Though I’m a bit early, I would like to share some of my thoughts on National Poison Prevention Week (March 20-26) while I still have time to write. I was recently inspired by the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, an organization aimed at raising awareness about asbestos and mesothelioma, to consider the dangers of poisons and toxins commonly found in our lives. As I learned about the continued presence of asbestos in homes and schools around the country (a known cause of mesothelioma), I wanted to share how our family stays mindful of environmental toxins in everyday life.
One of the first steps you can take to reduce your exposure to toxins is to read the labels on all the products you buy, whether they be food, beauty, or household cleaning products. An easy way to weed out tons of additives is to simply choose items that contain short lists of recognizable ingredients.
If you are uncertain about an ingredient, look it up before committing to the product. This is particularly important with beauty products, because they are not as regulated as food. We must remember that our skin can absorb what we put on it into our bodies, so it is best to invest in quality products without harsh chemical additives. I strive to choose beauty products that are cruelty free, vegan, free of SLS, parabens, pthalates, etc. So many of the ingredients in makeup have been found to be Endocrine disruptors, carcinogenic, or just plain harsh on sensitive skin that on most days I choose to go bare faced. I do love the possibilities of healthy oils for skincare like coconut, avocado, or jojoba as well as other quality botanical ingredients that have been pretty tried and true such as aloe vera, shea butter, etc. but I usually take a less is more route.
I take the same philosophy with household cleansers, and for a while only cleaned with vinegar, baking soda, and water. These days I do buy products from the store, and have been pretty content with the Seventh Generation line of products. The company is pretty transparent and will e-mail you back if you have any questions about particular ingredients in their products. When I was pregnant with our daughter I was very particular with what I used, and I am grateful for their response to the questions I posed to them back then. Again, we must be careful with the products we choose to clean with because we risk exposing ourselves to toxins in the air and on household surfaces otherwise.
Eat Whole Foods
We have been eating a plant based diet for over five years now, and one of the wonderful benefits has been learning to appreciate a variety of whole foods. When you eat real, whole foods you do not have to worry about dubious lists of ingredients — you get what you see. In fact, I love the studies that suggest foods that look like a certain part of the body are actually good for that part of the body. Walnuts, for example, contain healthy fats for the brain! Whole foods contain all the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, fiber, fats, and protein that your body craves. Prepackaged food often contains additives and preservatives that your body does not need, and sometimes even takes away some of the vital nutrients found in whole foods naturally, just to preserve shelf life.
Buy Organic or Know Your Farmer
On the subject of food again, I do believe in purchasing organic when possible. Yes, organic produce costs more money than conventional, but when you consider you are investing in produce that has been grown without the use of chemical pesticides I think it ends up being a good investment. Another option is to get to know your local farmers at the farmers’ market. Many farmers are not certified organic, but do believe in growing produce without pesticides. More often than not, this produce is less expensive than the produce sold at the chain grocery stores.
Reduce or Eliminate Use of Plastics
The use of plastic is so pervasive and it is just awful for our health and our environment. Many plastics contain BPA, a known Endocrine disruptor, and lately I’ve read that even so-called BPA Free products are unhealthy, they just haven’t been as widely studied yet. However, we can reduce our reliance on plastics. Choose glass or stainless steel whenever possible. At our local farmers’ market, many vendors sell drinks out of glass jars and offer discounts for those who bring them back to refill. Small choices like these make big a impact on our environment and our health.
Exercise is another great way to stay healthy and purge your body of toxins. Just as your skin absorbs toxins through its pores, it releases them through your skin as you sweat. Additionally, when you work out long enough you get a boost of endorphins that reduce pain and keep you feeling great. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention water at this point. It is important to hydrate during and after a workout. Clean water will also help flush your body of unnecessary toxins. Strive to drink water from stainless steel or glass water bottles rather than plastic, which contain BPA. Also be sure to look into filtering your water, as tap water may also contain unwanted chemicals, which may vary depending on where you live and how your city handles water treatment.
Well, for those of you who have read this far–thanks for reading 🙂 As I have mentioned earlier, we strive to live by these healthy choices daily but it is certainly a challenge that we have to often recommit to. Here’s to wishing you all a healthy, happy Spring 🙂