Chemical Stew Found in Umbilical Cord Blood

Study found 287 industrial pollutants in cord blood of 10 babies

By Colleen Diskin 

This article was written by Colleen Diskin for the Knight Ridder Newspapers in Hackensack, N.J. Special thanks to The Edmonton Journal for sharing this article.

Mothers pass on hundreds of chemicals from pesticides to flame retardants to their babies through their umbilical cords, according to a groundbreaking study.  The study, released Thursday, found 287 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in U.S. hospitals. The blood harbored pesticides, chemicals from non-stick cooking pans and plastic wrap, long-banned PCBs and wastes from burning coal, gasoline and garbage. On average, each baby had been exposed to 200 chemicals.

Scientists have long cautioned expectant mothers to limit exposure to chemicals by avoiding mercury-tainted fish, for example, and staying out of the nursey until paint is dry. But the study, paid for by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, is the first to examine the sheer number of exposures infants can have, via the umbilical cord, from pollutants that are nearly impossible for their mothers to avoid, the researchers said.

It is the first to measure a baby’s “body burden,” the term used to describe the amount of pollutants buried in the bloodstream, organ tissues and fat cells. Researchers and environmental advocated said the results are disconcerting. “The numbers are startling when you hear them,” said Dr. Alan Greene, a Stanford University pediatrician who wrote a commentary on the study. In the month before baby’s birth, the umbilical cord pumps at least 300 quarts of blood each day back and forth from the placenta to the fetus, bringing the baby oxygen and nutrients. Scientists once mistakenly thought the placenta shielded cord blood and the baby from most chemicals and pollutants.

Greene described the placenta as a “free-flowing. living lake” that the blood vessels in the umbilical cord draw from.” Today, this most primal of lakes has become polluted with industrial contaminants,” Greene said. “And developing babies are nourished exclusively from this polluted pool. They mainline the contaminants through their umbilical cord, injecting them into their veins more potently than any IV drug administration.”

The study raises more questions than it answers, in particular what the cumulative effect of all these chemicals might be on a new born, said Tim Kropp, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group. “For some of the chemicals, we know some safe levels for a single chemical in adults,” Kropp said. “In none of them, however, do we know what the safe level is in combination with each other and not what it is in babies,”

The Environmental Working Group paid $10,000 a piece to test the cord samples, Kropp said. The samples were taken by the Red Cross for possible use in transplant operations. Kropp said no identifying information was provided, meaning it is impossible to know whether the pregnant mothers had lived near pollution hot spots. But a hot spot would account for just a few chemicals; these babies tested for exposure to far more, showing, Kropp said, just how pervasive chemicals are in our society.

The blood sample with the lowest readings contained 154 chemicals. The highest held 231.

Exposure to chemicals is a bigger concern with infants because the blood-brain barrier – the body’s defense that keeps contaminants from reaching the central nervous system – is not yet developed, meaning babies can suffer more neurological harm, Greene said. Green and others affiliated with the study say it points to the need for a wider, publicly funded study of the impact of chemical exposure to children. Advocacy groups say there are ways consumers can reduce their body burdens. Suggestions include eating locally grown food farmed without pesticides; not using chemicals on lawns; getting rid of cleaning products that contain colorants, fragrances and deodorizers; avoiding Tefon pans; and not using the microwave to heat foods in plastic containers that might leach chemicals.

The Foundations of Immune Health: Part 4 – Exercise

 

In order to make sure our bodies are functioning optimally, we must first address the foundations of immune health. If we can work towards the foundations of health, then we provide the body with a fighting chance against many different illnesses and disease. It is a good idea to come back to these foundations every day, and check in to see where you may need some additional support to ensure that we can prevent illness. The foundations of immune health include…

This week we will be talking about exercise and immune health.

Why is Exercise Good for Immune Health?

There are several different mechanisms that exercise can affect immune health. First, it increases blood circulation in the body. When the heart rate is increased, it means that our white blood cells, our immune fighting cells, will move faster around the body and identify any invader to the body. It also means that the body is able to remove toxins and pathogens from the body faster.

