Offer your cohorts a customized Alexander Technique Online Workshop
Sara will work with you and your team to customize an Alexander Technique group session. Working from home has its unique challenges. Blending Ergonomics and the Alexander Technique, Sara strategizes solutions to ease strain and stress in the workplace, be it “at home” or in the office. Finding balanced breathing and easy posture soothes the nervous system and calms tension. Consider offering your staff an online retreat that teaches an array of mindfulness and ergonomic techniques designed just for your team’s unique needs.
What are the Benefits of PEMF?
As we age, our cells slow down. But what if you could reset your cells, restoring them to full power as easily as you swap out the batteries in your TV remote? Thanks to a non-invasive, alternative therapy called PEMF, you essentially can.
What is PEMF?
PEMF―short for pulsating electromagnetic frequencies―is a non-surgical therapy used to heal damaged tissues, stimulate organs, and relieve pain. PEMF operates similarly to the way rechargeable batteries work, but on a cellular level.
The longer we’re alive, the harder our cells have to work to keep up with the daily assault of environmental pollutants, inflammation-causing foods, stress, and bodily injuries. But by treating the cells of the body with short bursts of low-level electromagnetic radiation, research has shown that the mitochondria within cells (where energy is stored) get a boost. In essence, they’re recharged, which supports cells’ natural repair mechanisms and encourages healing.
What Conditions Does PEMF Treat?
Originally pioneered by NASA as a treatment for the bone loss and depression experienced by astronauts, PEMF was approved by the FDA in 1979 to improve bone healing. Today, PEMF has been deemed safe to treat an incredibly wide array of issues and injuries.
Treatments can help boost the immune system, improve sleep, speed up healing from injuries and reduce depression. More specifically, research studies demonstrate that PEMF helps reduce pain and swelling after surgery, encourages fractures to heal faster, and alleviates the pain of arthritis and fibromyalgia. Studies are ongoing, but animal trials even suggest PEMF may be useful in liver regeneration and treatment of nerve and spinal cord damage.
During a PEMF session, specialized pads, mats, rings, or paddles are applied to the skin. Electromagnetic pulses are then pushed through these mechanisms to deliver energy to your cells. PEMFs can heal a slight imbalance or problem quickly; repeated sessions can also bring about more substantial change. Once the main issues have been addressed, many who receive PEMF choose to continue treatments in a maintenance fashion to support overall health and wellness.
But―EMFs are Dangerous, Right?
While you may have heard EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) are bad for you, you can rest assured PEMF is perfectly safe. EMFs encompass a wide spectrum; the EMFs emitted by satellites aren’t of the same frequency as those produced by your wireless headphones, and neither of those frequencies is the same as what’s emitted by your microwave oven.
The EMFs that are dangerous are high-frequency. For example, X-rays register frequencies in the hundred quintillion-hertz range (no typo there; just a really, really big number). Frequencies this high are ionizing, meaning they are powerful enough to break electrons off of atoms. Such electron damage changes the way your cells work. Your microwave oven is somewhat better, registering only ten billion hertz in frequency. But though the frequency is not high enough to be ionizing, ten billion hertz is still high enough to disrupt your DNA.
PEMF falls on the opposite end of the frequency spectrum, about as far from X-rays as you can get. PEMF’s low-level electromagnetic waves mirror the frequencies found in nature. Treatments usually fall between 5 to 30 hertz; that’s less than you’re exposed to during a thunderstorm. Furthermore, most PEMF sessions are short in length, lasting only 10 or 20 minutes, and treatment is administered in short bursts, avoiding constant exposure. So there’s no need to worry about EMF damage from PEMF.
Where Can I Get PEMF Therapy?
Given its widespread uses, you might find PEMF treatments available at your physical therapist or functional medicine practitioner’s office. Because PEMF is still considered an alternative therapy, your insurance may not cover the cost; it’s always a good idea to call and confirm first.
Even if insurance won’t cover PEMF treatments, it may be worth exploring to finally heal a lingering shoulder injury, treat depression, or reduce the pain of osteoarthritis.
If you’re looking for an alternative approach to pain relief and tissue repair, you may find your answer in cold laser therapy. For over 50 years, doctors, dentists, acupuncturists, physical therapists, and other medical professionals have been using cold laser therapy―also called Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)―to treat a surprisingly wide range of physical ailments ranging from acne, burns, and rashes to fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel.
