“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not” ~ The Lorax
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A continuation today of a short series about our body's detoxification system
Last week, an Introduction that touched briefly on many of the topics we'll cover
Before I started studying, I would have said, “I'm not exposed to that many chemicals” Oh my, was I ever wrong. Most of us are exposed to them every day (certainly to varying degrees), depending on what our jobs are and where we live
Dr. Sherry Rogers – a specialist in environmental medicine offers a sobering reality. No one is immune. As a baby enters the world, his or her exposure begins immediately. In fact, most born in a hospital have detectable levels of phthalates (or plasticizers). They've been exposed from the plastics found in everything from plastic bags to the IV tubing that was attached to their mom during delivery
There have been a number of studies conducted on people who simply stopped to pick up their clothes at the dry cleaners. Four hours later, they still had measurable levels of perchloroethylenes in their blood
Putting gas in our car exposes us to benzene. People who drink their morning coffee (or anything, really) out of a Styrofoam cup, are exposed to the plasticizers, formaldehyde, and some benzenes
Cigarette smoke, whether someone smokes or is simply around others who are smoking, exposes them to a crazy amount of chemicals. One of which is cotinine (a byproduct of nicotine). Infants that live in a home with parents who smoke will have very high levels of cotinine in their urine
Indoor Air Pollution: Energy Efficient Buildings + Sick Building Syndrome
Because of air pollution, a lot of us think of environmental toxins as mostly being outdoors. Certainly, that's the case, but it's probably more important to consider the pollution that's happening indoors. Studies show we spend (on average) only an hour outside every day(!) Which leaves the rest to be spent at home, the office, or
in our car
It wasn't that long ago (the 1970s) when the shift toward more energy-efficient buildings began. The biggest effect? The amount of fresh air being circulated indoors dropped considerably. Right around that time, there was also a significant increase in synthetic furnishings and building materials. Most of these materials are made from petrochemicals, which release their vapors slowly over time; aka: out-gassing
Many of these out-gassing vapors are known carcinogens and respiratory irritants.
Tighter construction, coupled with more air-conditioned buildings, have seen increases in bacterial and mold-related illnesses. These building often have windows that don't open and closed ventilation systems that are constantly re-circulating the chemicals in the air. Not only are we exposed to it once, but continuously, all day long
There's even a “sick building” syndrome based on reactions to toxic vapors coming from the glue, pressed wood, new carpets, paint, varnishes, any kind of furnishings and plastic floor coverings like vinyl
Then there are the chemicals we use around the house. Any kind of cleaning solutions, furniture polishes, things we wash and dry our clothes with. (Dryer sheets are notoriously loaded with them) We have pets in need of flea and tick prevention.
One of the most prolific chemicals in our environments is formaldehyde. It's found in most building materials, but also regular office supplies too (think paper supplies, file folders, etc.) As they release formaldehyde into the air, it contributes significantly to indoor air pollution
There are a number of others, and these are the pollutants that cause damage, particularly the respiratory tract. They destroy the hair-like villi that are so very important for the removal of all kinds of bacteria, viruses, molds, pollens and all kinds of particles. Once the respiratory tissues are damaged, the viruses, bacteria, and chemicals pass right into circulation, and we're far more sensitive to infection and allergies
The Jobs We Do
What are some of the jobs at the top of the list for toxic chemical exposure? Hairstylists, painters, chemists, anyone installing flooring, manufacturing techs, auto mechanics. Dry cleaning is one of the worst
Anyone who cleans for a living, is a custodian, contractor, or works in a print shop. Any occupation that uses solvents, cleaning compounds, paints, pesticides, herbicides, lawn care chemicals, varnishes, inks, dry cleaning supplies or hair care products, or is exposed to plastics
Anytime someone works around solvents, cleaning compounds, paints, pesticides, herbicides, lawn care chemicals, varnishes, inks, dry cleaning supplies or hair care products, or are exposed to plastics or textiles .. they can almost guarantee they've been exposed to (at least) a low-level of toxins
Farmers are one of the most high-risk groups unless their farms are organic. I think of this every time I'm driving through the Iowa countryside on my way to the garden, and see them out spraying their fields
One of the biggest complications people exposed to these kinds of toxins face is malnourishment. Either by a loss or destruction of nutrients in our body. It's really a vicious cycle. These are the nutrients that supply the cells of our detox system .. and it's these cells that allow us to be less susceptible to exposure
A few examples? From the Kellogg Report by Dr. Joseph Beasley
Workers handling pesticides suffered from a severe disruption of vitamin A. Exposure to low levels of PDBs cuts down in vitamin A stores in the liver, by as much as fifty percent(!)
