Ep. 176: 10 Environmental Stressors

Fed & Fit
Fed & Fit

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On today's episode, I'm talking about 10 environmental stressors that can have an impact on our total load as well as what to do about them.

Fed and Fit podcast graphic, episode 176 10 environmental stressors with Cassy Joy

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Episode 176 Transcription

Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. I am your host, Cassy Joy Garcia. Today is just me. You get me and myself. {laughs} Me myself and I. I am going to jump into kind of a healthy lifestyle topic today. We’re going to talk about 10 different environmental stressors.

And the point of this episode is definitely not to scare you, ok? The important thing is not to panic, everybody. I just want to say that from the get-go. There are stressors all around us all the time, and the only reason I want to talk about them today is just to add a little bit of perspective. There was an analogy that we use all the time here on the show, and then also within the Fed and Fit Project, when that was up, and then on the blog. We talk a lot about the total load.

And that total load that we carry, and the image that it immediately paints in my mind is that of a camel carrying a whole bunch of straw on it’s back. And when we think about our environmental stressors, that adds to our total load. We’re going to go over what some of those could be today. And when we think about some of the not healthy, nourishing foods we’re eating. That adds to the total load that our body has to then negotiate, try to detoxify from, and then heal from. And then we think about maybe age adds to our total load. Maybe how mobile we are adds to our total load. Dehydration can add and slow taking some of those other pieces of straw off.

All kinds of things, which can continually add to our total load. And the one we’re going to talk about today; I don’t like to focus on these too much, because a lot of them are there. And they’re just going to be around us. And we just need to make peace with it. So why do we even bring up some of these environmental stressors that are just a part of our world today?

One; because maybe there are a couple of things we can tweak, and that’s really exciting. And two, because I think it fuels the fire to want to balance out in other areas of our life. Right? It’s a great reason to then go and maybe tackle some of our stress levels, instead of letting that be a runaway train. It’s a good reason to maybe eat a little bit better. Or maybe workout a little bit more. Or maybe just implement some very general practices that can help us be well overall, because we do live in somewhat of a toxic world.

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, and hopefully nobody has panicked. Because the important thing is not to panic. {laughs} Let’s jump into some of these. Ten environmental stressors. I’m not going to spend too much time going into the nitty gritty detail, although I do have a lot of notes on the topic. I’ll go over some high level stuff.

So, one environmental stressor that I’m sure; I’m going to lump the first two together. Because they’re very similar. We’re going to talk about our cell phones, and we’re going to talk about Wi-Fi EMF. Ok, so what is EMF? Have you heard about this? What the heck is this thing? EMF stands for electric and magnetic fields. These are areas of radiofrequency energy that can include electrical power in various forms of natural and manmade lighting.

So this EMF, electric and magnetic fields. They exist all around us all the time. A lot of these have been here since the dawn of time. And of course, we as men are contributing and harnessing a lot of that energy and a lot of the physics and the science behind that to help make life happen for us today in this new age. Via, think of cell phones and Wi-Fi.

So, they’re categorized by frequency and wave lengths into two groups. There is non-ionizing EMFs, which is low-level radiation which is generally perceived as harmless to humans. Things that are generally perceived as harmless to humans; those would be microwaves, computers, Wi-Fi, cellphones, Bluetooth, and MRI.

Ionizing EMFs that are the other category are high level radiation, which has the potential for cellular and DNA damage. What are those? Two of them are UV light and X-Rays. So when you think about when you get an X-ray; let’s say you go to the dentist and they’re going to X-ray your teeth and just see how things are going on in there. They will usually, I’m thinking myself as a lady of child-bearing years, put one of those nice protective covers over my body to prevent any kind of rays coming in contact with whatever little bitty baby might be somewhere in my belly. So they protect from those altering cellular and DNA damage impacts.

And then UV light. Which we all know; it’s one of the reasons to wear sunscreen. It’s one of the reasons we want to protect ourselves from an overabundance; too much sun exposure. Because it can definitely alter and change some of our cells and some of our DNA.

