Chemical Consumerism

Rachel Carson wrote a book in the 1960’s called ‘Silent Spring’, describing how the use of pesticides in our food production was not only destroying wild bird populations but was also a root cause for a whole host of human malaise, including cancer. Today we are told that our diet should contain at least five sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables without any reference to the quality of this food or its authenticity. But really this is not enough to promote health and research shows why.

Consuming poisons in our food is commonplace. Our present food choices contain discreet poisons, toxins and many health-damaging options. These are often the very foods that ‘look the nicest’. Much of our food is subject to mass-production techniques that fill it with dangerous chemicals.

  • farming techniques where animals are treated like units on a production line and routinely prescribed antibiotics such as Tylosin, Enroflaxin and Nicarbazin
  • proven toxins and carcinogens such as Acrylamide, Iprodione, Aldicarb, organophosphates and organochlorines reaching even into the most common foodstuffs like coffee, chips and crisps, cakes and biscuits, farmed carrots and potatoes
  • biological enhancement of crops, regular fungicide spraying, growth hormones in milk and meat, mercury in our mouths, colorants and carcinogens in food are commonplace – recent study in the US found 66 different carcinogens just in childrens’ food, the ‘average’ new born baby in the West has two hundred industrial chemicals in its umbilical cord the day it is born
  • brain-stopping hydrogenated oils, coronary-inducing fats, nutritionally valueless but ‘pretty’ meals encased in toxic plastic

But consuming chemicals unwittingly, very often ones the body cannot process, is just one aspect of how the multinational chemical companies, or ‘big pharma’, steal our health to promote their own toxic ‘cures’, engendering a whole range of modern diseases based on low immunity thresholds.

Added to this wholescale attack on our immunity through industrial chemicals, there has been a decline of between 25% to 75% in the levels of key mineral nutrients in farmed vegetables over the last 60 years. Much research shows that a lack of key minerals in food leads to human diseases.

Modern industrial farming practices destroy the symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi found surrounding the roots of organic and wild plants. This soil dweller helps to increase the nutrient absorbing area of the organic plant’s root system by secreting enzymes that break down organic matter and help the plant absorb more nutrients. Mycorrhizal fungi are wiped out by soluble phosphates in particular, a prime ingredient of many chemical fertilisers and this prevents the absorption of minor nutrients and minerals into the plant and hence into our diet.

As if this two-pronged attack of discreet poisons and mineral depletion isn’t enough in today’s toxic world, recent research shows that there is another aspect to farmed food that may be at the root of the widespread increase in cancer in the Western World. Many ‘natural’ foods contain chemicals that protect us from attack.

In cancer, a cell, or group of cells, loses touch with where it is in the scheme of things, its ‘synergy’, and starts replicating for itself. The word synergy comes from the Greek ‘sunergos’, meaning ‘working together’. Synergy is the interaction of two or more agents, that produces a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects, in this case – us. All the cells in a healthy body, work together to give us life. They exist as unique individual cells in their own right but also have a higher function, contributing to the life form of which they are part. Every one of the two thousand billion cells in our bodies has as many working parts as a passenger airliner so it is quite usual for some of these cells to suffer damage. A healthy body is equipped to deal with them.

We all have the potential for cancer. Even a healthy body carries about 10,000 malignant cells and a fully functioning immune system will remove them. But what do cells get that change them, click them out of the whole ‘synergistic’ system of our body to become selfish and self-replicating?

Some doctors refer to this simply as ‘insult’. What happens when you insult a cell so often it gets upset? Just like you or I might do – it gives up on the host and sets out for itself. Our consumer chemical culture is presently rich in ways for us to insult our cells and stress them without us even realising.

The cancer growth begins when a malignant cell remains in the body and its oncogenes, (controlling cell growth and multiplication) in a cell or group of cells are transformed by carcinogens. Cell insult often starts with ‘free radicals’, which are unstable atoms or molecules produced by the body as part of its natural defence against disease. Free radicals contain a negative charge that makes them highly reactive. As soon as they are produced they start looking for other molecules with positively charged particles. The reaction they have on meeting is called oxidisation, and this reaction can have a harmful effect, damaging the D.N.A. inside cells or cell membranes and opening the door for cancer growth if the body does not eject them. In cancer, the oncogene switch can’t ‘turn off’ and the cells replicate out of synergy.

This ‘switching mechanism’ is at the heart of much modern cancer research. Our bodies’ cells contain an enzyme called CYP 1B1 that is inactive until it is triggered to protect the cell from cancer. Often this trigger fails to operate, allowing the cell to replicate ‘for itself’ and form a cancerous growth.

Research by Gerry Potter, head of the School of Pharmacy at De Montford University in Leicester and Danny Burke at Aberdeen University School of Medicine have developed a drug, presently undergoing clinical trials, that triggers the enzyme to protect the cells from mutation.

Their research led them to look at nature and they found natural phytoestrogens in grapes and red wine that seemed to trigger the enzyme, named resveratrols. Further research led them to find fifty compounds with a similar action in ripe fruits and vegetables, which they called ‘salvestrols’.

When a fruit or vegetable is ripening it is prone to attack by a whole range of fungi and rotting agents. Healthy plants have evolved a defense to this attack by generating salvestrols to fight off the fungal attack. When we eat these plants we also eat their salvestrols, which in turn trigger our own cell defense mechanisms. When a plant is routinely sprayed with anti-fungals it never gets a chance to develop its own salvestrols for defense and to that extent becomes useless for our own immune defenses.

So really our governments’ ‘five a day’ crusade, without specifying organic or wild foods, is just another ‘papering over the cracks’, a superficial, knee-jerk reaction to issues of healthy and sustainable living that works in favour of the machinations of chemical consumerism.

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