Our children are contaminated with chemicals! (Part 1)

Updated 11 June 2014

Our children are contaminated with chemicals! (Part 1)

I have written several articles about toxic chemicals, environmental pollutants, radiation, heavy metals and other contaminants in the last few years. To the disappointment of many, the relevant agencies are not interested in paying heed or even willing to read. Hundreds of scientists, doctors, parents and activists worldwide have voiced and expressed their fears and sounded the warning sirens. Unfortunately, their calls have also fallen on deaf ears.
However, I will not give up. I am going to let out a scream from the depth of my being, the way Edvard Münch, the famous 19th century German impressionist, expressed it with his painting brush in the well-known painting, “The Scream.” Maybe then the authorities, organizations, agencies, scientists, doctors, industrialists and governments will awaken to respond to prevent the explosion of an uncontainable human and ecological disaster.
Today, it is about how toxins reach children. I will elaborate on the many ways children are getting bombarded daily with synthetic chemicals (food additives, artificial sweeteners…), toxins, plastics, paint, through pesticide-sprayed homes and produce, commercial meat and poultry (antibiotics, hormones), polluted air (fumes, exhaust), bottled and contaminated tap water (plastics, heavy metals), smoking parents, skin care products, drugs (antibiotics), vaccines (mercury, preservatives, animal and human tissues), cleaning agents (detergents), radiation and other hidden or seemingly innocent products, putting their systems off balance and slowly poisoning their brains and bodies.
To be fair, viral and bacterial infections, diseases and epidemics have become considerably reduced and controlled in the last half of the 20th century due to cleaner food, water and environment and better health care systems. However, in recent years, we see and experience the emergence of different types of disabling disorders, such as autoimmune disorders, allergies and cancer, due to modern-day contaminants, once uncommon to our communities and to us.
According to Dr. Philipp T. Landrigan, paediatrician, epidemiologist, and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sanai School of Medicine, asthma attacks in children have tripled in the last decades, becoming quite common reasons for admittance in hospitals as well as causes for school absenteeism.
Another disturbing condition recently seen is the development of cancer in consequence to injuries, which is also one of the foremost causes of death in children in the United States. Other types of cancer that have also risen to 40 percent in the last 30 years are leukemia (cancer of the blood) and cancer of the brain. Some cases are curable, but others are not as fortunate.
Developmental and behavioral disorders have escalated in the US and Saudi Arabia. These range from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia and other learning disabilities and behavioral disorders to autism and mental retardation. More American children are diagnosed with autism, reaching one child in every 88 children, becoming the second most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder in America, and it is rising. Autistic children lack the ability to communicate normally with people (even their parents) and form normal relationships with their families or others. They require special care, love, understanding, special coaching, and one-to-one attention. Unless the condition is addressed early enough, these children carry their disabilities to adulthood.
Reproductive disorders due to birth defects in male newborns, called hypospadias (shorter distance between rectum and testicles), have become more frequent lately. According to a study headed by Shanna Swan of the University of Rochester, New York, exposure of male fetuses in utero (before birth) through mothers to softening agents (phthalates) in plastics cause such genital dysfunctions and defects and sterility.
In the last decades, obesity in children has risen four-folds in most industrial countries, led by the US. The Gulf countries have followed suit and surpassed such countries, exceeding 40 percent of their populations. For those of us who are unaware of the harms of obesity, I would like to explain that visceral (belly) fat releases inflammatory (toxic) chemicals that lead to metabolic syndromes (diabetes type 2, hypertension, arterial plaque, cancer) even in young children. Diabetes type 2 was literally unheard of in children before the fast-food trend. Now children and adolescents have also become victims of the disorder, even though metabolic syndromes were rarely seen in young children.
Because diabetes 2 has reached a record high, “becoming an epidemic,” Dr. Landrigan urges to address such chronic disorders. Parents, schools, and regulatory agencies should work to reduce the exposure of children to pure sugars, refined and processed foods, trans fats, chemicals, plastics, and environmental and industrial toxins.
Baby formula bottles and nipples, baby shampoos, and body care products all contain toxic ingredients that are cumulatively damaging to babies and children’s health. Proactive parents are calling for the discontinuation of the use of harmful chemicals in baby products, wear, fabrics, toys, upholstery, and furniture. Because of fear of boycott or drop in sales, certain smart manufacturers in the US have taken action to stop the use of some of the harmful products (to protect their business!), but they (unscrupulously) continued exporting the old types to Third World countries.
Due to their smaller bodies and undeveloped systems, infants and children are at a much higher risk than adults to becoming contaminated by toxic material. They are daily exposed to thousands of synthetic chemicals in their environments; some we know of and others we don’t. Everyday, new untested chemicals are added to baby and adult foods as additives (coloring, taste enhancers, stabilizers, preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners, flavors). Other dangerous toxins are included in the manufacturing of kitchenware (coating of pots and pans), plastic water bottles and other house-ware products. They are also found in personal care products (shampoos, lotions), fabrics of children’s wear (flame-retardants), cleaning agents, paints, glues, toys, furnishing, textile, carpets, pesticides and more.
According Dr. Landrigan, such harmful “chemicals have never been tested for toxicity” on children or adults. Moreover, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate them. Of course, the Saudi FDA does not have an independent view from American FDA.
Dr. Landrigan explains that for their weights and smaller bodies, children drink “more water, eat more food, and breathe more than adults,” making them more exposed to contaminated water (heavy metals, fluoride), food additives (colorings, flavors), artificial sweeteners, toxic chemicals, plastics, environmental pollutants, fumes, car exhaust, heavy metals and industrial waste. Moreover, children’s body are not well equipped to detoxify from such poisonous substances. Infants, in particular, have systems that are not mature enough to filter out toxins, making them more susceptible to all kinds of toxicity.
Next week, InshaAllah, I will continue discussing the effects of chemicals on human health and especially on foetuses, infants, children and adolescents. It is our duty as parents and caregivers to do our best to make sure our children are kept healthy and safe by protecting their health and wellbeing in order to see them become healthy, productive and constructive adults as well as protect the continuity of the human species in at least the way it was passed over to us.

