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Food Allergies, Asthma, and the Environment

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sneeze by William Brawley via Flickr

It’s not just your imagination – food allergies and asthma incident rates are on the rise. In fact, they’ve been increasing for more than a decade. While there are many possible culprits, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the environment – and how we care for the environment – is having a major impact on our health.

The Rise of Food Allergies

“The latest surveys show that the rates of allergy are increasing throughout the world, affecting up to 30-35% of people at some stage in their lives,” Allergy UK explains. “This increase was initially seen in countries such as the UK, Europe and USA, but can now be found in all countries undergoing industrial development.”

There are a variety of opinions regarding why allergies, and food allergies in particular, are on the rise.

Here are a few of them:

1. Dietary Changes

It’s no secret that our diets have changed over the years. We’ve transitioned from primarily fresh diets to diets with more processed foods. Some believe that our increase in food allergies is related to our increased presence of allergenic food items, like peanuts, in our diets. However, there isn’t enough evidence to prove this theory.

A better theory is that we’re not getting enough of the nutrients we need – or are consuming the wrong ones altogether. As Allergy UK notes, “A number of research teams are investigating whether reduced levels of nutrients – in particular vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids (in fish) or antioxidants – might contribute to the development of allergy.”

As for the growing number of lactose intolerant people, there may actually be a misconception about this condition. While millions of people say they suffer from lactose intolerance, only a very small fraction actually does. The rest may have an intolerance to the A1 protein in cows. Switching to milk from cows with only A2 protein can make a major difference.

2. Hygiene Hypothesis

A second theory is that our environments have become so clean and sanitary that we aren’t exposed to as much bacteria, germs, and micro-organisms as we were in the past. Frequent hand washing and the use of other sanitizers actually weaken our immune systems. So, when we do come into contact with these microbial agents, we’re more likely to develop an allergic tendency.

3. Increased Exposure

Finally, there’s another branch of research that believes our present environment exposes us to a number of ingredients that are derived from nuts at a very young age. These ingredients are found in cosmetic products, lotions, and creams. When applied to the skin, some believe these items can cause the development of an allergy.

Increasing Asthma Rates

It’s also important to discuss the rise in asthma rates, which have really increased over the past decade. “Allergy and asthma result from a complex interplay between an individual’s genetics and the environment,” asthma expert Marc Riedl explains. “In much of the world, the environment in which humans live and develop has changed rather rapidly and profoundly since the industrial revolution.”

Some of the potential interplays between asthma and our environment include air pollution in highly congested cities, the hygiene hypothesis, increased rate of C-section births, and the presence of smoking.

“If we want to reduce the national or global prevalence of asthma, we likely need to tackle large public health issues such as air pollution levels, obesity rates, and perhaps the overuse of antibiotics,” Riedl says.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The increase of food allergies and asthma is certainly something that needs to be discussed in tandem with environmental changes and global conditions. While it’s virtually impossible to eradicate these issues, the more we know, the better our future generations will be.

 

Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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Environment

How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Rawpixel.com -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/rawpixel

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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