Following up on an earlier post, (You Don’t Need to Shampoo Your Hair (Or use Soap) – Lost Wanderer) Boing Boing has just blogged (Body washing with water alone) about a report by Free the Animal (Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo) in which he talks about his very good experience with going soap and shampoo free for the last six months. Both the Boing Boing and Free the Animal posts are followed up with numerous comments by readers.
Posts Tagged ‘Natural Living’
My next post will be on avoiding food poisoning, but before I post on that issue I need to point out that there obviously exists a balance between living in disease causing filth and being obsessively hygienic. A lot of research suggests that we need various probiotics in order to be healthy, and that a large number of health problems occur because we have cleaned up our environment so thoroughly that we don’t have the necessary symbiotes in our bodies any more.
The hygiene hypothesis seems to be gradually being refined into what has been called the Old Friends Hypothesis. The shift is from one of believing that we benefit from infections with various organisms in general sort of way, to saying that bad organisms are bad for us, and good organisms (symbiotes) are good for us. So, obviously we should try to avoid the bad ones and seek out the good ones. Here are two previous blog posts of mine that touch on this issue The Umami Hypothesis – Lost Wanderer and Apitherapy & Biotherapy – Lost Wanderer.
Here is a general survey of some of this material by Gut Buddies: ‘Friendly’ bacteria: side-lined healers - Gut Buddies (Some of the friendly bacteria (and products) referred to by Gut Buddies in this post are: segmented filamentous bacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, Puritan’s Pride, Lactobacillus reuteri, B. infantis 35624, Lactobacillus F19, L. acidophilus NCFB 1748 and B. lactis Bb12, Advanced Oral Hygiene with S. salivarius and B. coagulans, PerioBalance with Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis, Halofuginone, and Bacillus polyfermenticus).
Helminths (hookworms and whipworms, etc.) have been apparently very effective in helping with numerous allergic and autoimmune conditions, including allergies, asthma, autism, Crohn’s Disease, Eczema, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and Ulcerative Colitis. (AutoimmuneTherapies) (Hookworms are our Little Friends - Lost Wanderer)
Similar immune-modifying symbiote-based therapies might help with many other diseases and conditions:
Aortic dissection (Inflammation Critical in Aortic Dissection, Researchers Find via The worm’s next success? – Gut Buddies)
Autism (Autism May Be Linked to Mom’s Autoimmune Disease (type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease) via Autoimmune & biotherapy news 2009/7/9 – Gut Buddies) (See also: The Vitamin D Theory of Autism – Lost Wanderer)
Dental Issues (Probiotic lozenges promote oral health - Gut Buddies (GUM PerioBalance (Lactobacillus reuteri Prodentis) and Advanced Oral Hygiene lozenges (S. salivarius and B. coagulans)
Diabetes (Diabetes- Lost Wanderer)
Flatulence Odor (You Can be a God/Goddess – Lost Wanderer (Odafree/Whiff withYucca Shidgera from desert Yucca, Fructo-oligosacharides from Jerusalem artichokes, and Copper Chlorophyllin from alfalfa. Local inventor clearing the air on pill that helps you breathe)
Migraine Headaches (Migraine Headaches - Lost Wanderer)
(Childhood: Food Allergies May Be Linked to Obesity by Nicholas Bakalar and The Effect of The ALCAT Test Diet Therapy for Food Sensitivity in Patient’s With Obesity via Obesity As An Immune Disorder III – Matt Metzgar)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (Link Discovered Between Antibodies To Strep Throat Bacteria And Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (and Tourette syndrome) In Mice (Group A beta-hemolytic streptoccoccus (GABHS)) via The worm’s next success? – Gut Buddies)
Recently, Matt Metzgar has been posting a lot on the topics of probiotics (1) and prebiotics. Matt began by pointing out the site Paleobiotics, which discusses how the ancient diet influenced people’s gut flora. The diets of hunter gatherers would have had a lot of indigestible fibers in them, which were instead consumed by our gut bacteria. Since we no long eat this sort of diet we harbor somewhat different colonies of bacteria, to the likely detriment of our health. Matt points out that in one study (Can vegetables help you resist infection?) that men who took prebiotics massively increased their good gut bacteria, but the group only taking a probiotic didn’t benefit very much. (See also: Eat Bugs. Not Too Much. Mainly With Plants via Prebiotics versus Probiotics - Matt Metzgar)
Conditions that Matt talks about that might be influenced by the types of bacteria we harbor include:
