6 Common Household Items That Are Making You Sick, And How To Avoid Them

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Chemicals found in your home and your food are related to many health problems, including cancer, obesity and high stress levels,  but also your hormones, including estrogen and testosterone are highly affected by chemical exposure. So how exactly is your home and diet making you sterile, and what things should you avoid having in your home.
Canned Food (Bisphenol A)
Cans and some plastic products contain Bisphenol A, an endocrine disruptor that acts like estrogen. Long story short, current exposure levels can make it very to conceive a baby, because BPA is linked to a decrease in sperm production, early puberty in girls, and fertility problems for both genders.
If you are not hiking in the mountains, the best prevention against this widely spread chemical is to avoid eating canned food especially when you are trying to have a baby.
Water (Fluoride)
3.4 million people die each year from water related causes. In developed countries, the high levels of fluoride, chloride, pesticides, heavy metals and endocrine disrupting chemicals contained in our drinking water can be a major health hazard.
Fluoride is a highly toxic substance, which is why you can see a poison warning, required by the FDA, on all fluoride toothpastes sold in U.S.A. Also, millions of people throughout India and China now suffer serious crippling bone diseases that were caused by drinking water with elevated levels of fluoride.
To avoid this chemicals you can use water filters (fluoride, charcoal) and avoid swimming in water with high levels of fluoride.
Cooking pans (PFCs)
PFCs (perfluorochemicals) are pollutants used on cooking pans (Teflon). Other products that contain PFCs are stain-resistant clothing and upholstery, microwave popcorn bags or fast-food wrappers. They can affect your thyroid hormone, your liver and can reduce immune functions.
Maybe the saying that grandma’s pan is the best pan is not only true because of the delicious food your grandma makes but also because it didn’t contain any of the PFC’s widely spread today on cooking gear.
Food containers (Phthalates)
Phthalates are found in many consumer products, like shower curtains, flooring, synthetic leather, polishes, paints, food containers and even in some fragrances. The chemicals interfere with testosterone and estradiol, a hormone that affects breast development.
Always store your food in glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers and avoid synthetic fragrances.
Electronics (Flame retardants)
Flame retardants are known for their impact on the thyroid and on female infertility. It is also thought to affect the IQ levels in children and unfortunately they are still being used in many appliances like TVs, cell-phones or computers. Also anything that contains polyurethane foam, like pillows or mattresses also contain flame retardants.
Air purifying plants, proper ventilation and frequent cleaning are the best defenses against these chemicals.
Furniture (Formaldehyde)
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a pungent odor that is used as a disinfectant, a preservative and a precursor for various construction products, pressed wood and furniture. It is a highly toxic known human carcinogen, and is used widely throughout the globe.
Air purifying plants, proper ventilation, temperature and humidity control can reduce the levels of formaldehyde in your home. Also using older furniture instead of new one can reduce the levels, as formaldehyde tends to decrease over time. Also when using glue or paint indoor try to opt for products labeled formaldehyde-free.
Old Paint (Lead)
Found in paint manufactured before 1980 and old plumbing, lead is a neurotoxin that can cause headaches, memory problems, high blood pressure and reproductive problems. It can also impair children’s brain and nervous system development.
Prevent chipping by sealing old paint with a clear, nontoxic sealant. If you have peeling paint hire a professional to check the plumbing and clean immediately. If possible change the plumbing in your home if your home was built before 1980. 

How competition is slowly killing us

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Healthy competition is at the heart of economic development. Ever since the idea was put forward by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations, it led to innovations, great technological improvements and lower prices for the consumers.

On the other side, too much competition can have damaging effects on the economy and on individuals, in the long term. In a highly competitive market, companies and people are pushed to constantly lower their prices while delivering more and more value. This is good for the consumer but for the companies it quickly becomes unsustainable because it leads to lower margins, and budget cuts especially in research and employees salaries.

Take for example the car industry, a highly competitive market, where some of the top companies resorted to unethical practices, or lower quality materials in an effort to keep up with the increasing expectations of the markets and governments, in terms of profit, innovation and prices. Or the construction industry which saw a massive drop in 2008, due to high competition and the ridiculously low prices that had to be accepted by the companies wanting to remain in business at all cost. And, probably, for one of the best examples on how extreme competition is bad for business, we can have a look at one of the most competitive markets in the world: the bar’s and restaurants sector. More than 80% of the business in this sector fail in the first 3 years, competition is fierce and a lot of the newcomers drive the price down while serving bigger portions. That means somewhere expenses have to be cut: either on personnel, food quality or health & safety regulations. I’m not saying all restaurants are like this, in fact some owners manage to maintain a good quality of service and a high morale among employees, even when pushed by competition, and they are usually the 20% that remain in business. However, most of the times, extreme competition in the long term can lead to profit loss, reducing cost on R&D and personnel, less innovation, lower quality and at the end businesses closing down and people losing their jobs.

