Updated: Aug 19, 2019
Between the incessant advertising from the beauty industry & the chronic push for hormonal birth control, women are on the front lines of toxic exposure.
It pains me to say this but, yes, toxins are everywhere. However, living in a state of fear is not helpful in combating these subpar circumstances. We can't instantly change the fact that we are dealing with toxins at every corner, but we CAN make empowered choices that will significantly reduce our exposure to said toxins. I'm not about living in fear of what I cannot control, but I AM about giving the power back to the people to create positive change.
The reality is....
...many illnesses are driven by toxins - autoimmune disease, hormonal imbalance, gut health, etc. Women especially are on the front lines of this due to our unique and complex hormonal cycle that can be dramatically affected by incoming toxins that mimic our own hormones. When I was healing autoimmune disorder, I remember living in fear of EVERYTHING, and to be honest it got me absolutely no where. That fear just creates high levels of stress hormones like cortisol, and we all know the busy, modern woman needs a little less of that bad boy in her life.
I want to impart to you that focusing on what you can control is much more effective & healing than overwhelming yourself with all the things you cannot control.
And for those of you who haven't given toxic exposure a single thought, I hope you'll finish this inspired to pay closer attention to what's in your food, beauty products, water & house.
I also want to encourage you to become your own scientist and researcher before purchasing products or trusting that just because something is manufactured, it must be "safe."
Become a regular on the EWG website, or the Environmental Working Group, and educate yourself on what it means to live a low-tox lifestyle. EWG is the industry leader in non-toxic living and provides 1000's of resources for free!
If you remember one thing my friends, let it be that what's good for the earth is good for you too. I'm an advocate for human & planetary health and how these can intersect to create greater global health.
So let's reduce your toxic exposure, shall we?
1. Get Yourself Some House Plants! (like heaps of them)
House plants are the bomb. Get ready to be absolutely mesmerized by the power of a simple house plant. NASA (as in thee NASA) did a study on plants, placing them in chambers and pumping those chambers full of toxins such as ammonia and formaldehyde. After 24 hours they tested the air quality and found that in some cases, certain plants had removed up to 90% of the toxins! Whoa, right? When plants breathe in carbon dioxide they also take in toxins BUT what’s super amazing is that the microbes in the soil are what do much of the cleaning & removing. In essence, house plants are cleaning the air in your home for you.
Without plants breathing oxygen into the air for us, we'd be dead - which is all the more reason to oxygenate your home. The list below provides top contenders for best house cleaning greenery. All of them require low light and minimal effort but they are still living creatures so do make sure to water and thank them for their contribution to your wellness. I personally like to name mine, and have good long chats with them every day - call me crazy but mine are all thriving :)
Snake plant/Mother in Laws
2. Invest in a Salt Lamp
Much like house plants, salt lamps function as an air purifier. Salt pulls moisture to itself; moisture that contains mold, dust, pollen, dander & bacteria. This is why if you leave salt out it will get clump because its pulling in all the moisture from the air. In addition, salt lamps block EMF, or electromagnetic frequency from wifi and our devices - another form of toxicity. There is increasing research to prove the negative effects of EMF toxicity on the body, including links to cancer & depression. Finding any means to reduce this exposure is extremely beneficial. If those aren't big enough selling points, the color of the lamp (sunset orange) supports are body's natural circadian rhythm by helping us produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
Pro tip: keep the lamp on all the time as once the light is off the lamp will "cry," meaning the moisture it attracted will drip and potentially damage the bulb and chord. Not only that but the lamp is only doing it's "job" when the light is on. I suggest keeping one in your bedroom and one close to your devices such as tv or computer.
3. Open Your Windows Daily
I know this may sound a bit silly, but opening your windows daily, even in winter, is a great way to let toxins out and and fresh air and negative ions in! Don't be fooled by the name, there is nothing "negative" about negative ions. In fact, they are found most densely in the cleanest air, by the ocean, after a storm, and near a water fall. Have you ever caught yourself saying, " I just need to get some air," well thats because fresh air is full of negative ions that actually positively impact your mood & health. When we get out of confined spaces full of toxins, we feel like we can breathe and think better; this isn't an imagined experience, it's real! In crowded spaces like offices and cities, you'll find a much higher density of positive ions which impact the body negatively - sounds backwards right? Once a day open your windows, no matter how cold, to let out carbon dioxide and let in fresh oxygen and negative ions. You'll feel refreshed and awake!
4. Trash Your Teflon "non-stick" Pans
Teflon is a toxic chemical used to make "non-stick" pans that many, many households use on a daily basis. While this seems convenient and helpful for cooking and cleaning purposes, it is yet another way to ingest unnecessary toxins that leech from the pan to your food. Teflon is one of several chemicals classified as a PFOA, which is man-made & manufactured to use in things such as electronics, packaging, water-repellent, paints, cleaning products etc. So tell me, do you really want to cook with something daily that is also used to make paint? I don't think so sister! Studies have shown that PFOAs can lead to birth defects, immunological problems, kidney & liver damage, reproductive disorder, cancer, tumors, thyroid disruption and more. Not only is that a scary thought but PFOAs break down very slowly and have all sorts of long term environmental implications. If teflon takes a long time to break down in the environment, imagine that same process happening in your body! You don't want toxic chemicals in your body, let alone ones that take ages to leave it. Swap your non-stick cookware with stainless steel pots/pans. Avoid aluminum bakeware & switch to glass instead.