Allergies (The role of Probiotics in allergic diseases, Maternal breast-milk and intestinal bifidobacteria guide the compositional development of the Bifidobacterium microbiota in infants at risk of allergic disease, (bifidobacteria) Babies, Bacteria and Breast Milk: Genome Sequence Reveals Evolutionary Alliance (Bifidobacterium longum supsp. infantis) via Balancing Bacteria - Matt Metzgar and Babies and Bacteria – Matt Metzgar)
Anxiety, in patients with chronic fatigue (A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) via Probiotics and Mood – Matt Metzgar)
Cold and flu symptoms in children (Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children, (Lactobacillus acidophilus or L acidophilus NCFM in combination with Bifidobacterium animalis) and HOWARU (Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) via Probiotics for Children – Matt Metzgar)
(The effects of manuka honey on plaque and gingivitis: a pilot study, Streptococcus mutans in saliva of normal subjects and neck and head irradiated cancer subjects after consumption of honey via Honey and Oral Health - Matt Metzgar)
(Peelu, Comparative effect of chewing sticks and toothbrushing on plaque removal and gingival health, Subgingival plaque microbiota in Saudi Arabians after use of miswak chewing stick and toothbrush, Chewing sticks versus toothbrushes via Chewing on Fiber II - Matt Metzgar)
(Dietary fiber intake and dental health status in urban-marginal, and rural communities in central Mexico and A longitudinal study of the relationship between diet intake and dental caries and periodontal disease in elderly Japanese subjects via Chewing on Fiber - Matt Metzgar)
(See also: Dental Related Information – Lost Wanderer)
(1) In addition to the conditions mentioned in this post, probiotics might also help with such things as lactose intolerance, colon cancer, cholesterol, improving immune function and preventing infections, improving mineral absorption, preventing harmful bacterial growth under stress, and managing urogenital health. (Probiotic – Wikipedia)
In one of my earlier blog posts I discussed the miracle cleaner electrolyzed water, but for now we will have to get by with other products. Matt Metzgar has discussed using Green Works and Ecover products. (Green Works – Matt Metzgar and Going Green – Matt Metzgar) (Although, for a critical review of Green Works products you can read, “The Four Biggest Enviro-Scams: Green claims that make us see red” By Amy Tennery, who recommends Seventh Generation products as superior. (But be sure to also read the rebuttal to this.)) Another such product line is EnviroRite‘s. And online, Greenhome.com sells a number of such products.
For those who want to go a step further, and live as safe and green as possible, you can make your own products. I won’t try to reproduce the vast lists of specific formulas people recommend for doing home chores, but only try to hit a few of the highlights. If you wish to pursue this, the links provided below should more than get you going. (Also, for a whimsical perspective on replacing products with substitutes – which aren’t necessarily green – you can take a look at Joey Green’s Wacky’s Uses for Brand Name Products site.)
There are a few ingredients common to many of the recommendations people make. (From Non-Toxic Home Cleaning - Eartheasy):
Baking Soda – cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
Soap – will clean most things. (unscented, phosphate free, and doesn’t contain petroleum distillates)
Lemon (juice) – a strong acid that is effective against most bacteria.
White Vinegar – cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
Washing Soda – is sodium carbonate decahydrate. It will cut grease, remove stains, soften water, clean walls, tiles, sinks and tubs. Do not use on aluminum.
Ethanol Alcohol – is an excellent disinfectant.
Corn Starch – can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, and shampoo carpets and rugs.
Hydrogen Peroxide - used as a disinfectant.
You can find suggestions for just about every conceivable purpose: air fresheners and deodorizers, fabric softeners, furniture polish, stain removers, pesticides (ants, fleas, flies, mice, mites, mosquitoes, moths, roaches, wasps, etc. ), windshield washer fluid, shoe polish, rust removers, disinfectants, cleaners for glass, your hands, the oven, vinyl, wood, drains, mildew, toilets, paintbrushes, floors, tub and tile, aluminum, copper, brass, silver, porcelain, etc.
Here is a somewhat random selection of books on safe and green cleaning: Clean Your House Safely and Effectively without Harmful Chemicals by Randy Dunford, Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home (Paperback) by Linda Mason Hunter, Green Clean by Linda Mason Hunter, Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living (Paperback) by Annie Berthold-Bond, and Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home (Paperback) by Renee Loux.
