How to reduce your body's toxic load
By Juliana Kassianos, Transformational Coach, Yoga Teacher and Founder of The School of Fertility
From shampoo to washing-up liquid, the body is exposed to a raft of unique ingredients every day, many of which have the potential to do harm. Perhaps it’s time to take a less toxic route.
Have you ever wondered how many products you use daily? Let’s take your typical morning: shower gel, toothpaste, mouthwash, body lotion, deodorant, make-up, hand wash, hand cream, perfume – and that’s before you’ve even sat down to have breakfast. Let alone on a day when you wash your hair and add shampoo, conditioner and curl tamer or volume lifter to the mix. According to the Environmental Working Group, the average woman uses 12 personal care products containing 168 unique ingredients daily, the corresponding figures for the average man are six and 85.
By constantly bombarding the body with products, we expose ourselves to ingredients that can interfere with the natural functioning of our bodies and increase our risk of health problems. The Environmental Working Group found that one in 13 women and one in 23 men are exposed to potential cancer causing ingredients daily. They also found 287 chemicals in new-born umbilical cord blood – 180 of which cause cancer, 217 of which are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 that can cause birth defects and abnormal development.
This doesn’t mean everyone should panic, however, and avoid the shower! But perhaps there is cause to be more careful when it comes to choosing toiletries and to opt for solutions that reduce the amount of chemicals to which the body is exposed.
TIME TO THINK TWICE
When you pick up toilettes, cosmetics or cleaning agents, look at the labels and check the ingredients – much as you would for food. Your skin is important. The largest organ in the body, it is an active barrier that protects you from external pollution, toxins and the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Chemicals, however, can still enter the body by being absorbed through the skin – think of how nicotine patches work – or when spray products, such as perfume or deodorants, are accidentally inhaled. Luckily, there are ways that you reduce your body’s exposure to harmful toxins – and the best news is that none requires you compromising your perusal hygiene or cleanliness of your home.
Here are five easy tips for leading a less toxic everyday life. If you want to feel detoxed from outside in, give them a go…
1. Choose natural personal care products
Be mindful when it comes to choosing personal care products by checking to make sure they contain naturally derived ingredients that are free from any chemical nasties (some lipsticks, for instance, contain lead) including parabens and phthalates. Choose products that contain natural and organic ingredients.
2. Protect your skin and airways when cleaning
Whether you’re using disinfectant spray, window cleaner or bleach, protect your skin by wearing gloves and open a window to let out any toxic fumes. Alternatively, choose eco-friendly brands that offer natural cleaning products derived from organic formulas.
3. Keep houseplants to reduce indoor air pollution
A paper published by NASA in 1989, showed how houseplants such as English Ivy (Hedera helix), Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’), Golden pothos (Scindapsus aureus), Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria laurentii) and Green spider plant (Chlorophytum elatum) are a natural way of reducing indoor air pollution. Their presence has shown significant reductions in the levels of benzene found in synthetic fibres, plastics and tobacco smoke, as well as formaldehyde found in plywood, carpeting and household cleaners. If you don’t have time to visit your local garden centre, take a look online.
4. Be cautious with home-fragrances
A study carried out by Professor Alastair Lewis of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of York found that limonene – used in air fresheners, scented candles and plug-ins to give a citrus smell – can be dangerous to inhale when it mixes with elements in the air. Be cautious about using too many home-fragrances, make sure you open windows to ensure there’s good ventilation throughout your home and keep houseplants mentioned previously.
5. Use low- or free from volatile organic compound paint
Some paints contain heavy metals, formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOC) that release toxic emissions If you can, buy either low-VOC faint or even VOC-free paint and remember to open windows and doors when decorating.
• Adapted from article published in Breathe magazine, p16-17, Issue 9