In addition to the mental stressors that our children face, we also need to look at environmental stressors with respect to obesity.
Environmental toxins can stress our bodies in significant ways that are difficult for the eye to see. You don’t have to live next to a chemical plant to be exposed to high levels of toxicity. Even if there were no other environmental stresses, like those from emotional violence, abuse, general negativity, or nutritional deprivation, the chemical stress that we’re exposed to alone could have an enormous effect on obesity.
When toxic chemicals are introduced into our bodies, we have to deal with them somehow. We have to detoxify these chemicals by changing their structure or breaking them down. The main organ for doing this is the liver. Detoxification is only one of its many functions, and when it’s overwhelmed, the body still has to do something with all those toxins. So what does it do? It stores toxic chemicals in fat cells. Why? Because fat is a great chemical cushion.
It’s like bubble wrap, isolating and containing toxic chemicals until the liver is ready to deal with them. And the more toxicity in your body, the more fat you need. In fact, one study showed that some people are storing at least eight hundred different toxic chemicals in an average fat cell at any one time.
Toxins are everywhere, in things as seemingly innocent as the plastic containers in our kitchen. These days, you can find the plastic additive BPA everywhere because this colorless solid is used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate polymers, including many of those clear plastics used to make drink bottles. Unfortunately, BPA mimics the properties of various hormones and affects many of our bodies’ regulatory systems.
Along with diet and physical activity, parents need to consider environmental factors as another contributor to their children’s health problems and a potential threat to their children’s well-being.
We recommend minimizing contact with food wrapped or contained in BPA plastics, most of which, inevitably, will be processed food. And if you think that the wrapping is potentially harmful, consider the contents. As we’ve already noted, there’s very little solid information on what a lot of these substances, particularly in the form of food additives, might be doing to you or your children’s bodies.
Given that many people just don’t have the option of moving to a pristine or chemical-free environment, drinking lots of filtered water is probably the easiest and most practical way to clean out accumulated environmental poisons.
Eliminating chemical- and sugar-laden liquids and drinking pure water are two of the most important factors in weight loss. BPA-free bottled water or filtered water is the way to go. It’s really important that the water be clean and free of chlorine, because the chlorine that kills unfriendly bacteria in the water supply and in pipes is the same chlorine that will kill the friendly, essential bacteria in your gut, which you need to get the maximum nutrition from your food.
If you filter your own water, check your water supply to see if carbon filtration is adequate to purify it. Chlorine is there for a reason. If you take it out without getting rid of what it was killing, you may get sick. Ideally, reverse osmosis is necessary to purify your water effectively.
We recommend you offer water to your children first thing in the morning and throughout the day. Just make sure that your child (and you, for that matter) stays hydrated all day. Remember that water is also a great way to flush out the toxins that leach out of your fat while you’re losing weight.
An easy way for children to know if they are getting enough water is simply to look in the toilet bowl after urinating. If the urine looks dark yellow, they probably need to drink more water. A common exception to this is if they’re on vitamin B supplementation, as B vitamins tend to give urine a bright yellow color. An adequately hydrated child’s urine should be almost clear. That’s the sign that he or she is getting enough water.
Water is, of course, not the only way to fight toxins in your environment. Here are our recommendations for dealing with the environmental stressors in our lives:
- Get out in nature whenever possible and breathe fresh air.
- Eat organic produce and grass-fed organic meats.
- Grow your own food (if you can).
- Buy locally grown, spray-free food from a farmer’s market.
- Eat superfoods, like spirulina and chlorella (which help to counter heavy metal poisoning).
- Eat lots of greens and other foods, like fruits and vegetables, rich in antioxidants.
- Drink lots of fresh green juices, especially wheatgrass juice.
- Take probiotics, as they will help support a healthy immune system.
- Use household cleaning products that are made of natural ingredients.
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
This is an edited excerpt from Dr. Riba’s book Fit Kids Revolution. Get your copy today!