The immune system has a direct impact on the number of white blood cells. Research shows that during exercise our white blood cell levels increase. This means that during exercise we are more able to fight infections.

There are also indirect ways that exercising helps the immune system. Exercising has a huge role in stress management and mental health, which are foundational to immune health. Additionally, exercising outdoors allows you to connect with nature and get additional vitamin D, both of which are incredible for immune health.

What do we suggest for exercise?

  • Time: Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week at moderate intensity or 150 minutes a week.
  • Type of Exercise: The type of exercise mainly studied was aerobic exercise. However, anything that gets your heart rate up can be beneficial!
  • Schedule time in your day to exercise. Stay dedicated to this time. Look at is as a self-care time and understand that it is very important for your whole health.
  • Don’t get discouraged. If you don’t hit your goal of exercising, understand that that’s okay. This is a behaviour change and it requires effort, dedication and time.
  • Try to get outside to exercise at least 1-2 times a week. The additional vitamin D you get from being outside can add to additional benefits to your immune health. You get extra points if you exercise surrounded by nature. This can decrease stress hormones and provide extra benefits to the immune system.

The Foundations of Immune Health: Part 1 – Sleep

In Naturopathic Medicine, prevention is one of the founding principles that we follow. One of the ways we can ensure the prevention of illness is by ensuring that our immune system is healthy. Having a strong immune system means that we are able to defend against illnesses so that we either do not get sick or have a very short illness period.  To build a strong immune system we must look at its foundational building blocks. These include…

      • A good night’s sleep
      • Stress management
      • A healthy diet
      • Exercise and time outdoors
      • Appropriate supplementation

With the start of school and the current pandemic, these foundations are now more important than ever. For the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing tips about how to best implement the foundational building blocks and some of the best ways to support your immune system.

This week we will be discussing sleep and the impact it has on immune health.

Sleep and the Immune System

 

When we get sick, we often also get tired. This is the body’s natural way of telling you that it needs sleep to help you get better. Sleep plays a major role in regulating the immune system. When we sleep our bodies produce and release proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are used to help the body effectively fend off any infection or illness coming our way. Sleep is also key in establishing immunological memory. It allows the body to store information about a current infection or illness so that the next time it is exposed to it, the immune system can quickly and effectively fend it off.

Sleep deprivation can leave a person susceptible to many different illnesses. While many supplements can be prescribed to help with sleep, we must first address how lifestyle plays a part in sleep. One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep is by establishing a regular routine. This means getting up at the same time every day, creating a relaxing bedtime routine and going to bed at the same time every night. You can read more about the different sleep hygiene tips we have here and here.

If you struggle with sleep and are looking for support, book an appointment so that we can help support you and prevent illnesses.

The Natural Process of Ageing

Whether we like it or not, we are all growing older every single day. We are not the same person we were 15 years ago, not physically, psychologically or socially. The process of getting older is known as ageing. Some of the first things that might come to mind when you hear the word ageing, is wrinkles, gray hairs, and sagging.  However, ageing goes beyond the outer appearance. The bones also get less dense, some organs begin to slow down and cells are slower at regenerating which can lead to disease. There are many processes in play that attribute to ageing. This article features 3 of the main causes of ageing: Oxidative stress, Telomere shortening and Glycation.

Oxidative Stress

Every day, our cells make energy in the form of a substance called ATP. While making ATP, oxygen atoms are exchanged and passed to different molecules. Oxygen has a negative charge and therefore binds to different molecules to become neutral and stable. However, occasionally one of those oxygens gets loose from the process. This free oxygen is called a reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals. Because of the negative charge on the oxygen, it finds other molecules to bind to in the body, such as proteins, cell membranes, and DNA. When the oxygen binds it creates damage and can destroy the cells. When we are young, our bodies have antioxidant molecules that help prevent reactive oxygen species from causing damage. However, as we age, the number of these reactive oxygen species increases and there is less of the protective antioxidant molecules. This causes an increase in damage to our cells and can lead to some of the common ageing problems. For example, grey hair can be caused when reactive oxygen species (O-)  bind to water (H2O) in our hair resulting in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The hydrogen peroxide bleaches the hair, making it appear gray or white.

