Lifestyle

Reducing toxicity in your life — and no, I don’t mean people

I am putting it out there: everything seems to cause cancer. One day its bacon, the next day its blueberries.

A lot of the time, I ignore the warnings as there are some things you just can’t avoid in your everyday life (like bacon).  And other times, there are the things you can avoid, which may be having major consequences on your life.

Recently, I embarked on a non-dairy, gluten-free, no legume, no chickpea, and no goddamn fun diet to help with an auto-immune disease which attacks my thyroid.

One of the biggest problems with those of us with under-active thyroids is being exposed to inflammation from food, environment, the water you drink, down to items you use everyday.  

While most people know diet has an impact on your health, many may not be aware that their household items are also a big culprit.

A growing body of research shows that chemicals in everyday products may put us at risk for health problems such as: infertility, birth defects, increased autoimmune diseases (Hi!), and overall disrupt the endocrine system. The endocrine system controls almost all major processes in the body — blood pressure, metabolism, those kinds of things that are just essential for everyday function. Prolonged exposure may disrupt hormones in our bodies and provide an array of conditions, including certain cancers.

Yet, these products are still sold. There are some no-brainer ‘bad’ items that have hit headlines news over last couple of years:

  • heating up food in plastic containers
  • water bottles with BPA
  • lead in lipstick

Not to incite fear, there are even more and I use them all of the time.

I know this may deviate from my usual content, but health and wellness is important to succeed. Below is a list of 4 everyday items which may be making you sick. And some alternatives.

Candles

I love me some overpriced Anthropologie candles. Oh, do I ever. But apparently they are horrible for me? According to Women’s Day magazine and researchers at South Carolina State University, “for a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma”. While this may be a bit sensationalized, The Environmental Health Perspectives Journal does concur that phthalates – included in most scented candles —  are known to disrupt the endocrine system. And it’s not just candles; apparently “aerosols, plug-ins, gels, and incense sticks” are also troubling.

Alternative? Beeswax or soy candles with no perfume (I know, super lame), common diffusers of essential oils. Like the ones listed here by Wellness Mama. 

But ensure you are using highest quality essential oils, and not those which are synthetically produced. 

Perfumes and Scented Lotions

I have never owned a perfume. Not even when I was a teenager and Paris Hilton and Britney Spears’s perfumes was all the rage. This was mainly due to the fact that my mom is very sensitive to smells as she herself has an autoimmune disease.

But why should regular folk also avoid perfume? Well, according to the EWG, the one-word ingredient “perfume” can translate to a product containing upwards of 300 chemical ingredients (Perfume companies won’t release lists of exact ingredients for fear of divulging secrets to their competitors). 

Alternatives? Natural oils, like coconut oil or almond oil.

What i do is put coconut oil on my body (wear some old pjs as you are slippery). Think you will smell bad? My guy friends always ask me what I am wearing because I smell like the beach 😛 So it may also end up getting you man as well as making you healthier.

Cleaning Products

Sometimes, things call for bleach. You know what I am talking about…

…but most of the time, you don’t need it.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals. Ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity. While manufacturers argue that in small amounts these toxic ingredients aren’t likely to be a problem, when we’re exposed to them routinely, it’s hard to know.

If there are symbols on it that say hazardous to humans or animals, maybe we shouldn’t be using it?

Alternatives? More ‘natural’ cleaners or good old vinegar and water. I was using Method All Purpose Natural Cleaner, but then found out it had an F rating on EWGBeware of ‘natural’ products as most of the time they aren’t truly (thanks marketing regulators!). 

Dust

My old office used to make me sneeze constantly. Then I learned that the carpets were never vacuumed when the cleaners came by at night….thanks work! So sitting in that carpet was years and years of dust, human skin, and probably remnants of lunches I had dropped.

Dust isn’t just bad for your allergies; many endocrine-disrupting chemicals accumulate in household dust.

Alternatives? I don’t think there is really an alternative to household dust, other than keeping it at bay. Some quick fixes:

Get a little buddy to clean for you. Like my roomba (but make sure to put it on a good timer, and not have yours go rogue like mine which wakes me up at 4 am when it ‘decides’ it wants to clean)

Pay special attention to windowsills, vacuum frequently, and remove shoes to avoid tracking in dust. Also pay attention to your bedroom, where you sleep for hours every night. Don’t store your luggage (ew) or outdoor shoes in your bedroom closet — which I know is hard in condo life.

Open your doors and let in the (somewhat) fresh air. Even in the polluted King West air, just opening your windows every couple of days can also cut down on chemical exposure.

Be careful with what you clean it with though…

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