Avoiding environmental toxins in today’s society might seem impossible—they are everywhere! If you haven’t already read Environmental Toxins: Part I and How Environmental Toxins Impact your Body: Part II of our Environmental Toxins Series, take a moment to go over them. Almost every health problem has stress as a component, these blogs hit on the importance of how toxins are affecting our bodies and why we need to try our best to avoid them. You might be thinking, “if these toxins seem to be everywhere, how can I live a healthy life?”
We are here to help. While we can’t avoid every single environmental toxin, there are small actionable steps we can take in our daily and weekly lives to decrease our amount of exposure. This way we aren’t overloading our body with toxins, and backing up our detox organs. When we reduce our exposure, we allow our body to deal with the toxins and rid them at an acceptable and healthy rate. Start making these changes today to help get your health back into balance.
Take a look at the toxins you are surrounding yourself with on a daily basis:
- Household Cleaners
- Beauty Products
- Bedding (mattresses, pillows)
- Certain Supplements
- Water Contamination
- Air Pollutants
- Electrical Magnetic Fields (EMFs)
Choose Non-Toxic Household Cleaners
Think about all the surfaces in your house- your floors, counters, bathroom tiles, windows, etc. When we clean these areas, we are covering the surface area of our home with potentially toxic chemicals. The toxin exposure lasts longer than the initial cleaning session, as traces of the chemicals can linger for days and even weeks. We brush up against these areas, we breathe in the “fresh and natural” smells of the cleaners and our body accumulates small amounts of toxins day after day.
An easy switch to safe, non-toxic cleaners is a change you can make today to stop exposure to some toxins. By choosing a different brand of cleaners when you go shopping next time, you can reduce household toxin exposure to yourself and your family. We use the brand MyGreenFills in our office and it seems to work very well for us. You can even make your own household cleaners with a few simple ingredients—borax, distilled vinegar, baking soda, essential oils. There are recipes online of anything from laundry detergent to all-purpose cleaners.
Be Aware of the Beauty Products You Use
Think of all the products you put on your hair and skin on a daily or weekly basis. Shampoo, deodorant, lotions, make-up… the list goes on and on. Since your skin is your largest organ and absorbs many chemicals quite easily, it’s vital that we pay attention to the ingredients in these products. For the sake of this post, here are three top ingredients to avoid when choosing beauty products.
- Fragrance/ Parfum /Perfume- This is an overall term that can be used for over 300 chemicals. Manufactures are not mandated to disclose the specific chemicals used because they are protected as “trade secrets”, which means you could be exposing yourself to harmful chemicals with every use. Most of these fragrances include phthalates, which help the scent stick to your skin and last longer. Phthalates, however, are endocrine disruptors that can promote thyroid disorders, allergies, and obesity just to name a few. If you check your products, the majority will, unfortunately, have this ingredient- especially shampoos, lotions, hand soaps and obviously perfume itself. Do yourself a favor and do a deep clean of all your beauty products so then you can restock with safe, non-toxic options.
- Parabens- these are used as a preservative that keeps away bacteria and mold build-up. However, like phthalates, they are endocrine disruptors as well. Parabens have shown up in almost every person tested, with women having higher levels than men (due to higher usage of beauty products).
- PEGs (Polyethylene Glycol)- These can increase the permeability of your skin which allows more chemicals to be absorbed into your bloodstream—which is what we don’t want!
Avoid These Hidden Environmental Toxins in Your Food
Making simple changes in your diet can help lessen your toxin exposure immediately. You have the choice to put harmful or helpful foods into your body. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is good or bad because of sneaky marketing techniques companies can use. However, here are some food ingredients you should avoid to help steer clear of toxins.
