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chemicals chemicals everywhere

So I got off the health kick wagon last night because we were at my old manager's sendoff party. And I had beer, and fried chicken and fried mozz sticks and ranch sauce. And then my allergies were particularly bad last night.

So I like to go to bookstores, and just pick up several books, and read them. Sometimes after skimming the first chapter I drop it. But one of the books I picked up last night, I managed to skim/read the whole thing at bookpeople. It's called: The Autoimmune epidemic. And it was pretty scary. Basically (and i didn't really know this), autoimmune means when your own immune system goes haywire and attacks your own body cells. This could be thyroid related, they attack your thyroid, or the myelin sheath in your nerve cells, which causes really bad things. MS and Lupus, and chronic fatigue, Type 1 diabetes, allergies are supposedly all in this category.

The book said that, iirc, 1 in 12 men, and 1 in 8 women will get an autoimmune disease, and that more people have it then cancer or heart disease. Hospitals and doctors see more and more patients in this category.

She talked about clusters, how people get MS or lupus in clusters geographically. And yet some people say they don't really know what causes these diseases still.

There was the "too clean" theory on allergies, the reason we have allergies is because we grew up in a too clean environment. But that doesn't explain babies and little kids who are already allergenic and have asthma.

So there was the "barrel theory", where you have this barrel where all the strange chemicals you eat, the estrogenic mimicking chemicals, pesticides, mercury, all go into this barrel. And as long as it doesn't overflow, you're fine. But the moment it flows over, then your immune system just cannot handle the onslaught, and it starts doing strange things, like attacking your own cells.

I remember hearing this barrel theory for Austin allergies. Most people are fine the first few years they move here, and then they can't handle cedar and oak anymore. The immune system gets over-active and over-enthusiastic. She explains that when you eat chemicals (which is in almost all processed food), the immune system has to decide what do with each of these chemicals. But sometimes some of these chemicals/foreign bacteria/fungus/etc are similar to some of your body cells, and the immune system gets confused, and attack your own body.

Apparently, the cord blood to fetuses now tests for so many chemicals, that your babies are born already carrying these chemicals in your bloodstream. American women breast milk carry 10 to 100 times higher toxins then European women.

Man, I've always been really into organic stuff, but this definitely pushes me further into that camp. I don't think a healthy immune system should react to tree pollen, or have food allergies.

I had my gross vegetable juice today. Throwing away my teflon pan.


Feb. 12th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
There seems to be some environmental component to autoimmune diseases but there is also definitely a genetic component. Having one autoimmune disease makes it *much* more likely that you will have a second, and having a family member who has an autoimmune disease makes you much more likely to have that same autoimmune disease and somewhat more likely any autoimmune disease.

(I am a case in point of this--I have two autoimmune disorders, hashimotos thyroiditis and also eczema. My mother has had different thyroid issues and my grandmother, her mother, had hashi's).

But the rates have definitely gone up in recent years. The amount of chemicals (unnatural ones, that is, since chemicals are all around us in nature) that we expose ourselves to has gone way up and I suspect there is a connection we just haven't figure out exactly what yet (Fluoride, for example, seems to be linked to thyroid disorders although there is no solid proof yet).

It could also be diet related. As a culture our diet has shifted radically in the past century and while almost all indigenous diets seem to be quite healthy (meat and fat heavy eskimo diets, fatty mediterranean diets, fish and rice and vegetable based japanese diets, etc.), the one that has proven most disasterous to humans is the Western diet which has grown in popularity as our rates for all kinds of diseases, including autoimmune, has skyrocketed.

Get a diamond non-stick pan. Even if it means a dreaded kitchen registry. Best damn thing we ever got.
Feb. 12th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah the book mentioned that once you have an autoimmune disease, it makes it more likely to get another one.

She also said that people are genetically prone to it, but sometimes you don't have to be genetically prone to it, if say, you live right next to a toxic waste site.

It's a pretty good book, she covered stuff really well.