January 21, 2017

Pollutant-Free Eating for MCS

Environmental pollution… Oil spills…Climate change…Ozone depletion… we live in a world that is slowly dying by the hands of man. Industrialization, poor waste management, and greed have left our earth more contaminated than ever before in the history of this planet.

But, I’m not here to speak on behalf of environmentalist and scientists. I am here to point out a reality that is overlooked amidst the mass concern of our carbon footprint. Yes, nature has responded to this age of industrialization, which leaves scientists and environmentalists concerned about the future of our planet. They cry out on behalf of the trees and the animals that walk the earth. But millions of people are left saying, “What about me?”

Today, chemicals, pollutants, and manufacturing wastes have left millions of people with illnesses that never existed before this modern age. We humans are made of the same basic elements as the plants and animals, so what pollutes them, pollutes us. Tragically, when a person is affected by pollution or chemicals, they are often written off as having some sort of psychological issue. Even the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs believes that Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) should not be considered a recognized clinical syndrome.

Can you imagine being chronically sick and knowing that it is caused by chemical substances that you’re exposed to, only to be called a quack? Maybe you can imagine that because you’ve experienced this yourself. If so, I’m so sorry that in the pursuit of all things modernized and efficient, industries have failed to recognize the damage they are doing to the human body.

Ironically, in a time where technology and medicine are saving more lives than ever before in human history, millions are simultaneously being poisoned. Chemical exposure is leaving millions ill and pushed aside with no answers. It is a tragedy that no one wants to hear about.

What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?

Most people who become chemically sensitive were once healthy individuals who tolerated chemical exposures with no noticeable side effects, just like everyone else. At some time in their lives, they were exposed to chemicals at a level from which they did not recover.

Some developed MCS after a renovation or newly built home, having carpets installed in their office, or exposure to pesticides. Other people became ill over a period of years, from cumulative exposures of everyday life that built up in their body’s tissues.

On-the-job hazards are a common cause of these life-altering exposures. Some of the most common MCS inducing jobs include:

  • Construction
  • Metalworking
  • Woodworking
  • Automotive
  • Textile
  • Agriculture
  • Information technology
  • Waste management
  • Cleaning

MCS chemical exposure sicknessLiving with multiple chemical sensitivity can be devastating. Those suffering with this life-altering illness often live isolated from society. Many are forced to wear gloves or respirator masks when they venture into public. People with MCS become sick by low level exposures to many common chemicals that typically don’t bother the average person. Some of the most offending chemicals include:

  • Perfume
  • Pesticides
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Fresh paint
  • New carpets
  • Air freshener
  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Cleaning products

People with MCS can become extremely ill after exposures of only a few seconds to tiny amounts of these substances. Chemically sensitive people also frequently react to foods, drugs, molds, and electromagnetic fields.

Treating MCS

Treating multiple chemical sensitivity requires something more than just a medicine or pill. The two, most efficient ways to treat MCS are:

  • Avoidance
  • Nutrition

The most effective way to avoid offending chemicals is to adopt a natural lifestyle. This includes using natural alternatives for:

  • Skin and body care
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Water (filtered is best)
  • Yard and pest products
  • Home construction (using tile or wood floors instead of carpet, etc.)

With the growing popularity of natural and “green” products, it is now easier than ever to replace your regular household items with safer alternatives. Even those who do not suffer with MCS can prevent future harm to themselves and their family by switching to all-natural alternatives. The internet is brimming with blogs and websites devoted to this way of life. Even this magazine, Home Cures That Work, is devoted to the lifestyle of maintaining health and wellness by adopting a chemical free, natural lifestyle!

However, nutrition is often overlooked in treating multiple chemical sensitivity. Many people who are chemically sensitive have numerous nutritional deficiencies. These deficiencies lead to a detoxification system that does not function properly. Our enzymatic, metabolic, and detoxification pathways are dependent on adequate vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. This makes nutrition of obvious importance and concern for those with MCS.

Studies have shown that those with chemical sensitivities tend to have deficiencies in magnesium, B6, and vitamin C. They also have lowered levels of antioxidants throughout the body, which in turn impairs neutralization of free radicals and toxins. In one study, patients with chemical sensitivities were treated with antioxidants like vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.[1]

With these antioxidants, they exhibited both improvement and relief of symptoms!

What separates a typical person from someone with MCS is the ability to safely detoxify chemicals out of the body. This is why improved nutrition is key to the resolution of symptoms in those with chemical sensitivities! When someone with MCS is given the proper nutrients, they can detoxify, neutralize, and metabolize chemicals. This allows them to resume a normal life!

