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Rules to Eat By

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Author: the Inkslinger

Sunday’s New York Times Magazine featured a great article by Michael Pollan about how hard it is to eat these days. By that he means that we’re flooded with information about our food choices even as those food choices proliferate, and more often than not as soon as we get used to one new idea about what to eat and why another study comes down the pike to refute it.

This, Pollan says, is the result of nutritionism, a new kind of dietary ideology that has us more focused on what’s in our food than we are focused on simply eating the right foods themselves.

It’s an interesting idea, and it seems like a good one. You know… if we just focused on the broad overview of eating a fundamentally healthy diet, the rest would largely take care of itself and we wouldn’t have to worry about omega oils, and phtyochemicals, and flavonoids, and folate etc. etc. etc. They’d just be there because we were eating the way nature intended. To help us, Pollan provides a great list of rules to follow that demands to be shared. Here’s a quick semi-paraphrasing:

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Hunting for Clues On the Chem Trail

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Author: the Inkslinger

There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Oakland Tribune about the little known effects that chemicals can have on human health. It's well worth checking out. Everybody knows that a big chemical exposure (or smaller exposures over time) can make cells go wiggy and turn cancerous. But there’s also a host of other things that chemicals do, and these don’t get much press even though I think they're as important as the carcinogenicity factor.

For example, there’s what happens when chemicals mix and mysteriously magnify each other’s effects. Or what happens when you’re exposed to something inthe womb vs. being exposed later in life. Not to mention the fact the tiny doses of certain substances seem more insidious than big ones.

Then there’s the issue of epigenetics, which I’m convinced is going to be the next big story where chemical toxins are concerned, much in the same way hormone disruption went from wacky fringe science to mainstream acceptance. Epigenetics theories say that chemicals our ancestors encountered can affect us without mutating our inherited genes. Instead, they work by altering the way those genes are expressed.

The Oakland Tribune article touches on all this and more, and while I think they could have done a better and/or more detailed job of explaining some of the ideas they present and offered a little more in the way of evidence, the article is still the first time I’ve seen most if not all of the hugely under-reported aspects of chemical contamination reported in one place.

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Let’s Stop Being Stupid About Smelling Nice

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We’ve known it for a long time... Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are bad news. But new research from the National Institute of Environmental Health Services (NIEHS) has now found that one particularly common VOC is particularly hazardous.

According to a just-released NIEHS study, the chemical, 1,4 dicholorobenzene (1,4 DCB), is likely reducing lung functioning in people exposed to it. 1,4 DCB is a chemical found in many air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners, mothballs, and other deodorizing products. According to the NIEHS, “even a small reduction in lung function may indicate some harm to the lungs.” The agency suggests that the use of such products and materials be reduced, especially around children and those who have asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

That’s an important statement, but the bigger point of the study is this: We live in a world where there’s no one to protect our families from ordinary consumer products. We all need to be our own gate keepers. Let’s start by getting smart about smelling nice.

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New Evidence Points to the Precautionary Need for More Natural Nurturing

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Author: the Inkslinger

Personally, I don’t need any more convincing, but if there’s anyone still on the fence about the importance of the Precautionary Principle, a sudden spate of recent news about the surprising effects of our bodies’ unseen contact with pollutants should be enough to send you running for the nearest haz-mat suit.

Here’s the sudden science in a non-toxic nutshell…

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The Illusion of Happiness

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We, (me included) chase with great and even desperate passion more and more and more stuff. A bigger pay check, a nicer house, a cooler car, new clothes. Now we sort of know better. We know that we can’t have both a sane and sustainable world with all that stuff.

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