5. Invest in a Water Filter
If your water stinks, that's a pretty big indication you're consuming toxic liquid. Unfortunately, water these days is filled with chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine in order to "disinfect" it from the bacteria it meets while flowing through long stretches of pipeline. It's a bit of a conundrum because the chemicals we use to disinfect our water are also harmful to the human body. That being said it's important not to drink water straight from the tap (or in plastic bottles but we'll get to that soon) and filter it through a high quality water filtration system. Sorry to rain on your parade but those handy dandy brita filters don't really do the trick. In order to reduce toxins, you'll need to invest in something more comprehensive, that removes as much toxicity as possible. You can check with the NSF and EWG for certified water filtration systems proven to drastically improve the quality of your water. A full house filtration is ideal, (as in your shower and bathroom taps) but that's not accessible to everyone so I recommend starting with your drinking and cooking water. Try exploring options such as the Berkey or Reverse Osmosis Systems.
6. Ditch Plastic Bottles (& containers)
Don't drink from plastic bottles, like ever. The only exception I make (on rare occasion) is when I travel on planes and have no choice. Otherwise, buy yourself a stainless steel or glass bottle and carry your water around in that. Plastic is full of chemicals such as BPA that leach into the water and right into YOUR body. Chemicals in plastic are prime suspects for hormonal disruption in women. These "endocrine disruptors," or chemicals that mimic hormones in the body, can create all sorts of hormonal imbalance in women. They've even been linked to miscarriages. The European Chemicals Agency (ECA) has qualified BPA as a "substance of very high concern." Not only that, but you are doing the planet a huge favor by significantly reducing your plastic consumption. It takes plastic between 450-1000 years to decompose!! Again, whats good for you is also good for the planet & vice versa.
Consider how many items you use regularly that are contained in plastic - a lot right? Ideally you'll reduce your plastic exposure all around but the reality is so many of our products are contained in plastic, so simply be mindful about how much plastic is actually in your life and take measures to avoid it as much as possible. Also, be sure to never heat plastic in the microwave as that increases the chemical "drip" into your food. Big no, no.
7. Eat Organic Produce and/or Wash Your Produce Properly
One of the best choices you can make for your health is to switch from conventional to organic meat, produce and dairy. Conventionally farmed food is FULL of pesticides, chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, etc. If the plant or animal was exposed to it, then you better believe you will be too. Not only are you supporting your body by switching to organic, but you're also protecting the air, soil, and planet from the harsh chemicals conventional farming spreads. We know this is true because not even organic food is fully 100% chemical free due to possible exposure from neighboring chemically-ridden farms. While it is rare to find a completely, 100% "clean" piece of produce, organic is significantly less toxic than conventional. Because of this I recommend you wash your produce (organic or not) in a large bowl of filtered water with a teaspoon of baking soda. For best results let it sit for 10-15 minutes to remove any residual toxins.
You can also review the EWG's dirty dozen and clean fifteen to see which fruits & veg are most toxic and which are least toxic. For example, you can save money by buying conventional avocados or pineapple because they are "clean" and splurge on organic greens and berries because they are "dirty." Become a smart consumer by educating yourself on where your food comes from and how it is grown.
8. Switch to Organic, Preservative Free Wine
When it comes to alcohol, I don't endorse drinking it while in the acute phase of healing, especially if you're dealing with Auto Immune Disease or other serious illness. However, for many women (and men) this is a very challenging treat to give up - I totally get it and I'm more about supporting empowered decisions than completely restrictive ones. Not to stereotype, but women do love a glass of wine, am I right? Wine is not the enemy, but mixed with our stressful lives & hormonal imbalance it can work against us, instead of for us. That being said, if you are going to drink wine its very, very important to switch from conventionally grown grapes which are highly toxic and smothered in pesticides, to organic AND preservative free options. Grapes have very thin skin, which makes them super susceptible to pesticides and chemicals. As they are incredibly fickle plants to grow, many wine makers spray the heck out of them to keep bugs and pests away and "preserve" the crop. On top of that, conventional wine is full of preservatives used to keep the wine "good" longer.