In smokers, their blood levels of vitamin C were lower by forty to fifty percent
Should I Consider Taking Supplements?
“Can't I get all the nutrients I need from my diet alone?”
I think that once upon a time, people used to be able to get all of the nutrients they needed from their diet. But the food was different, the atmosphere was different, or jobs were different. The circumstances of our lives have changed dramatically
Today, most people probably should consider at least a multiple vitamin-mineral and also an antioxidant on an ongoing basis. They'll help us better cope with this toxic load
It Isn't So Obvious
Most people, if they knew something wasn't good for their health, would try to avoid it or take some precautions to safeguard themselves. Instead, toxins make an appearance in lots of unexpected places
Bedding – Whether foam rubber or cotton pillows or mattresses, they're laced with pesticides and fire retardants. These can cause toxicity to the nervous system
Cleaning supplies – All the chemicals found in them are dangerous to the immune and nervous system
Vinyl flooring contains many dangerous chemicals. One of which is benzene. Exposure to benzene alone can cause infertility, anemia, and damage to blood cell chromosomes that can be linked to leukemia
Office supplies (copy machines and correction fluid) contain the same chemicals used in dry cleaning, rug shampoos, and floor polished. They're known to cause symptoms of confusion, an inability to concentrate, fatigue, poor coordination, significant headaches, and sometimes muscle cramps
Cosmetics – often contain hidden toxins (particularly nitrosamines). These have been known to cause cancer. Especially black hair dye. It contains significant mutagenic chemicals, which can damage the DNA code (a precursor for cancer)
Air pollutants (indoors and out) – is one of the greatest health risks people have. People living in polluted cities have a four-fold risk of emphysema. There's also a significantly higher risk of asthma
Urban water sources. Most municipal treatment plants neither detect nor detoxify the water supply of the majority of chemical pollutants. That leaves them flowing right out of our taps
Water in plastic bottles – As the plastic breaks down, it has a tremendous capacity to disrupt hormonal pathways (in both men and women)
Our diet – There are over four hundred different pesticides that are used legally on food crops in the U.S. In 1980; there were two hundred sixty-eight million pounds of pesticides sprayed on California crops alone(!)
Additionally, a lot of large-scale farming practices really deplete the soil of vital nutrients. That leads to the production of foods that lack the fundamental nutrients our bodies need to not only sustain themselves but also protect against these toxins
Most of these food pesticides have an affinity for the nervous system. People tend to have more anxiety, are more hyper-excitable, and have a variety of learning disorders. These are more pronounced in our young children and elderly
This Isn't Always Easy to Understand
The risks of chemical exposure just aren't well understood. It's not communicated. It's not written. Most of the chemicals are on a label, but it doesn't tell us that they're toxic or identify them as a poison.
Unfortunately, people usually find out after they've already been diagnosed with some kind of a condition; when they're already sick and much more chemically sensitive
— — —
How do our bodies clear all of these toxins? It's a big job(!)
( .. to be continued .. )
There are a number of things I almost always have in the kitchen. At the top of the list? A few cans of coconut milk, onions, nuts, and spices. It puts me just a veggie or two away from a flavorful pot of richly colored curry.
The one featured today is detox friendly, comes from Dana James, and has quickly become a go-to at our house. A reminder that no matter what's going on around me, the act of making something healthy for dinner is one worth practicing.
Depending on what's in the fridge, I might serve it over a bowl of rice or grains. The curried veggies are also wonderful alongside an omelet or crepe for breakfast, or simply on their own.
It's worth noting that, while I like this particular spice blend, most times I'll use curry powder or paste instead. They're nice for the evenings when I'd like to take the spices in an entirely different direction.
I decide what to include in a curry by thinking about a couple of different things. A curry that's hearty and substantial is great when the weather's cold. During the warmer months, one that's lighter with a little more broth. Root veggies, potatoes, cabbage, chickpeas and the like when it's stormy outside. Fresh peas, asparagus, and other finds in the spring
Last week I was just home from the farmer's market when I decided to make this one. Having a fresh pepper and zucchini in my bag, and grabbing some cauliflower from the freezer. Worked great. Play around with what you have locally and seasonally. It's hard to go wrong
Below, I've also included a recipe for one of the curry powders I like to make from scratch. It's evolved gradually from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe I jotted down years ago from a magazine I was browsing through in a waiting room.
