Let's talk toxins and your health. It's fairly simple - once we understand what is harmful and what's not, we can then make choices to keep our toxic load as light as possible. It's hard to do better unless we know better! By being aware of and actively reducing our exposure to toxins can drastically impact our health and wellbeing.
What is toxic load? (or overload!)
Long story short, toxic load refers to the accumulation of toxins and chemicals in our bodies. These come from a variety of sources, including the food we eat, the household products we use, the environment, our personal care products, and so much more. A 2016 study looked at the chemicals found in indoor dust in various environments - schools, homes, gymnasiums - throughout the United States. They found 45 chemicals derived from consumer products, including household products, beauty products and household items such as bedding. The chemicals found were associated with health issues such as cancer, endocrine and hormone disruption, and reproductive toxicity.
How healthy is your home?
Toxic chemicals have a way of sneaking into our homes and lingering like an unwelcome house guest. While many companies are slowly but surely figuring out ways to make their products better for us, it's shocking how many products are filled with potentially hazardous chemicals. From cleaning products to bedding to personal care products to cookware, we are getting exposed to hundreds of toxins. And I don't know about you, but when it comes to the health and wellbeing of myself and my family, I'm not willing to wait for these companies to come out with healthier products. I have decided to take matters into my own hands and to educate myself and make healthier choices.
But how do you make the switch? There are some easy, simple steps that we can take to begin to reduce the toxic loads in our homes. If you're feeling overwhelmed, start with one. We aren't looking for perfection here! Every tiny step is meaningful and has a positive impact on ourselves and our environment.
How to reduce your toxic load at home
Steer Clear of BPAs
I am pretty sure that an article I read awhile back about the dangers of BPAs was one of the first that made me start looking into my own toxic load. Plastic water bottles and containers are riddled with Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates which are linked to cancer, endocrine problems, hormone imbalance and reproductive issues. Grab yourself some glass or stainless steel containers and be sure to carry a glass, copper, or stainless steel water bottle.
Green Cleaning, Baby!
I'm a big advocate for the Ditch & Switch here. This may be one of the simplest ways to reduce your toxic load. Cleaning products are notorious for being riddled with dangerous chemicals - Butyl cellosolve, phthalates, Perchloroethylene, Triclosan, Ammonia, and so many more. This exposure is so unnecessary and puts stress on your liver and lungs and are associated with asthma and cancer. It is becoming easier to find non-toxic household cleaning products - check some out HERE - but it's also easy enough to make your own. Just mix one part white vinegar, one part water, and a few drops of your favourite essential oils for an all-natural all-purpose cleaning spray!
Beauty is Only Skin Deep
Can you think of how many personal care products you use in a day? Some days I use more than others, but I tend to use around 14 per day! My rule of thumb is that if I can't pronounce something on the ingredients list, I won't put it on my body. So many products contain endocrine disrupters, which mess with your hormones. Start with products that you use the most (toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, face creams) and replace them with chemical-free products. There are a ton of lifestyle products to choose from (HERE) to start the switch. And for all my perfume wearers, it's SO easy to replace your perfumes with essential oils! Once you smell the difference, you'll never go back.
Check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetics database to help you choose safer personal care products.
Go Organic When Possible
I printed out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list and have it on my fridge. I do grow a lot in my garden because I know, buying organic is expensive - especially when you add a partner and some kids to the mix! I try to reach for organic and buy local whenever possible. I also always wash my fruit and veggies in an all-natural soak! Mix 1.5 cups of water with 3/4 cup of organic apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Add 10 drops of Lemon essential oil and shake it all up in a glass spray bottle. Spray on produce and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse well and store once dried! Easy, green, and clean!
Ditch the Non-Stick Pan
Non-Stick pans are super popular. I get it - you can cook with less oil and clean-up is a breeze. But most nonstick pans are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as Teflon. Teflon is released when the pan heats up and has been linked to cancer. These nasty toxins leach into your food! Check out the documentary, "The Devil We Know" on Netflix to get an idea of the dangers associated with non-stick cookware. Ditch the Teflon and switch to stainless steel or cast-iron pans. You and your body will thank me later!
Does this feel impossible to tackle? Don't worry. I know it may seem alarming and overwhelming, but educating yourself is the first step to reducing your toxic load. We do have control over how many toxins we allow into our homes. Don't feel as though you need to take this on all at once though. Try focusing on one or two things, whether it's the food you buy or the beauty products you use. Start by making some realistic switches, reading labels, and let's keep having these conversations. Our health and our planet is too important not to!
Curious about how heavy your toxic load is? Click the image below to take the test and see where you land!