Telomere shortening

Our cells are constantly regenerating. As old cells die, our bodies replicate the DNA and create new cells. At the end of DNA, there is a small portion called a telomere. Telomeres are caps of the end of DNA. Every time the DNA is replicated, the telomeres become shortened. Once the telomeres become too short, that cell is no longer able to replicate. This causes damages to our cells and tissues and increases the ageing process.

Glycation

As we age, our body becomes less equipped to deal with sugars. The sugars in our blood combine with proteins and fats, creating advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The AGEs will then bind to certain receptors on our cells. This combination of AGEs and receptors (called RAGE) causes an increase in inflammation, a decrease in skin cell growth and causes collagen and elastin to break down. Collagen and elastin are proteins that are present in the skin and organs to help provide structure.  Therefore, glycation is one of the reasons that skin becomes more wrinkly and saggy during ageing. Glycation also affects the blood vessels, bones, muscles and organs and can cause decreases in body functioning.

Ageing is a complex process which involves many different mechanisms. While we can’t stop ageing, there are many things that can be done to ensure that you are ageing healthfully.

Environmental Quiz

Check each item that applies to you:

  • Do you drink pop, calorie free or sugary drinks?  This includes mixing them in with alcohol (ie rum and coke)
  • Do you drink anything out of a plastic bottle?
  • Do you use non-stick frying pans?
  • Do you drink Vitamin mineral or Gatorade water?
  • Do you use a microwave?
  • Do you use a cell phone or a computer for more than 3 hours a day?
  • Do you use Advil, Tylenol, Immodium or any over the counter medication more than 1x/ year?
  • Do you eat foods that have food coloring (ie Smarties, M&Ms, cheddar cheese, etc) ?
  • Do you consume canned goods (ie soup in a can)?
  • Do you use personal care products with phthalates or parabens?
  • Do you drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day?
  • Do you exercise less than 30 minutes per day, 4 days per week?
  • Do you regularly consume foods that are Genetically Modified?  These foods are: Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Cottonseed and Beet sugar.
  • Do you eat any of the following foods in the non-organic form:
1.     Strawberries 7. Cherries
2.     Spinach 8. Peaches
3.     Kale, Collard and Mustard 9. Pears
4.     Nectarines 10. Bell and hot peppers
5.     Apples 11. Celery
6.     Grapes 12. Tomatoes
  • Do you drink manufactured orange juice?
  • Do you suffer from any of the following: ongoing fatigue, headaches, pain, and constant colds and coughs?
  • Do you regularly experience digestive concerns such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome?
  • Have you been diagnosed with low thyroid function or a skin condition (ie eczema, psoriasis, acne)?
  • Do you use hand sanitizer or Colgate toothpaste on a regular basis?
  • Are you more than 15 lbs overweight?
  • Do you use perfume?

 

Score: _______

Results

Number of checks Category
Less than 5 You win top marks and qualify for the “Squeaky Clean” award  – Congrats!

 

Between 5 -12 You need to reduce your environmental toxin exposure and may need an integrated detoxification program. Dr. Mason-Wood, ND can provide an assessment to see if a detoxification is right for you and provide lifestyle counselling to help you minimize toxin exposure – call our clinic today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mason-Wood, ND at (587) 521-3595 or schedule an appointment online at http://naturalterrain.com/contact-us/.
Greater than 12 You need an integrated detoxification program – call our clinic today to schedule a critical care appointment with Dr. Mason-Wood, ND at (587) 521-3595 or schedule an appointment online at http://naturalterrain.com/contact-us/

Earth Day and Detoxification

With the 51st anniversary of Earth Day just around the corner, we encourage you to make a positive change for your health and the environment. Here are a few tips for you:

1. Review the “dirty dozen” list (see below)– which is a list of the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides – and commit to purchasing them organic. We know it is more expensive, however, you are what you eat, absorb and don’t excrete, right!?

