For the vast majority of the time on ‘What’s Pressing’ I talk about nutrition, food and health from the standpoint of what we’re putting directly in to our bodies. Whilst our diet is clearly fundamental for improving, sustaining and maintaining health, it’s not the only thing that matters.
You might be rolling your eyes at this point because you know that obviously exercise, sleep and stress (amongst other things) are important too - but have you ever stopped to consider your health from the standpoint of your overall toxic burden? So much of what we do health wise if focused on what we can put in (supplements, green smoothies etc) and what we can do (workouts, meditation etc) but not usually the environment that we surround ourselves with. How often during your day do you stop to consider the quality of the air you’re breathing? The harmful toxic chemicals in your nail polish or face cream? The non-stick frying pan that you make your pancakes in? The plastic Tupperware that you take your work to lunch in?
In this blog post today I want to give you some easy solutions and ways you can significantly improve your health without having to change your diet, quit coffee or suffer through some hideous HIIT workout.
Before I go into my handy bullet point list of toxic free swaps for your home, cosmetics and kitchens, let’s take a minute to highlight why it’s important that we lower our toxic exposure in the first place.
- A report done in 2018 showed that companies are breaking EU law by marketing hundreds of potentially dangerous chemicals that are widely used in consumer and other products (according to a three year investigation into the chemical industry by national authorities).
- Exposure to many types of industrial chemicals is a leading cause of falling human fertility and rising rates of childhood cancers, among other diseases.
- A third (32%) of the 1,814 high production volume chemicals made or imported into Europe since 2010 break EU laws designed to protect the public and environment from harmful exposure, according to the study by German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and German Environment Agency.
Something else I learned whilst researching for this post was that babies are now born with chemical pollutants in their umbilical cord blood, because our bodies are so toxic already.
"When you start to actually delve into the world of toxins, it’s really, really scary. But despite hitting you with some shocking facts I don’t want you to go away feeling overwhelmed and burdened, just to understand that we’re already up against it."
Our total ‘body burden’ of toxins is increasing rapidly and a lot of it is out of our control these days. So it makes sense to support our bodies where we can, reduce the pressure on our organs of detoxification (liver, kidneys, microbiome) by making some changes to our exposure and environment.
Start by taking one room in your house at a time, or one thing on the following list at a time. Making swaps and changes to your usual habits has to be sustainable and affordable - we can’t just throw out all our beauty products or all our cookware and replace them all at once with new, toxin free equivalents - it would be too overwhelming and too expensive! So go slow, identify the areas in which you can make the most difference (an easy place to start for many people is with air and water filters) and go from there.
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"Thanks for the delicious juice!!! The best I’ve ever had. finished my 3 day advanced cleanse - just wanted to say that I feel less bloated, waist gone down 2cm and lost 2kg (so far no bounce back after resume eating for 2 days). No sugar cravings and haven’t had coffee since then! I used to drink 2-3 cups a day so that’s massive change for me! Thanks and will definitely order again." - Emily A.
A Note on Water Filters
For many of us a water filter is a simple and easy place to start, and it does a lot of good without having to break the bank. Tap water is treated with a large number of chemicals in order to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. A simple Brita filter, which is a coconut based carbon filter, works on ION exchange and typically filters out chlorine, mercury, copper, lead, cadmium and zinc. It’s not desirable to filter out zinc and other minerals, so if you want to make sure you’re filtering out the bad but keeping in the good (minerals) then you can up the ante and invest in a serious piece of kit such as a Berkey filter (prices start from £225).
A Note on Air Quality
The second easiest way to make a real difference, aside from water filtration, is the air you breathe inside your home - especially in your bedroom at night, as this is when the Liver comes alive to ‘take out the trash,’ i.e., go about the process of detoxification. The cheapest, and also an extremely effective, way to do this is with houseplants, lots and lots of houseplants! NASA has a very easy and simple list of the top 10 plants that filter the air and I’d recommend putting at least 3 in each room of your house if you can. If you prefer the more tech-based solution, then an air-purifier is also a great option.
Main categories for toxin exposure
Cookware: Opt for cast iron and stainless steel for cooking instead of aluminium non-stick. Food storage containers should be glass or ceramic.
Green Pan frying pans
VonShef storage containers (bonus is that you can cook with them in the oven too).
Many companies these days market themselves as being ‘toxin free,’ but it’s a load of B.S quite frankly! My recommendation is to either go for vinegar, bicarb and water as a cleaner or seek out a truly toxin free cleaning products company:
Try Koh, an all purpose cleaner that works better than a lot of chemical alternatives and doesn’t pollute your home. I absolutely love this brand.
Personal Care Products
This is a pretty big and pretty scary category. The first thing to remember is that anything we put on our skin has to be biotransformed and excreted by the body via detox pathways, or simply is so unrecognisable to the body that it can’t be excreted ever. Natural brands are getting better and better these days, so it’s much easier to make the swap to chemical-free products.
Evolve Beauty has you covered for all your skincare, shampoo and conditioner.
RMS beauty is fantastic for makeup
Check out The Kind Store, an online shop for all things beauty, home and cleaning.
Georganics make amazing toothpaste and mouthwash
Hairdressers, nail technicians or factory workers listen up! You may well be at risk during your work hours. Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth and avoid any exposure on the skin. Make sure when you come home you do some breathwork (breathing is an excellent way of detoxifying chemicals), and have a hot bath so that you can sweat some toxins out too.
General Home exposure
This is the category that most surprises people. Furniture, carpets and the paint on our walls are all sources of toxicity in the home and often off-gas noxious chemicals like formaldehyde. Budget and cost means that in most cases it’s not possible to buy a sofa from Maker & Sons (one of the 100% natural brands out there) where prices start at £7,000, but you can do things to mitigate against the off gassing of new furniture purchased from other retailers: surrounding it with house plants, leaving it in a room you don't use much for the first month while it off gasses most of it’s toxins, or buying the ‘show’ piece that’s slightly older and consequently has released most of its toxic fumes are all good options, as is buying second hand.
Opt for wooden floors over carpet where you can
When buying new furniture make sure you’ve got lots of house plants near by
I hope some of the swaps and suggestions in this post are useful, and that I haven’t just made you more anxious and worried! The bottom line is that knowledge is power, and small changes really do make a difference.
Statistic References: https://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/349/data-quality-of-environmental-endpoints-in-registrations.pdf