Chemical sensitivities can be caused by several factors, one of which could be fungal infections.  The body will sometimes allow Candida in to use as a storage unit for chemicals or heavy metals or any number of harmful synthetics that could harm the body if not contained. Candida releases these toxins, which are not easily metabolized in those with MCS due to a lack of detoxification ability. This results in an overall feeling of fatigue and general state of feeling unwell. The good news is once the fungal infection is gone and the immune system is boosted; the body no longer over-reacts to the chemicals to which we are constantly exposed.

If a person has a high body burden of heavy metals, those heavy metals are thought to contribute to the development or aggravation of MCS. Heavy metals are part of the “total load” of toxins in the body, and may reduce the ability of the multiple chemical sensitivity patient to cope with other low dose toxins. These metals can accumulate in the tissues and cause neurological issues and severe mineral imbalances.

Here again, diet can help correct the inadequacies in those with chemical sensitivities. Proper nutrition can switch on the body’s ability to detoxify, allowing those with MCS to rid their body of chemicals and therefore avoid adverse reactions. It can also help them overcome candida and cleanse excess metals out of the body.

When given the rights foods, the body can restore normality and truly give someone with MCS and new lease on life!

Clean Eating for MCS

Clean eating is a new term in the natural health world used for a diet that is free of chemicals and artificial ingredients. Just as we want a clean environment that is free from pollutants, we should aim for a body that is free from pollution as well!

What you eat determines the cleanliness of your body. For example, eating processed foods with chemical additives and pesticide residues is going to pollute the environment inside your body. However, eating whole foods packed with nutrients gives each bodily system what it needs to metabolize, detoxify, and function at its highest capacity! This can reduce symptoms of MCS and help bring back normality into your life!

Eating for MCS is centered around two main principles:

  1. Consume foods free of pesticides, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients.
  2. Focus on foods high in antioxidants, magnesium, B6 and vitamin C.

Avoiding pesticide residues in foods is no easy task. Today’s produce is heavily sprayed and mass produced in order to keep up with demand. Pesticides keep the pests away, therefore increasing yield. However, spraying the food we consume comes with consequences. Pesticides are designed to kill and their effects on the human body should not be ignored.[2]

Side effects from pesticide exposure can not only induce or aggravate MCS, but can also cause:

  • Pesticide exposure leads toSkin irritations
  • Respiratory problems
  • Organ failure
  • Damage to nervous and immune systems
  • Birth defects
  • DNA damage
  • Disruption of the hormonal system
  • Cancer

Unfortunately, scrubbing, soaking, and peeling the skin off of produce does not eliminate pesticide residue. Using these techniques may reduce pesticides, but sensitive individuals, such as those with MCS, shouldn’t rely solely on these methods. This is because pesticides are sprayed throughout the growing process and absorbed throughout the entire plant, not just the outer surface.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are highest in most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed by those with MCS. But, avoiding them altogether would be counterproductive. Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tests fruits and vegetables each year and rates them from the highest in pesticides to the lowest. For example, in 2014 the average grape they tested contained 15 different pesticides! On the other hand, only 1% of the avocados tested contained any detectable pesticides.

Each year, after testing the foods, the EWG puts together the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists. The Dirty Dozen ranks the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues. The Clean Fifteen however contains the 15 lowest levels of pesticides residues.


DirtyDozen-CleanFifteen-2015Shopping from the Clean Fifteen list and avoiding the Dirty Dozen is one of the best ways to reduce pesticide residues in your diet. However, buying organic is truly the only way to bypass pesticides. The organic seal assures you that the farmer did not use chemical pesticides when raising his crops. Personally, I use my Dirty Dozen list as my “buy organic” list.

Avoiding artificial ingredients is also extremely crucial for MCS. These chemical additives are known for causing serious allergic reactions. Lab-created, chemical-based preservatives and artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners can not only cause allergic reactions, but trigger disease!

Always read labels before consuming anything you eat and if you spot a name that doesn’t sound like food, it likely isn’t.