2. Dispose of cosmetic and personal hygiene products that contain: chlorinated pesticides, heavy metals, PCBs and solvents. Visit the Environmental Working Groups cosmetic database to see how your cosmetics rate environmentally. Click Here to see the database. 

3. Get moving! Dust off your bike or lace up your walking shoes and instead of driving to the store for a few groceries, walk or ride! Every trip where you do not turn on your ignition saves the environment by reducing emissions. And remember, no one wins when you idle your vehicle – not your pocketbook, not your children having to breathe in more pollutants and especially not the environment.

4. Stop buying water from the grocery store: watch The Story of Bottled Water and remember that a home filtration system and Kleen Kanteen stainless steel water bottles are great steps to take for the environment, your health and pocket book (in the long run).

5. We encourage patients to read “Clean, Green and Lean – Get Rid of Toxins that Make you Fat” – by Naturopathic colleague Dr. Walter Crinnion. Remember to take the environmental toxin quiz to find out the level of toxins in your body. If you are exposed to lots of toxins, book an appointment with Dr. Mason-Wood ND who can help you detoxify your body.

6. Along the detoxification theme, we are pleased to promote our colleague, Dr. Carol Morley’s ND new book titled: “Delicious Detox” – a cookbook to help you through the detoxification process”. Click here to buy the book.  Congrats Carol!!

7. Participate in an event on Earth Day!  For ideas to create your own event in your community check out https://earthday.ca/!

DIRTY “DOZEN” LIST:

PRODUCTS WITH HIGHEST LEVELS OF PESTICIDES
1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Kale, Collard Greens, Mustard Greens
4. Nectarines
5. Apples
6. Grapes
7. Cherries
8. Peaches
9. Pears
10. Bell and Hot Peppers
11. Celery
12. Tomatoes

CLEAN FIFTEEN LIST: 

PRODUCTS WITH LOWEST LEVELS OF 
PESTICIDES

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Onions
  5. Papaya
  6. Sweet peas (frozen)
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Brocolli
  10. Cabbage
  11. Kiwi
  12. Cauliflower
  13. Mushrooms
  14. Honeydew Melon
  15. Cantaloupe

 

 

Environmental Detoxification

With the changing of a season upon us, many talk about doing a spring cleanse. It can be confusing as there is much misinformation about what this entails, the benefits, risks, length of time etc. Ideally, the body should be able to detoxify itself but we are bombarded with toxins from the environment: pesticides and chemicals in and on our foods, chlorine and other chemicals in our water, chemicals in cleaning products, perfume, lotions and make-up, as well as pollutants in the air we breathe. Our bodies weren’t designed to cope with the level of toxins we are exposed to.

Toxicity is a becoming a health crisis. We ingest new chemicals, use more medication, eat more sugar and refined foods and abuse ourselves daily with various stimulants or sedatives. The incidence of many toxicity induced diseases has increased as well. Many people suffer from ongoing fatigue, bloating, headaches, pain, skin irritations and constant colds and coughs. Most conventional doctors would look only for disease, and if the patient’s tests come back negative, the doctor says nothing is wrong. We investigate this further by recommended Environmental testing to patients.

Often, people with symptoms are out of balance because of poor diet and low nutrition. Their bodies are overloaded with toxins from their diet and the environment, as well as too much sugar which leads to an overgrowth of bad bacteria and candida in the digestive system.

To assist in the detoxification process, I prescribed a very gentle liver support that involves three steps:
Step 1: homeopathic remedies to start the “drainage” or removal of toxins
Step 2: glutathione to help the liver get rid of these toxins and
Step 3: a herbal combination to promote better liver function.
If the liver cannot keep up with the removal of toxins, the detoxification process spills onto the other organs and when the entire system is overburdened, symptoms appear.

