You value a healthy lifestyle and make an effort to “be healthy.”
You opt for green salads with protein and healthy fat at lunch.
You workout 3 to 5 times per week.
And you aim to sleep 7 to 8 hours most nights.
You feel pretty good…for the most part.
But for whatever reason, you don’t feel 100-percent—or at least you wonder what else you can do to “be healthier” (after all you try pretty hard).
- Your digestion is “off” and you’re frequently bloated or constipated
- Your metabolism is slow and you hold on to weight easier than you’d like
- You breakout still—embarrassing flare ups of adult acne
- Seasonal allergies are the worst and take you down
- Your immune system is low—you’re sick several times per year
- Your PMS is awful, you’ve struggled with infertility or periods are irregular
- You’re frequently fatigued (even with all your good sleep)
- Or you’ve been told you have a thyroid “issue”
Beyond your leafy greens, workouts and beauty sleep, there are culprits out to take your health down that you can’t see with the naked eye : Environmental toxins.
ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS: THE HIDDEN HEALTH ENEMY
The average woman is exposed to over 120 chemicals in her hygiene and beauty products in the morning before leaving her house.
Of the 10,500 chemicals used in personal care products, nearly 90% of these have not been evaluated for safety.
And, even before you’ve been in the world for more than a few days, researchers have found over 200 environmental chemicals in the cord blood of newborns alone.
Toxic “burden” is real.
Toxins refer to the synthetic (fake) chemicals in our environment that are associated with disease, posing threat to your body’s natural state of health and well-being.
Toxins in our beauty products, cleaning products, water supply, plastics, environmental inhalants and more have the ability to: Disrupt hormones, jack with your metabolism and blood sugar balance, and ultimately cause oxidative stress in your body—connected with a myriad of diseases.
When your liver (detoxifying organ) is exposed to toxins greater than its ability to fight off those toxins, then health imbalances are inevitable.
(Your liver says “May Day! May Day!”)
You can consume the healthiest diet in the world, along with regular exercise, but if your body is overstressed from other factors—toxins included—than optimal health becomes an uphill battle.
- Constipation, bloating, IBS and other “gut issues”
- Allergies (seasonal, food)
- Low immunity
- Thyroid imbalances
- Hormone imbalances (missing period, horrible PMS, infertility, etc.)
- “Chronic” or “genetic” disease presentation (more susceptible to cancer, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, etc.)
- Low energy and fatigue
Your amount of toxic exposure could be the “slight edge” for going from “good” to “great” in your own health journey and how you feel overall.
While the complete avoidance of toxins is unavoidable (and you can’t live in a bubble), there ARE measures you can take reduce your toxic exposure, and potentially, correct or reverse health conditions or “issues” you’ve been experiencing too.
It all starts with ONE thing at a time—one overhaul at a time and asserting a healthy control over your environment, lifestyle, personal care products, cleaning products and more.
Not sure where or how to start eliminating one toxic exposure at a time?
Here are 5 Ways to Detox Your Body & Lifestyle (in the name of health), plus a bonus insider tip for making this detox work for your busy self— (beyond just what you eating salads or working out harder in the gym).
(P.S. These are tips your personal trainer, doctor or a Google article on weight loss, constipation cures or thyroid support probably won’t tell you).
- Food Detox
One of the biggest game changers in your own detoxification does involve the foods you eat—the quality that is. Since most of us eat at least three times per day, the food we are exposed to matters. What are you putting in the tank? Even foods marketed as “healthy”—like protein bars and shakes, Halo Top ice cream, grilled chicken or that juicy apple can contain synthetic chemicals and pesticides that wreak havoc on your body.Sodium dioxide, aspartame, “natural flavors” and Round-Up pesticide spray are all frequently consumed toxins. True, a little dirt never hurt, but over time, with consistent or frequent exposure can irritate your gut lining (hello leaky gut), thwart hormone balance or insulin levels. A few key points for detoxing your food supply:
- Reach for organic and “non-GMO” foods as much as possible—particularly for the “Dirty Dozen” – (if you’re on a budget, the “Clean 15” is not as critical to buy in the organic version)
- Avoid artificial sweeteners (Halo Top, Quest Bars, protein powders, fat-free yogurt). If you do sweeten something, a little dab of the real thing—fruit, pure raw honey or organic maple syrup goes a long way.
