Toxins, they are everywhere. In the food we eat, the beauty products we slap on, the cleaning products we use, the clothes we wear, the air we breathe…
There was a point years ago where I was actually getting annoyed that I was seeing news bits about this all over the place. In magazines, the blogs I subscribed to, my Facebook newsfeed.
I think part of me was just overwhelmed with information, and couldn’t see a way out of being exposed to toxins. What were my alternatives?
I felt afraid, poisoned, doomed – toxins were going to get me no matter what I did and I was going to die of some terminal disease like cancer whether I could help it or not.
After a while I decided I was being lazy when it came to educating myself, and I shouldn’t settle with that way of thinking. It was my responsibility alone to get educated on matters related to my health. After all, my body my temple, right?
I learned that signs of toxicity could be a host of symptoms apart from just the scary “C-word”. Also, different levels of exposure meant different extremities of symptoms.
It was a relief to learn that it was actually easy to cut most of these chemicals out of our lives and save ourselves and even undo some of the damage that may already have been done.
We just had to be conscious consumers. It was all about taking responsibility to get educated on what we were exposing ourselves to.
Of course, it’s hard to cut everything out 100%, but something was better than nothing. And I decided that my conscience would feel better knowing I at least tried. Plus, I was experiencing certain health problems that were driving me nuts, and I was determined to see them come to an end. Or at least lessen in some way.
So lets start with this – do you check any of these boxes?
1. Do you experience any type of tummy problems? Bouts of diarrhoea, constipation, perhaps Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
2. Are you more tired than you should be? Do you have trouble sleeping?
3. Do your joints ache some days?
4. Do you get stuffy in the mornings or experience constant nose-drip?
5. Do you have stress headaches or headaches frequently?
6. Do you have skin rashes or irritations that come and go?
7. Do you have adult-onset allergies?
Honestly, I checked off everything on this list. Of course there are a lot of things that can also cause the above, but I was still concerned enough to want to identify toxins I could be exposed to, figure out how to cut them out, and see if I did indeed felt better.
About a year after cutting the toxins out, a few symptoms still remained, and my last resort was to get tested for allergies. After learning what I was allergic to and cut those out as well, these symptoms are almost gone and I feel great.
I used to experience the above on a regular basis (like daily). So today, when I do experience any of these (rarely), I know something is up with my system – some kind of cross-contamination or toxin exposure.
It’s easier to identify and course-correct.
Commercial brands are the culprits that contain these toxins, so it was simply a matter of identifying which brands are clear of these, and which are available in your country or can be purchased online and delivered to you. There are also natural/organic/homemade solutions to a lot of these which are available in most countries.
It’s really that simple.
To spare you the research trouble, below I have a list of where toxins are lurking which I’d love to share with you – things I learned about the toxins, and what I cut out immediately. I won’t go into the science of it all, but you can definitely Google these to look it up for more info.
Basic info to start with though – here are the names of toxins you want to look out for on your product ingredient list (to help me remember I saved this as a note on my phone and would pull it out when cross-checking stuff):
(3) Sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate
(7) Propylene glycol
If you’ve been having some problems with your health for a while now and can’t really put your finger on it, I also recommend you get on those allergy tests. It’s quick and easy and will save you a lot of trouble and guessing games.
One thing to note though – it is my personal option to omit these things from my lifestyle as much as possible based on what I’ve read up on. It felt so good to feel much better for a change, and because of that, am sharing this list in case it could help others too. I am by no means an expert on chemicals and am not presenting a particular viewpoint for evidence to make any particular case over the other. 🙂
Where Toxins Are Hiding:
1. What’s in your makeup?
Oh, as a woman who loved my lipstick I hated to learn this. But yes our lipsticks and other makeup contain toxins like lead, phthalate and triclosan which cause all kinds of problems including being endocrine disruptors and hormone mimickers.
I felt the need to pay attention to this because we apply lipstick to our lips and yes, with all the drinking, eating, lip-licking and even kissing, this means that lipstick became more than just a topical application, and there was a high chance we were ingesting it as well.
I cleared all my makeup out and substituted with more natural brands and opted to wear as little makeup as possible. I even managed to find lipstick that was clear of all the stuff I was allergic to so that was awesome.
2. What’s in your shampoo and soaps?
These contain sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate which are added because they help your products lather, but they also cause skin irritation as a result. The more the lather, the more the toxin. These also contain parabens and fragrances which can also cause harm (parabens have been linked to breast cancer incidence), and also have triclosan.
