Safety, comfort and privacy are the words that usually spring to mind when we think of our homes; our own small havens in a big, busy and bustling world.
Outside of work, commuting, communing, educating ourselves and a bit of recreation, we spend a significant part of our lives in our homes. It makes a lot of sense therefore that our homes should be peaceful, relaxing and comfortable. Places where we can retreat from the world, spend quality time with our families, feed ourselves, laugh, kick back and let go.
From a health perspective, homes are important places. From sleep and nutrition to family and quiet time, our homes also have a tremendous effect on our health. Some other key foundations of health take place in the home too; think exercise and home gyms, music, entertainment, yoga and hot tubs. Show me a happy home and you’ll likely find health and vitality.
But, our homes can also contribute to our health problems and this is the first in an ongoing blog series about what we need to be wary of when it comes to our homes and our health.
The focus here is on what goes on in our homes that can affect our health. This includes chemicals, contaminants, toxins, bacteria and other organisms that with constant exposure can end up causing us harm. These toxins can act as inflammatory triggers and are often a major contributing source of the illnesses that befall us.
Sometimes these toxins are obvious like the serious effects of molds. These can be especially harmful to those with allergies and lung problems like asthma. On the other hand though, sometimes it is less blatant as with chemicals like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that hide in paints and other household products. These chemicals are known to cause immune system problems and they can and still do hide in many products and surfaces in the average home.
Occasionally, it is not clear whether a substance is a poison or not. As
Paracelsus, the German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, general occultist and father of toxicology said, “Poison is in everything and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.”
This becomes obvious when you consider a chemical as simple and widespread in our homes as alcohol. In small doses it can be the answer to stress and the resveratrol in red wine is known to be a potent antioxidant and is actually really good for arteries including those in our hearts. In higher dosages though alcohol can lead to a lousy night’s sleep and over time does becomes toxic to the liver and immune system.
I am going to end with a small equation that nicely summarizes how exposure to chemicals affects our risk of disease.
Disease Risk = susceptibility x lifetime exposure x toxic potency
ability to excrete + detoxify
This clearly shows that when it comes to toxins, our risk of disease can be increased by our genetic susceptibility, our lifetime exposure and the potency of a given toxin. Our risk of disease is reduced by our ability to get rid of and excrete the toxins and our ability to detoxify on a metabolic level through liver and kidneys.
My aim here in this blog will be to discuss the various possible problem areas in our homes that might be important for you and your family. Future blogs will include but not be limited to the following topics:
- Persistent organic pollutants and phthalates
- Heavy metals
- Cleaning products
- Magnetic fields and radon
- Hormone disruptors
Please begin to think of your home as a vital supporting beam in the balance of your health.
H. Koseff M.D.
Howard Koseff M.D. is a family doctor who understands the importance of disease prevention and health optimization. He lectures and teaches throughout North America and has a special interest in nutrition. He has just finished writing a book with his wife Lauri on how to transition away from processed food. He is currently building a green and healthy home with McAuley Design and Construction INC. in San Diego, CA. Dr. Koseff will be blogging here on the home health connection. You can find more information at www.drmindbodyisin.com and www.powerupplan.com