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my.Diary Entries, Toxicity

Part 2: Toxic Environments

Environmental pollution as an assault on the senses

It has been know for along time that our environments influence us. Leanne Rivlin theorized that the environmental cognition involved in human cognition plays a crucial role in environmental perception.  As early as 1947, Roger Barker who created the field of ecological psychology demonstrated that social settings influence behavior.

This means that if our environment, biological and/or social, is toxic our cognitive abilities are compromised. The common western life is extremely toxic, documentaries like the “disappearing boys” make that very clear and without some drastic changes in what we value, healing ourselves and our children will remain a very difficult, if not impossible task.

At a most fundamental level, our food is causing problems that are affecting our children deeply. The overuse of milk is a good example of that. Too many people are convinced that it is the most important source of calcium. Withstanding that it is an accessible one, it is also a very dangerous source of toxins. Besides the antibiotics it contains, it’s fat has now been linked by researchers to gut disease.

Researchers also believe that gastrointestinal disorders may be linked to autism and ADD. Recent studies have shown that there are beneficial effects of Enzyme Based Therapy not just for Autism Spectrum Disorders but also for ADHD/ADD. According to the AUDI, Autism Network for Dietary Intervention, website and others:
“In a study conducted by Dr. Timothy Buie, a pediatric gastroenterologist from Harvard/Mass General hospital, forty-six patients between the ages of 5 and 31 were selected for inclusion in a study based on a diagnosis placing them in the category of the autism spectrum disorders, ADD and ADHD. Their diets were supplemented with a dietary enzyme formulation. The results: The enzyme formula beneficially and safely affected all thirteen of the parameter measured. Improvements ranged from 50-90% depending on the parameters measured. The enzyme was effective at improving the symptoms such as socialization, hyperactivity, attention, eye contact, comprehension and compulsions.”

There is abundant literature in alternative medicine pointing to the fact that diet has a big part to play in how we feel, think and learn. Unfortunately mainstream medicine and mainstream society do not believe in these ancient forms of practices based on centuries of experiential knowledge.

The body is so sensitive that all these things have to be introduced with special care. Each body is a unique intricate chemical media and we must learn to respect it by trying to understand its need outside of main stream, standardized processes.  Mass production and mass knowledge cannot respond to the need of individuals. And frankly, I have found traditional doctors less than helpful in this matter. They are too busy, to preoccupied and too invested in a ideology of controlling the body with drug dispensing to be able to cope with relearning how to understand humans. And in a way, each one of us should take responsibility for our own health and well being, no one else can.

I know in my family the wrong diet leads to major changes in behavior and ability to listen, focus etc. It seems just logical that nutrition is an important contributing factor.  I am also becoming very cautious with vitamins. One dosage does not fit all. for instance, fish oils which are suppose to be essential for fatty acids depress me and my son. Pure, organic, etc, make no difference. Same with vitamins,  regular,  full of chemical and hidden residues and even organic and produced with care ones do not work  for all and I do think this is particularly true for sensitive people.  I recently realized that my high grade multivitamins makes me become anxious…. As soon as I stop, within three days my mood is back to normal.

But our mouth isn’t the only way for toxins to get in our  bodies. The skin and our lungs are also previous organs and we need to consider what we expose them to.   Creams, shampoos, perfumes, lotions all penetrate our skins and chemicals such as flame retardant and other similar chemicals are added to most products. Water, air, dust, soil, cleaning  products,  factory production substances released in the environment, plastics, treated cloth, etc,  are all sources of contamination.. Through our stomach, skin and nose wears exposed to countless numbers of chemicals.

Scarier still, the exposure of past generations are affect us. According to the article ” Today’s Environment Influences Behavior Generations Later: Chemical Exposure Raises Descendants’ Sensitivity to Stress” ScienceDaily (May 21, 2012), researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Washington State University have seen an increased reaction to stress in animals whose ancestors were exposed to an environmental compound generations earlier:

” The researchers — David Crews at Texas , Michael Skinner at Washington State and colleagues — exposed gestating female rats to vinclozolin, a popular fruit and vegetable fungicide known to disrupt hormones and have effects across generations of animals. The researchers then put the rats’ third generation of offspring through a variety of behavioral tests and found they were more anxious, more sensitive to stress, and had greater activity in stress-related regions of the brain than descendants of unexposed rats.