Some common artificial ingredients and their side-effects[3] include:

  • Sodium benzoate: ADHD, DNA damage, cancer
  • Monosodium glutamate: heart palpitations, migraines, chest pain
  • Sodium nitrite: Irritability, headaches, cancer[4]
  • Sulfites: fever, rashes, asthma attacks
  • Potassium sorbate: migraines, swollen eyes, mouth, and throat
  • Aspartame: altered serotonin levels, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, cancer

Lastly, it is important to incorporate foods that contain the micronutrients that are often lacking in those with MCS: magnesium, B6, and vitamin C. These nutrients are important in metabolism and detoxification processes throughout the body.

Foods rich in magnesium include:

  • Raw organic spinach
  • Brown rice
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Avocado

Foods rich in B6 include:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chicken (organic)
  • Pistachio’s
  • Banana’s

Food’s rich in vitamin C include:

  • Organic kale
  • Organic strawberries
  • Broccoli
  • Oranges

I also want to note that eliminating gluten, sugar, and dairy can also benefit those who suffer with MCS. These foods tend to aggravate the digestive tract and lower immunity, exacerbating allergenic reactions. Taking a probiotic supplement and drinking probiotic rich drinks like kombucha and kefir water may also help. They will strengthen the digestive system and build the immune system, which can ease allergenic symptoms in those with MCS.

It is important to remember throughout your journey of clean eating, to keep a food diary. Even foods that are free of chemical additives can sometimes cause reactions in those who are chemically sensitive. Note any sort of reaction whether it is gas, headache, or heartburn. Try eliminating the offending food and note any improvement in your symptoms. This may take a bit of trial and error, but every individual is different and unfortunately there is no “one size fits all” diet for MCS.

Below are two recipes that will help in your quest towards pollutant-free eating. The first is a clean crockpot chicken recipe. I love crockpot recipes because they are not only easy to prepare, but always produce such a tender and delicious chicken! So many crockpot recipes contain powder mixes or canned soups, which contain chemical additives. This recipe contains all-natural ingredients and is absolutely delicious served over brown rice for a warm, comforting dinner.

Crock Pot Curry Chicken

Ingredients:

  • all natural crock pot chicken curry recipe3 pounds of organic or free-range chicken (breasts, thighs, chicken on the bone, etc.)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped small
  • 2 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp organic mustard (condiment, not the spice)
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (liquid) or milk
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken stock or water
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Place the carrots, onion and garlic at the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Next place the raw chicken pieces on top of the vegetables, layering the chicken.
  3. Add the spices over the chicken.
  4. In a small pot melt the coconut oil and mix in the chicken stock or water and coconut cream until combined. Pour this over the chicken.
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours (it can go longer if you are not home yet).
  6. When done, remove the pieces of chicken and puree the liquid for gravy with an immersion blender. Serve over rice or quinoa. Enjoy![5]

Everyone needs a little sweet in their life! This all-natural healthy peanut butter fudge contains no added sugar and is packed full of protein, making it not only a healthy dessert, but a great snack as well! Peanut butter is high in both magnesium and B6 and bananas also contain magnesium and other important nutrients like potassium and manganese!

Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients:

  • Healthy-Peanut-Butter-Fudge1/2 cup organic peanut butter (use almond butter if peanut sensitive)
  • 1 large banana (can sub with 2/3 cup coconut butter)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/16 tsp salt (
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter OR melted extra virgin coconut oil
  • One packet or 15 drops of stevia

Directions:

  1. Stir peanut butter until there is no longer oil on the top.
  2. You can either combine all ingredients in a small blender until completely smooth, OR mash the banana and stir together ingredients very patiently by hand until completely smooth.
  3. Scoop into a small plastic container, parchment-lined glass container, candy molds, mini cupcake liners.
  4. Freeze until firm. Due to the melting nature of coconut, this fudge is best stored in the freezer.[6]

MCS symptoms can be drastically reduced and eliminated with a diet that is full of nutrient-dense and chemical-free foods! Don’t let the environment inside your body become polluted any longer! Clean up the environment inside your body by revolutionizing the way you eat. Your body is an ecosystem of it’s own. When you eliminate the toxic pollution, you will see your life flourish once again!

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Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.
Sources:
[1]http://www.aehf.com/articles/treatment_options_mcs.html
[2] http://www.nursingdegree.net/blog/926/8-possible-side-effects-of-pesticides/
[3] http://www.wakingtimes.com/2013/10/14/5-food-additives-avoid/
[4] http://www.wholevegan.com/junk_food.html#Sodium%20Nitrite
[5] Adapted from realfoodforager.com
[6] Adapted from: chocolatecoveredkatie.com

 

 

Escaping a Toxic World: Treating and Preventing MCS

Lindsay peeked out of her room and said, “Remember, don’t wear any perfume or put any hairspray in your hair. Anna is chemically sensitive!”

