Yesterday I had the good fortune of having lunch in a park, capturing the moment of the warm sun, fresh air and blue sky. During my lunch of casual people-watching I couldn’t help but notice the general poor health of the many people who walked past me. I noticed that only a small minority of people, about 1 in 10, looked fit and healthy.
Now please know that I am not about to start condemning unhealthy people. On the contrary, I write this to simply ask questions about our society, the manufacturers, and the prevalence of not-so-healthy products that are available to you and I the consumer.
I question what has made the difference from our current generation to the generation of the 50’s and 60’s. Today, chronic disease and obesity is not only common but actually dominates our society however only 50 years ago these conditions were very rare.
My parents grew up during the 50’s and 60’s and they talk about these times. They ate apple pie and cream, meat pies, sandwiches, scones and cream, bread and dripping, most of which are foods that are known today as totally unhealthy. Despite eating these foods back in the 50’s and 60’s my parents were healthy and looked incredibly trim might I add. They also noted that back then the chronic disease and obesity was pretty much non-existent. Interestingly in the 50’s and 60’s there were very few gyms not like today where most suburbs in capital cities will have multiple gym options. (Today, from my house there are 12 gyms that I know of within 5km radius). Sure back then people were active, but not like today. I see the people in the gyms, sweating daily, working hard to be healthy and keep off the pounds – I’m one of them.
So what is the difference? Today there is certainly more pressure to do more, be more and have more. That stress can take its toll. However the 50’s and 60’s was not a stress free life – people back then also had stress and issues. Perhaps today it’s the fact that we work longer hours and don’t have as much time for exercise. Sure but as mentioned back then of course people played sport but I am suspect to think that they spent the same number of hours working out as we do today.
There may be other factors however one huge change that has occurred in our society over recent decades is the amount of chemicals we are now exposed to. Chemicals are now found in almost every manufactured item barring organic items. And I’m not just talking about food. There are chemicals in our clothing i.e. formaldehyde, chemicals in our water, the fabric of the chair you are sitting on has chemicals as does the plastic containers we use to store away food items. The list is endless and continues into the air we breathe and the products we put on our skin.
It is a known fact that many chemicals that have entered the human body and are not water soluble move into fat deposits of the body.  A cooperative group in the US between the Institute for Environmental Toxicology and five Universities (i.e. Cornell, Oregon State, Idaho, California, and Michigan State University) wrote a paper discussing this topic which is known as bioaccumulation. The report states that;
‘Some chemicals are attracted to certain sites in the body, and by binding to proteins or dissolving in fats, they are temporarily stored… The storage of toxic chemicals in fat reserves serves to detoxify the chemical, or at least removes it from harms way. 
So in fact the ill-health of today’s generation can be attributed to the exponential use of synthetic chemicals in consumer products over the recent few decades and our bodies quest to minimise the harm of having those chemicals in our bodies. In fact it is less commonly due to excessive laziness or gluttony.
The report continues with a very interesting comment.
‘However, when fat reserves are called upon to provide energy for an organism the materials stored in the fat may be remobilized within the organism and may again be potentially toxic. If appreciable amounts of a toxin are stored in fat and fat reserves are quickly used, significant toxic effects may be seen from the remobilization of the chemical. 
How remarkable is our body. So then perhaps in our body’s quest to keep us safe, despite regular exercise, could it be trying to hold on to fat to prevent the movement of unsafe toxins around the body? Interesting question. So then does this mean we just don’t exercise so the toxins are not mobilised in our body? No, exercise is important for many reasons. But perhaps we need to look at ways to reduce the amount of toxins actually coming into our body with the aim to minimise or cease the bioaccumulation and toxic build up in our bodies.
So moving forward what can we do to decrease the amount of chemicals in our body and assist our bodies from accumulating even more toxins. A few things include;
• Food: Eat less processed foods since the majority of these ingredients are chemicals. Eat more one-ingredient-foods i.e. fruit, vege, nuts, seeds, meat (as unrefined as possible and as similar to their natural state. Eating predominantly organic food.
• Water: drink filtered water and store in glass not plastic
• Personal care products: Use organic or those that minimise the use of synthetic chemicals
• Storage of food: use glass or porcelain instead of plastic
• Cleaning: choose cleaning products at home that are not toxic for skin and lungs. Use rubber gloves when washing up.
• Clothes & linen: After purchasing new clothes/linen wash them a few times before using. (Formaldehyde is used on cloth and this is highly toxic)
These are just a few of many ideas that can be used to minimise chemicals which will absorb into your body affecting your overall health. My aim is to live a long and healthy life by choosing the best and healthiest options possible. To do this I need to continue to learn and be informed as you are doing today.
So how about you? What things do you do to minimise your exposure to chemicals and reduce your risk of potential illness? Would love to know…