Health

Disclaimer: The information on this page represents my personal opinions, educational background, experiences, and information I have gathered from a variety of sources, including the internet. I am not offering any medical advice.

Water for Health

Waterfall near Lake Tahoe.

Thousands of municipal water systems throughout the United States are using heavy amounts of chlorine in the water because of concern about contamination. Chlorine in drinking water has been linked by research to several types of cancer. Many people also are concerned about the effects of chlorinated water being absorbed through the skin and lungs when used for hygiene and swimming.

In addition to removing chlorine, some water filters are certified to remove other potential health hazards such as: lead, mercury, PCB, MTBE, asbestos, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.

Concerns about Genetically Modified Crops

Cropdusting plane flying over a soy field.
Cropdusting plane flying over a soy field.

Various plants have been genetically modified for centuries through selective breeding and hybridization. The current concern about genetically modified organisms (GMO) primarily has to do with implanting genes from one organism into another unrelated one. The main outcomes are to make the plants more resistant to disease, make them less susceptible to the spraying of pesticides on them, or to actually have the plants themselves produce pesticides.

There have been no long-term studies on the health risks to humans from eating GMO food. There have been inconsistent  studies showing everything from very serious effects on animals that have consumed GMO crops to no significant effects. Farmers have been discovering that many pests are becoming resistant to the pesticides they spray, so the farmers have to use increasing amounts of pesticides. Most corn and soy sold in the United States is genetically modified, unless it is organic.

Farmers in large numbers in other countries, such as Sri Lanka, India, Panama, and Costa Rica, have been getting a form of kidney disease of “unknown etiology”. The appearance of this specific disease has been only since the introduction of GMO crops and the increased used of pesticides in the 1990s. This form of kidney disease has been linked to glyphosate.

A Non-GMO Shopping Guide is available for free to help you make food choices.

Organic

USDA seal for organic food.

An increasing number of people are preferring to buy or grow organic food that is supposed to be more nutritious and free from, or lower in, pesticides. The debate continues as to whether or not organic food is more nutritious. The Environmental Working Group has compiled lists of The Dirty Dozen Plus™ and The Clean Fifteen™ that show the worst and best non-organic fruits and vegetables for pesticide residue.

If you are interested in buying organic food, you might want to search for and support farmers’ markets in your area.

Gluten Free

Wild-growing buckwheat.

I am on a mostly gluten-free diet. I have lost excess weight and have fewer digestive problems. Sometimes when I do eat a wheat product now, I get a headache. I also have problems with corn. I do best with rice, quinoa, oats, and buckwheat.

I have found that I am able to eat a “true” sourdough bread without any digestive problems or headache. Apparently the longer fermenting time and no added yeast in making this type of bread breaks down the gluten, thereby greatly reducing or eliminating any allergic reaction. There has been research showing that a “true” sourdough bread safely can be eaten by many people with celiac disease.

Fermented Food

Sauerkraut.

Human consumption of intentionally fermented foods may have started as much as 10,000 years ago. Many cultures recognize that there are health benefits from fermented food and drinks. The benefits of fermented vegetables are summarized by Dr. Joseph Mercola. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride includes fermented foods in a diet for digestive and brain health to benefit individuals with autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia. An article published in 2014 in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology documents research on the benefits of fermented foods for mental health.