How authentic is it? I'm not too sure.
What I am sure of is, I love the warming spices accented with plenty of kick from the dried red chilies, and sometimes if I'm making it only for my husband I'll add extra. The turmeric gives everything it touches a stunning golden hue while playing along with toasted cumin for an earthy finish. Feel free to experiment with or substitute your favorite curry powder here
Adapted from Dana James
Curried Vegetables with Potato and White Fish
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
- ½ cup new potatoes, diced
- 1 yellow pepper, sliced
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 large beefsteak tomato, chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- (alternately, instead of the individual spices listed above, 2 Tbsp curry powder of your choice)
- 2 (4 oz) halibut steaks, cut into 2” cubes (or another white fish)
- sea salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup of cilantro, chopped (or parsley if you aren't a fan of cilantro)
- Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger, potatoes and a pinch of sea salt. Cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables soften (~ 5 minutes)
- Add remainder of vegetables and spices (if the tomato isn't juicy, add ¼ cup coconut milk or water)
- Bring to a simmer before reducing the heat slightly, and continue cooking for ~ 10 minutes
- Add the halibut in the last 5 minutes and cook with vegetables. Cook until the fish is opaque and cooked through
- Add lemon juice, another pinch of sea salt, and cilantro.
- Cook for 2 more minutes.
~ Adapted from From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey
- 2 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
- 1 Tbsp whole cumin seeds
- 2 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1 ½ tsp whole brown mustard seeds
- 3 - 4 whole cloves
- 3 hot dried red chilies, crumbled
- 1 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- Set a small, cast iron frying pan over medium heat.
- When it's hot, add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves, and chilies.
- Roast while lightly stirring until they emit a light, roasted aroma (the spices will just begin to turn color)
- Add the fenugreek seeds and turmeric and stir for 10 seconds
- Remove the roasted spices onto a plate to cool
- After they've cooled, grind them as fine as possible using a spice grinder or food processor.
Your photography is absolutely stunning! I’m a vegetarian, but these photos might just turn me into a pescatarian ; -) I’m married to an Englishman so various veggie curries are often for dinner. I’ve been learning the BIR style of cooking and also make my own curry powder blend and a base that I use the foundation of all of my dishes. I love curry!
Farmer’s Market is a great place to buy fresh vegetables! This dish looks really delicious and healthy with a variety of vegetables as well as fish, so it’s great to eat nutrition into the little ones. I love curry on rice so I will need to try this recipe! A little afraid that I might not stop eating it though!
People would be really scared if they actually knew how much toxic chemicals they come into contact with everyday. Doesn’t matter if you are indoors or outdoors. Something to be aware of and we all need todo our part.
I never stopped to think about all of the chemicals I constantly come in contact with – but this article made me think about it a lot. Also, this vegetable curry dish sounds like a nice light and yummy meal!
I’ve worked hard in the last few years to rid our house of as many chemicals as possible…but it’s such a daunting task. From candles to cleaners to…EVERYTHING, our lives are saturated. As a cancer survivor, I’m trying so hard to get everything in line with a more organic lifestyle. I appreciate you shedding light on what seems to be such a hidden secret…chemicals EVERYWHERE. I love how you have also shared such an amazing dish that is completely worry free in the area of the chemicals and such. Farmers Markets are some of my favorite places to grab good, wholesome goodies, too. Now, I feel the need to step outside from the AC and grab some FRESH air…maybe for more than the one hour! 😉
I am a passionate advocate of green living. I buy as many organic and natural products as I can afford. I wish more people realized the importance of living a cleaner life.
Shopping at local Farmers Markets is my favorite place to buy fresh produce. And I love supporting local farmers. I love curry! This recipe sounds amazing!
I have to take supplements as eating along doesn’t do the job! I will be trying your tasty recipes soon!
In all honesty I think that we are all blind to the amount of toxicity we encounter in a single day, its probably more than we think. I use cruelty free products and try and steer away from toxins but I definitely want to be more sustainable x
On the other hand curried vegetables are my favourite. I like how you have paired it with the white fish, a simple but effective dish x
Can I just say how awesome I think it is that you added so much useful information before the recipe? I’ve never seen a recipe post like this. I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know most of the stuff before, so thank you! 🙂
I think they we are defiantly exposed to more than what we realize. I am not nearly as observant as I would like to think I am . I at least try to stay from products that have hormones added. I have a long way to go LOL! Informative post I learned a lot!