A good detox is not just about cleansing the liver. It is about correcting the diet, addressing environmental toxins in your environment, removing bad bacteria, re-populating the gut with healthy organisms, re-balancing pH levels, ensuring the kidneys are working effectively and supporting the drainage and detoxification processes of the liver. This is known as an integrated detoxification. To get the best results, it is important that a cleanse be supervised by your Naturopathic Doctor so that we can address any concerns that may arise, as well as ensure that you are completing the steps of detoxification in the right order. Often, this approach results in significant improvement in one’s overall wellbeing. People who suffer from the previously mentioned symptoms, as well as conditions such as low thyroid function, eczema and hormone imbalances often find their symptoms completely resolve. Professional guidance is the key. Detoxes in the kit form are potentially dangerous. Many focus on only one aspect of liver function and should not be used if you are on medication. Detoxes don’t need to be unpleasant and if properly supervised you will have minimal discomfort, if any.

Remember a key step that most miss in detoxification is to eliminate your exposure to environmental toxins in the FIRST place. A book we recommend is “Get rid of the Toxins that make you Fat – Clean, Green and Lean” by. Dr. Walter Crinnion ND. We also recommend you schedule an “Environmental check up” appointment with Dr. Michael Mason-Wood ND who is one of the only practitioners in Edmonton who has completed Dr. Crinnion’s ND Environmental Medicine specialty training program. In the meantime, take our “Environmental Quiz” and we also recommend reading our article: Environmental Toxins Do you know your Body’s Levels

Environmentally Responsible Cleaning Recipes Part 1: Household Cleaners

A big part of our practice is working with Environmental Medicine, which we define as working with one’s environment with the intention of creating the conditions for health for yourself and the planet. We address the quality of the air, food, and water, as well as other products we put in or on our bodies.

Environmental medicine is powerful and important, and big gains in health can be created by small changes. This is the first part of a series of articles written to help you make little environmental changes that can move you towards health, by making your own household cleaners.

General Household Cleaners

Lemon Oil Furniture Polish
1 cup mineral oil
1 tsp. lemon oil

Mix the above ingredients together and store in a pump dispenser of your choice. Spray directly onto furniture and buff surface to shine. Use sparingly to prevent build up.

Olive Oil Furniture Polish

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. white vinegar
4 cups (1L) water

Mix ingredients and store in a pump dispenser. Place bottle near heat before use as polish will work better warm (e.g. place bottle in a pan of warm water). Apply to furniture and rub dry with a soft cloth.

Carpet Cleaner

2 cups baking soda
4-5 bay leaves, crumbled
½ cup cornstarch
1 tbsp. ground cloves

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Shake the cleaner onto your carpet. Leave overnight and vacuum thoroughly the next day. Note: this is more or less a carpet freshener (it will pick up dirt and dust and remove stains left by moisture)

Carpet Deodorizer

½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup borax

Mix cornstarch with borax. Sprinkle on carpet and leave for 1 hour. Vacuum.

Silver Polish

Aluminum foil
4 cups (1L) water
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. salt

Put a piece of aluminum foil in an enamel or stainless steel saucepan. Pour in water. Add baking soda and salt and bring to a boil. Add your silverware and the tarnish will disappear from your silverware and coat the foil. Polish the silverware with a dry cloth as you remove it from the pan. Note: This formula works very well on heavily tarnished items. The only problem is that may leave a dull coating on surfaces. We do not recommend you use this method on patina design as it may remove the accents.

Brass and Copper Cleaner

2 tbsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. vinegar

Mix above items into a paste. Rub on copper items and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse and shine clean with a soft cloth. Note: This formula works okay with a lot of elbow grease. It was not effective on badly tarnished items. To quick-clean copper or brass, saturate a sponge with vinegar or lemon juice, sprinkle on salt and scrub vigorously. Leaves a nice shine!

Glass Cleaner #1

4 cups (1L) vinegar
4 cups (1L) water

Note: This works fairly well, but not as well as commercial cleaners. For best results, clean windows first using isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) to remove the residue from previously used cleaners.

Glass Cleaner #2

2 tbsp. borax
3 cups water

Mix ingredients together in a bucket. Clean windows using newspaper. Note: This works well, but be careful not to smudge any woodwork with the newspaper.