On a personal side, we are always competing with our rivals, our peers, our neighbors or the status quo, and usually this competition makes us achieve more, be more and have more. But when we take competition too serious, it leads also to unethical behavior like lying, cheating, bullying, bribing and all the other nasty things people due in the effort to get in front of others. Another effect of the pressure competition puts on us is overworking, which leads to stress and exhaustion and in a more severe case even to death.

So why do we value competition at all costs? Why, in a time when we talk about moving towards a society of abundance, are we still competing heavily with everyone else, until the point of collapse? I am not suggesting that we should not have any competition, I am simply implying that we would be maybe better off if we follow Aristotle’s advice and strive to achieve the Golden mean, especially in the most important competition of all: our life. If you go to bed 1% better every day, in the long term you will become a great person; If you are always in a rush and want 200% improvements every day, like many of the investors wish for, it might work for a short while but there is a high chance that you will collapse with exhaustion, and lose everything you gained, just like the stock market crashes every 5 to 10 years.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject: What are the areas in your life where you are or have been maybe over competitive, and what was the impact of this competition on your health, happiness, family and friends? Where was your tipping point, between healthy and unhealthy competition? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Recommended reading:

Adam Smith – The Wealth of Nations

Peter Thiel – Zero to One

 

The positive side of being cold

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Since I moved to Hamburg, the main struggle I had was to find something positive about the cold and rainy weather. I still remember the horrible first month there, when the Sun forgot to shine. I was depressed and tired all the time and I wanted badly to go back home, not because I didn’t like the place or the people but because I just couldn’t find anything positive about the weather.

After almost two years, with only 2 months of sunny weather, I finally found something positive about being cold, and I would like to share it with you.

On one of the cold and dark Sundays, in Hamburg, I stumbled upon the new research field in marketing centers on “embodied cognition”—the idea that without our conscious awareness, our bodily sensations help determine the decisions we make. In this research I discovered for the first time something positive about being cold. 

It seems that people who had briefly held a warm beverage were more likely than people who had held a cold one to think that a stranger was friendly, meaning you are more likely to be fooled when the sun is shining; this was demonstrated in an experiment by Lawrence E. Williams, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and John A. Bargh, of Yale. Warm ambient temperatures also prompted people to conform (Yes man) so if you are going for a negotiation you might want to schedule the meeting based on the weather.

Other studies suggest that warm temperatures and sunny weather also have an effect on our spending habits. During sunny days we feel more optimistic, and so we end up spending much more than what we can afford. Maybe that is why in Germany, people save more and spend less.

So it seems that being cold and dark actually helps you make better economic decisions. But it also affects your mood and your health because it leads to a vitamin D deficiency.  

The main take away from this could be that it’s much safer for your wallet and the environment if you shop, especially for expensive things, during rainy, cold days, and use the sunny days for going out and increasing your vitamin D level, which reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), is a powerful antioxidant and plays a crucial part in our health.

How much do you spend on a rainy day?

Make this change to your bedroom for better sleep

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designed by Freepik.com

In the past weeks I have been working late on my laptop and was waking up feeling very tired the next day, although my diet, my exercise or my stress was not higher. It did not make any sense to me until I found the research on blue light. Convinced by this I installed a new software on my computer and started to sleep better at night.

If you are working late at the night on your computer, you should consider getting Justgetflux software. It will reduce glare based on the time of day, and protect your eyes from the blue light of the computer screen. It might also improve your sleep since exposure to blue light 30 min before bed is linked to poor rest quality. Plus it’s totally free.

Red light seems to be far less damaging for our eyes and our sleep so consider installing them in your bedroom. It will also make the atmosphere more romantic so you will not be only healthy but also happy, maybe that is why most of the clubs in Germany have red lights.

If you do not have a red lamp in your room, you can always get some glasses designed especially to reduce glare. (20$ on amazon).

After implementing this changes a significant number of people said they reported sleeping better, having less headaches and having more energy.

