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Is Your Environment Making You Sick?

It’s time to talk about all the hidden things that surround you throughout the day that are impacting your health. Your environment, and the things you are exposed to, could be making you feel unwell. Today, we are digging into what’s happening around you that might be affecting your health.

The Concept of Environment

Before we go any further, let’s talk about what “environment” means. Every time we hear the word, we each picture something different. For some, it might be the countryside with fresh air. For others, it might be tall concrete buildings in the middle of busy streets. Some people might even start thinking about their urban environmental health problems. 

To help you understand better, let’s look at the four main types of environments: biological, physical, food, and social. These will help you understand the health impacts of the environment on your body.

Nutritional Environment

The nutritional environment is all the different things in a person’s life that affect their food choices and habits. You need to know about your nutritional surroundings to make smart food choices. This is because you need to think of how your food is made.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are plants and animals with altered DNA for specific traits. They offer benefits like larger produce or pest resistance. However, concerns arise about potential allergies and antibiotic resistance linked with these genetically modified foods.

Food Additives: Colors, Preservatives, and Flavor Enhancers

Food additives are added to food during cooking or preparation to make it taste, look, or last longer. While these additives are useful in other ways, concerns arise about their potential impact on health.

Artificial Colors

Some additives, like Red #40, commonly found in candies and soft drinks, may contribute to hyperactivity in children. It is also carcinogenic, meaning it may cause cancer.


While preserving food shelf life, certain preservatives can release harmful chemicals into our bodies. It can lead to serious health issues like the following:

  • Hypersensitivity
  • Breathing problems like asthma
  • Allergies
  • Brain Damage
  • Low energy levels
Flavor Enhancers

Substances like monosodium glutamate (MSG) may cause symptoms such as headaches, sweating, and chest pain, collectively known as the “MSG symptom complex.”

Emulsifiers and Stabilizers

While generally considered safe, these additives, found in products like chocolate and salad dressings, may cause digestive issues in sensitive individuals.


Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose, have been linked to various health issues. This includes headaches, dizziness, and potential carcinogenic effects.

Our nutritional environment is shaped not only by what we eat but also by our cultural habits. This includes the type of food we’re accustomed to, how it’s prepared, and even our eating habits. Another factor can be your choice of whether to sit down for a family meal or just grab a quick bite. 

All of these affect our health and body. The key is to make informed choices despite the popular dietary trends. It is also important to consider what is in our foods and nutritional environment.

Physical Environment

Our physical environment encompasses everything around us. It includes natural landscapes and human-made structures. It also includes the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we inhabit. However, this environment isn’t always perfect; pollutants and toxins can also be found. So, let’s look at the impact of pollution on health and well-being.

Air Quality and Health

The air we breathe is mixed with pollutants from vehicles, industries, and other sources. These pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter, can be bad for our health. They interfere with oxygen levels, leading to headaches, chest pain, and lung issues.

Water Contamination

Our water sources may contain harmful substances like lead, mercury, arsenic, and nitrates. These chemicals are very bad for our health. Lead and mercury can impact brain health. And then, arsenic and nitrates may cause cancer. 

Chemical Exposure

Pesticides used in agriculture to keep off pests can end up in our food. Glyphosate, a common herbicide, has been linked to potential cancer risks and other health issues, especially for farm workers exposed to it.

Indoor Toxins

Dangerous things like mold, lead, asbestos, radon, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be found in our houses. These chemicals can be found in old paint, pipes, insulation, and other home items. They can cause breathing problems, cancer, and damage your nerves.

Biological Environment

The biological environment refers to the living organisms, both visible and microscopic, that coexist within a particular ecosystem. It is important to understand this environment to figure out what health risks may be present.


There is a type of fungi thriving in damp conditions called mold. It releases spores that can trigger allergies. It can also cause respiratory issues and, in severe cases, mold-related illnesses.


Both beneficial and harmful, there are always bacteria around us. Bacteria like E. coli can cause gastrointestinal issues, while others may lead to chronic inflammation and health problems.


Viruses spread through drops in the air or contaminated surfaces. This is how illnesses like colds, the flu, and COVID-19 started. 


Different parasites are often caused by poor hygiene or contaminated water. It can live inside us and cause long-term health problems.

Toxic Algae

When exposed to toxic algae, water sources and seafood will be contaminated. This will cause poisoning and respiratory issues.


Many allergens like pollen, pet dander, dust, and insect bites can trigger allergic reactions. It can also lead to life-threatening conditions requiring immediate medical attention.

Social Environment

Our social world is something that we can’t see or touch, but it has a big impact on how we feel, what we think, and how we act. It includes the interactions and relationships in our lives. As social beings, our health and happiness are closely linked to the quality of our connection with other people.

Impact of Relationships

Our social environment, including family, friends, colleagues, and community, greatly influences mental and emotional well-being. Positive social connections promote longer and happier lives. On the other hand, loneliness or isolation can lead to depression and anxiety.

Stress and Its Effects

Stress in our social environment acts as an internal alarm system, releasing chemicals for us to cope with short-term challenges. Yet, persistent social stress can harm our health, contributing to various physical and mental issues. So, cultivating a supportive and nurturing social environment is crucial for well-being.

Assessing Social Spaces

Our social environment also includes the digital realm and social media. So, it’s vital to assess the emotional tone of our online spaces. Are they sources of positive connections, or do they contain toxic elements causing stress? 

