Low-Tox Living: How to Detox Your Home
So why should you care about living a low-tox life?
Well, if you are overweight, have hormone imbalances, suffer from an autoimmune condition, or are fighting cancer, the toxic chemicals you come into contact with every day may be a contributing factor.
Sure there are other factors that come into play with all these conditions but when you’re struggling with any health condition, toxins can greatly impact your body’s ability to heal. They may even be enough to tip your body from a state of health to a state of sickness and disease.
Disease is on the rise and I can’t help but think our modern way of life is to blame. Take Autism for example. The CDC reports that in the 1960s and 1970s, autism affected 1 in 2,500 children. In 2004, autism affected 1 in 166 children and in 2018, 1 in 59 children! That’s a huge jump! What could be causing this increase in diseases?
Well, 100 years ago our food system was very different. We’re also exposed to many more chemicals now. Most of the chemicals we currently use weren’t even invented 100 years ago. We are constantly introducing new chemicals that humans have never come into contact with. Our bodies don’t know what to do with them! It’s no wonder we’re seeing a rise in disease.
Yes, our bodies are amazing detoxifying machines but can only do so much. Our bodies are constantly working, 24-7, to filter out all the chemicals we encounter. Without some down time to rest and repair, it will become overwhelmed, leading us down the path to disease.
While nighttime is the perfect opportunity for the body to regenerate, many of us are sleeping in a toxic environment. Personally, I close my bedroom door every night and I bet many of you do as well. So when we are sleeping in this enclosed area for 8 hours, what are some toxins that come to mind?
How Many Chemicals Are In There?
The first one that comes to mind is carpeting. According to Andrew Pace of Building for Green, carpet can contain between 600-1200 chemicals. These chemicals will continue to off-gas (release chemicals into the air) for the next 12 years or more. Being in an enclosed space with tons of chemicals circulating in the air can do a lot of damage. But the air isn’t the only problem. Let talk about a different source of exposure, one that comes from skin contact…our personal care products.
A survey conducted by the Environmental Work Group estimates that “the average adult uses 9 personal care products each day, with 126 unique chemical ingredients.” That sounds scary to me but if you don’t think that sounds that bad, consider this. Researchers in the UK found that many women use upwards of 515 chemicals on their skin every day. That’s a lot for your body to deal with…and that’s just from one type of exposure!
Hopefully, by now you are starting to understand how toxins are damaging our health. So what can you do to minimize your toxic exposure?
Commit to living a low-tox lifestyle of course.
What Is This Low-Tox Thing?
By now you might be asking yourself, what does she mean by low-tox? Well, low-tox is really just a more accurate way to describe the growing movement towards non-toxic living. It’s about removing as many toxic chemicals from your life as possible so your body can operate efficiently.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to live a completely non-toxic life (well, maybe if you move to an uninhabited island). And when we leave our house, we have no control over what toxins we encounter. But we do have control over our home environment. We can reduce our body’s toxic burden and lessen the effects the outside world just by creating a low-tox home.
Wait, That’s Toxic Too?!
Here’s the deal, toxins are everywhere. But if you’re still thinking, “my home can’t be that bad” or “these products can’t be that bad for me,” let’s go through a typical morning. You might feel differently.
First, we wake up after spending 8 hours on a mattress that is coated with flame-retardant and releases formaldehyde gas (linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity) and VOC’s (can cause damage to the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys) into the air.
Next, we then walk across the synthetic carpet into the bathroom where we come into contact with a wide range of chemicals found in our toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, deodorant, perfume, etc. Two main toxins we find are fragrance (a neurotoxin and know hormone/endocrine disruptor) and parabens (also a hormone/endocrine disruptor that’s been linked to male infertility and early puberty).
Then, we jump in the shower and bathe in tap water laced with fluoride (also registered as an insecticide) and chlorine (linked with vascular disease and destroys vitamin E and beneficial gut bacteria). Both of these toxins have been shown to have a negative effect on our thyroid gland.
After we get dressed in our clothing made from synthetic materials, we head off to the kitchen for a quick breakfast that is likely full of man-made additives and preservatives. Before leaving for work, we fix ourselves a sandwich for lunch that contains azodicarbonamide (a dough conditioner more commonly used to create foamed plastics like yoga mats and shoe soles) and is wrapped in plastic wrap that contains vinyl chloride (a carcinogen known to cause liver, brain, and lung cancers). I could go on but I think you get the point.
Unfortunately, this is only a small sampling of the toxins we come into contact with before ever leaving the house. Once we leave our house we are at the mercy of the world around us which is why it’s important to maximize our efforts at home. This way we can create a resilient body that can handle the toxic load it encounters.
Where Do I Start? It’s Too Much!
Feeling overwhelmed by all this information? Don’t be. Over the next few months, I’m going to help you detox your home and create a low-tox lifestyle that will leave you feeling confident that you are doing all you can to protect yourself and your family.
I’m going to go through my house, room by room, and do everything I can to remove as many toxins as possible. From my diet to my skin care products to the sheets I sleep on. I’m going to dive into anything and everything that may be contributing to the rise of disease in modern society. I invite all of you to come along with me on this journey to better health.
What Will We Cover?
Here’s a breakdown of some of the topics (organized by room) that we’ll cover over the next few months.
- Cleaning Products
- Inside Air Quality
- Electromagnetic Fields (EMF’s)
- Furniture, Flooring, & Paint
- Water Filtration & Plastic Bottles
- Food Packaging
- Processed Foods – Additives, Preservatives, and Sugar
- Produce – Pesticides, Organics, and GMO’s
- Animal Products – Hormones, Antibiotics, Labels
- Cookware, Bakeware, & Food Storage
- Personal Care Products
- Cosmetics & Perfumes
- Mattresses & Bedding
- Home Office
- Printer Off-Gassing
- Dirty Electricity
- And so much more!
As we work our way through this list, do what you can. I don’t want you to become overwhelmed. Making one small change at a time, like not using antibacterial soap, can improve your health. Remember, you don’t have to fix everything at once. Next time you buy a new mattress you can come back to this series to make sure you pick the best option you can afford. I certainly won’t be changing my mattress out for a few more years.
If we work towards creating a low-tox home, we can improve our health, protect our families, and ultimately, save the planet.
This blog was originally published by The Balanced Bohemian.