LLLT is used to reduce swelling, treat slow-healing wounds (such as those related to diabetes), promote soft tissue and joint repair, and relieve pain, so it’s no surprise its applications are diverse. Sports medicine practitioners frequently offer LLLT as a treatment for tendonitis, bursitis, tennis elbow, and muscle strains. Physical therapy offices also use the technique to help those with neck pain, knee pain, or low back pain. And acupuncturists sometimes use cold laser therapy in place of needles because the laser beams can stimulate acupoints the same way needles do, without piercing the skin.
How Does Cold Laser Therapy (LLLT) Work?
Invented in the 1960s by Hungarian physician Endre Mester, clinical studies of LLLT began in 1967. Since then, over 2,500 studies have been published, some of which included double-blind, placebo-controlled testing. Though many of these studies were conducted on animals, not humans, and methodologies have been critiqued as inconsistent, overall study results indicate cold laser therapy is effective for pain relief.
During an LLLT treatment, a compact, handheld laser is placed over the injured area for a short period of time, ranging from 30 seconds up to several minutes. The intensity of the laser and the size and type of injury being treated determine the duration of treatment.
While the treatment is happening, the non-thermal photons of light emitted by the laser pass through the layers of the skin, penetrating anywhere from two to five centimeters below the skin’s surface. When the targeted cells absorb this energy, it kicks off a physiological reaction, encouraging the cells to heal, repair and normalize damaged tissue. The result? Reduced pain and inflammation and faster healing times.
The Downsides of Cold Laser Therapy
While there are far fewer dangers associated with cold laser therapy than the heated lasers used for surgery and ablations, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. First, never look directly at the light of the laser. Second, never use LLLT around the thyroid area. And last, irritation can occur if cold lasers are applied to the same area for too long or too often, so it’s best to proceed under the care of a health professional.
Beyond these risks, it’s important to note that cold laser therapy isn’t an overnight cure-all. It may take up to a month of treatment (with up to four sessions each week) before seeing results. Though LLLT stimulates healing in a variety of cells ranging from cartilage and ligaments to muscles and nerves, results vary by person.
Finally, because cold laser therapy is still considered an alternative medicine treatment, not all insurance companies will cover the cost. Do your due diligence, and give your insurance carrier a call before diving in.
Is Cold Laser Therapy or PEMF Better for my injury?
While cold laser therapy offers an alternative way to treat pain, there’s one more option you may also want to consider: PEMF, or pulsating electromagnetic fields. Whereas cold laser therapy certainly has its place in treating injuries or issues close to the skin’s surface, PEMF is more broadly applicable―you can even receive a whole-body session. PEMF can also boost the effects of LLLT when used pre- or post-session. Both claim to deliver pain relief, but of the two, PEMF offers a deeper healing result and, in certain instances, may even be a surgical alternative. For more information, check out our next post, later this month, about PEMF.
Ticks carrying blood-borne pathogens that can infect humans with serious diseases including Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are present in all 48 contiguous United States. April through September is prime season for tick bites.
It’s critical to prevent tick bites on yourself and loved ones, including children and pets. Here are some best practices:
Prevention is Best
If you enjoy outdoor adventures including gardening, hiking, camping or fishing, be aware that you are heading into prime tick territory. Ticks frequent grassy, brushy or wooded areas and are even in your backyard, thanks to the birds, rodents and deer that bring them. And our beloved pets may even bring ticks inside to you. Ticks are creatures of opportunity with many pathways to making a warm-blooded human like you their next host! Don’t let them.
How to Avoid Ticks and Prevent Tick Bites
- Avoid grassy, wooded or brush-filled areas where ticks are found, especially tall grass and areas covered in leaves.
- When hiking, stay toward the center of trails to avoid contact with trees and brush.
- It’s true that wearing long pants and sleeves are better than shorts or tank tops, but ticks will crawl as far as necessary to find and attach to a fold of skin. Long pants and sleeves deter but don’t prevent ticks. Tucking pants into socks is helpful, but it’s more effective to treat clothing with tick preventive products.