So are EMFs harmful to human health? There are some studies out there, if you Google it, you will find something that will prove any point on the spectrum. So if that’s your jam, go for it. For the most part, generally we’re going to be ok. There’s one recognized biological effect from radiofrequency energy, which is heating. So if you think about; what is the biological impact. What can we actually see; radiofrequency can cause heating.

So that’s how a microwave heats food, right? It’s through radiofrequency. It causes vibrations, which causes the food to heat and cook. So, how is that relevant when we’re talking about cellphones and Wi-Fi? If you’ve ever held a cellphone to your ear, as long as it wasn’t the battery that was getting super charged, it could be that those frequencies coming into the phone, maybe they’re heating some of your ear tissue. But you're not going to burn yourself. But that’s kind of similar to what we’re talking about.

There are some light studies out there; by that I mean there are very few, and there’s not a whole lot of data on it right now. But that radiofrequency might affect glucose metabolism. There are a couple of studies that examined glucose metabolism after use of a cell phone. Which showed somewhat inconsistent results.

But, radiofrequency energy does not necessarily cause DNA damage that can lead to cancer, which was interesting. However, ionizing EMFs have been linked to cancer. And remember, what is ionizing? That’s UV light and X-rays.

So, it’s just something to keep in mind. If you're somebody who is living in a home with someone who is unwell or has a weakened immune system, either the very young or the very old, EMFs may be something to consider. Definitely wear that sunscreen. There are things you can do to minimize EMFs in your house. I would start Googling that if it’s something that rings a bell in your mind. But for the most part, I would say that most people don’t necessarily have to worry about this.

The next one we’re going to talk about; number three. Car pollutants. As far as environmental stressors, this is an obvious one. I’m sure everyone expected this one to be on the list. There is all kinds of crud that comes out of a car that’s not going to surprise anybody. Anybody who has ever flown into Los Angeles, bless its heart. You’ve probably seen that, depending on the time of day and the weather in the area, you’ve seen that; it looks like a low-hanging cloud, but it’s really just smog that’s hovering over the city. It’s so nasty.

But, it’s just our cars are pretty gross. They put out a lot of emission. So emissions from cars that are the byproducts from running fuel and add up in the air due to so many cars on the road. So we’ve got carbon monoxide, we’ve got ozone, also known as smog. We’ve got sulfur dioxide, which is burned from diesel engines, which can be especially problematic for folks with asthma. Nitrogen dioxide, which is produced when fuel is burned, and adds to the ozone/smog. We’ve got lead, which can be a byproduct. And our exposure is decreased as the amount of lead in gas has also decreased.

And then we’ve got benzene and formaldehyde, from car emissions that are known and thought to be related to causing cancer, genetic mutations, yadda, yadda. The scary list of things goes on. But these really aren’t as much of an issue as long as you're not inhaling them directly, or being trapped.

What to do with this information on car pollutants? Try to get as much fresh air as possible. Try to leave the city as often as possible and get some fresh air. And if you have a garage attached to your house, don’t run the car in the garage. Right? Open the garage door before you start the car. Things like that are really going to keep the air clear.

Alright, number four, we’re going to talk about environmental stressors. We’ve got insecticides. We’re talking about commercial, residential, and food. So this is one of the ones that I tend to be a little bit freaky deaky about. Because it’s just something; it’s one of those; on this category, it’s one of the things I know I can control. Right?

My husband likes the idea of insecticides. If all of a sudden creepy crawlies start finding their way into our house, he wants to go in the backyard and spray. And when I became pregnant with Grayson; actually a little bit before that, when we decided we wanted to start a family. Which wasn’t long after we got married. I was like; nope. No more. We’re just going to live with the critters.

