ARE YOU A THREE?
It's a toxic world out there. Some toxins we can avoid and some we can't. So for the sake of argument let's say a personal toxic load of three out of ten is something the body can deal with while not compromising your health. But many toxins are beyond your control such as air pollution or the x-ray you needed when you fractured your wrist mountain biking last summer. What can you do to lower the toxic load you carry?
Step One: Assess Your Cosmetics
Women who use make-up on a daily basis can absorb almost five pounds of chemicals into their bodies each year, so this is not a matter to take lightly. Putting chemicals on your skin is actually far worse than ingesting them, because when you eat something the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help break it down and flush it out of your body. When you put these chemicals on your skin however, they're absorbed straight into your blood stream without filtering of any kind, so the toxic chemicals from toiletries and beauty products are largely going directly to your internal organs. Visit the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database at http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ where you can look up a wide variety of products and brands to find out what they're really made of, and whether or not they're safe. Fortunately, there are many natural cosmetics available today. Ideally look for a verified Organic seal.
Step Two: Replace Non-Stick Cookware and Avoid Stain-Resistant Fabrics
Non-stick cookware contains PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and other perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which are used to make grease-resistant food packaging and stain-resistant clothing as well. Even though there are many names, if the item in question is "non-stick" or "stain/grease resistant," it will have some type of fluoride-impregnated coating that is best avoided. It has been well documented that when non-stick pans are heated the coating begins breaking down, releasing toxins into the air in your kitchen. When the pan reaches 360 degrees C (which takes about three to five minutes of heating), at least six toxic gases are released. Research has revealed that these toxins can accumulate in your blood at an alarming rate and may lead to chronic disease over time. You can keep your exposure as low as possible by avoiding or getting rid of products that contain PFCs such as non-stick cookware and choose either ceramic or glass instead.
Step Three: Avoid Canned Foods And Plastic Containers
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a widely used component of plastic containers and food packaging, such as the inner lining of cans, despite the fact that more than 200 research studies show BPA is harmful to human health. The use of BPA is so pervasive that scientists have found that 95 percent of people tested have dangerous levels of BPA in their bodies. Recent research from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that canned foods and beverages can increase your BPA levels by a staggering 1,000 percent in a mere five days! Only use glass baby bottles and dishes for your baby. Use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel travel coffee mugs rather than plastic or styrofoam coffee cups. Avoid using plastic wrap (and never microwave anything covered in it). Give your baby natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones. Store your food and beverages in glass containers. Avoid using bottled water, filter your own using a reverse osmosis filter instead. If you choose to use a microwave, don't microwave food in a plastic container. Before allowing a dental sealant to be applied to your, or your children's, teeth, ask your dentist to verify that it does not contain BPA. In the event that you do opt to use plastic containers for your food or beverages, be sure to avoid those marked on the bottom with the recycling label No. 7, as these varieties may contain BPA. Containers marked with the recycling labels No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 do not contain BPA.
Step Four: Pay Attention When Buying Furnishings
Find high-quality non-toxic paints, also known as "low-VOC" or "no-VOC" paint. Select non-toxic carpeting, such as those made of wool, or opt for non-toxic flooring like solid wood or bamboo. One of the primary hazards when it comes to furnishings is flame retardants or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). These are commonly found in mattresses, upholstery, drapes, curtains and television and computer casings and circuit boards. Studies have linked PBDEs to learning and memory problems, lowered sperm counts and poor thyroid functioning in rats and mice. Your mattress may be of particular concern, as many contain not only PBDE's, but also toxic antimony, boric acid, and formaldehyde and manufacturers are not required to label or disclose which chemicals their mattresses contain. However, some manufacturers now offer toxin-free mattresses, such as those made of 100% wool, which is naturally fire resistant.
Step Five: Change Your Cleaning Products
Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, household chemical cleaners, and synthetic air fresheners. One of the best non-toxic disinfectants is plain soap and water. You can use this for washing your hands, your body and for other household cleaning. Another all-purpose cleaner that works great for kitchen counters, cutting boards and bathrooms is 3% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. You can also keep your home very fresh and clean by making your own natural cleaning products using items you probably already have around your home such as baking soda mixed with apple cider vinegar to clean drains and bathtubs, or sprinkle baking soda along with a few drops of lavender oil or tea tree oil (which have antibacterial qualities) as a simple scrub for your bathroom or kitchen. Vinegar can be used to clean almost anything in your home. Try it mixed with liquid castile soap, essential oils and water to clean floors, windows, bathrooms and kitchens. It can even be used as a natural fabric softener. Hydrogen peroxide is safer to use than chlorine bleach for disinfecting and whitening. Vodka is a disinfectant that can remove red wine stains, kill wasps and refresh upholstery (put it into a mister and simply spray on the fabric).
Step Six: Eat Organic and Garden Without Harmful Chemicals
It's well known that conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are often tainted with unacceptable levels of pesticide residues and you're also exposed when you eat animal products. Animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO's) eat feed full of pesticides, and these toxins accumulate in their flesh and fat over the course of their lifetimes. When you eat factory-farmed meat, you then ingest these accumulated pesticides. As for fresh produce, certain fruits and vegetables tend to be far more contaminated than others, simply because they're more susceptible to various infestations and therefore sprayed more heavily. Some foods are also more "absorbent," with thin, tender skins. Such foods would be high on your list for buying organic. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) produces an annual shopper's guide to pesticides in produce at http://www.ewg.org/ . Fermented foods can be helpful too as some of the beneficial bacteria produced in fermented foods have been found to help detoxify insecticides.
Avoid using synthetic pesticides in your home or garden. There are safe and effective natural alternatives for virtually every pest problem you come across. For instance, boric acid powder is a very effective deterrent to roaches and ants. Sprinkle some in the inner corners of your cabinets and in the corners under your cabinets. Pests will carry it back to their nests on their feet and kill the remainder of the infestation. Boric acid is non-toxic for animals and only kills the insects. Or, for a homemade garden spray that will discourage most pests, use some mashed garlic paste combined with a little cayenne pepper or horseradish. Add a small amount to a gallon jug of water and let it sit for a day or two, shaking it occasionally. Just spray a small amount onto a few leaves first to make sure it's not so strong that it will burn them.
Step Seven: Boost Your Immune System
In order to detox chemicals from our bodies we need a beautifully functioning immune system. In today's world many people over-respond to toxins, allergens, normal bacteria and parasites and under-respond to viruses, yeast, and intracellular bacteria. The immune system has become out of balance. A healthy immune system is dynamic, able to switch back and forth as needed, quickly eradicating one threat and then resting before responding to the next.