“We are now in the third human generation since the start of the chemical revolution, since humans have been exposed to these kinds of toxins,” says Crews. “This is the animal model of that.”

“The ancestral exposure of your great grandmother alters your brain development to then respond to stress differently,” says Skinner. “We did not know a stress response could be programmed by your ancestors’ environmental exposures.””

These findings create a direct relationship between our molecular system and our mental states:

“We did not know a stress response could be reprogrammed by your ancestors’ environmental exposures,” says Skinner, who focused on the epigenetic transgenerational inheritance and genomics aspects of the paper. “So how well you socialize or how your anxiety levels respond to stress may be as much your ancestral epigenetic inheritance as your individual early-life events.”
This could explain why some individuals have issues with post-traumatic stress syndrome while others do not, he says.
Crews says that increases in other mental disorders may be attributable to the kind of “two-hit” exposure that the experiment is modeling.

“There is no doubt that we have been seeing real increases in mental disorders like autism and bipolar disorder,” says Crews, who focused on the neuroscience, behavior and stress aspects of the paper. “It’s more than just a change in diagnostics. The question is why? Is it because we are living in a more frantic world, or because we are living in a more frantic world and are responding to that in a different way because we have been exposed? I favor the latter.”

The researchers also saw intriguing differences in weight gain, opening the door to further research on obesity. “

Some insight into how sensitive we all are may be a way to reduce obesity.  WebEd, scientists are starting to understand that:

stress may stimulate obesity by unlocking the body’s fat cells (…). Researchers found a molecule the body releases when stressed called NPY (neuropeptide Y). NPY appears to unlock certain receptors in fat cells, causing them to grow in both size and number.

Turns out that fat is a defense mechanism. According to another article from dlife.com, stress is like a steroid for fat cells. When the body is stressed, one of the substances it releases is a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol causes heart rate and blood pressure to increase, along with a number of other physiological reactions. It causes the release of fatty acids from fat tissues, and raises blood pressure. One other thing this molecule does is to unlock certain receptors in fat cells, allowing them to grow bigger than normal and also to multiply.

Scientists at Georgetown University have found a connection between stress, a high-calorie diet, and extreme weight gain. These scientists tested two groups of mice — a stressed group and a non-stressed group. Each group was fed normal diets and high-fat and high-sugar comfort food diets. The stressed mice on the high-fat and high-sugar diet gained twice as much fat as unstressed mice on the same diet. The stressed animals used and stored fat differently than the non-stressed ones.

Stress is not the only toxin that makes our body generate fat cells. it has also been noticed that fat people have less toxin in organs than skinny people. HSP can not handle the same amount of pollution in the bodies then others so, the body uses its natural defense mechanism to filter out as much of it as possible with fat so that it does not reach organs.

According to this article on detoxification:

“When you regularly eat toxic foods, your body filters and eliminates what it can and stores the rest of the toxins in fat cells to keep them out of your blood stream. As the body becomes more and more toxic, it becomes less and less able to filter out toxins. This means more toxins are stored in fat cells and that bigger fat cells are needed to store them.”

Toxicity travels across generations, we must reduce it now before it is too late by focusing on nourishing ourselves and our children in healthier ways.  We can’t change the system but we can change ourselves, personally I have decided to learn how to nourish myself and my family with a different life diet, to slow down and become less stressed. We nourish ourselves in many ways, and all elements that affect the individual, from the micro  levels biologically, sensorially, psychologically to the macro level spiritually, which are interwoven and affect each other, must be taken into consideration. Thus our leaving the city for a while.




  1. Pingback: Making Sense of a Toxic Life « The Highly Sensitive Family - June 21, 2012

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