Life just seems to get out of hand sometimes. We’re on the go, raising children, forging ahead in our careers and trying to please everyone while we’re at it. We cut a few corners, choose convenience over quality (because this is real life) and somewhere along the line we start to feel… icky. This is the time to detoxify!
We live in a toxic world where harmful chemicals are quite literally everywhere. There are hundreds of thousands of synthetic chemicals available on the market, and they’re in our food, clothes, shampoo, baby toys and even our furniture. They’re in the air we breathe, for pete’s sake!
Very few of these chemicals have been tested for human and environmental toxicity, and the ones that have contain known allergens, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
What are these toxins?
Arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead make up the most common toxic heavy metals that affect humans. Heavy metals can be found in our environment (like in lead paint)
Small quantities of Mercury, or Methylmercury to be exact, are commonly found in fish and amalgam dental fillings. However, this toxin can accumulate in the food chain and reach dangerous levels. Methylmercury is poison to the nervous system and can harm the development of an unborn baby’s brain. Some studies suggest that it can cause heart and circulatory problems, or even cancer. Elemental mercury is also a danger, but only absorbed by inhaling vapors, which is far less common.
Bisphenol A is found in hard plastics that we come in contact with everyday. It is most commonly found in food containers where it leaches into what we eat. BPA is an endocrine disruptor that imitates hormones in the body, like estrogen, interfering with your natural hormonal functions. In doing so, BPA can cause reproductive disorders, heart disease, diabetes and problems with fetal brain development as well as breast and prostate cancers.
Products that contain solvents include ink, paint, coatings, household cleaners and spot removers, adhesives, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, nail polish remover, microelectronics, automotive products, paint thinners and coolants. Many solvents are listed as human carcinogens or “reasonably anticipated” as such. Prolonged exposure can cause irregular heartbeat, blindness, and damage to the kidney, liver, lungs and central nervous system. Exposure to massive amounts can cause sudden death.
You may link this substance with gross high school dissection projects or building materials, but did you know that this chemical preservative is also found in many skincare products and household cleaning formulas? Formaldehyde has been linked to an increase in cancer in some studies as well respiratory problems like asthma and damage to the eyes and throat.
Pesticides and GMOs
Pesticides, the chemicals used to deter insects, rodents, and other pests from damaging crops, linger on our produce and make their way into meat and dairy sources, as well. Pesticide residue builds up in the human bloodstream over time. GMOs- Genetically modified organisms- are present in our food sources as well. Though there is a hot debate on how exactly GMOs might affect the human body in a negative way, some studies have sparked concerns of increased risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s as a result of consuming GMOs.
How do I know if I need to detox?
A buildup of toxins can reveal itself in your body and mind in many different ways. If you have unexplained fatigue, mental confusion, irritated skin, bloating, puffy eyes, constipation, menstrual problems and/or a low grade infection, you could easily benefit from detoxifying your health and home.
What does the process of detoxing do?
Your body “filters” your blood and disposes of toxins through your kidneys. To a lesser degree, some toxins can be removed through other organs like the skin and intestines and lungs. While consciously detoxing your body, it’s essential to shift elements of your lifestyle and to be mindful of your physical environment to ensure that you’re not constantly re-loading your body with the very chemicals that you’re trying to let your body cleanse, giving your body time to naturally do its job of keeping you healthy.
Ready to Start?
When you’re ready to start eliminating toxins from your body and home, here are 14 small actions you can take to detoxify your health and home:
Clean your home with green products (check out this guide), or homemade cleaners made from natural ingredients like baking soda and vinegar! You can avoid harsh detergents and chemicals while doing dishes, laundry, and more.
Use essential oils instead of air fresheners or candles with synthetic scents. Tea tree, lime and cinnamon oils are known for their disinfectant properties, and can be diffused to help cleanse your home of airborne bacteria. You can also use clove oil rather than bleach to get rid of mold! If you love candles, opt for clean-burning beeswax candles with natural scents.
Use non-toxic health & beauty products – when buying shampoo, body soap, lotion, makeup, or toothpaste look for a short, “clean” ingredient list. Avoid triclosan and triclocarban, butylated hydroxyanisole, parabens, Polyethylene, “fragrance”, and sulfates.
Wear natural sunscreen. Help your skin detox by keeping it free of loads of chemicals. Choose a natural sunscreen that uses the mineral zinc oxide rather than a conventional sunscreen loaded with oxybenzone.
Pay attention to the recycling symbols on plastics. As much as possible, avoid numbers 1, 3 and 6, as well as clear plastics labelled number 7. This will cut down on your exposure to BPA, phthalates and styrene. Consider making the switch from disposable plastics to reusables like stasher bag-- especially for cooking and food storage. Check out our sustainable swaps post for tips!
Consume lots of organic (pesticide free) detoxifying foods - garlic, cilantro, parsley, plantain leaf, spirulina, sage, and red clover blossom are all great foods to help gently cleanse your body.
Drink purified water (but don’t get it in plastic bottles!). Look into a filter like the Berkey, which can filter out not only bacteria and other contaminants, but fluoride and heavy metals as well.
Avoid teflon cookware, which leaches chemicals into food, and cook with stainless steel or cast iron. In addition to being a “clean” and safe option for cooking food, cast iron can even add extra health benefits by increasing your iron consumption!
Keep house plants- they’ll help clean the air inside your home! A NASA study recommends the following plants for their efficiency in eliminating toxins and pollutants: Garden Mum, Spider Plant, Dracaena, Ficus/Weeping Fig, Peace Lily, Boston Fern, Snake Plant, Bamboo Palm, and Aloe Vera.
Sleep well – getting enough sleep means that your immune system stays in high gear. You can encourage deep and restful sleep by staying away from screens for an hour or so just before sleeping, and through setting up a restful bedtime routine- try a bit of yoga or some meditation just before hitting the pillow.
Sweat. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and one of the methods that your body uses to detox is the process of sweating. Work out hard or sit in a sauna- just be sure to shower afterward so that whatever your body has eliminated isn’t just sitting on your skin.
Try dry brushing- stroking the skin with a firm-bristled brush. It may sound a bit strange, but stimulating the skin in this way improves circulation and helps the lymphatic system detox.
Take your shoes off at the door and use a HEPA filter when you vacuum. A study by the Silent Spring Institute identified 66 endocrine-disrupting compounds in household dust.
- Don’t leave your thermal receipts in your grocery bags. They leach BPA, which you really don’t want all over your fresh organic produce!