Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Don't Drink the Water!

For the second time in recent history, a nasty chemical was released into the water supply in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. After the spill residents of both Scottsdale and Paradise Valley were advised not to drink the water until further notice. The ban was lifted on January 19th, under the advice of the Department of Environmental Quality and the Maricopa County Health Department.

The chemical that was released is known as trichloroethylene, or TCE. Fortunately, short term exposure does not often cause problems, however chronic exposure may result in a variety of symptoms including dizziness, shakiness, insomnia, fatigue, and headache. TCE also sensitizes the heart to the action of the adrenal hormone epinephrine, which can lead to arrhythmias. For more info about TCE follow this link

TCE is readily absorbed via inhalation or ingestion, and to a lesser extent, through the skin. This implies that both drinking the water or showering in it and then inhaling the steam are possible routes of absorption. Repeated ingestion via any route can be sufficient to cause symptoms. TCE can cross the placenta and has been detected in breast milk.

Young children may be at a higher risk than adults exposed to the same amount of TCE. This is because children have greater lung surface area to body weight ratios than adults do.

Treatment for acute exposure includes using activated charcoal. Taking 2-3 capsules immediately upon exposure, and then 2-3 capsules again before each meal for 2-3 days is the treatment of choice. If you believe that you have been exposed to TCE, blood and/or urine testing can help determine the extent of the exposure.

Trichloroethylene is not the only chemical to have tainted the water in our city. Phoenix also has the distinction of being one of the cities with higher-than-normal levels of another chemical known as perchlorate. Perchlorate is a derivative of rocket fuel. Apparently, Phoenix's increased levels of perchlorate in the water is the result of several weapons/rocket manufacturers being located in the city as well as along the Colorado River. for more about Arizona's problem with perchlorate click here

I feel strongly that people should avoid drinking city water. The city has said over and over that the water here is within the acceptable limits for contaminants. Well, I really don't want ANY contaminants in my drinking water. Therefore, I drink and cook with bottled water even though I don't live in either Paradise Valley or Scottsdale. If you're going to drink bottled water, try to use a big manufacturer instead of some little unknown company. This is because even bottled water isn't perfect, check out this link for more detail If possible, use class containers instead of plastic. Glass is easy to clean and/or sterilize, and is much less likely to leach chemicals into your water.

Using a reverse osmosis system on your house seems to be the best way to help make sure that there is nothing funky in your drinking water. The only drawback to these systems is that you have to remember to change the filters regularly. I've heard that good systems can be purchased fairly inexpensively at places like Sam's Club or Costco.

If you feel that you may have been exposed, or if you live in the affected areas and have been experiencing abnormal symptoms, it may be worth your time to have your TCE levels checked.

On a happier note, Naturopathic Family Care will be having our spring open house on Thursday, March 13th. Our last open house was a huge success, and we're hoping that this time will be even better. All of our doctors will be present to meet people and explain their therapies. We'll also have healthy snacks and several door prizes. Open house details will be posted to our website shortly.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One More Reason to Eat Your Veggies!

In 2007 a study called the European Prospective Investigation in Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Population Study reported some very interesting results. The study, which was based on information gathered from more than 22,000 men and women, was used to make conclusions about the impact that diet had on health. Many different research papers have been published since the data began to be analyzed, but one of my favorites was published in the British Journal of Nutrition. This analysis was performed to measure the effect of fruits and vegetables on health. It was found that men and women who increased their dietary fruit and vegetable intake by two portions per day had an 11% increase in functional health. An 11% increase in overall health might not sound much like much, but in reality it’s huge. If you felt sick 10% of the time that would equate to 36 days a year! A whole month! If you could get that month back simply by eating more vegetables wouldn’t you be willing to give it a a try?
If you want to find out how many daily fruit and vegetable servings are optimal for your age and level of activity check out this link:

Fruits and Veggies Matter

I personally think that the more fresh veggies and fruit you can get in the better, and having something at every meal should be a standard of the American diet. It’s pretty easy to incorporate these foods into your diet. Try blueberries, raspberries, bananas, or flax seed on your cereal in the morning- preferably not Fruity Pebbles or Captain Crunch.....

For lunch try a salad or slice up an avocado for your turkey sandwich. Carrot sticks, celery, dried fruits, or mixed nuts make a great finger-food to snack on throughout the day.

It’s easy to add a veggie to dinner just pick something you like and go with it. It is a good idea to try steaming or lightly sautéing your veggies instead of drowning them in butter or, worse yet, nuking them in the microwave. Try seasoning with something like Herbamare, a natural seasoning with no bad additives like MSG.
Another good tip it to try and eat lots of different colored fruits and vegetables, as the colors are often the made by different components such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and bioflavinoids.

If you find that you have a difficult time adding enough fruits and vegetables to your diet you might consider a “green drink.” Some people are unnecessarily put off just by the mention of a green drink. Yes, they may look a little funky, but I assure you that they taste much better than they look. My personal fav is Greens First. I like this product because it tastes great and it is sweetened with stevia. The next time you're in the office, ask your doctor for a free sample.

Should you buy organic? Good question. There are certainly some products which you should try to only eat if they are organic. A good up-to-date list of what to buy organic can be found at the Environmental Working Group’s website, make sure you scroll down the page to see the list. Another good site is Consumers Union Org. On their website there is great information regarding the safety of our foods, including antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and genetically modified foods (GMO’s).

Also, don’t forget to support your local farmer’s market. There are several in the Phoenix area and they are generally a great place to buy fresh organic produce inexpensively. Not to mention that it’s kind of fun to go to the market and actually meet the people who are growing your food.

Lastly, here’s a tip on washing your produce: there’s no need to buy expensive vegetable wash. When you get home from the store simply fill up your sink with water, add one cup of hydrogen peroxide, then add your produce. Let it sit for 15 minutes then rinse and they’re ready to use. The hydrogen peroxide helps to remove any polishes, bugs, and pesticides. Best of all hydrogen peroxide costs about a buck at the dollar store. I wish I could take credit for this trick but I can’t. Jethro Kloss came up with this in his Back to Eden cookbook.

bon appetit,
Jake Psenka, ND