Me too. although in honesty I do consume a lot of milk which is pumped full of hormones. This is something that I need to work on for sure x
So many toxins to think about. Not fun at all. We are thinking of doing a detox before our beach vacation. I will keep this info in mind. I am not a big fish fan but this recipe really has me wanting to try it. YUM!!
WOW, great post! I know we are exposed to way more toxins then we know and the sad thing about it is, most toxins we are not aware of. I just read today about major toxins that are on some of our fruit, I couldn’t believe it! As for your recipe, I love fish and this would be a great recipe to try since I’m trying to eat more healthier!
We grow a lot of our own foods, so it isn’t coated with all those pesticides. There are chemicals everywhere. Just everywhere.
That’s a very colorful dish The quote about doing something from The Lorax is one of my all time favorite quotes, it’s so true.
I love curry dishes and this one came out beautifully. I’ve never tried making it from scratch, but your recipe doesn’t look too hard.
Looks tasty! I became a vegan back in May and recently watched the documentary “What the Health” on Netflix. There’s so much that is put into our food that we don’t know about. Farmers’ markets are great for fresh produce. I’ve also been thinking about starting my own garden!
I mostly eat rice with curry. Sometimes mouse is better than human. I like mouse asked a question to man. Do you eat also eat that with that mask on?. Really it makes to think while.
I am a vegetarian and we always shop at the local market where farmers sell their produce directly. I completely agree with you about the exposure. While most people are now aware of the toxins, the exposure and the pollution and its side effects on our health, people like painters, people working in chemical factories, other hazardous places are more susceptible to health hazards and proper awareness programs need to be conducted for them.
I am vegetarian and so glad to see there are so many veggies in this dish. I will probably make it without white fish,
I am used to curried chicken with veggies but not with fish. I would love to try this because I love fish. My husband is not fond of fish but he likes food with curry so he might try this dish.
Wow what we are exposed to and inhaling is scary. See now I am really thinking of doing a home birth or going to a holistic birthing center if all of those plasticizers will be inhaled by the baby. I guess I have to make sure to be mindful and do more air purifying in my own home.
Yes eating organic food is super important I agree 100%. I will be trying this awesome dish, this looks like perfection. Im currently trying Paleo this works perfect with some minos tweaks.
You are right! We are all exposed to chemicals! It dipends a lot of where we are living, what we are eating, what kind of water we are drinking, etc…etc… I am aware that we cannot avoid this! Although I try to choose what we eat and what we drink! Hoping that this will help at least a little bit!
i want to know should malnourished people use protein supplements such as weight gainers or vitamins only?
It really is so important to realize what toxins we’re exposed to on an every day basis! Realizing what we put into our bodies is a big part of it too. This dish looks great – I love the curried veggies, that sounds like a really yummy combo!
Lovely post. My mom makes a similar curry like this. Your preparation looks great. Thank you for all the information. Helpful!
It is scary how we are aware of the toxins but actually cannot do anything to avoid them. I mean we have to put gas in our cars for instance. I read something similar to this post years ago and since then I stopped using nail polish.
We try to minimize the amount of chemicals we are exposed to on an everyday basis. We are actually trying to switch to more green, environmentally-friendly products. I’d love to your curry veggie recipe!
I miss those days when I was a child. The air was so much cleaner than it is today. We could leave our windows open at night to allow the cool night breeze in. Nowadays, there are just so much dirt, chemicals, and allergens in the air. Poor children of today. These things they to live with everyday!
It’s scary to think about how many chemicals we are exposed to everyday. Really scary. =( It seems like it’s only getting worse.
Ugh, this is what stresses me out so much! I work hard to keep my kids healthy with the right foods and activities but knowing there is only so much I can control with their environment.
I love curried vegetables! This would be such a hit at my house, it sounds so delicious! And I always try to avoid as many chemicals in food as possible, it’s scary to know how many are in everything we eat.
ali !! come on! i will end up living under my duvet under that post lol or wear a bio hazard suit! but i guess at least i know whats going on out there i then
This loos yummy! I am always so thankful that my husband and I don’t have to be around toxins from cleaning or industrial factory things. I can’t imagine the breathing issues I would have to be near those on a daily basis.
I love curry! It’s one of my favorite spices. Great points you had there on how many chemicals we are actually exposed to when it comes to our veggies! Your photography is stunning by the way!
Yes we are exposed to about a zillion toxic chemicals every day, every minute. And with the decimation of the EPA, it’s going to be even worse. Actually, you mentioning all those chemicals made me think about chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides and mercury in fish. Not sure that was where you wanted to go with your very attractive recipe. I love curry, especially curried cauliflower, and I have all of the ingredients so I will definitely make this. What are your thoughts on cooking with coconut oil? Just curious. Lately, I’m reading some not so great things about it.
