The Healthy Home, by Dr. Myron Wentz & Dave Wentz, with Donna K. Wallace

May 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Front Page, Health, Homes, Slideshow, Sustainable Living, Tips

The Healthy Home provides a room-by-room description of health hazards that exist in many homes. Photo: Courtesy Vanguard Press

“Is it even possible to make a big enough difference in the world to redirect the current trends? Or will we be battling a new revolutionary challenge of man-made toxins, in which degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s are the norm?” asks Dave Wentz, co-author of The Healthy Home: Simple Truths to Protect Your Family from Hidden Household Dangers.

It’s not a rhetorical question. Wentz really wants to know the answer. He has a young son and, like other conscientious parents of a newborn, he’s concerned about his child’s health and the world he will inherit.

Wentz’s father, co-author, Dr. Myron Wentz, is a noted physician and, according to the introduction, “one of the world’s leading authorities on cellular nutrition.”

Together with author Donna K. Wallace, the Wentzes wrote The Healthy Home. Their motivation? In Dave Wentz’s words, it’s because of—

The hidden dangers of everyday things we consume or that surround us—things that have a direct impact on our health. Yet our governing agencies don’t have the time or means to regulate them, medical professionals choose to ignore them until they reveal themselves as physical symptoms, and regular people don’t even realize they’re an issue…. The deeper I dig, the more I’ve learned that the vast majority of people remain blissfully—and dangerously—unaware.

Reading about the various toxins within our homes can be overwhelming, paralyzing sometimes. Some of us shut down at the seemingly endless reports of parabens in cosmetics, BPA in plastics, fluoride in our water, mercury in our fillings, and on and on and on.

Four Basic Steps

Dave Wentz suggests four steps we can all take to protect ourselves and our families. They’re rules of thumb to live by, even when we don’t know all of the hazards that surround us:

  • Count the cost of convenience. Decide what you can’t live without and reassess the rest, because convenience can kill.
  • Live by the Precautionary Principle—”It’s better to be safe than sorry.” In the process, listen to your instincts. Don’t assume that because something’s common, it’s safe.
  • Let your senses be your guide. In this toxic world, the nose knows.
  • And although the government may choose economy over ecology, do the opposite. Health is more important than money. Don’t wait for others to protect your family—do it yourself, starting in your own home.

Every Room of the House

The Wentzes (with Wallace’s considerable help) walk us through Dave Wentz’s home, doing a room-by-room examination of potential hazards in five sections: Bedroom, Bathroom, Kitchen, Living Areas, and Garage and Yard.

In “The Bedroom,” we learn about clothing so tight that it leaves red lines that constrict the flow of the body’s lymph system. For women, the cause may be a bra, as professional fitters often recommend tight bras for more support and “lift.” For men, it’s more likely to be the waist of pants that no longer fit or too-tight collars and ties that actually impair blood flow to the eyes. In my case, I realize, those tight-fitting winter socks will have to go.

There’s more, of course. Including not only how to get a better night’s sleep, but how to improve your libido by uncluttering your surroundings and getting more exercise. Why “fresh-smelling” laundry contains petroleum compounds that may cause cancer. And how dry cleaning is dangerous to your central nervous system (unless your dry cleaner uses a “green” process).

They also talk about eliminating as many electrical devices as possible from your bedside because of electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Is your cell-phone charging on your night stand next to your alarm clock? Not good.

I was also chagrined to read that the Wi-Fi in our home (and favorite coffee shops, among other hangouts) is potentially dangerous. Darn.

Even Your Clothes May Harm You

Already, in Chapter 1, I see areas where our family can improve—areas I haven’t really given too much thought. Like the fabrics we wear and sleep on.

Back in the 1970s, most adults I knew were so excited to finally have clothes that didn’t have to be ironed. Polyester was, we thought (I certainly thought) a godsend. Not so, the authors say, “polyester is manufactured from petroleum products through a process that involves the use of a metal called antimony. Extended exposure to antimony can adversely affect the heart, digestive system, eyes, skin, and lungs.”