- Treat clothing, boots and gear with a product that contains 0.5% permethrin, a compound produced from chrysanthemum flowers that repels ticks and kills them on contact. Permethrin-treated clothing will continue to protect through several washings. You can also buy pre-treated clothing and gear.
- Use insect repellents registered with the EPA that contain DEET, picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), IR3535, 2-undecanone or para-menthane-diol (PMD). The EPA offers a search tool to find the ideal product for your needs. Never use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age and never use OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
- Consider EPA-approved natural repellents: 2-undecanone, garlic oil, nootkatone and mixed essential oils including rosemary, lemongrass, peppermint, thyme and geraniol.
Perform Mandatory Tick Checks When You Come Indoors
Ticks position themselves on grass and brush, standing on their back legs with front legs in the air, ready to grab potential hosts as you walk by. A thorough tick check upon coming inside is the only way to be sure you’re not their next meal. Here’s how:
- Check your clothes. Remove clothing and check it for ticks. If you find any, flush them down the toilet. Put dry clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks. If clothes are damp, dry them even longer to ensure any ticks are killed. If you need to wash your clothes, use hot water, as cold or warm water won’t kill ticks.
- Check gear and pets. Ticks will hitch a ride on anything they come in contact with, including backpacks, tents and pets.
- Shower ASAP. Showering soon after coming indoors may reduce your risk of contracting Lyme or other tick-borne illness. The water helps wash ticks off and provides a good opportunity for a thorough tick check.
- Do a full-body tick check. Use a hand mirror to view all areas of your body. Remember: ticks bite with an anesthetic and can’t be felt, enabling them to nestle in for a long blood meal. Seeing or feeling for them topically is the only way to know they’re there. Check your and your children’s bodies, especially in these areas:
- In or around ears, hair or hairline
- Under your arms
- Inside your belly button
- Behind the knees
- Between legs and in pubic region
- Around your waist
How to Remove an Attached Tick (Hint: Carefully)
Even with preventive measures, you still may find an attached tick. Ticks have evolved to feed on mammals stealthily, without us knowing. It happens. Here’s how to minimize potential disease implications:
- Remove the tick immediately, but do so strategically. Never scratch, burn or pull a tick off with your fingers. Don’t douse it in alcohol or Vaseline. Those are urban myths that will likely cause more harm than good.
- To properly remove an attached tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and apply gentle pressure as close to the tick’s head and your skin as possible. Don’t pull. The goal is for the tick to loosen its grip on its own, closing the channel between its gut—where bacteria that may carry Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever reside—and your body. Slowly pull the tick up and away as it disengages and put it in a tightly sealed plastic bag or jar with a moist towelette, keeping the tick alive so it can be identified and tested for parasites or bacteria if necessary.
- If you’re unsure whether you removed the entire tick, see your health care provider. If a tick’s mouthparts remain in the body, or you squeezed too hard and the tick regurgitated, there is a higher risk for disease.
- Closely watch the tick bite area for at least 30 days. Take photos and document any rash. An Erythema Migrans (EM) rash—also called a bulls-eye rash—is diagnostic of Lyme Disease. If you develop a rash, it may grow in size over time. Take daily photos as it progresses. See your health care provider—having a bulls-eye rash after a tick bite is diagnostic for Lyme Disease. That means the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease is present and you will require medical treatment.
The Role of Prophylactic Antibiotics After a Confirmed Tick Bite
If a tick was attached to you, document the exposure timeline and note any changes to your health. Symptoms of tick-borne infection may take from days to weeks to appear. Common symptoms include stiff neck, headache, night sweats, migrating joint pain, fever, new onset fatigue or flu-like symptoms. If any of these develop, see your health care provider.
Discuss the possibility of a prophylactic long course of antibiotics with your clinician. The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society recommends a course of four to six weeks of the antibiotic doxycycline for cases where a confirmed tick bite caused an EM rash.
5 Questions about Tick-Borne Illness and Lyme Disease
Ticks are tiny arachnids, 3 mm to 5 mm in length—poppy seed size to sesame seed size–that feed on the blood of mammals and birds. Many species transmit diseases to both people and animals due to the tick’s lifecycle of feeding on three main hosts—one each in nymph, larval and adult life stages.