Here are a number of online articles dealing with green living and safe cleaning: Safer Alternatives To Common Household Products - Barlow Scientific, Hazardous products and healthy alternatives – King County, A Consumer Guide To Safer Alternatives To Hazardous Household Products, Part 2; The only 18 things you need for a clean house by Valerie Rains, Shine staff, Cleaning the House Safely by Elizabeth Hughes, Alternative Cleaners - Howare County Recycling District, Natural Insect Pest Control – Eartheasy, Non-Toxic Home Cleaning – Eartheasy, Alternative Cleaning Recipes – Ecology Center, Non-Toxic Household Cleaners by Kendra Cecil, Less Toxic Alternatives – Clean Community System, Hazardous Household Substances: Alternatives That Are Relatively Free of Toxic Effects by Marie Hammer, Tips on finding the safest household products – King County, Safer Alternatives to Hazardous Household Products – State of Nevada Bureau of Water Pollution Control, Home and Garden Tips – Natural Resources Conservation Service: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Safe Alternatives to Household Hazardous Products – Sierra Club of Canada, Safe Alternatives to Hazardous Household Products – King County Kid’s Page, Household Hazardous Products - Univ. of Missouri Extension, Green-Clean Your Home By Amy Roffman New, From Natural Health, September/October, 1994; and How to Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit by Annie B. Bond,
The more stress a plant has been under the more flavornoids it tends to produce. These differences are not insignificant, since researchers have found that the amount of flavornoids, within the same variety of different samples of sweet cherries, can vary by a factor of at least 3. So fruits, nuts, and vegetables that have been attacked by insects and subject to bad weather conditions are very likely healthier for us. In the end, farming methods that mimic natural conditions are probably the best. This is, of course, just another example of one of the benefits a hunter-gatherer lifestyle once gave us.
(Stressed fruit may be better for you by Jennifer Viegas)
I have previously blogged about sleep related topics. Here is a question I sent to one of the leading experts on the bedding used by hunter-gatherers. (I think it was Carol Worthman):
As far as I can tell from online sources, ancient hunter gatherers slept on thin woven blankets, sticks, skins, leaves, and/or straw (or some combination of them). Also, as far as I
have been able to determine, there is no good guidance at present from the medical community regarding the best sleeping mattresses and health. Do you, or anyone else you could refer me to, have a
guess as to which of the modern mattress arrangements would be a close approximation to the rough average our ancestors (and their lower backs) evolved with?
“You ask an interesting and unusual question. My expertise extends just to what “traditional” peoples slept on, not to current bedding options. Definitely, today’s mattress that is
kept for years, filled pillows, and lots of (frequently washed) bedclothes were not the pattern in human paleohistory. Nomadic foraging peoples did/do not have permanent homes and
beds; rather, they usually sleep on the ground, with skins and/or leaves/boughs for some padding depending on how hard the substrate was/is. I would say that, on the whole, a firm,
only slightly yielding substrate was very common, whether on the ground or a mat/low platform. Pillows, as I noted in the paper, apparently were virtually non-existent, except the ones
in wood and, later, clay. All that said, I should also say that many traditional peoples suffer considerably with joint/muscle pain with aging. Did the sleeping substrates help prevent back problems to which humans are prone, or did daily activity and chronic load-bearing take care of that? As usual, as many questions as answers.”
The Exuberant Animal author Frank Forencich argues that we live in a hyper-visual world in which our other senses are deprived, especially touch. When young children don’t have physical contact with caretakers they wither and die. Although the effects for adults are less severe, by wearing clothes and shoes, and being inside in a comfortable plastic world all day, our health suffers. We simply don’t feel the sand, brush, and stones anymore. He argues that touch maintains a sense of direct contact with the physical world around us, and positive and negative tactile sensations stimulate movement, and are health promoting. His advice is that we should engage in tactile intensive activities, such as backpacking, gardening, and home remodeling. He also thinks that experiencing the smells and tastes of nature improve our health.
We certainly don’t use our other senses to the extent we’re capable. I previously blogged about safe-cracking, and here’s an example of a man who has developed a remarkable sense of touch for opening safes. (How to Crack a Safe: World Safecracking Champion Takes Down Bank Vault in 5 Minutes 19 Seconds (video))
Blind people can use echolocation to navigate. This is when people use sound as sonar to interpret the nature and distance of objects around them. Ben Underwood was a blind 14 year old who could use echolocation to play basketball, run, and skateboard. Dr. Lawrence Scadden could use it to ride a bicycle in traffic.
Besides sound and touch, it turns out that people can follow sent trails across a field like a dog. (Unleash your inner bloodhound – start sniffing)
Wound licking is instinctively practiced by many animals and humans. It seems likely that saliva retards infection and promotes healing, since it contains antibacterials, antivirals, and growth factors. Also such an evolved behavioral trait would have long ago been selected out if it were overall highly unhealthful. A number of societies have even institutionalized the practice, for example in ancient Greece at the shrine of Aesculapius dogs were trained to lick patient’s wounds.
Wound licking is an example of natural self doctoring by animals, a practice which is called Zoopharmacognosy. Probable examples of this include placenta eating, eating clay and charcoal, applying honey to wounds, and eating toxic plants. (See Really Wild Remedies) Another example was discovered when Capuchin monkeys in Venezuela were observed rubbing millipedes over their fur. It turned out that they were using the arthropod’s defensive secretions as an insect repellent.