So what do you do? Well it’s easy to find soaps that only contains oils and other recognizable ingredients. It’s also possible to make your own, and you can find various options on how-to online. You can also look out for brands that make chemical-free non-toxic soap.
For shampoo, you can also easily make your own using baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but again, there are a lot of brands that steer clear of toxic ingredients. For about a year or so I made my own shampoo and conditioner until I discovered a brand that I was happy with.
3. What’s in your perfumes and lotions?
Lotions includes phthalates which act as moisturizes and enhance skin penetration of other compounds, and also fragrances. Both are common causes for contact dermatitis. Lotions and creams also contain parabens which are used as a preservative in cosmetics.
I tossed all my lotions and now only use coconut oil all over my body. It smells lush so I still have a little bit of scent indulgence. Jojoba and olive oil are also options.
For face, I use grapeseed oil, another natural option known to reduce wrinkles, scars, and oily skin.
For perfume, if I really need to use it for something important, I spray just a little on my clothing, and make sure it doesn’t come into contact with my skin.
4. What’s in your canned food?
Canned food (yes, even if it’s labelled organic) are lined with BPA (Bisphenol A), a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP), which can linger in the human body for up to 100 years. These in turn cause production of free radicals, which deplete the antioxidant reserves in your body. Just don’t buy anything that comes out of a can. If you can. 🙂
5. What’s in your bottled water?
These contain BPAs too. Avoid drinking out of water bottles – in restaurants ask for filtered or boiled water, and if on-the-go, purchase a stainless steel water bottle and fill this up from home and carry around with you. Also drink out glassware and stainless steel cups instead of plastic ones.
6. What’s in your household cleaners?
A lot of synthetic household cleaners contain phthalates and also produce a byproduct called dioxin which is an endrocrine disruptor, immune modulator and carcinogen and has been associated with breast cancer development.
There are a lot of other more “natural” stuff which we can use to clean almost anything. This includes apple cider vinegar, baking soda, salt, lemon etc. There are also a lot of environmental friendly and non-toxic products we can purchase.
7. What’s on your vegetables and fruits?
I remember watching a documentary called Hungry For Change some years back and in it there was a mention that highlighted the fact that fruits and vegetables from a supermarket were most likely commercially grown/produced and hence had a lot of pesticides etc. on them so they would sit longer on the shelf.
The suggestion was to purchase your products from local markets/farmers markets as these probably contained less chemicals than most (if any at all). True or not, I personally made that swap.
Coincidentally I did notice that fruits and vegetables bought from a supermarket lasted longer than those bought from a farmer’s market, which was a bit concerning. In fact, I had apples from a store sitting in my fridge for almost two months and they didn’t change colour at all!
8. What’s in your tea?
This was another one that made me a bit sad because I loved my all kinds of teas, but don’t worry it’s not the tea you should be worried about, but the teabag. So life won’t really change too much!
Apparently if the teabags are white, they’re most likely bleached, so that’s chemicals in your tea. Also some teabags are made out of a type of plastic, so this isn’t too good either.
The best way to drink tea is to brew your tea leaves using strainers, infusers or add loose tea into a teapot.
9. What’s in your tampon?
There is some argument that tampons contain asbestos and bleach, but this was a risk I really didn’t want to take. Considering that tampons go inside you and if there were any chemicals there, they were sitting in my body for several hours at a time being absorbed slowly…
I know the media can play tricks on us when it comes to certain reports and allegations, but this one made me icky. Even if it was a small chance. I decided that with my light periods I was alright with using an unscented panty liner. I do have a few friends that swear on the use of a Menstrual Cup, which is supposed to be the way to go and been around since the 30s.
For some fun, watch this funny video comparing the two.
10. What’s in your deodorant?
Deodorants contain aluminium compounds which are linked to breast and prostate cancer, including Alzheimer’s; propylene glycol which causes damage to the central nervous system, liver and heart and provokes skin irritation; steareths which is a carcinogenic and also parabens and triclosan.
The natural alternative is to make your own with baking powder, corn starch, coconut oil and essential oil (which I did for a while) but again, there are many brands that steer clear of the five ingredients above so it’s easy to get a substitute.
I really hope this list manages to help some of you who happen to be thinking about toxins anyway. Please know that this article is not meant to induce fear, but rather to help in some way. At the end of the day, we each have the right to choose how we live our own lives.
Do you have any tips to share? Please add them below.