So insecticides; what’s the issue? So, while they do protect crops from insects, disease, and fungus, they can be harmful to human health and may induce adverse health effects. Again, the scary list of impacts include cancer, effects on reproduction, immune and nervous systems. Some pesticides have been found to be endocrine disruptors, which can cause different kind of side effects.

So, endocrine disruptors we’re thinking about our reproductive health. We’re thinking about our hormones. Our metabolism. Things like that. Short term exposure can cause immediate effect or other symptoms like asthma, skin irritation, nausea, vomiting. If you’ve ever had any sort of a pet that’s gotten into insecticides, I’m sure them see not feel very well but probably be ok.

Long-term exposure in low-doses could result; studies have linked correlations to asthma, depression, anxiety, cancer, ADHD. Ways to decrease exposure; number one, buy organic when available. Organic produce. That’s a great one. Consider not using it around your house; insecticides around your house, if at all possible. Do some research on chemical-free insect prevention. I was an entomologist in my study back at Texas A&M university; that’s what I actually got my degree in.

And there are all kinds of biological control methods you can have. If you have aphids, for example, in your garden, you can always get lady bugs, I believe, are the ones that eat the aphids. You can always find a bigger or better insect out there that can help eat the other ones that aren’t going to bother you. No one really minded lady bugs being around.

Definitely wash your own fruits and vegetables well before using them. And consider growing your own.

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Cassy Joy: Another environmental stressor that we don’t always think about. I talk about it a good amount here on Fed and Fit; skin care ingredients. Some of these ingredients that have found their way into skin care, originally they found their way in there because it was just good science. My heart cannot fault the scientists out there who discovered phthalates and formaldehyde and parabens and triclosan. I just can’t fault them. Because they probably thought that they found the penicillin of skin care.

Phthalates; why are we using them? They can be found in all kinds of products. They’re great stabilizers. Formaldehyde helps to prevent mold and bacteria. For example, that’s a huge win. Parabens are used in a lot of products right now to really help with texture and all kinds of things.

So why are these of concern? You can find all kinds of information about skincare ingredients all over the place on Fed and Fit. But the good news is; these are everywhere in our products across the shelves in grocery stores, in drug stores. But we don’t’ have to use them anymore, because there has been this boom of green, clean beauty products lately.

And I’m, of course, partial to a few of those brands. Because I don’t trust the testing of all the brands that are out there. There are very few, actually. There’s one in particular that does the testing that I like. A lot of them that use good ingredients from the get-go, and that’s great.

But if you really want to avoid some of these ingredients, you should really do your research and buy from companies that are not using some of these toxic chemicals.

So I could go into all of the reasons to not use or avoid these ingredients, but I won’t trouble you with those now. We will do a skincare episode in the future. But just keep that in mind. Our skincare products can definitely be environmental stressors. Definitely be things that add to our total load.

Next one; number six. Plastic contamination. Again, this probably comes as no surprise, those of us in this vein probably have been thinking about stainless steel containers for our food. We thought about glass because we want to avoid some of those ingredients that can be used to make up plastic. So we’re thinking BPA. Which is added to make clear, hard plastic. We’re thinking phthalates, which is added to make plastic soft and flexible. BPA and phthalates are believed to be endocrine disruptors. There’s’ a good amount of correlation shown in various studies around those. Which mimic human hormones. Which can really throw things off.

We are exposed to BPA when we consume and/or use products that are wrapped in or stored in BPA plastic. And it can leach into the food. But temperature does impact the amount of BPA. So something that I like to think about; I actually use plastic containers in my home. Those little soft plastic ones. Which also have phthalates in them. But I don’t heat up food in them. I will let food cool. If you guys have seen me on Instagram filling up my freezer full of freezer meals, I will make food, let it cool, and then I will spoon individual portions into those little containers. It’s like those Glad plastic containers. They stack really well in my deep freeze. I label them and then I freeze them.