I’ve blogged before about the Paleolithic Diet. (Lost Wanderer – The Paleolithic Diet) If a person is eating this diet (The Paleo Diet, The Paleo Diet – Published Research) they are eating as humanity generally ate up until about 10,000 years ago, when we made the transition to horticulture. The general idea is that for 99% of human history humans evolved to consume meat from wild grass fed animals, fish, fruits and vegetables, and seeds and nuts; while we didn’t evolve to consume such recently introduced foods as grains, dairy products as an adult, and large amounts of fructose year round. Not coincidentally many aspects of this diet dovetail with specific diet characteristics often regarded as part of a healthy diet.
The fatty acid composition, the types of fats, as well as the omega 6/omega 3 ratio, is healthier than most modern diets, and so is likely to reduce high LDL cholesterol, as well as small dense low-density cholesterol, while at the same time increasing high-density cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The glycemic load is low, reducing the risks of the diseases of insulin resistance which include: obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Some researchers also suspect that other insulin resistance related diseases which could be helped, or even largely prevented, are male balding, skin tags, breast, colon and prostate cancers; gout, acne, myopia, and polycystic ovary syndrome. The sodium potassium ratio is healthier, and so might reduce the incidence of such diseases as asthma, insomnia, airsickness, osteoporosis, kidney stones, hypertension, stroke, and Meniere’s disease. The fiber content is naturally high, which could very well help prevent such diseases as varicose veins, diverticulitis, appendicitis, bowel cancer, hemorrhoids, and constipation. The acid-base balance is net alkaline, instead of net acidic as in modern diets. This possibly would help prevent such conditions as hypertension, renal insufficiency, kidney stones, and osteoporosis. Also, both the micronutrient availability and macronutrient balance seem to be more in line with their optimal values. (What is the Paleolithic Diet? – For some reason, to be able to read this I have to left click and sweep my cursor over the – strangely invisible – text on this page., Food for thought)
In addition, most if not all plants have defensive chemicals which evolved to help protect them from predation. While humans evolved to handle the defenses of old-world fruits and vegetables, the suspicion is that we haven’t had enough time to evolve to fully cope with the defensive chemicals found in grains. (The Paleo Diet – Cereal grains: humanity’s double edged sword) Some of these seem to punch micro-holes in our intestines, while other such chemicals leak into our bloodstream, and it has been suggested that they can create a cross immune reaction that leads to arthritis. Even some non-Paleolithic foods that might appear to be safe could very well present risks. For example, while cow’s milk has a low glycemic index ultimately what you are concerned about from a health point of view is the insulin response a food generates, and for unknown reasons cow’s milk generates a disproportionately large insulin response relative to its glycemic index. (The Paleo Diet – Dissociation of the glycaemic and insulinaemic responses to whole and skimmed milk) Almost all nightshades are derived from new-world plants. Even though they are fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and so might normally be assumed to be safe to consume, since humans evolved in the old-world we haven’t had much time to adapt to their defensive chemicals, and so many people find that they have worse arthritis symptoms when they eat them. (Thrifty Mom – Eating like our Ancestors – Notes on Fruits and Vegetables, Do Nightshades Promote Inflammation?, Dr Garrett Smith, N.P., and Karon White-Gibson Interviewed on the Holistic Health Show, Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation, Nightshade Pain Free by Michael Fowler, Calalyst Athletics – Oct. 2007 Issue 33, Dec. 2007 Issue 35, Jan. 2008 Issue 36, Feb. 2008, Issue 37, May 2008 Issue 40 ; The Paleo Diet – Consumption of Nightshade Plants, Human Health and Autoimmune Disease Implications, Nightshade Foods, What are nightshades…) The nightshade family includes such plants as tomatoes, potatoes, sweet and hot peppers, tomatillos, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, cayenne, and Tabasco sauce. (Other examples of suspect non-nightshade new-world plants are avocados, cucumbers, squash, and zucchini.) Even the modern versions of some old-world fruits often have been selectively bred to have lots of fructose in them, since we like the taste, so some people don’t count them as truly Paleolithic foods, and the only fruits they will eat are berries, such as blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, and blueberries. (Thrifty Mom – Eating like our Ancestors – Notes on Fruits and Vegetables) The main concern with fructose is that it possibly is a major driver of obesity. The idea is that back in the Paleolithic you would have wanted to gain a lot of weight in the fall of the year, right before winter when food would be scarce. The one time a year that a lot of fructose was available was during the fall, when all the fruit was ready to eat. So we evolved a mechanism that shuts down our leptin system, which controls hunger, and thereby causes us to put on weight. Today many modern fruits and processed foods (and of course table sugar) are all laced with fructose, so we have created in effect a permanent fall, with perhaps the chronic obesity we now find in modern society as a result. (Ancestral Health Symposium – “The Trouble with Fructose: a Darwinian Perspective” by Robert Lustig, MD, Craving Sugar – Dr Lustig’s Evolutionary Concept on Fructose and Fattening)