Fifteen years ago I was going to a party with my best friend, Lindsay. The party was at a house specially built-in the countryside for her friend Anna. Anna had what is called multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Just living within city limits triggered symptoms of chronic pain and nausea.

In multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a person develops markedly negative reactions to everyday chemical exposures. These include exposures to:

  • escaping a toxic worldPesticides in buildings, in gardens, on our food, and on pets
  • Chemical cleaners
  • Petrochemical heating systems
  • Paints
  • Perfumes
  • Industrial emissions
  • A myriad of others chemicals

I’ll never forget wondering what it would be like to never be able to spray on my favorite perfume every day. Little did I know, years later I would understand how toxic perfume could be.

About 7 years ago, I noticed headaches while cuddling up to my husband when he was wearing cologne. I got more headaches when I walked through the perfume section of a department store. Soon, the perfume that I had worn for years was giving me a headache. I even noticed a headache after my mom washed one of my shirts in her scented detergent. All the triggers were pointing toward a chemical sensitivity to synthetic perfumes.

But I’ve often thought of Anna now that I have experienced my own chemical sensitivity. Anna is not an anomaly in her suffering. She is one of nearly 74 million people who suffer from some sort of chemical sensitivity.[1]

It’s likely that you, or someone you know belongs to the millions that experience illness with chemicals. Do you know what is even more alarming? The chronic illness you may be dealing with can be a direct result from these chemical sensitivities. The good news is with simple lifestyle modifications, your illness can disappear. Eliminate the root cause and you can reverse the progress of chemical sensitivity.

Chemical Sensitivity Defined

Multiple chemical sensitivity occurs when there is an adverse reaction to chemicals in the air, food and water. Generally, these chemicals are harmless to the bulk of the population. But when a person becomes increasingly sensitive to a wide variety of chemical substances, a chronic medical condition or state of illness can result. MCS goes by other names as well.[2] Some of these include:

  • Toxic Injury (TI)
  • Toxic Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT)
  • Chemical Injury Syndrome (CS)
  • Environmental Illness (EI)
  • Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (IEI)
  • Gulf War Syndrome

It is rare that someone is born with MCS. This intolerance to multiple chemicals is typically triggered by a trauma, or large exposure to a toxic chemical. Many times this occurs during a home or office renovation without proper ventilation. Other times, on-the-job hazards expose people to these life-changing chemicals.

Though the cause cannot always be clearly defined, researchers have found that it is twice as common in women than in men and typically occurs after the age of 30.[3]

MCS is an illness that is caused by heavy industrialism. Our industries continue to dump wastes into the air, water and food. As a result, a certain number of people get sick from exposure to these chemicals. In a recent study in the U.S., 11.2% of the respondents reported sensitivities to common chemicals… and this number continues to grow![4]

The most common sensitivities in those with MCS include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfumes and fragrances
  • Pesticides
  • Air fresheners
  • Scented soaps
  • New carpet or flooring
  • Fresh paint
  • Chlorine
  • Clothing washed in scented detergent or fabric softener
  • Newsprint
  • Computers, printers, and copiers
  • Common household cleaners
  • And much more (nail polish, moth balls, vinyl plastic, hair spray, etc.)

As you can see, this list is common in nearly every home and workplace! This causes those who suffer from MCS to feel as though they cannot escape their illness. Many choose isolation and, sadly, become hermits inside their safe home environment.

It is important for every person with MCS to try to create as safe and chemical free-living space as possible. Housing may be the single most crucial element in survival and possible improvement for someone with MCS. This cleanup requires learning about everyday toxins and safer alternatives to perfume, cigarette smoke, air fresheners, pesticides and cleaning products to create a pure and chemical-free living space.

Ironically, environmentalist fight for a less toxic atmosphere. Yet, inside our very homes are where we are exposed to the most pollution. Sadly, most people are oblivious to the chemicals that are chipping away at their health and eating away inside their property line.

City dwellers are subject to industrial emissions, vehicle exhausts, toxins used by neighbors such as lawn chemicals, and a myriad of other poisons. Rural dwellers are exposed to farm chemicals that include pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, which are extremely toxic.

You may not see the adverse effects of these toxicants until the often paralyzing symptoms of MCS or a chronic illness results.

Chronic Disease and MCS

The underlying characteristic of MCS is an abnormal or increased capacity to detect chemicals in the environment, primarily through smell and taste.