Now, because the molecules are frozen, they move very slowly. So the amount of BPA and phthalates that gets leached into the food is very minimal. So when I go to heat it up, I pop the whole ice cube worth of food out of that container, and I heat it up in something else. Maybe a ceramic dish, or something like that. Or something on the stove. So that’s something to think about.

Number 7; water contamination. So, again. I don’t want to freak anybody out. But there are multiple contaminates that can be found in water. And the list is long, and the list can be pretty scary. So one thing to think about; you can also look up the EWG.org is a wonderful resource if you're looking for what are some good studies out there, and what geographic areas really need to be concerned about water contamination.

But I would say what can we do with this? So what? What can we do about water contamination? Because I don’t want anybody being dehydrated in the name of being afraid of drinking their water. We can just start looking for a filtration system that really filters out specific contaminates. We want to definitely filter out 1 and 4 dioxane. We want to filter out arsenic, chromium 6. We want to filter out nitrate. We definitely want to look to see if we can filter out fertilization properties that are finding their way from agriculture into our water. So on and so forth.

And if you do choose to use a filter, which I highly recommend. Make sure you change it regularly, or there’s no point in using it. Right? Once you’ve used up the expected useful life has been met for a certain filter, it’s not really going to perform the way that we want. So consider the cost of filters and replacements, and know that sometimes the more expensive ones will last longer, and that can really pay off in the long run. So I would say consider a water filtration system for your home. One of the ones that we’re actually considering for our family is the Berkey system.

Alright, next. Number 8. Cleaning products. We’re talking laundry, countertops, windows, dishes, etc. A lot of the cleaning products in our homes can contain; it’s this thing called a volatile organic compound, or VOCs. So these are emitted into the air from products. Some of these can include benzenes, formaldehyde, ammonia, and bleach. They can be linked to respiratory problems, allergic reactions. They can trigger headaches; I’ve definitely had headaches with certain cleaning products.

We have a lady that comes and cleans our house; she’s wonderful. And the first couple of times, I was not able to intercept her soon enough with my own batch of products. I like to use Branch Basics, for example, as safer cleaning products in our home. And I hadn’t given them to her. And I walked into my house after she had finished cleaning one floor. And oh my goodness! Those volatile organic compounds. It just hit me right in the face, and it gave me an immediate headache. I wasn’t used to it. So, be aware of those things.

Aerosol spray products have got them. Air fresheners are something to think about. Chlorine bleach, detergent, carpet cleaners are pretty bad. Floor cleaners can be bad. Polish and oven cleaners can definitely be terrible.

These can have impacts; some of them are known to be carcinogens. And they can also have an impact on reproductive health. And how to choose better ingredients? Again, start Googling. One of my favorite brands is going to be Branch Basics. It’s a really nice, simple system. I use them for countertops, floors, laundry, windows, cleaning my kitchen, cleaning the bathroom. You could really cover most of it with that line.

And I’m actually going to expand on some of those cleaning products in the future. We’ve got some soaps that we use, some dishwashing detergent that we really like that’s a little bit better.

Ok, home finishes can also be an environmental stressor. We’ve got paint; think about latex paint, which is not highly toxic unless in large quantities, but it can emit formaldehyde once it’s drying. Oil-based paint could cause temporary discomfort. Think nausea, headaches, irritated eyes, nose, and throat. But frequent exposure with poor air circulation over time can cause damage to kidneys and liver, and possibly other blood problems.

So what do we do with this information? Open your windows if you're painting your home. Or if you're moving into a freshly painted home. You can probably smell it, just go ahead and open the windows and let your home off-gas as much as possible. Wood stains and finishes can also fall into this. They’ll have higher VOCs; volatile organic compounds.

So, how to choose home finishes? Actually the EWG, Environmental Working Group again, it’s a nonprofit organization that will test and rate and link to really wonderful studies actually has a home guide. So I definitely recommend going and checking that out.

Ok, and the last one we’re going to talk about today of environmental stressors; we’re going to talk about toxic relationships. I bet you didn’t see this one coming; or maybe you did and you're just so smart.