Ticks that bite humans are present in all 48 of the contiguous United States. Late spring, summer and early fall are when most tick bites occur.
- What role does the tick life cycle play in tick-borne illness?
Because ticks attach to various host animals and feed on their blood, ticks harbor multiple bacteria and infectious diseases. These blood-borne bacteria are easily spread from the first host – often a rodent or bird― to the second host, a dog or deer, from which the tick may pick up additional microorganisms. All blood-borne bacteria from the tick’s first two hosts are transmitted to its final host, which is sometimes a human.
One unique type of disease-causing bacteria that ticks carry is called a spirochete. It’s shaped like a Slinky and can curl in on itself, forming a protective ball of dormancy to survive when conditions are unfavorable―such as when antibiotic treatment is attempting to kill it. When conditions change, the spirochete bacterium unfurls itself and continues ravaging its host—sometimes months or even years after dormancy.
- Why is tick-borne borreliosis called “Lyme Disease” in the US?
The most common tick-borne infection globally is caused by a spirochete bacterium known as Borrelia. The black-legged tick carries it in the US. In other countries, infection with this bacteria is called borreliosis.
However, the illness was first identified in the US near Lyme, Connecticut in 1977. This discovery occurred when a group of teenagers complained about aching joints after experiencing similar bulls-eye skin rashes seasonally. A parent who worked in Public Health brought together investigators that determined the condition was due to seasonal surges in tick bites. The studies, mostly done in Lyme, Connecticut, pinned the name “Lyme Disease.”
The telltale bulls-eye rash and aching joints (sometimes misdiagnosed as juvenile arthritis) aren’t always present. The Borrelia bacterium may attack the host’s immune system or exploit other weak areas in the body, with symptoms that can include brain fog, headaches, hallucinations, flu-like symptoms, liver inflammation, rashes, fever, muscle pain, meningitis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia-like muscle aches, and―in advanced cases left untreated―neurodegenerative disease and muscle paralysis.
- Is there a medical test to verify Lyme Disease or other tick-borne illness?
The various bacteria transmitted from ticks to humans are difficult to diagnose. Because ticks bite with an anesthetic, you can’t feel them and may be unaware that a tick has bitten you. The wide array of tick-borne illness symptoms makes diagnosis even more challenging.
One surefire way to confirm Lyme Disease is if you get a skin rash after a tick bite, whether it’s a “bulls-eye” rash or solid red or pink in presentation.
A bulls-eye rash itself is diagnostic of Lyme Disease. That means no further testing is needed. If you develop such a rash, take photos and document its progression (it will likely enlarge over time)―and seek medical attention. Common misdiagnoses are fungal infections and spider bites, so photograph and document well in case you need a second opinion.
However, not all tick bites result in a bulls-eye rash, and without the rash, tick-borne illnesses can be difficult to diagnose.
Another diagnostic is a blood test for antibodies that indicate your body has encountered the bacteria. However, since some people suffering from tick-borne illness have compromised immune systems that may not be capable of effectively producing antibodies against the bacterium, such tests fail 40% to 70% of the time.
Bottom line: It’s very difficult to diagnose Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
- How long after a tick bite might you see symptoms?
Adding to the diagnosis difficulty, the incubation period for tick-borne illness varies. Symptoms may appear from four weeks up to several months after the bite.
One red flag for tick-borne illness is flu-like symptoms in the summer months. The flu virus is not present in North America in the summertime, and such symptoms can be a telltale sign of tick-borne illness.
Because it’s so challenging to identify, tick-borne illness can go undiagnosed for years, during which time the spirochetes reproduce readily and attack various systems of the host. In addition, there may be more than one tick-borne infection present, which complicates the diagnosis and treatment and can mean a multitude of symptoms that don’t align with a single diagnosis.
“I presented with immune weakness and autoimmunity, which affected my hormones, gut and nervous system. After two years of illness, I was tested for Lyme Disease,” said Krista Hewlett Keegan, a neuroscientist who left medical school due to her disability with undiagnosed Lyme Disease. “My initial Lyme test wasn’t positive, so the bacteria spread for several more years and my symptoms kept getting worse.”
- How is tick-borne illness treated?
As with many diseases, the sooner you treat tick-borne bacterial infections, the better. If someone has a classic bulls-eye rash and is diagnosed early, the antibiotic doxycycline, given in a long course over four to six weeks, may cure the disease effectively.