Because of the trauma from chemical exposure, the central nervous system and immune system are damaged. Simply from overexposure, the nervous system and immune system go into overdrive in someone with MCS. As a result, the brain remains on hyper alert and begins to react to the slightest exposure.

The over-sensitive brain leaves the person susceptible to the smallest whiff, touch or taste of a chemical substance. People can suffer delayed neurological damage that may include disturbances in sensory experience, motor function, speech, sleep, and emotional stability. Often, the symptoms continue to worsen over time leaving people with MCS miserable and without hope.

Typical symptoms of MCS include:

  • typical symptoms of MCSMuscle and joint pain
  • Tiredness, lethargy and fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Memory and cognition impairment
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Visual disturbances
  • Skin irritation (rashes, hives, etc)
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Asthma
  • Gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea, vomiting, nausea)
  • Tachycardia
  • Seizures

Functional Somatic Syndrome

MCS falls into a category of illnesses labeled functional somatic syndrome. Other illnesses in this category include fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. These illnesses often overlap each other and exhibit similar symptoms. It is fairly common that people who have MCS also have either fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue. IBS is another illness that often accompanies MCS.

Many people diagnosed with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia note a decrease in their symptoms when reducing exposure to chemicals. If you or someone you know suffers from one of these illnesses, then follow these steps to decrease MCS. The tips provided here to lowering your exposure to chemicals can improve the pain and fatigue associated with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and IBS.

Lyme Disease

Some have speculated that undiagnosed Lyme disease can be a cause of MCS. It is estimated that over 18 million people in the U.S. have Lyme disease. In most cases, it is not diagnosed. It is a misconception that Lyme is only spread by ticks and identified by a bullseye rash. More than half of those with Lyme never had a bullseye rash. Also, the spirochete (bacteria) behind Lyme disease can spread via fleas, mosquitoes, mites, food and sexual contact.

Lyme can hide in our tissues giving a false negative on the Western blot test.[5] However, science is discovering new and more accurate tests for Lyme disease. If you suffer from MCS, I recommend one of these newer and more accurate testing methods. The iSpot Test is a good example and is more accurate identifying whether or not Lyme is truly the culprit of your MCS.[6]

PTSD

Gulf War Syndrome and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have a connection to MCS, as well. In 1990, 700,000 went to war and 250,000 came home with chronic illness. Even the CDC established a connection between sick Gulf War veterans and chemical sensitivities.[7]

These veterans were exposed to a plethora of toxic chemicals in pesticides, vaccines, anti-nerve gas pills and much more. Unfortunately, these symptoms did not end with the Gulf War. Servicemen continue to be exposed to toxic chemicals while on deployment.

Research has suggested a common etiology between post traumatic stress disorder and multiple chemical sensitivity, as well.[8] PTSD is a debilitating condition that follows a traumatic event. While not everyone with MCS has PTSD, some most certainly do. The ability to cope with trauma therapy and achieve positive outcomes is low, until the mind-body and environmental stress load is reduced. These two illnesses overlap often enough that researchers are suggesting further study into common causes.

Detoxifying your Home Life

how to detox your home lifeIt is imperative that if you have any symptoms of MCS, that you immediately incorporate methods of chemical reduction into your life and home.

Even if you don’t suffer from MCS, lowering your toxic exposure in your environment can still dramatically improve your health. Chemical sensitivities often mimic or induce other illnesses. You could currently be suffering from migraines, dizzy spells or joint pain and have no idea that chemical sensitivity is to blame.

Reducing toxic exposure is beneficial for everyone, from infants to the elderly. Even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is thought to be the result of accidental poisoning due to toxic gases released from baby mattresses.[9]

It is never too early, nor too late to start reducing the chemicals in your home! After all, home is where your health is!

When I first started experiencing headaches from synthetic fragrances, I took dramatic steps in lowering chemical exposure in my home for my own safe and the safety of my family. I began to eliminate excess chemicals in my body care, detergents, and household cleaners long before I ever manifested severe multiple chemical sensitivity symptoms. I’ve found in lowering my exposure to chemicals that I’ve never needed to sacrifice cleaning power, pleasant scents, or even taste!

If you look closely, you will be surprised how toxic your home truly is. MCS inducing chemicals hide out in everything from your household cleaners to the mattress you sleep on! Below are the 5 most important things in your home that need to be replaced in order to detoxify your life and bring about a new sense of health and well-being!

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