and with no requests for additional test data, regardless of the amount of data submitted (2) (3)
- Of those 23,971, a very small percentage have been removed.
Think about it. It is hard to prove causality once something is everywhere.
Skin Exposure to Toxins
Do chemicals from household products absorb into the skin?
The short answer is yes. Think about a nicotine patch, for example or even a narcotic patch and scopolamine. They are used on the skin for various pharmaceutical effects.
That grocery receipt you pick up every day? It is coated with bisphenol A, and it absorbs into your body(4). So are many paper styles, magazines and countless other products.
While an exact amount of chemical absorption is unknown, read more here for reasons to avoid chemical exposure, even in everyday products.
Household Toxins in Cleaners
Toxins in cleaners: Your first clue is this: they don’t usually list ingredients. How insane is that? For product reviews click here:
Personally, I find that vinegar, lemon essential oils, borax, Bon Ami, and a good sponge clean just about anything as well or better than any chemicals.
Detergents and fabric softeners are full of weird chemicals too. Even suspected carcinogens. For more details, check out this reference.
My tip: Make your own detergent or buy 100% natural products. I buy a natural product and add in lavender essential oils to make it smell nice.
Skip any fabric softeners and add your own favorite natural scent. I mean, really, does it make it soft anyway or just add chemicals to your clothes?
Candles: be aware of perfumes and untested chemicals here too.
Toxic Personal Products
Toxins in personal products: from sunscreens to lotions and beauty products: there are some nasty chemicals out there, some of which are known or suspected carcinogens and endocrine disrupters.
Click here for more information about safer products.
Toxins in the diet are largely related to agricultural practices, but also from additives, cooking methods, preservatives and flavor enhancers.
Toxins in agriculture: Rules and safety in the area of agriculture are in need of major overhaul. An expert review of one chemical widely used, glyphosate, is now considered a probable human carcinogen (5).
The use of this chemical is so widespread, it is found in every nook and cranny of the globe, even where it isn’t used.
Chemicals in foods also come from the convenient plastic packaging, especially from hot foods that begin to wear the plastics down, which are known endocrine disrupting chemicals.
The best bet for safe food is to grow your own food. When you can’t do that, choose organic, unprocessed foods as much as possible.
Does pollution start before we are born?
New research suggests that damage from pollution occurs before we are born. Air pollution exposure is related to the early aging of the DNA in utero (6), Aging before we are born.
The best way to avoid inhaled pollutants and chemicals: spend time away from heavy traffic and fumes as much as possible. Take your days off in parks and fresh air places like hikes.
Detoxifying Foods and Spices that Protect the Lung
- Apples and green vegetables
- Ginger, turmeric
- Garlic, onions
- Carrots, sweet potatoes
- Hot peppers
Smog and inversions make it less likely to get vitamin D from the sun. Make sure you supplement with vitamin D3.
Prevent DNA aging with food
Foods that help detoxify:
Vegetables can help with all 3 phases of the detoxification process, making them at the top of my list.
Each and every meal should have a minimum of 2 servings of vegetables preferably, but also fruits in a pinch.
My favorite food detoxifiers: raw broccoli, broccoli sprouts, onions, garlic, kale, collard greens, mustard, asparagus, and radishes. I also love chlorella.
Consider supplemental vegetables as an add-on for days when life is too busy for this.
Spices and herbs are as a general rule potent detoxifiers. My favorite spice detoxifiers are:
Rather than a soda, grab a spice-infused tea or spice up your coffee.
Add copious amounts of spices to recipes.
For more ideas, check out my blog about spicing it up.
Protein foods: amino acids help with the liver’s ability to detoxify chemicals, so make sure you get high-quality proteins throughout the day.
These include eggs, meats, chicken, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Consider additional detoxification by using essential oils that may help detoxify, such as cilantro or citrus oils.
- A common sense approach to living with minimal chemical exposure is to use simple products without added perfumes and additives.
- Whole, organic foods that bypass factory processing are the best bet.
- If a food has an ingredient list that is long or difficult to pronounce, it is likely best to leave it on the shelf.
- Get fresh air as much as possible.
- Protect you digestive tract with these tips.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling root causes of illness.