Whether you're a smoker or not, lately standing outside for any length of time is pretty much the same as standing next to a smoker.
Thankfully no summer has ever been as smoky, or as devastating, as Firestorm 2003. At least not that I can remember anyway. Any of you who lived in the Valley back then would remember. It's impossible not to really. The air thick with smoke, ash falling everywhere, people lost their homes. Truly a difficult summer. And although nothing of that magnitude is happening now, from a health perspective, many of the dangers are still the same.
Smoke. Once it gets into the Valley, it seems to hang around, meaning we're still breathing it in. The word, “Smokanagan” comes to mind right about now. Honestly, right now whether you're a smoker or not, if you're outside for any length of time, you're breathing in smoke much the same as standing next to someone having a cigarette. That smoke hovering about isn't just annoying and smelly, it's actually toxic and dangerous to our health. And although it can be worse for the frail and/or elderly, anyone with asthma or other lung conditions, as well as babies and young children, it affects everyone.
You don't have to wait for the smoke to clear to start working on removing some of those toxins from your body. In fact it's a good idea to think about what you can do today to try and pull some of those toxins out and work on cleansing your lungs and your body. Particles floating around in the air, as well as those carcinogens that you can't see, are drawn into our bodies with every breath, affecting us in many different ways.
Coughing, sore throats, lack of energy, poor sleep, headaches, and general malaise are just some of the complaints I've heard from clients and people out in the community. Toxins, regardless whether we breathe them in, consume the in food, or absorb them through our skin, all create inflammation. And with inflammation being the root cause of all disease, being proactive and eliminating as much of it as possible is a must. It's also important to note that just because you may not be experiencing any symptoms, does not mean your body is not being affected on the inside. Why not try and remove as many toxins as possible before something becomes an issue.
Everything we do to or for our bodies, and conversely even what we don't or won't do, either creates health or moves us towards disease. The negative things that we do, along with the things we choose not to do that we know we should, create inflammation. Imagine inside your body you have this bucket. Picture that bucket slowly filling up with bits of stuff, continually. Pretty soon there's so many inflammatory bits inside it's like that recycling bucket under the sink in your kitchen. Eventually you can't put even one more little bit in because it starts overflowing all over the place. Think of that same thing happening inside our bodies. People who continually do healthful things to keep the bucket from overflowing likely don't feel so bad in this smog because there's still room in the bucket. Their body is able to handle clearing the toxins. Maybe not all, but enough to keep you from feeling the ill effects. Others who continually live with their bucket brimming at the top, constantly threatening to spill out all over the place will be feeling it the most. It is important for everyone to “empty that bucket” regularly and work on keeping a good amount of room available in that bucket, rather than just keep trying to shove one more item in and hope for the best. Sound familiar?
So, what can we do to remove the toxins and create health? In general, and for our everyday lives, drinking lots water, eliminating stress, getting enough sleep, eating whole, organic foods, eliminating anything packaged or processed, and getting up and moving your body for at least 30 minutes every day. Doing these basic things alone is something anyone can do to immediately reduce internal inflammation and flush out some of the toxins. As an added bonus, when you maintain those good habits as a lifestyle, you'll probably even lose a few pounds in the process. Fun Fact; Losing just 18 pounds can reduce your internal inflammation by as much as 23 per cent.
To help detox the smoke and all the chemicals that go with that we've been breathing in lately, there are a number of easy things you can do. First of all, when you are inside, practise deep breathing. Exercising our lungs with deep breathing helps to bring more oxygen into the blood stream and up to the brain. This is especially important for people who sit long periods of time. As the hours go by, we tend to slouch, collapsing our bodies forward, bringing the ribs in close around the lungs, causing shallow breathing and restricting oxygen. Sit tall or stand, and breathe deeply, in for four counts, hold slightly at the top, out for six to eight counts, hold slightly at the bottom and repeat. Be sure to exhale fully to avoid trapping any carbon dioxide in the lungs. Diffusing or spraying some good quality essential oils around the house will also help to clear the lungs. Oils like peppermint or eucalyptus are great for this.
Incorporating more cleansing type and high antioxidant foods helps the body to flush out and detoxify as well. Chewing on peppermint leaves is easy and very beneficial. Spices like ginger, turmeric and cinnamon are rich in antioxidants and therefore work to reduce inflammation. I brew up a pot of hot water with a half fresh lemon, squeezed, chunk of fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, 1/3 tsp turmeric and let it steep. Add a tablespoon of honey for the pot if you need it a little sweeter as honey is antibacterial. Stay away from sugar, you're creating inflammation every time you eat it.
Adding in supplements such as activated carbon or charcoal that attach and bind to toxins to help pull them from the body, as well as things that promote nitric oxide production – something our body doesn't make and loses with age. Nitric oxide is key to restoring and improving circulation, bringing more oxygenation into the blood, and, therefore, throughout the body. The added benefit is increased nutrient uptake, improved immune function and increased energy. I got my activated charcoal at Nature's Fare and order my Nitro Extreme Fx online.
It's true we can never live two timelines and experience the difference in what it feels like or what happens doing some of these good things versus not doing them. But what we do know is that when we remove the toxins and inflammation, replace it with healthy alternatives, and enhance with appropriate supplements, people live longer, stronger, better lives. Who doesn't want that?
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.