- Read the ingredient labels of your foods. More than 3-5 ingredients? Consider an alternative. Reach for real-food (no labels or packaging/processing as much as possible)
- Choose sustainably-raised organic, grass-fed and pastured meats, poultry, dairy and wild-caught fish—particularly for fattier cuts of meat
- Wash your foods and hands with filtered, clean water and store in glassware containers (particularly hot or warmed foods)
- Avoid microwave use as much as possible—reheat foods as they were prepared (in the oven or stovetop)
- Consume pre-cooked food within three to four days of making it, or store in the freezer.
- Water Detox
Beyond food, water is equally contaminated (if not more). The EWG has identified 316 contaminants in the public water supply, 202 of which are unregulated and many are common names you recognize—fluoride, chloramine, chlorine, lead, arsenic and chromium-6 (the carcinogenic chemical in the water in the movie “Erin Brockovich” that over 216 million people drink in their tap water). There’s no question that chemicals in our water also do a number on our health. For instance: Chlorine and chloramine in water have been linked to bladder, kidney, rectal, and breast cancer, as well as asthma. Fluroide (in our water and toothpaste) has been linked to: GI disturbances (constipation, bloating), thyroid conditions, diabetes and hormone disruption.Want to know the “health” of your tap water supply in your city? The EWG has a pretty cool database where you can do a little sleuthing to see where your water ranks and what chemicals may be lurking in your water cup. A few key things you can do though to avoid harmful ingestion of water chemicals include:
- Ditch the plastic water bottles (EWG has found 38 contaminants in 10 popular brands) and get a stainless steel water bottle (not just a plastic BPA-free bottle, since many BPA-free plastics still contain other contaminants and toxins)
- Invest in a water filter for home, like the Berkey (above sink) Water Filter or Radiant Life 14- stage biocompatible water purification system (install under the sink), which has three purifiers: a reverse osmosis filter and then two deionization purifying stages.
- Get a shower filter. Vitamin C shower heads are a less expensive option, and they remove 99 percent of chlorine.
- Choose “filtered” clean water as much as possible (like the filtration stations you see at gyms, airports and other businesses)—over water fountain water or tap water. (And change your water filters on time—in your fridge, water bottles, etc.)
- Beauty Detox
Talc, parabens, sulfate—just to name a few names in the average 9 beauty and personal care products you use each day (with over 120 chemicals combined)—and, unfortunately, no premarket safety testing is required for the chemicals that go into personal care and cosmetic products. In its 36 years, the FDA has rejected only 11 ingredients as “unsafe” in cosmetics (CIR 2012). Comparatively the European Union has banned hundreds of chemicals in cosmetics (European Commission 2012). From shampoo to conditioner, toothpaste, face wash, hair gel, and makeup, it takes a lot of work to “look good”—and yet, our repetitive habits with our beauty products also don’t do a body good.Your body eats what your skin eats. Even if you’re not chewing and swallowing your Neutrogena face wash, you are STILL exposed to cosmetic and hygiene ingredients in many ways: breathing in sprays and powders, swallowing chemicals on the lips or hands or absorbing them through your skin. Many of the chemicals in our conventional beauty products are linked to hormone disruption, thyroid imbalances, gut “issues,” low immunity, allergies and cancer.Conventional powders, mascaras, lip gloss, toothpaste, body wash and beyond are like the McDonald’s Big Macs and fries of the beauty world. Begin opting for cleaner options with these simple tips:
- Check out the Think Dirty App to scan the barcodes of popular products to see where they rank in your “acceptable category” and review EWG’s “Skin Deep” website to do some research on best products for you.
- Try these simple swaps at the store or online:Shampoo & Conditioner: Buy sulfate-free and paraben-free shampoo/conditionerToothpaste: Opt for fluoride and triclosan-free toothpaste (I like Jason’s brand, found at Whole Foods and select Grocery Stores)Nailpolish: Avoid Formaldehyde, Toulene or Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) in polish (Try Acquarella, Honeybee Gardens, Suncoat , Piggy Paint)Skin Moisturizer & Lotions: Avoid products with fragrance, as well as retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid and retinol. Try Aromatica, ATTITUDE, Be Green, Babytime Lotion or going natural (see point #3).Soap: Avoid Triclosan and triclocarban; Opt for a good ol regular (fragrance free) soap or Bronner’s Pure Castille soapPerfumes: Fragrances can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world, opt for essential oils instead.