Environment Health Effects on Genes and Disease

Our genes are like the instructions that make our bodies work. They are the segments of DNA inherited from parents. Some genes, like those for eye color, are fixed, but others change based on the environment.

Mental Health and Stress

Genetics also plays a role in mental health, affecting conditions like depression or anxiety. When we’re stressed for a long time, it can activate these genes, making mental health issues worse.


Sometimes, our immune system starts attacking our own cells, causing autoimmunity. You might have a gene for it, but it usually needs a trigger like viruses, stress, toxins, or certain foods to activate.

Our genes aren’t fixed; they adapt to our surroundings. Understanding how genes and the environment interact is crucial. It helps us make smart choices for our health and prevent diseases.

Our Environment Triggers Inflammation

Now, let’s talk about inflammation. This is something our bodies naturally do when we hurt ourselves or get sick. Normally, it’s a good thing, helping us recover. But if it sticks around for too long—ah, now that’s when things get tricky. It becomes what we call ‘chronic inflammation,’ and it can create a lot of health problems.

Chronic inflammation is a continuous, low-level inflammation that lasts for a long time, sometimes even when there’s no apparent infection or injury. It is different from acute inflammation, which is intense and results from an immediate response to a specific problem.

This kind of long-lasting inflammationis often caused by things in our environment. Three key aspects of our surroundings can trigger inflammation: exposure to pollution, a poor diet, and chronic stress.


First, let’s discuss pollution. Exposure to air pollution—like particulate matter and chemicals—increases the production of inflammation-causing molecules in our bodies called cytokines. The body perceives the pollutants as foreign substances and mounts an immune response to neutralize them. Unfortunately, in the process, this can damage healthy cells and tissues, leading to chronic inflammation.


Next, our diets play a crucial role in either reducing or exacerbating inflammation. A poor diet characterized by highly processed, sugary, and fatty foods can lead to an imbalanced gut microbiome and cause inflammation in the body. On the other hand, a diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can help decrease inflammation and promote overall health.

Chronic Stress

Lastly, chronic stress has a significant impact on inflammation. When we experience ongoing stress, our body releases stress hormones, such as cortisol. In small doses, cortisol is beneficial in suppressing inflammation, but when it is consistently elevated, it can lose its anti-inflammatory properties and lead to chronic inflammation.

Chronic Inflammation and Diseases

Now that we understand the role the environment plays in causing inflammation, let’s explore the link between chronic inflammation and diseases. Numerous health problems are associated with prolonged inflammation, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

In the case of cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This can lead to blockages and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, chronic inflammation is linked to the development of insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. In this scenario, the body’s cells become less responsive to the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, resulting in elevated glucose levels and ultimately, diabetes. Lastly, chronic inflammation contributes to the development and progression of cancer by promoting DNA damage and encouraging tumor growth.

Our Environment Affects Our Gut Microbiome

Now, let’s talk about another crucial aspect of how our environment affects our health, which is through our gut microbiome. You might be wondering, what exactly is a gut microbiome? Just picture your gut as a super busy city. It’s full of bacteria, viruses, and other tiny life forms that have really important jobs in your body. All these tiny beings together make up what we call the gut microbiome.

Now, a healthy gut microbiome is like a well-organized city where everyone knows their job and everything works together in harmony. But what happens when something from the outside messes up this perfect balance? That’s where the trouble starts.

Gut Dysbiosis

Environmental toxins, like antibiotics, pesticides in food, and chlorinated water are the troublemakers here. When you take antibiotics, their job is to destroy bacteria and prevent you from getting sick. The problem is, antibiotics don’t know the good bacteria from the bad, so they end up taking down the helpful ones as well.

Pesticides and chlorinated water can also mess with your gut microbiome. They can actually reduce the number of good microbes hanging out in your gut. Think of it like a storm damaging a beautiful garden—some of the precious flowers won’t survive.

This imbalance can cause a whole bunch of issues. When the helpful bacteria aren’t around to keep things in check, you could end up with autoimmune diseases, where your immune system starts attacking your own cells. Other than that, an imbalanced gut can lead to mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Who’d have thought your gut and brain talk to each other like that? Also, It’s not just the mind that gets affected. An unbalanced gut microbiome can also make it easier to gain weight and even become obese since it helps control how our body uses energy from food.

Understanding How Our Environment Affects Our Health

People need to take action to protect themselves from the harmful effects of pollution. For example, when doing outdoor activities, choose healthy surroundings. You can also look for green spaces and mental health stimulation. Furthermore, supporting sustainable practices can contribute to making the world a cleaner place for everyone. 

If you’re tired of being told it’s all in your head, and you’re ready to #CREATYOUROWNCHANGE, this is your moment. Be a #GAMECHANGER in your health journey today with The KNEW Method.

Hi! I’m Dr. E, The NP with a PHD. Several years ago, my wife was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and the only options given to us were heavy duty medications.

We KNEW there had to be a better way. After a long search, we discovered functional medicine.

With functional medicine we found alternative ways we were able to manage her disease and get her back to feeling like her old self.

We discovered that this way of life not only helps people with various issues, including autoimmune, chronic issues and “I-don’t-feel-good-itis.”

Functional medicine drastically changed our lives and using it I developed The KNEW Method to help others who are suffering or not feeling optimal.

Let’s work together to get you to feeling like your old self again.

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