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

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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.

Blue Planet Green Living has an affiliate relationship with Amazon.com. If you purchase this book or any other products through Amazon by clicking on our affiliate link, Blue Planet Green Living will receive a very small financial compensation from Amazon, which we use to sustain this website.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Healthy Kids – Yours, Mine, Ours

I’ve been called diminutive, and I guess I am, at 5’2” and kinda thin. So when I walk anywhere with my son, who’s 6’4”, 330 lbs., no one believes I’m his mom. In fact, when he was little, people thought I was his nanny — he was so big compared to me even then.

Chef Helen Sandler with a spread of all natural foods. Photo courtesy of Helen Sandler

Chef Helen Sandler with a spread of all natural foods. Photo courtesy of Helen Sandler

His high school football team had a good laugh when I walked onto the field with him during Mom’s Day. His dream was to be an NFL defensive lineman, and although his workout routine still, at 24, equals NFL stats, he changed his direction to pursue another lifelong dream unrelated to sports. Most of his friends are athletes, and most of them stayed with us at one point or another. And they all came to know and really appreciate the food he was brought up on — whole grains, greens, beans, and sugars all as organic as I could find and cooked at home from scratch. Before their next visit, they’d phone in their orders to me or through him. Feeding a football team, if you’ve never done it, even for a few days, can be daunting. But surprise of surprise, they finished it all and wanted more.

DOC APPLAUDS OUR LIFESTYLE

My son ate his first beef burger at age 12 or 13, inadvertently, and never really did develop that much of a taste for it. True story: During a football game in high school, he banged bodies with an offensive lineman, also big. What a hit! What a horrible sound! It was a clash of the titans. And they were both carted off to the hospital. The orthopedic surgeon reported to us that the other kid came away with a broken shin bone, I’m sorry to say. However, he was incredulous at my son’s injury, a slight bone bruise. With taped leg and crutches he went back to the sidelines to cheer his team on.

“Whatever you’re feeding him, keep doing it. I’ve never seen bones that size or that dense in a kid before!” Those were his exact words. That was an extraordinary feeling to have our lifestyle applauded, though not the way I would have chosen.

A LIVING ANSWER TO QUESTIONS

He’s still my trophy and my testament to natural foods for kids, especially when he visits my cooking classes. People just don’t believe it. True, you’re thinking there must be some big genes somewhere in the family, and yes there are, but it’s not the size, it’s the quality. He’s a walking testimonial to a lifetime of natural foods, with a presence that answers their questions: “Will my child get enough calcium?” “Will they grow?” “Won’t they get sick more?” “Can they grow up healthy without all the protein and vitamins from meat and dairy?……… Yes, yes, no, and yes. Absolutely. Here. Look. And in he walks.

I’ve had non natural foods kids raiding my pantry, freezer, and refrigerator forever. One 10-year-old made a B-line for seaweed whenever he came. Didn’t bother him at all what it was. He just wanted it. Loved the taste, and he said it made him feel good. You can’t argue with that.

KIDS KNOW

Like that 10-year-old. They want to be shown, but also to be allowed to experiment.  I have another true story here: I was asked to make two dishes for a grand opening for a holistic heath center last year in Coronado, CA. One of the dishes was an Asian style tofu appetizer (go to my website, www.chewbite.com, and click on Asian Style Tofu Wrap-Around — the very same one). A 13-year-old boy (difficult to please at that age regardless, unless…) came by in the line and wouldn’t try it (Tofu, yuk!) until I told him he could spit it out in front of me if he didn’t like it. No pressure. That intrigued him enough to try it. Guaranteed, he liked the idea of spitting it out in front of me.

I was distracted by other people asking questions and didn’t see his reaction or his leaving. About ten minutes later, he returned with a few friends. They didn’t say a word, but they did polish off the entire platter and left. Maybe they had a new regard for tofu after that. I like to think so. Kids want to know you care by giving them options, challenging them, and respecting their opinions. And what better place to start than in your own kitchen, where your daily soul replenishment for the five senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and feeling all come together to create the ultimate sense of well being from food. “Home (and hearth) is where the heart is.”

PRIDE OF CREATIVE OWNERSHIP

Make it a game, interesting, fun. Dress it up. Make it all natural and as organic as you can. Make it look like what they’re used to, but the ingredients can either mimic or be completely different. Season it and spice it up with a familiar aroma, appearance, and mouth feel. But whatever it is, it’s got to taste great! Another thing about them, which you probably already know, they don’t spare your feelings. They tell you the truth. So ask them what the dish needs, and get them involved in the kitchen and the preparation by letting them fix it the way they want.

Let them make it their own. For you, it’s hands off unless asked. Whatever the mess, whatever their tastes, whatever their additions or deletions, it’s theirs and not only deserves, but requires, your respect. My son is getting to be one incredible chef, choosing food and spice combinations I would never think of in a million years. He astounds not only me, but his friends, with his choices and complexities of taste, while still sticking to organic whole grains, veggies, even meat, chicken, and wild fish. Allow them the gratification of astounding you. Their tastes are often so different from ours. There’s no age limit or requirement, by the way. So much more fun than going to formerly frozen formula Chili’s or McDonald’s or wherever, and their memories are priceless. Oh yeah! And invest in a bread machine. Let them invent variations on their staple. So easy.

PARENTAL GUIDANCE REQUIRED

Prenatal to post natal to pre-school to post college, they need and want guidance from mom and dad. Their culinary creativity being rewarded early with applause and respect will give them the confidence to continue natural foods in their lives and to teach their friends and their own children. Give them their jump start by changing to whole grains and veggies during pregnancy. When nursing, they’re already used to the foods. And when you start introducing solid foods, they intuitively know them already. Even seaweeds. Really. Yup, even seaweeds can be luscious. It all depends on your creativity and that intangible ingredient that makes it all a hit, your LOVE.

My son once observed to us from a boarding school he attended for one year for football before going to college, that he thought he was the only person there who loved his parents. Wow! Now that blew us away. He realized that we always inspired him to achieve and create, to have his own opinions, and respected his choices. Experiment. That was the year he started cooking for himself and starting teaching me. Very gratifying. He’s still teaching me.

SOME ANSWERS REALLY ARE THAT SIMPLE

With the meteoric rise of childhood and young adult health diseases: diabetes, obesity, eating disorders, high cholesterol, asthma, high blood pressure, depression, ADD, ADHD, and the lists goes on and on… Diseases once thought to be brought on by age deterioration in adults are now epidemic, even plagues, among our children. Drugs are not the answer. One definite answer is natural foods. Too simplistic? Things in life don’t have to be that complicated. You really are what you eat.

WE SOLD OUR SOULS AND OUR HEALTH

It’s the insidious invasion of the soul snatchers in the guise of the big pharmaceutical companies and the big brand name food manufacturers all in collusion with the advertising companies and the food/chemical lobbyists in Washington, D.C. I refer to Dr. David Kessler’s (former FDA commissioner, 1990-1997) new book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. He writes about just this, not that we didn’t know it already, but a former FDA boss telling us from the “inside” about how our souls and health have been hijacked for profit is pretty frightening, along with our disastrous eating habits being engineered by those companies’ food scientists. Very scary, but not irreversible.

CREATE YOUR OWN GOOD HEALTH

Get your whole family into the kitchen. Have fun creating a lifestyle change that makes you happy and gives you the power of choice. Food becomes an exploration into a culinary world of individual tastes designed by you that changes with your whims by adding a little bit of this or a whole lot of that. And your children? They’ll love it!

Helen Sandler

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)