For infections that linger undiagnosed for months or years, treatment takes longer and becomes much more comprehensive due to complications.
For example, adults experiencing muscle aches or leaky gut symptoms who were treated briefly for Lyme Disease in childhood may still have an active tick-borne infection which went dormant in the presence of antibiotics but has since re-emerged. Many such people may become labeled with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome later in life.
There are conflicting standards of care for the treatment of Lyme Disease cases where a faulty negative diagnostic test is suspected.
The International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) also has a recognized standard of care for tick-borne illness. ILADS-trained clinicians recognize that Lyme and its related co-infections can be difficult to diagnose, and can go dormant when antibiotics are present.
“Lyme-literate” clinicians who follow the ILADS standard of care prescribe multiple rounds of antibiotic treatment spaced apart over several years to target hidden reservoirs of dormant bacteria that re-emerge after each round of antibiotics, with the ultimate goal of eradicating the infection from the body.
In addition, integrative medical practices may be incorporated into treatment of long-term tick-borne infection, including full bodily support for cellular detoxification, liver support, a clean diet, herbal antimicrobials, and botanicals that target the organisms in their hiding places.
Suspect you or a loved one may have borreliosis? Visit the ILADS frequently asked questions page for more information.
If you’re struggling with fatigue, brain fog, digestive troubles or anxiety, and you suspect foul play from a toxic level of heavy metals trapped in your cells, it may be time to take steps to lower your exposure to heavy metals with some level of heavy metal detox.
If you suspect heavy metal toxicity, consider being tested for metals by your health care professional to gain clarity around your body’s heavy metal load.
Benefits of Lowering Your Body’s Heavy Metal Load
Given that almost everyone has some level of heavy metals accumulating in our bodies from the food, water, environment and products we use, taking steps to lower your individual level is beneficial.
Lowering your heavy metal load supports the body’s systems and cellular functionality. Making daily steps and changes that support natural detoxification pathways often results in higher energy levels, better sleep, smoother digestion, weight loss, clearer skin and lower levels of inflammation in the body overall. Thanks to a reduction in the level of free radicals, your gut health may improve, supporting a stronger immune system. Your mental abilities will likely sharpen, and you may find it easier to pay attention, learn and retain information.
The more quickly or aggressively you jump into a detox plan, the more likely you are to experience significant side effects which can include nausea, headaches, diarrhea and even a metallic, sour taste in the mouth.
To support your body through the process, it’s best to detox slowly and gradually. More aggressive tactics that involve chelation therapy or specific supplements should be conducted under your doctor’s guidance.
Natural Ways to Lower Your Body’s Heavy Metal Load
If you’re ready to detox and are seeking a low-intensity approach to support overall health and wellness, here are our four favorite ways to naturally lower your heavy metal load:
- Eat the right foods
There’s no doubt that what you put in your mouth matters, but what you don’t put in your mouth matters, too. When you’re ready to lower your exposure to heavy metals, avoid most processed foods. Your body will need extra hydration to flush out the toxins you release, so skip caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea, and steer clear of sugar-heavy sodas and store-bought juices. Instead, aim to consume eight ounces of water or vegetable juice every two hours.
In terms of what you should put on your plate, there are plenty of detox-friendly foods. Given that pesticides can contribute to heavy meal toxicity, choose organically grown foods whenever possible. With their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, spinach, parsley, cilantro and beet greens are top choices. Herbs and spices including basil, oregano, thyme, turmeric and ginger are excellent for the same reason. And foods high in vitamin C―citrus fruits, berries, cruciferous veggies and bell peppers―can help heal the damage caused by heavy metals.
- Clean up your environment
Because it is so difficult to purge the body of heavy metals, the best approach to long-term health is to avoid exposure whenever possible. This means starting at home. Here are three easy swaps to make:
- Replace toxic air fresheners with essential oil diffusers.
- Swap out toxic personal care products—makeup, soap, deodorant, lotions—with items made from organic ingredients that are heavy metal-free.
- Buy a trio of wool dryer balls, an easy and cost-effective swap for chemically scented dryer sheets.
