Talking Toxins: Little Changes Can Make a Difference
“Toxin” is a word people toss around in conjunction with air, food, chemicals, and health. Making small changes every day may help.
At least once a day I have a client, friend or patient ask my thoughts on “toxins.” In general, people are aware that we live in an environment of chemicals in our food, air and water. However, many don’t know how to begin to decrease the exposure and are simply too busy to research.
Although some readers may roll their eyes, there are many people who are searching for ways to decrease exposure for themselves, their families and friends. Why?
A total of 1,638,910 new cancer cases affecting 9 million people and 577,190 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the United States in 2012 according to the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and this statistic is rising, according to the National Institute for Health.
There is belief in the medical community that the rise in these statistics is connected to what we eat, stress and environmental exposures. "Our gene sequences aren't changing fast enough to account for the increase, yet our environment is. We've got 80,000 chemicals approved for use, but we know very little about their immune effects. Our lifestyles are also different than they were a few decades ago, and we're eating more processed food,” said Dr. Fred Miller, director of the Environmental Autoimmunity Group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Start decreasing exposures by taking small consistent steps:
- Can’t afford all organic? Start with buying organic for only those foods that are highest in pesticides. Environmental Working Group publishes a new guide yearly. Buy antibiotic and steroid-free meats and dairy stated clearly on packaging. (Careful of the word “natural;” this means nothing.)
- Minimize eating large fish (swordfish, tuna, etc.), which are higher in mercury.
- Decrease canned foods as much as possible. Biphenol A (BPA's) leach into the food from the can lining. Rinse canned food to decrease the amount of BPA your family ingests or buy Eden brand canned foods.
Skin & Hair Products
- Purchase the most natural cleaning and other household products you can find.
- For hair and other personal hygiene products (including shampoo and colors) look for products without alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, paraben, phthalates, or other petrochemicals (mineral oils).
Antiperspirants and Deodorant
Since virtually all antiperspirants contain aluminum, minimize or discontinue use. Try a natural deodorant.
- Filter tap water with a multi-stage carbon filter or reverse osmosis filter. You can do this at sinks or in the entire house. I purchased an entire house filtration system when the TTHM level in my house was in the 100's. (Check out the photo of one of my four filters in the system after only 11 months of use)
- Don’t drink water from plastic water bottles that have been in a hot car or frozen.
- Filter shower water to limit your exposure to chlorinated hydrocarbons (such as TTHMs).
- Plastics can disrupt hormones in your body. Avoid plastic bottles and containers with the numbers 3, 6 and 7 on the bottom, which are most likely to leach plastics into the food, juice or water that they contain (especially if it is acidic like pasta sauce).
- Do not microwave in plastic containers. Use glass instead.
- Avoid mercury amalgam fillings.
- Avoid toothpastes and dental treatments containing fluoride.
- Don’t use pots and pans with Teflon or related non-stick surfaces. Also avoid all aluminum cookware.
- Avoid using pesticides in your house and garden, especially if you have children and/or pets.
- Avoid using plastic shower curtains to limit inhaling Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs.
- Minimize the amount of regular carpet in your home, or use natural carpets (e.g. wood without coatings).
- Use an air filter such as a Hepa filter with a charcoal filter to clean the debris in the air.
As I said; this post is not for everyone, but I know there are many readers out there who are interested and for you; I'm hoping this quick guide helps.