- Go a la natural—consider making your own beauty products at home. For instance, coconut oil or jojoba oil are great moisturizer bases, apple cider vinegar is a great toner, and good ol’ soap and water often go a long way. I love the Wellness Mama’s recipes for homemade beauty care (also check out her homemade perfume)
- Gradually replace your MAC, Chanel and NARS with more “real” (less toxic) makeup products. Avoid parabans for sure—connected to endocrine disruption. Some top brands? Beauty Counter has become one popular seller, but there are multiple others including: Josie Maran, Araza, Primal Life Organics and W3LL People.
- Check out the products from vendors taking a stand against toxic exposure, like: Fat Co, The Dirt (toothpaste, deoderant), Skin Foodie, Magestically Made—just to name a few.
- Cleaning Product Detox
Similar to beauty products, the cleaning products you use on your counters, kitchen space and weekly household chores can go one of two ways—highly toxic, or low-toxic exposure. Ditch the Clorox and bleach in favor of natural ingredients like: White Vinegar, Baking Soda, Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemons, Essential Oil and Liquid Castille Soap & Water. Here are some of my favorite ways to use these:
- Oven Cleaner—Baking Soda + Water. Scrub, scrub, then leave to “soak” for a few hours.
- Air Freshener—Essential Oils in a Diffuser or, in a medium saucepan, simmer a quart of water with natural ingredients to freshen and clean the air (like 1 sliced lemon, 2 tablespoons rosemary and a dash of vanilla, or 1 sliced orange, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg and cloves.
- All-Purpose Cleaner– Fill a jar with citrus peels and pour undiluted white vinegar over them. Leave for a few days (up to 2 weeks) and strain out the vinegar to use as a natural cleaner or Windex.
- Toilet Cleaner- Dump a cup of baking soda into the toilet and let it soak for at least an hour. Pour in a cup of white vinegar, leave for 5 mins and flush.
- Cookware Cleaner– Use sea salt or course salt mixed with a little lemon juice and scrub. Also, try baking soda and water made into a paste.
- Laundry Detergent- In a large bowl, mix 2 parts washing soda (Arm + Hammer Brand), 2 parts Borax (like Mule Team Borax) and 1 part grated soap (like Bronner’s, Ivory, or other natural, unscented bar soap). Use 1 bar of grated soap and 1 cup each of washing soda and borax for each wash.
- Fabric Softener- Mix 1 part vinegar, and 2 parts water together. Use 1/4 to 1/3 cup during the final rinse cycle.
- Environmental Detox
Food, water, beauty and cleaning products? Check. Check. Check. Check. Now for the other thousands of factors that you interact with on the daily. From the air you breathe, to the upholstery sprays you use, the plastic containers you use to store food, pots and pans, the paint on your walls or mold lurking in your shower, thousands of environmental exposures affect you (and your health) daily.While these toxins are NOT 100-percent avoidable, remember the LESS stress and exposure your body has to these toxins, the less stress overall. Minimize environmental toxins to the best of your ability to optimize your health overall. There are hundreds of ways to reduce toxins in your daily life, but we’ll review some basics:
- Bedroom-Leave all electronics out of the bedroom (TVs, cover red lights on your phones and alarm clock). Buy blackout curtains (light pollution disrupts your circadian rhythms). Replace your mattress with a non-flame-retardant brand like intelliBED, Savvy Rest, natural latex mattress from IKEA or Tuft & Needle. (Conventional mattresses are full of toxins, such as flame retardants, including TDCIPP, chlorinated tris, and Firemaster 550).
- Kitchen-Throw out the aluminum, plastics and non-eco-friendly pans, in replacement of Ceramic skillets , a few quality cast iron skillets , glass baking dishes and stainless steel baking sheets . Use bamboo cooking utensils and bamboo cutting boards. Toss plastic bowls and plates in favor of ceramic, glass and stainless steel .
- Food Storage & Handling-Replace your plastics with glassware tuppeware, stainless steel storage containers and mason jars . Use parchment paper instead of aluminum foil.
It all starts with one thing—at a time.
If a complete overhaul seems out of your league, DON’T sweat it.
Start with detoxing one thing this week…then progress.
- Use one week to simply do research and map out what new products or ingredients you need
- Replace old makeup staples or beauty products with new clean brands as you run out
- Buy one set of glassware containers to start
- Get your own stainless steel water bottle to get rid of the plastics
- Make your own laundry detergent or all-purpose cleaner
- Order a diffuser on Amazon for some natural air freshening
- Choose organic versions of the Dirty Dozen or your meat supply at the store this week
Invest in your health and lifestyle detox for the “long game”—and above all, remember progress over perfection.