In addition, Dr. Bronner’s line of soaps can be used for just about every household need from laundry detergent to toothpaste. Filling your space with safer, cleaner, eco-friendly products is a strong step toward supporting good health.
- Work it off
While eating the right foods will encourage your body to let go of heavy metals, you still have to flush out those accumulated toxins. Regular exercise is an excellent way to sweat them out while also offering the added benefit of reducing overall body fat—this is especially beneficial, because many heavy metals are stored in fat cells.
- Sweat it out
And speaking of sweating, you can enjoy the same detoxing benefits with an infrared sauna, as long as it’s hot enough to make you sweat profusely. Whether you opt for the sauna approach or the gym to help you sweat toxins out, be sure to shower immediately afterward so toxins aren’t reabsorbed through your skin.
Though we may not be able to see heavy metals nor avoid them in some circumstances, your body will thank you for taking steps to reduce your heavy metal load and restore homeostasis.
For many of us, the term “heavy metal” conjures up images of long-haired rockers wearing thick eyeliner and dark clothes, but heavy metals are naturally occurring elements that can accumulate in our bodies due to the foods we eat, environmental pollution and the personal care and cleaning products we use.
What are Heavy Metals?
Heavy metals earn their name because of a high atomic weight and density that is at least five times greater than water.
The group includes arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminum, nickel and others. These elements are found all over the world; they permeate the earth, our food supply, and our water. There is no way to avoid them completely. Though we don’t intentionally ingest them, heavy metals are present in all of our bodies simply because of the environment we live in.
However, exposure to these elements, even in low concentrations, can be very dangerous because heavy metals replace beneficial minerals such as zinc and iron on a cellular level and cause cells to malfunction. The presence of heavy metals in our bodies can impact cellular respiration and our cells’ ability to reproduce effectively. Even at low levels they can cause multiple organ damage and DNA damage.
Fat cells often absorb heavy metals, trapping them inside of our bodies. Not only do heavy metals accumulate and linger for decades, but also the side effects from carrying toxic levels of heavy metals can be dire.
What Problems Do Heavy Metals Cause?
Heavy metals affect numerous biological systems, and the symptoms of toxicity range greatly. While some people experience low energy, mood disturbances and cognitive changes, others may display no symptoms at all for many years. On the inside, though, the body’s major systems are bearing an increasingly heavy load.
As heavy metals reach toxic levels, the effects grow more concerning. Mental abilities may decline, and damage occurs to the central nervous system as well as vital organs including the heart, kidneys and liver. Heavy metals are considered to be human carcinogens; studies show a correlation of toxicity levels and cancer in both humans and animals.
If exposure continues, and the heavy metal load continues to grow, the constant weight of these environmental elements trapped in the body can lead to physical, muscular and neurological degeneration. For example, mercury is a known neurotoxin that collects in spinal and brain tissue and can cause neurological problems. Lead can negatively impact a child’s developing nervous system, contributing to behavioral and learning disorders.
Chronic fatigue, brain fog, autoimmune diseases, digestive issues, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety and insomnia may be caused or at least worsened by too many heavy metals.
Because the symptoms of aging often mimic those of heavy metal poisoning―less stamina, memory loss, aches and pains―many older adults may mistake their symptoms as a natural part of the aging process. While growing older may be partially to blame, heavy metals are often a contributor. At its worst, heavy metal toxicity can resemble Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis.
Are You at Risk?
Researchers have identified at least 23 different environmental metals that can contribute to heavy metal toxicity, or “poisoning,” including mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, aluminum, nickel and others. Not everyone is equally exposed, and tolerance levels differ by individual.
Some of the highest risk factors for heavy metal toxicity include:
- Repeated exposure to traffic fumes, cigarette smoke, or radiation.
- Eating a low-quality diet that includes high amounts of processed foods, non-organic foods, farm-raised fish (versus wild-caught), or canned goods.
- Drinking contaminated water that contains trace amounts of metals.
- Getting a tattoo.
- Using products that contain heavy metals, including household, personal care, cleaning, lawn care and pet care products. Common culprits include air fresheners, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, toothpastes, insecticides, antiperspirants, plastic toys, some baby formulas, stainless steel cutlery, aluminum foil and cosmetics.