Avoid foods that include:
- Processed/ refined flours (gluten-containing foods)
- Refined sugar
- Artificial sweeteners (zero-calorie drinks, diet sodas, etc)
- Hydrogenated oils/ Trans fats/ reheated oils/ industrial seed oils
- Non-organic produce (especially foods on the dirty dozen)
- Antibiotics in animal meats (try to buy local, organic meat as often as possible if you want to avoid unwanted toxins)
Throw Out Plastics
Plastics were widely popular when they first came out (and still are). They are cheap, disposable, convenient and non-breakable. However, it’s widely known now that plastics contain harmful chemicals that can have damaging effects on your health. Plastics contain endocrine disruptors, bisphenol A (BPA), di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and phthalates, just to name a few.
When you keep food in plastic containers, those chemicals leak into the food you consume. Be sure not to heat food in those plastic containers in the microwave. This exposes your food to even more chemical contamination. Get rid of your plastic containers and use glass containers, stainless steel, or cast iron instead, and think about getting rid of your microwave too! These are much safer and don’t contain those endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Stay away from bottled water and other bottled drinks since the liquid inside contains chemical residue. Instead, use reusable glass or metal water bottles that you can fill up wherever you go.
Select Quality Water To Drink
Sadly, the majority of people around the country can’t trust the quality of their drinking water. More studies are being released showing that more and more cities have unacceptable levels of harmful chemicals that affect our health. Higher amounts of environmental toxins are getting into our water systems due to contaminated runoff water from agriculture and from personal medications and chemicals in our products that cannot be filtered.
Another issue is the chemicals that are intentionally added to our water to try to clean it or to increase health benefits. One chemical that has been added to the water supply is fluoride. While this was added to reduce the number of cavities in the population, it is showing to have unintentional consequences as well. In new studies, it’s been suggested that people who drink fluoridated water have higher risks of hypothyroidism, ADHD, and kidney damage.
Make sure to know what kind of chemicals are in your water by getting it tested. Not all water supplies are the same and not all water filters can filter out all chemicals. Depending on the results, you can pick the water filter that is best for your specific home. You can visit EWG.org to check what chemicals are most contaminating the water in your specific zip code.
Increase Indoor Air Quality
We are indoors for the majority of our day. Whether it’s sleeping, working or sitting in our living room watching Netflix. It’s important that our environment is set up optimally so that we are breathing in healthy, clean air.
First off, if you are worried you are being exposed to toxins in your house, get your house tested for chemicals like mold, Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs), heavy metals, and flame retardants. Remove as much as possible. This might mean removing certain area rugs or furniture that includes these chemicals or getting rid of the mold by hiring a professional.
Easy ways to increase air quality:
- Routinely dust your home to clean up the dirty particles laying around
- Set up air-filtering plants
- Make sure air vents aren’t blocked by furniture
- Open windows as often as possible to let in fresh air
- Let in natural light so the sun can naturally kill off bacteria
Reduce Stress Levels By Focusing on Body & Mindset
Daily stressors are toxic to your body as well. Stress is cumulative. Emotional, structural, and chemical stresses all affect the body in the same way. Avoid things and situations that you know cause stress in your life. Whether it’s certain people or situations, try saying no for a month or two to see how it affects your stress levels. If you leave your job every day with a headache and tense body, maybe it’s time to search for a new job if that’s an option. What’s the point in working your life away if you can’t enjoy it when you are older?
It’s just as important to be able to manage your stress levels, so you can help relieve stress when it’s unavoidable. By reducing the stress that can be controlled, stressful situations will not have as much of a physical effect. This can help avoid inflammation and toxic build-up within your body that causes harmful health issues. Ways to do this are by practicing meditation, yoga, journaling, exercising, religion/spirituality, and breathing techniques.
Environmental Toxin Testing at In2Great
If you are worried about the environmental toxins you could be exposed to, set up an appointment with In2great. They have Heavy Metal testing, Toxic Non-Metal Chemical testing, Mycotoxin and the Organic Acid Test (OAT). They will work with you one on one, looking at your specific genetic make-up, lifestyle behaviors, and the environmental factors that may be affecting your health. They will get to the root cause of your illness, instead of just covering up your symptoms.