It took nature 4 billion years to come to an almost well-balanced equilibrium between all living organisms and their environment. More, all living organisms have been developed and thrive by the influence their environment is putting upon them. All living creatures – and in fact also non-living matter like minerals, etc – always have been and still will be influenced by chemicals from the environment. This interaction is the most fundamental and inevitable element in daily life and in the evolution of all – living creatures and non-living matter. Except cataclysmic events, all creatures – present and past – are the result of this slow-moving interaction that started some 4 billion years ago: Evolution by slow but steady interaction.
Only in the last 3 generations of human presence we succeeded to develop and proliferate tens of thousands of new chemicals into our environment that unavoidably will be absorbed by all living organisms, humans included.
The influence of chemicals on the environment – and the functioning of living organisms in general – is mainly, if not solely, based on the mutual co-operation of these molecules, called synergy. And with this phenomena, not only the high doses during an acute exposure are of importance, but much more the relatively low doses over a longer period of time, as evolution acts slowly and all living organisms are a result of that slow mechanism. The low speed of evolution is key to its success.
Synthetic chemistry and its consequences.
Over the last 100 years humanity is involved in the biggest chemical experiment ever, since the evolution of oxygen-producing cellular organisms, some 2 billion years ago. This experiment includes both sexes, all races, generations and nations worldwide. There is no escape from it. The experiment is about the creation of entirely new molecules by modern chemistry and unknown before by nature. It is about putting these new molecules into our precious environment at a high frequency and at very short term - a couple of generations. It is about exposing all living creatures to these synthetic molecules without knowing their long-term effect - as individual components, their metabolites or in synergy with others.
The cleaning systems in our body and that of all other living organisms are not designed to eliminate these brand-new synthetic chemicals and therefore these chemicals and/or their metabolites can accumulate in our organs and tissues. Many of these chemicals do influence living organisms through their immune system, hormone system, blood vessel system, the nerve system and the reproductive system.
Nowadays, new molecules are being introduced to us through the food & beverage, the pharmaceutical and the chemical industry. The latter can be subdivided in agriculture (pesticides & fertilizers), plastics & plastics additives, and civilisation (cosmetics & detergents).
The kind of daily food that we consume today has dramatically changed over the last 100 years - more than the last 100.000 years - although our body did not change that much, if any. We still need the same ingredients as our distant ancestors, the hunter-collectors. Loren Cordain, professor at the Colorado State University in his book The Palo Diet: "Our genes define what we should take as food and the food that is available today does not correspond to our real needs." In the discrepancy between what we need and what we administer to our body lays the source for our discomfort and illnesses.
Joel D. Wallach: There are 91 essential nutrients to humans that have to be taken almost daily:
- 60 minerals
- 16 vitamins
- 12 amino acids
- 3 fatty acids
Nowadays these elements are present in our daily food in an insufficient amount or even not at all. Industrially* processed food contains so much synthetic components that influence our body functions in such a significant way that our immune system efficiency will be reduced. And then, when we get ill due to our immune deficiency we get prescriptions for medicines, yet another kind of synthetic chemicals, - the ultimate blast of synthetic chemicals to our body.
Regularly we eat processed food that has been stripped from all major nutritional value by "cleaning and refining" techniques and to which have been added synthetic components to reduce cost, increase shelf life and improve appearance and taste. Food additives are sophisticated molecules that fulfil their (short term) objectives very well: conservation, improving taste, texture and appearance, emulsifying, stabilizing, thickening, colouring, adding or modifying odour, increasing appetite (and body chemistry), etc. There are about 2.000 different synthetic taste improving molecules for food. Only a fraction of them have been thoroughly tested on their health effects. The conservation of food takes away even more nutrients. So is the canning of tuna responsible for the reduction of: 99% of the Vit. A, 97% of Vit. B1, 86% of VitB2 and 45% of niacin.
Price in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: "Tribe-organised primitive groups of people had a well-balanced food intake that gave them strong teeth and bodies. However, when exposed to processed food - even for a relatively short period - these properties rapidly diminished."
Some examples of simple daily products:
Refined sugar: the process of refining sugar eliminates about 90% of the nutrition value of the sugar cane. All that remains are calories.
Livestock (US): in 1950 cattle still is walking on fields and eats grass. From 1970 it is locked in stables and is injected with antibiotics and hormones. It eats something that is made of treated waste soil, poultry waste, paper cuts, and wood chips treated with ammoniac, fat and some minerals.
Evolution of nutritional value in industrially grown vegetables in the US between 1973 and 1997 for raw broccoli: calcium content - 53%, riboflavin: -48%, thiamine: -35%, niacin: - 29%. Similar values for cabbage, carrots, cauliflower and onions.
White flour: the process of refining wheat into white flour is responsible for the reduction of: 95% of fibres, 84% of iron, 95% Vit. E, 85% of Vit B6, 82% of manganese, 80% of niacin, 81% of Vit. B2., 72% of Zinc and 40% of Vit. C. Additional treatment with rays to disinfect the product reduces the nutritional value even more.
Paula Baillie-Hamilton: "The soil on which our industrially cultivated vegetables are grown suffers severe "leukaemia" and are deprived from 90 of the most essential nutrients for humans due to artificial fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, irrigation, acid rain, etc."
In the 20th century the reduction of nutritional components in the soil is estimated to be:
- USA: -85%
- Asia and South-America: -76%
- Africa: -74%
- Europe: -72%
Facts, Figures - Action.
All chemicals, whether they are of natural or of synthetic origin, will have their influence on the environment, on short term as well as on long term. The human population, together with all other living creatures on our earth, are being exposed every day to hundreds, if not thousands, of synthetic molecules that have been created over the last 100 years.
We cannot escape from it, but by selecting healthier products and improving our way of life, we surely can try to compensate as much as possible many of their negative effects on our body - the only real home we have. (see further in Beauty & Wellness)
Note: some of the information above has been collected from the book " Chemicals and their influence. (The 100 Year Lie. How Food and Medicine are Destroying your Health) - by Randall Fitzgerald - Dutton/Penguin Group Inc. USA, New York)
(*): With industrially processed food we do not mean the food that has been prepared the same day by local Deli's and Take Aways, nor by restaurants and by other eating places which serve freshly prepared food.