I love veggie recipes. I like meat but veg and potatoes with some good flavouring can be really tasty. My hubby worked with cars for years and his skin is damaged years later. it just filled him with toxins and 20 years later they are still affecting him.
You are entirely correct on the pollution being on a grander scale than most think. So we have to really not jump ship either way. Btw, love curry and it looks great!
These photographs are beautiful!
I’m not really into curry unless it’s in Tikka Masala lol. But this does sound very good and easy to make. Would it taste the same if I substitute the fish for the chicken?
I have tried the Dana James recipe but in a slightly different version without vegetables called ‘meen moily’…it’s a South Indian recipe. Adding veggies to this seems to be a nice idea too. Garnishing with cilantro adds the detox bit to everyday meals. Keeping indoor plants too is a nice way to reduce indoor toxins. I like your idea of connecting detoxification with everyday meals 🙂
It’s absolutely insane the number of pollutants and toxins we get exposed to day to day. A father of a close friend of mine is dealing with the effects of being exposed to toxic cleaning products to this day.
Believe it or not, I’ve never actually tried a curry! My aunt absolutely loves them, and this could be a really great way to try it out. It sounds absolutely delicious, and I’ve been wanting to get more fish in my diet. And the talk of toxins is really eye opening, you don’t realize how abundant they are!
I know it might sound funny but the curry powder actually has benefits for our health (the one you make yourself by mixing the herbs and spices. Chilli is a great detox vegetable and turmeric a great antioxidant.
What an insightful post! Really an eye opener about the amount of toxins and chemicals that surround us.
Toxicity is a way of life these days. I think doing what we can to lower the toxins is a start. Like one of your other readers I too am a vegetarian. But I imagine this dish would still be delicious with a vegetarian variation; I absolutely love yellow curry!
Your post is an eye-opener! I was aware of toxicity in our surrounding but didn’t realize that situation is this worst! I do have many friends who smoke and at times I try to keep myself apart as I hate passive smoking! This recipe looks colorful and delicious. Though I’m allergic to sea food.
Yum, I’ll have to try this recipe. I love cooking vegetables in different ways. The curry makes for a nice savory touch.
I try to buy as clean and healthy food as possible, and to avoid toxins, so this post was a good reminder to continue doing so! Love this beautifully written text and the recipe and the great photos! Looks delicious and healthy!
It’s crazy the amount of chemicals we are exposed to! I would love to be one of those parents who grew my own veggies and stuff. I do try however to make healthy recipes.
I’ve always loved anything curried and this looks really tasty and simple to make!
The warming spices in this dish sound like they would go together beautifully. And I’m right there with you about ALL the pollutants and toxins of our day 🙁 We can just do the best we can do and raise awareness (yay for you!) while we’re doing what we can for our families.
I think about this documentary (I don’t remember the name right now) where this couple was trying to get pregnant. They tried every type of medicine and medical procedures to get pregnant, but it wasn’t happening. After years and years of trying, they started seeing acupuncturist, herbalist, naturalist and other doctors with a natural approach and they concluded that it was environmental. They were living in a busy city on the east coast (don’t remember the name either), but moved in a more rural area north and eventually had two or three kids without much issue.
Your article touched on real issues going on in this world.
This is so cool. I really do love all of your recipes. And white fish with potatoes and curry does sound amazing. I will have to be trying this out. As for the rest of your article, I feel like going and hiding myself out in some bomb shelter and away from the world, only to realize that bomb shelters probably release a certain amount of toxins in the air as they degrade. I never heard of some of the things about plastic furniture. But it’s certainly something to think about. And it’s also ironic that in our desire to leave less of a carbon footprint we don’t circulate the kind of air that would clean out our work spaces. It’s all just crazy.
Oh my I always focus on the chemicals that we are exposed too based on the skin care products we use and the preservatives in our food but you’re right everything from air quality to using plastic and Styrofoam cups and filing up on gas affects us too.
It is truly astonishing the amount of toxins that we absorb through our lifetime? No matter who or where you are we will all be infected. But what better way to express some of that out than, with your tasty recipe.
Sustainable is the keyword. there are so much toxics around us nowadays. Our nature in Finland is said to be so clean and fresh but yet we are told to avoid certain fish species or at least not to eat them so often. It’s so difficult to live totally healthy life.