- Having metal amalgam dental fillings, because silver fillings slowly release mercury into the body. Many dentists are now able to remove and replace them safely.
You can also carry heavy metals passed down in utero from mother to baby, so even family history plays a role.
Curious about your body’s specific heavy metal load? Hair analysis and blood tests are widely available if you suspect you may be suffering from heavy metal toxicity.
Hope for the Future
With the abundance of heavy metals in our environment, is there any hope of actually escaping their toxic effects? Or are we raising our children in a world too toxic to tolerate?
The bad news is that kids likely have a higher risk for heavy metal toxicity than adults due to their smaller size and still-developing bodies. Some studies have indicated a connection between heavy metal exposure and behavioral challenges such as autism and ADHD.
Still, there is hope for a less toxic future. The human body is remarkably resilient, and the sooner heavy metal toxicity is addressed, the sooner the body’s systems can begin to recover.
The Sugar-Cancer Link
Since sugar has become a staple of the American diet over the past 100 years, rates of obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and numerous other chronic diseases have skyrocketed. A whopping 70% of Americans are now overweight, and by 2030, that number is expected to rise to 86%.
It’s safe to say we’re facing an epidemic, and all signs point to the same sneaky villain: sugar.
The real culprit
In the U.S. today, the average person consumes roughly one-third a pound of sugar every day. Many people eat more than twice that amount. Disturbingly, the single-largest source of calories for Americans is now sugar.
Each time food enters your mouth and is broken down on its way through your digestive system, nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. When we eat sugar, the same thing happens ― but there’s a limit to how much sugar the human body can tolerate.
Our bodies are designed to handle no more than one teaspoon of sugar in the bloodstream at any given time. When there’s more than that, our systems must work overtime to keep up.
To compensate for the overwhelming flood of fructose and glucose that hits your bloodstream when you eat sugary or processed foods, your pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream, which lowers blood sugar by converting sugars into fats that can be absorbed by your cells.
Therefore, the more sugar you eat, the more insulin you produce. And the more insulin you produce and force your cells to process, the more fat your cells absorb and the more overweight you become. Obesity has been linked to chronic metabolic diseases ranging from Type 2 diabetes to heart disease to dementia ― and now to cancer as well.
The sugar-cancer connection
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has officially reported that those who are obese and/or diabetic are at greater risk for cancer, largely due to increased insulin resistance and mitochondrial dysfunction caused by eating excess sugar.
Here’s why: As sugar consumption rises, your body releases more and more insulin to mop up the excess sugar in your bloodstream. During this process, large amounts of free radicals, which cause damage to cells, are also released. This unhealthy cellular environment opens the door for cell mutations to occur, and the longer the toxic conditions remain, the higher the likelihood of mutations.
In a nutshell, the more sugar you eat, the more toxic your body becomes ― and the more you increase your risk of developing cancer.
But the story doesn’t end there. Sugar also serves as the fuel source for the mutated cells, encouraging further mutations and cancerous cell growth.
Thus far, the National Institutes of Health have investigated the link between sugar and 24 different types of cancer. While studies will undoubtedly continue, the results are already compelling. Added sugars were shown to increase the risk of esophageal cancer, and excess fructose (such as in high fructose corn syrup) appears to increase cancer risk in the small intestines and colon. Refined sugars and fructose are also linked to breast cancer, and the same studies have even shown that too much sugar can increase the likelihood of cancer spreading to other organs.
What’s the solution?
Think there’s nothing you can do about it? Think again. You can take steps to support healthy cell function.
Since cancer cells need sugar to thrive, the first step is to cut out (or at least drastically cut back) added sugars. Simple carbs (devoid of any fiber) should also be removed or restricted, since they convert to sugar in the bloodstream. Lastly, processed foods should be avoided, since the vast majority of such foods are filled with added sugars.
To help make the transition to a diet that supports healthy cells, focus on eating whole foods like fresh fruits and veggies. Keep your diet as colorful as possible, and incorporate healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil and ghee.
While various studies have found that sugar is addictive ― some even claiming it’s as addictive as cocaine ― the good news is that when you cut sugar out of your diet for just a week or two, you’ll stop craving it altogether.
Feed your body what it needs (not just what’s quick and convenient), and your happy, healthy cells will thank you for years to come.
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