• Chemical in Everyday Products and Children’s Health by Philip J. Landrigan, MD
• Planet in Peril by Anderson, Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin, and Sanjay Gupta for CNN
• Interview with vaccine researcher (refused to be named) by Jon Rappoport (www.nomorefakenews.com)
• Autism Statistics – mindspec.org

Individuals with medical conditions or on medication should consult their physicians when they decide to introduce anything new in their diet even if it is natural.

The previous Health Solutions articles are located at www. arabnews.com

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Explore the tastes of Turkey at The Globe

Updated 17 April 2019

Explore the tastes of Turkey at The Globe

  • The Hilton Istanbul Bomonti’s restaurant takes diners on a journey through the country’s unique cuisines

ISTANBUL: No meal in Turkey is complete without an indulgence of some sort — pide bread soaked up in the creamy, tart sauces of Iskandar kebab in the city of Bursa, perhaps, or a rich, minced meat Börek at the famed Meşhur Sarıyer Börekçisi by the Bosporus. Turkish cuisine is abundant in historical, regional, and seasonal influences. There is so much to devour and relish.

Robyn Eckhardt, author of “Istanbul and Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey,” notes that there are two defining features of Turkish cuisine: locavorism or seasonality, and variety.

“Diets are determined by a region’s topography, climate, and what the land provides,” Eckhardt says. “Across Turkey, we find unique landscapes — salt and alkaline lakes, ocean coasts, and soaring mountains, all packed into a relatively small country. Also, Turkey borders several seas and countries, including Greece, Armenia, and Syria.”

She adds that culinary boundaries form the backbone of local diets. In the Black Sea region, hamsi pilavi (anchovy pilaf) is a specialty. With Syrian influences, the Hatay province’s staple dishes are hummus and muhammara. “In Kars, you are likely to eat piti (lamb and chickpea stew, spiced with turmeric and baked in an enamel metal cup). Piti originated from what is now Azerbaijan.”

“It should also be noted that thanks to rural-to-urban and east-to-west migration, some previously purely local dishes are now found everywhere in the country, like lahmacun (Turkish pizza) and mercimek corbasi (lentil soup),” Eckhardt says.

To learn more about Turkish cuisine and its defining ingredients, I visited the Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel and Conference Center’s in-house restaurant, The Globe. In a live-cooking session, sous-chef Şenol Türkoğlu shares a few recipes from the restaurant’s new menu, “Local Tastes from Seven Regions.” The menu features local produce and specialties from seven different regions of Turkey.

First up, the Turkish mezze. “Vegetables cooked in olive oil (known as zeytinyağlı) are common in the Mediterranean regions of Turkey and make up a significant part of Aegean cuisine. Finely chopped herbs sourced from Izmir are mixed with thick yogurt and topped off with a generous drizzle of olive oil in the roasted Aegean herb and homemade yogurt dip,” Türkoğlu tells me.

The city of Çubuk in the Ankara region is renowned for its pickling. The Çubuk-style Gherkin Pickles pay homage to this specialty by using gherkins sourced from Çubuk, pickled with dill and vinegar, and served with red peppers. The Tarsus hummus (made with high-quality chickpeas brought in from Tarsus city in Mersin province) and Turkish muhammara (made with tahini, walnut, and allspice) look ordinary, but pack surprisingly piquant flavors.

Although Aleppo is to the south of Gaziantep, antep kibbeh at The Globe is distinctively different from its Syrian counterpart. With an outer shell that is crisper than usual, it comes immersed in a light, meat broth and a dollop of yogurt.

A personal favorite is the smoked eggplant with crumbled beyaz peynir (white cheese) from Ezine, in the Çanakkale province; the flavors — including a sprinkling of pistachio — work wonderfully together.

The pièce de résistance, though, is an Antalya-special kuzu tandir (lamb shank). Using the choicest shoulder cuts, Türkoğlu lathers on simple seasoning including mustard paste, cumin and coriander seeds, salt and pepper, and places the shank on a bed of regional vegetables. After six hours in a traditional oven, the dish is transformed into a delicacy that once graced the tables of the Seljuk Turks. “Now, it has become a celebratory dish that is reserved for feast days, special occasions or national holidays, like the Eid celebration,” he says.

There is no better way to describe my culinary experience than the words of the Turkish novelist, Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar: “Do not underestimate the dish by calling it just food. The blessed thing is an entire civilization in itself!”