Chemical stresses can be grouped into categories.  There are environmental chemical stressors, nutritional chemical stressors and what I will call elective chemical stressors.

Environmental stressors can include the countless thousands of synthesized and unnatural chemical compounds that have been introduced by the chemical, pharmaceutical, “food” and agricultural industries.  And while these advancements have been helpful in many ways, this proliferation of synthetic chemicals has led to a heavy chemical burden on our environment and on all life. 

Biodegradable chemical compounds can be broken down physically or enzymatically into less-toxic, smaller parts.  But some chemicals do not break down as efficiently and instead build up and pollute the world we live in.  The same thing occurs in the body.  Some chemicals are handled easily and are passed out of the body. But for others, the body doesn’t really have the mechanisms to get rid of them, and so they accumulate in the body. 

These accumulations of chemicals can then wreak havoc in the body on a cellular and genetic level.  As a result, incidents of cancer are rising compared to the other diseases that ultimately do us in.  Since the threat is so pervasive, it is difficult, if not impossible, to fully avoid these chemical exposures.  This is why we need our bodies to be in top condition in order to protect us, as best as they can, from the ravages of this form of stress.

Now, we can do something to mitigate our nutritional and elective chemical exposures. Nutritional stress comes from those things that we ingest in our diet that are unnatural, and as such, the body has a more difficult time handling them, leading to stress.  Go into any grocery store and most of what is in there is processed, “dead” food.  These foods have been cooked, chemically altered and have had additives included to increase shelf life.  With all of that processing, even fungi and bacteria, which normally break down food, know not to eat it.  And yet we do. 

So instead, let’s look at the perimeter of the store.  We’ve got produce, meat, dairy, nuts and seeds and breads.  Produce is treated with fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, radiation, shellacs, waxes, and some has even been genetically modified (so-called Frankenfoods).  Meat has been given hormones, antibiotics, unnatural living conditions, pesticide-treated and in some cases genetically modified feeds, feed lot foods and radiation.  Dairy comes from cows treated with antibiotics, hormones and the other treatments listed above, but then the milk is cooked, which destroys the healthful enzymes normally found in milk, making it harder for us to digest. Nuts and seeds are heavily treated with fungicides and are often genetically modified.  And then there are the grains and flours, which are wonderful foods for those who can tolerate them.  These foods contain a healthy complement of oils.  The only problem is that these oils oxidize easily and become rancid quickly.  So much for shelf life.   So, the food industry solution is to cook and process the heck out of the grain and then add the “nutrition” back in. 

I try to eat as much organic foods as I can get my hands on—fresh and local from a reputable source.  We have the advantage of being neighbors to Amish farmers, who in many cases have remained true to traditional agricultural practices.  There are also a good number of organic farms where you can buy a share and reap the benefits of the harvest.  These also provide a network of resources for obtaining wholesome foods.  It may be a bit more costly.  You are paying for what you don’t get in processed foods!

The elective exposures include the chemicals that we put into our air as “air fresheners”, clean our house with, put in the laundry, spray in our arm pits, our scents, make-up, hair products, nail polishes, shampoos, our dry cleaning, hormones and other medications, smoking, alcohol use etc.  If you are going to partake in these things, be informed about the risks associated with each, and make your choices.  There is a rather large market for more natural products that will work just as well, if not better, and are better for your health.  And there are some things that you ought to quit all together.  Choose well!