Thursday, January 12, 2012

Relax! Stress Could Increase Toxic Risks

Here at ESP we are dedicated to keeping you informed on any new chemical research that can help you make educated decisions when purchasing non-toxic products!  So, the most obvious means helping you avoid exposure to chemicals like BPA and PFCs in your food and drink is to purchase non-toxic products like stainless steel cookware, food safe containers, BPA free water bottles, and more kitchen and on-the-go type products.  But because of obvious environmental repercussions and a lifetime of inevitable exposure to some chemicals, we all have traces of toxins in our body.  Yes, it’s a harsh reality but not one that can’t be managed! So now, in addition to being more conscious about what we put into our bodies, we can also be conscious about what’s already in our system.

The answer to helping minimize the effects of toxins in our body is to simply RELAX. 

It is already widely known that stress has the potential to weaken our immune systems, thereby making us sick.  However, as Jane E. Clougherty of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Environmental and Occupational Health explains, “…stress is a nonspecific constellation of physiological effects.”  In other words, stress has the capacity to affect our health in a variety of different and unrelated ways…so stress may facilitate the potentially negative effects of chemicals in our bodies.  Recent research has found that stress can influence the way environmental pollutants and chemicals act in our bodies.  Clougherty and colleagues published research in June of 2010 showing that laboratory rats exposed to pollutants experienced greater respiratory effects when consequently exposed to stress as compared to rats not exposed to pollutants.  The stress made a difference.

While stress can negatively impact us all, children and pregnant women are most vulnerable.  As Dr. Rosalind J. Wright of Harvard Medical Schools explains, “both epidemiological and animal studies show that stress may impact key regulatory systems in the body, throwing them out of balance.  This can happen at any period in life, but if it occurs in a critical stage of development when rapid changes are already taking place—like pregnancy or adolescence—it might have particularly measurable as well as lasting effects.” 

The issue of stress is still largely unexplored in pregnant women and children’s health research.  In January of 2011 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the field a shot in the arm, so to speak, by awarding seven Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grants to scientists studying the interactions between stress and environmental exposures.  The grants totaled $7 million.

While we wait for the researchers to report back, we can start practicing smarter ways to deal with our stress.  Here are some of my favorite methods:

1.      Exercise – run around and burn off some steam!
2.      Breathe deep – it will give your body and mind time to relax
3.      Smile – you might feel silly, but I guarantee you will also feel happy J
4.      Take a walk – sometimes the best way to deal with a stressful situation is to take a break from it
5.      Cut back on the java – caffeine affects our quality of sleep, which in turn will lead to more stress

Good luck staying stress and chemical free!  And let us know if you have any good relaxation inducing tips!

~ Jessica

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