So, toxic relationships. We’re going to give it a definition. A toxic relationship is any relationship that is unfavorable to you or others. These can create an unhealthy internal evening, which can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and possible medical issues. It’s so interesting. A long-term study that followed more than 10,000 subjects for an average of 12.2 years; that’s a long time. Research discovered that subjects in negative relationships were at greater risk for developing heart problems. Including potentially fatal cardiac events. And then counterparts whose close relationships were not negative.

This is real. This is really real. So I would think of a toxic relationship as one that maybe you're feeling a little bit drained. Maybe continuously take more than you receive from the relationship; whoever is in this relationship. I’m sure you can think of one person that is probably a toxic relationship for now. And it doesn’t mean that you need to delete them from your phone and never speak to them again. But it may mean that you need to work on your relationship. Put a little elbow grease into finding a way to improve it.

Maybe you're constantly feeling drained from that. Maybe after spending time with the person, you feel worse about yourself or your status or your relationship. That’s never good. Is the person you're spending time with constantly unhappy? Are they down, sad, and can make you feel like you're responsible for their happiness? That’s also definitely a sign that you're in a toxic relationship. Is there a manipulation or a deception that may be involved with the other party?

And keep in mind, people who are toxic are often not aware of their toxicity or negativity in relationships. It’s probably not intentional. So what do we do with this? I’m a huge fan of therapy. I think if there’s a situation that comes to mind for you, and it’s a relationship that you don’t want to live without. And that’s ok. Let’s say if you're thinking; I happen to have a great relationship. I’m very lucky with my mom and dad. But if I had some self-awareness about maybe my relationship with my mom is toxic for whatever reason. That’s not a relationship that I would want to give up on by any means. So what I would do is I would probably ask her to go sit down with me with a therapist. Or I would start going to see a therapist. Or I would do something actionable to help make that relationship healthier.

Now, if it’s a relationship on the fringe, I’ve also had these in my life that I’ve had friendships that I left always feeling crummy about myself. Or every time I interacted with them, they made me feel bad about a decision that I made. Or bad about something that I was doing. It was so weird. That person would always find something to pick on. I’m thinking of one person in particular. Something to pick on, whether it was my nail color, or how I talked about my baby in my belly. And it was just always really interesting to me.

I’m very much a loyal person, so it was really hard for me to eventually gradually cut ties, but it was for the better. And I feel lighter than ever. And I didn’t realize I was being a little dragged down because of this one relationship that I was ok letting go. We had just grown apart from each other. So I would say throw some self-awareness around that.

Hopefully today’s episode was helpful. And hopefully nobody is panicking. Remember, the important thing is not to panic. You guys; life is just about, I hate to use this. It’s so cliché, and so tacky in some lights. But it really is about balance. Just being aware I think is very important. Being aware of the pesticides we’re using in our yard. Being aware of why we need to buy organic foods. It’s not because it’s going to cure-all, but it’s because we’re trying to reduce our total load.

Being aware of the toxic relationships. Being aware of not starting our car in the garage. Being aware of getting some fresh air. Being aware of maybe why we might consider using a safer floor cleaner; one that doesn’t emit as many smelling compounds as the one we’re using right now. It will go a really long, long way.

And also, I think the EMF conversation is an interesting one. There is a whole lot of panic out there, and not a whole lot of research to back it up. Some very light studies starting to pop up, but nothing necessarily I would say to rise panic. Like I said, the important thing is not to panic. So proceed in a way that you think makes the most sense for your life. Knowledge is power. You go and you do what makes sense for you and your family. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. If you feel good about it, and you don’t feel stressed, that’s what’s important.

Thank you so much for tuning in for today’s show. We have the full transcript over at www.FedandFit.com. As always, we’ll be back again next week.


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  1. Bethany Parvin says:

    I love this episode. I also tried to use the discount code but I cannot get it to work.