(Note: This article appeared on the website Cleveland.com on January 7, 2016. After predictable political pressure, it was removed a day later.)
LYNDHURST, Ohio–I am tired of all the nonsense we as American citizens are being fed while big business – and the government – continue to ignore the health and well-being of the fine people in this country. Why am I all fired up, you ask?
I, like everyone else, took the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – the government – and received a flu shot. I chose to receive the preservative free vaccine, thinking I did not want any thimerasol (i.e. mercury) that the “regular” flu vaccine contains.
Makes sense, right? Why would any of us want to be injected with mercury if it can potentially cause harm? However, what I did not realize is that the preservative-free vaccine contains formaldehyde.
WHAT? How can you call it preservative-free, yet still put a preservative in it? And worse yet, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. Yet, here we are, being lined up like cattle and injected with an unsafe product. Within 12 hours of receiving the vaccine, I was in bed feeling miserable and missed two days of work with a terrible cough and body aches.
My anger actually stems from a constant toxic burden that is contributing to the chronic disease epidemic. And yet the government continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth. We want our citizens to be healthy and take full advantage of the best healthcare system in the world (so we think), yet we don’t treat our bodies with the love and attention they deserve.
If we don’t look out…we can expect to hear about more cancers, more autism, more auto-immune diseases.”
New year, new resolve
Our air, water, and food supplies are completely compromised and so it is time for us to take matters into our own hands. This year, I am committing to providing you with the educational resources to make you the best YOU. It may get confusing and frustrating at times, but stressing out over this won’t help. Take three deep belly breaths and let’s get started.
We live in a toxic soup. There are over 80,000 chemicals used in various industries country-wide. There are over 2,000 new chemicals being introduced annually. We breathe in these chemicals through exhaust, eat them in our processed foods ( just look at the labels that have 20 or 30 ingredients and good luck pronouncing their names), textiles (clothing, bedding, furniture), and personal care products, including make-up, deodorant, shampoos, and soaps.
Toxins accumulate in our fat cells if they are not eliminated and interrupt normal bodily functions. Your body should be a finely tuned machine with all of the organ systems working in concert together. But when toxins disrupt normal function, problems can occur. Those problems include cancers, auto-immune diseases, neurologic problems like autism, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease, and the most prevalent chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Why are we so sick in 2017 despite the best access to healthcare? The body has wonderful built-in systems to help us detoxify. The liver and kidneys try to do an exceptional job keeping up with filtering out the “stuff” (toxins included) we don’t need. Our skin – the largest organ in the body – will release toxins in the form of perspiration. Our breath will release toxins with each exhalation. When our gut is healthy and our microbiome (100 trillion organisms that live in our intestinal tract, within our airway, and on our skin) intact, our bowel movements help rid unwanted toxins.
I like to think of our detoxification system as a big bucket. As long as the toxic soup stays within the bucket, our body can naturally eliminate what we don’t need and help us live at the highest quality of life. But what happens when the bucket starts to overflow – which is exactly what many of us have been facing our entire lives? The body may not have the capacity to eliminate our current exposures and THAT IS WHEN BAD THINGS START TO OCCUR.
Link to autism?
We must wake up and really, truly realize that we are the masters of our domain. If we don’t look out for ourselves and each other, we can expect to hear about more cancers, more autism, and more auto-immune diseases. As a doctor, I should be thinking – great, this is perfect for business. I am a primary care doctor with a three month wait to get in. That is unacceptable. So YOU have to help yourself if you want me to help you.
Slight detour. Why do I mention autism now twice in this article. Because we have to wake up out of our trance and stop following bad advice. Does the vaccine burden – as has been debated for years – cause autism? I don’t know and will not debate that here. What I will stand up and scream is that newborns without intact immune systems and detoxification systems are being over-burdened with PRESERVATIVES AND ADJUVANTS IN THE VACCINES.
The adjuvants, like aluminum – used to stimulate the immune system to create antibodies – can be incredibly harmful to the developing nervous system. Some of the vaccines have helped reduce the incidence of childhood communicable diseases, like meningitis and pneumonia. That is great news. But not at the expense of neurologic diseases like autism and ADHD increasing at alarming rates.
When I was in medical school in the late 1980s, the rate of autism was 1 in 1,000 children. For those born in the 1950’s and 60’s, do you recall a single student in your grade with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for ADHD or someone with a diagnosis of autism? I do not.
As of 2010, the rate of autism in the U.S. escalated to 1 in 68 children. The deniers will simply state that we do a better job of diagnosing this “disorder”. Really? Something (s) are over-burdening our ability to detoxify, and that is when the problems begin.
So let me be clear – vaccines can be helpful when used properly. But the vaccination timing and understanding one’s epigenetics (how your genes interact with the environment) are all critical to our risk of developing chronic disease. Please talk to your doctor about the optimal timing of vaccinations for your children, and therefore reduce your risk of raising a child with a neurologic complication.
For those who want to dive in further, help me understand why we vaccinate newborns for hepatitis B – a sexually transmitted disease. Any exposure to this virus is unlikely to happen before our second decade of life, but we expose our precious newborns to toxic aluminum (an adjuvant in the vaccine) at one day of life.
And when they actually need the protection, many who have received this three-shot series in the first year of life will lack antibody protection–as immunity may not last. Perhaps delaying the series until the immune system is more mature would reduce the risk of neurologic complications.
To help your family, start with yourself
My goal is to help you think about your total body burden related to toxic exposures. The more mindful you are at reading labels, thinking about what you are ingesting, and how you manage your stress will go a long way toward living a life free from chronic disease. Never assume that products are safe just because they are on a store shelf.
Together we will learn what to stay away from and what to consume. Become a voice for yourself and your family. Blind faith must become a thing of the past. And by educating your loved ones, you will actually help society reduce the chronic disease burden.
In a 2015 article in U.S. News and World Report, Jessica Hutchins, M.D., IFM certified practitioner, states, “Information on eating toxin-free food and pushing food manufacturers to stop using harmful ingredients can be found at foodbabe.com. When we vote with our dollars by choosing to buy products that are sustainably produced and chemical-free, we actively shape the market place. Help change the way [loved ones] nourish their precious bodies, starting with yourself as an example.”
I cannot think of a better way to start off the New Year (Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2017!). Together we will uncover the exposures that can make us sick and discover ways to assist our bodies to optimally detoxify. This is how we will truly achieve the highest quality of life. Until next time, really open your eyes, and be well.
Dr. Daniel Neides is the Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.