But why is everyone talking about how damaging blue light exposure is for our sleep and our bodies? For instance a sleep doctor says that even very young kids are suffering from chronic insomnia, and another scientist found out that women who work night shifts are twice as likely to develop breast cancer than those who sleep at night.

What is the common link? Nighttime exposure to the blue light from our screens.

Being in the presence of light at night disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythms by suppressing the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. But melatonin does far more than help us get sleepy – it’s also an antioxidant that appears to play a pivotal role in slowing the progression of cancer and other diseases. The impact of blue light on melatonin production was only recently confirmed, in 2001, when scientists found that light in the blue spectrum — the 415 to 445 nanometer range — disrupts melatonin. Because it is so bright, blue light is used widely in pretty much all LED devices, including phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs.

Definition: Melatonin is a hormone found in animals, plants, fungi and bacteria in anticipation of the daily onset of darkness. It is synthesized in animal cells directly from the amino acid tryptophan, but in other organisms through the Shikimic acid pathway. In animals, melatonin is involved in the entrainment of the circadian rhythms of  physiological functions including sleep timing, blood pressure regulation, seasonal reproduction and many others. Wikipedia –

Let us know if it works for you too.

Have a healthy week.

F.M.B.

About People, Roads and SAFETY

It will take you 2 minutes to read the hole article but at the end it will change the way you look at everyday traffic.

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Transfagarasan picture from Wikipedia

We have one of the most beautiful roads in the world (picture above) according to Jeremy Clarkson and everyone who has been there can probably confirm this.

We also have according to statistics from www.worldlifeexpectancy.com one of the highest death rates related to car accidents from the E.U. countries. From every 100 000  people approx. 13 die in car accidents every year in our country. That means that more than 2000 people die every year just because they took a chance to go somewhere, twice as much as the average in E.U. This number does not include the ones who are badly injured and have to suffer all their life the consequences of a terrible accident. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), road traffic accidents kill more people around the world than malaria, and are the leading cause of death for young people aged five to 29 – especially in developing countries.

In order to better understand this worrying phenomenon, I would like to look a little bit about what seem to be the main causes of car accidents.

According to official reports excessive speeding or speed unsuited to road conditions (25 %) pedestrians crossing the street in unmarked places (18%) and vehicles hitting pedestrians on crossings (12 %) are the main factors that lead to accidents.

In my opinion speeding and speed unsuited to road conditions are 2 different things, because the first one is caused mainly by irresponsible people who either want to show off thinking they are Fernando Alonso driving at the Monaco Grand-Prix or by people who are late for something, most of the times because of poor infrastructure or because they left too late in the first place. Off course this 2 situations can easily be avoided if we know that we are not Fernando Alonso, Monaco is not in Romania and that in average we will get every morning to work in approximately the same time so if we include a 10 min buffer into our program we will be never be late.

However for the second category, speed unsuited to road conditions, the answer is not so simple because most of the times this conditions are not known by the drivers, yes we can see it is cold or raining outside, but we can’t see how big is a hole filled with water or the thin ice formed on the surface of the road at night. On the same note it is hard to say that pedestrians and drivers that hit them are the only ones responsible for these accidents if they do not have sufficient crossings or the ones that exist are not clearly marked. Off course they should have been more careful but maybe it is also our job to make them aware of the dangers they face.

So what actions are being taken around the world to reduce this number?

The UN launched in 2011 its “decade for action” on road safety to cut the 1.3 million deaths on the road each year. The European Commission lunched last year a public debate concerning the future strategy for road safety. The Romanian Government will also lunch this year new driving regulations with increased fines and penalties especially for speeding and not stopping at pedestrian crossings.

This are all good actions and I fully agree that penalties should be applied to those who drive irresponsibly and put their life an others at great risk. I am also confident that some improvement will come out of this actions however I don’t think that the improvement will be significant or sustainable.

The reason for my skepticism is the research in behavioral psychology. As Daniel Kahneman, winner of Nobel prize, said in his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, it has been proven in years of research that rewards for improved performance work better every time than punishment of mistake. The explanation why punishment SEEMS to get results it’s because, most of the times, when we punish someone the person who has been punished was already doing something very bad so whatever he does after that will seem like an improvement to us. In fact this improvement is not dew to the punishment but it is just a regression to the mean, a normal part of life that would have happened without our intervention.