A quick check of my closet reveals a few synthetic items. Maybe not polyester, but definitely not natural fibers. Still not good, I learn:

Perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, which include the nonstick additive Teflon(R), are added to fabrics for durability, stain resistance, and wrinkle resistance. PFCs are extemely persistent in the body because they cannot be metabolized,or broken down. They accumulate in the cells and have been linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity as well as cancers of the liver and bladder. Clothing labeled “no iron” will typically contain PFCs.

What about cotton, silk, and wool? You might think they‘re safe, at least. But not if they’re colored in a process that uses “metals such as cadmium, cobalt, and antimony in the manufacture of dyes.” I begin thinking that I should rid my home of everything but organic fabrics with organic dyes. Yet, that’s not really practical for a person who can’t afford to replace it all.

Tidbits of Health Wisdom

Dave Wentz and Dr. Myron Wentz, authors of THE HEALTHY HOME

Throughout the book, Dr. Wentz provides bits of health wisdom that I find fascinating to learn. It’s not necessarily what I expect in a book I think will be about pollution and dangerous additives, but it’s a pleasant surprise.

For example, Dr. Wentz asks, “Did you know that too little or too much sleep shortens life? Each person’s body is different, so adults need to figure out what is the optimal amount of sleep for them individually.” No. Didn’t know that.

Dr. Wentz also points out, “Your hormone balance, which controls proper cellular function and repair at night, is driven by melatonin. Melatonin is produced when it gets dark, and its production can shut off with just a flash of light.”

I feel like I’m walking through my own home with the good doctor. The lighted clock at our bedside will be turning its face to the wall tonight. (And, it will be moved a little farther away from our heads.)

Because of Dr. Wentz’s expertise in cell biology, the authors have included a series of sidebars, called “Cellular Truths,” which provide medical information about the interaction between various environmental hazards and our cells.

In the “Ask the Scientist” sidebars, Wallace poses questions to Dr. Wentz, and he provides in-depth explanations that explain the scientific answers in easy-to-understand terms.

Don’t Let It Paralyze You

All this information could get a little depressing, if there weren’t something to do about it. At least about some of it. The book provides advice, tips, and helpful ideas for making our homes safer. Not necessarily cleaner, mind you, as Dr. Wentz tells us,

In fact, good, unpolluted dirt is actually good for kids. It’s the “chemical clean” that worries me, along with fire retardants. Our air is actually full of contaminants. We err in thinking that if we can’t see it, there’s nothing there. It’s those microscopic contaminants we need to be concerned about.

Fortunately, the book isn’t intended to instill deep guilt over what we can’t afford to change and can’t completely control. That would be a total turnoff for me, as well as most readers, I suspect.

As Dave Wentz says,

We can’t let it become overwhelming. Once we learn the truth, it’s easy to become despondent about the onslaught of toxins bombarding our bodies each day. Our readers must understand that they don’t have to accomplish everything we recommend in this book. Adopting even one good habit will make a person healthier; several positive changes can improve a person’s quality of life; and with each added step, our readers can extend their lives—and the lives of their family members—by years.

The 284-page book is jam-packed with information that will help each of us make many of those positive changes. And, The Healthy Home is a good read. It’s the kind of book you can pick up with a few spare minutes to yourself and learn (or be reminded of) something that will make you healthier. It’s also a book that you can sit and read for a longer stretch, because it’s just so interesting.

Arm Yourself for Action

Recognizing and understanding the hazards, which this book does well, is just the beginning. It’s time for consumers to face the hazards squarely and correct what we can in our own homes. Then, we can arm ourselves with the information. We can demand that our legislators stop listening to the lobbyists over the scientists who have the public’s best interest in mind. (And then vote them out, if they don’t listen.)

The Fine Print

Blue Planet Green Living received a free copy of the book reviewed in this post. No other compensation or incentive was provided.

Blue Planet Green Living’s policy is to review only those books we feel merit overall positive comments. If we do not like a book more than we dislike it, we do not review it. We are not influenced by free books and provide our honest opinions. For more information, please visit the Policies tab on the top navigation bar.

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Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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