Next time you buy a bottle of wine look on the back label and you'll see things like, "contains sulfites" or "preservative 220" - these bad boys are the toxic components that lead to the dreaded hangovers and headaches. My body felt a huge difference by switching to both organic and preservative free wine. If I drink something made conventionally I get a headache within minutes - this is because my lifestyle is so clean that I'm more sensitive to toxins now. As you clean up the toxic overload in your life, you too will experience increased sensitivity which is a sign of a good health, not bad! My favorite clean wine is Temple Bauer Wine - not only are they organic & preservative free but they are completely carbon neutral and super mindful of their environmental footprint. Making this simple change, which really doesn't cost much more than conventional, has a huge impact on your toxic exposure. And wouldn't it be a treat to enjoy a glass or two of red without a vicious hangover the next day?
9. Invest in Clean Beauty & Hygiene Products
I was guilty of using some of the most toxic beauty products out there. I was a HUGE make up junkie & heavy hair sprayer until I realized just how toxic mainstream beauty can be. Several years ago I decided to start investing in high quality products that I use every day such as toothpaste, deodorant, perfume, make up, face wash, body wash etc. If you're using something every day, I highly suggest finding products that will support your health instead of hinder it. Using something everyday, your whole life = toxic overload. Of course from time to time a little conventional lippy isn't going to kill you but lets be honest, women use a lot of toxic products every day - much more than men. Ditch the fluoride toothpaste for something safer for your body. I recommend toothpaste from Dr. Bronner's or Tom's of Maine
In some cases, yes, these products might be more expensive, but this is your opportunity to vote with your hard earned money. The industry will keep manufacturing toxic products if people keep buying them. If women stopped buying them the industry standard & price would change. Remember that the beauty industry is driven by women, not men, so the power is yours. If you don't know what qualifies as "clean," the mantra "less is more" is a good rule of thumb. There should be few ingredients & real things such as aloe, papaya, coconut oil, water, baking soda, etc. To be sure what you're buying isn't toxic you can download the EWG's product review app or check out their Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. If you wouldn't feed it to your baby, don't put it on your skin ladies!
10. Get Yourself a Menstrual Cup
Traditional menstrual products are made from inorganic cotton and filled with synthetic perfumes and chemicals. Yuck! While this may seem like a good idea to keep you feeling "fresh" down there, it's actually terrible for your lady bits, which happens to be one of the most thin and sensitive areas in your body. Switching from one use tampons/pads to reusable products such as the menstrual cup and washable cloth pads, is an absolute game changer for your body and the planet. More than 200,000 tonnes of menstrual products are thrown away every single year, which is about 250-300 pounds per woman. Yikes! Those chemically ridden products are inserted into your body (releasing toxins) and then tossed back into the earth creating double the negative impact by leaching chemicals into our air and water - yea, pretty terrible hey? Do your body and the planet a favor and switch to a no-tox product made from natural resources such as silicone and organic cotton. If you're not ready for a cup then opt for organic products such as NatraCare. You can also explore brands such as OraniCup, Lunette, Hannah Pads & Luna Pads which provide detailed instructions and information on the importance of clean feminine products.
11. Make Your Own House Cleaning Solutions (easily)
Honestly, of all the items you can make at home, cleaning solutions are probably the easiest and cheapest. It's time to get rid of your bleach, windex, & any other toxic rich chemicals you are using daily/weekly to clean your home. These are some of the most toxic chemicals around and switching to natural cleaners significantly reduces toxic exposure. Some of my favorite contenders for clean cleaning (haha is that a total positive?) are baking soda, white vinegar, organic essential oils, (lemon, eucalyptus, thieves, tea tree) hydrogen peroxide, grapefruit seed extract and salt. For example you can mix filtered water with a few drops of thieves oil to create a countertop cleaner, or sprinkle baking soda, white vinegar and lemon oil in your toilet & scrub. In the case of mopping I simply add 3 drops of eucalyptus oil & 2 drops of grapefruit seed extract to a bucket of warm water and voila! You can use salt, borax & GSE to scrub your shower & bathroom - the options are endless once you know the key ingredients needed to make non-toxic solutions.
For those of you who want an even quicker solution - grab the magic, all purpose bastille soap, Dr. Bronner's. Bronner's is an organic oil based cleaner that can be used to do just about anything! From dishes, to dogs (yes you can clean your dog), floors, plates & beyond, Bronner's is a safe and potent alternative to chemical cleaners. They even carry clean toothpaste & body wash.
You see ladies, toxins come at us from all angles and its our choice whether we fight for or against them. It's sooo important to recognize the connection between planetary disease and human disease - our toxic choices are creating an environment where absolutely no one benefits. Even those making all the money are being affected negatively because their health is not immune to this toxic environment. Small changes can lead to massive impact. If every woman switched to reusable feminine products that would be 200,000 tonnes LESS toxic waste per year! Women in particular need to take a stand as they are the ones being so deeply impacted by devastating toxic implications.
I challenge you to choose 2 things from this list that you can start sharing with others & actioning right away in your life. Change happens one baby step at a time.
https://draxe.com/health/detox/best-nontoxic-cookware/ Annie Price, 2018
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/10/stark-truth-long-plastic-footprint-will-last-planet/ Wright, Kirk, Molloy & Mills, 2018