Another statistic that supports my skepticism towards penalties is the correlation between the fines amount, speed limits and number of deaths per year.  As an example we can take Germany (5,7 Deaths/100k), Denmark (5,4 Deaths/100k) France (6,6 Deaths/100k) Holland (4 Deaths/100k) and Romania (13 Deaths/100k) (Data from 2011). The speed limits in this countries are almost the same with Germany as an exception because on many highways it has no speed limits. Since Germany is the only exception we cannot conclude with 100% certainty that in fact speed limits alone do not make the road safer and are required only in certain driving conditions but it sure seems that way.

So if speed limits are not the main reasons maybe the difference is in the amount of the fines: All countries have relatively high fines, compared to average income in that country, with Denmark and France fining more drastically speeding, however the difference in the fine amount is not reflected in the number of deaths as Germany has almost the same rate of mortality as Denmark. Also if we look at Netherlands, which has one of the busiest traffic networks in Europe and average fines, it’s one of the safest place to drive according to statistics, similar to Switzerland with (3,8 deaths/100k).

This long list of statistical data can give us a clue about the results of higher fines and increased punishment. But if punishment is not the main solution what other things are the West E.U. countries doing better than us to get almost 3 times less fatalities on their roads? While driving in many different countries across Europe I noticed 2 main differences and I would like, with your help, to raise awareness about this things so in the future we can all drive on SAFER roads. This differences are related in my opinion to infrastructure and public awareness about safety.

Road surface quality plays a big role in a safe driving environment but also the lack of road signs can have an equally important role. The missing road markings create so many near misses and dangerous situations which I am sure you are all familiar with. For instance when you try to avoid an obstacle on the road and almost hit the incoming traffic, because of a missing triangle to show the obstacle, when the lines on the road do not exist and you realize suddenly you are too close to the edge, when there is someone crossing the street on a place where used to be a road crossing but now the signs on the tarmac are not visible and you have to break suddenly forcing the cars behind you to do the same and the list can go on…All the West European countries have very good road markings especially on dangerous area because if nothing is there to warn us about an upcoming dangerous situation how can we prepare for it?

We don not have good road markings but we can look on the bright side and be happy that we have the chance to install the newest and safest technologies available.

1. Glow in the dark paint for the roads. In Britain Pro-Teq has developed Starpath which is a sprayable coating of light-absorbing particles that harvests ultra-violet rays from the sun during the day and dramatically lights up like a starry sky at night. The veneer is non-reflective, anti-slip and waterproof, and can be applied to cement, wood, tarmac or other solid surfaces. In Holland designers at the Dutch firm Studio Roosegaarde are the architects behind the country’s new transportation redesign. Their first measure is to paint roadway lines over with photo-luminescent powder, making lanes glow brightly in the dark.

2. Traffic signs that can absorb shock from a crash where developed in Britain and road signs for pedestrians crossing  powered by solar energy are already being installed in many parts of our country, signs that can be easily produced in Romania also and that make the crossing much more visible and safer.

This are just a few examples but the other part that needs to be improved in order to reduce the number of people dying is public awareness. We have deep in our culture routed the true belief that health is the most important asset we have however we seem to forget this every time we get behind the wheel of a car. We always wish someone for good health on special occasions and we always pray for it for our self and for our family but we still drive irresponsibly and we put in danger not only our health but also others people health. God can only help us to a certain extent.

So how can we be the change we want to see in the world, next time we drive?

1. Leave 10 min earlier so you don’t have to rush.

2. Remind your colleague who is running late, stuck in traffic, that the world will not end if he is 5 min late and he should take his time to get to you safe rather than fast.

3. Call 112 when we see a dangerous situation on the road with no marking, so that the road authorities can take action, even if it will take them months to do it think about how many people will avoid a crash because you placed a phone call.

4. Remind people that are driving irresponsibly they have someone waiting for them at home.

5. If you are receiving a fine remind yourself that if the fine is the only thing that makes you drive slower in a dangerous area, the fine is preferable instead of a large bill for an expensive car repair, or for hospital care.

We cannot build highways without the Government but we can make the roads a little safer for us, for our children and for others by being just a little more careful next time we drive.

Please help us raise awareness about this topic by sharing with us your suggestions on how can we increase safety on roads and by talking about it with friends, family and officials.

LIFE and HEALTH are the greatest gifts we have and it’s a shame to lose them on the road.

The choice is always yours.

Until next time drive safe,

F.M.B.

reconstructromania@gmail.com

 

For interesting comparisons between countries you can check:

http://www.maki-car-rental.com/rent-a-car/international-car-fatality.html