Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in part by Murchison-Hume and Blue Labelle. While YBC was compensated for the post, all opinions - as always - are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support YBC.
I recently read the book Eat Dirt, which I know I've talked about in the YBC Community ad nauseam, but it's honestly been one of the most informative books I've read in a while and I wanted to create a post that would share the solution to just one of the major takeaways from the book: our constant micro-exposures to toxins.
The overarching theme for all things YBC this month is self-growth, so with that in mind, I just want us to be a little more aware about how daily products can interfere with our health. The more you know, right?!
The book essentially talks about how if your body isn't doing great (frequent migraines, chronic colds, hormonal imbalances, etc), that fixing your gut may be the most important thing you can do, but that you can also support your body's healing through reducing its micro-exposures to daily toxins like those discussed in this post.
Like I said, if you're using these things once in a while, it's probably not too big a deal. But if your body is taxed, and you're dealing with some health issues, it might be a good idea to reduce your exposure to these sorts of irritants and chemicals, and give your body less to deal with so it can heal and you can live your best life. Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other things we come into contact with on a daily basis - tap water, air fresheners, bottled drinks, canned foods, etc - and with just a little added awareness, and small changes here and there, we can perhaps reduce our micro-exposures to toxicity and live healthier, cleaner lives.
What are micro-exposures: Basically, they're just daily minimal exposures to things we would be better without.
What exactly are these "toxic" exposures?: I could probably never list them all, but you'll find health-impacting ingredients in everything from conventional laundry detergent to food storage containers to personal hygiene products. The book basically says that on their own, as a once in a while kind of thing, they're probably not a huge deal, but if your body is kind of a wreck (and that can show up in any number of ways - chronic fatigue, mild depression, sleep issues, irritability, acne, stomach issues, hormonal imbalances, etc), then constant micro-exposures can be really taxing to the body and can exacerbate your symptoms.
What can we do to reduce the load: Here are a few things I've learned not only from the book, but from my own research about different areas in our lives where we can make efforts to reduce the toxic load our bodies deal with on a daily basis.
In the Kitchen
- Cutting Boards - Out with the plastic cutting boards, and in with the wooden cutting boards. But not just any old wood. Some wood boards are treated with industrial chemicals that act as sealants, which you definitely don't want to be cutting on, as there's a chance the sealant can bind to your food. Again, it's just a micro-exposure, it probably won't kill you, but it certainly isn't going to do your body any favors - especially if your body is already highly taxed as it is. Greener Chef offers a raw, 100% organically grown moso bamboo cutting board that provides a natural, durable cutting surface that’s free of plastics, chemicals, toxins and sealants. I love this option because it's not only good for you, but it's good for the planet - the bamboo is sustainable and fully renewable, and absolutely no pesticides or insecticides are used during production. To keep the board at its best, shine it up with the Greener Chef easy-to-use all-natural cutting board spray. It’s made from 100% pure walnut oil, and you just spray a little on to season and protect the surface. It comes with a lifetime warranty and a 100% money-back guarantee, so you can buy – or give as a gift – with confidence.
- Utensils, straws and drinking glasses - Whenever you can, avoid plastics. Even if it's BPA-free, plastics still leach estrogen disrupters, which can throw off your hormones. If you can, avoid plastic utensils, plastic cups, and plastic straws. Below are some alternatives:
In the Laundry Room
- Laundry Detergent - A number of conventional laundry detergents contains 1,4 dioxane, which the National Institute of Health has deemed "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." Conventional detergents also often contain Nonylphenol Ethoxylate, which can throw off hormones. There are a number of other disruptive chemicals found in conventional detergents including sodium lauryl sulfate which also has been linked to imbalanced hormones, organ toxicity, irritation to eyes and lungs, and lots more. So, if you're looking to reduce your toxin exposure, consider making your own detergent, or opting for something a little more natural.
- Dryer Sheets - Static in your clothes is so annoying, but conventional dryer sheets contain dichlorobenzene which is meant to get rid of static in your clothing. However, in lab tests, this chemical has caused liver and kidney tumors in mice, and the EPA considers it a possible human carcinogen. As an alternative, I've used wool dryer balls for the last year or so and have found them to work well.
In the Gym
- Protein Bottles - Protein bottles are often plastic (I have a number of them!), and just as I mentioned in the kitchen section, if you're looking to reduce your exposures to toxic ingredients, you may want to consider a stainless steel alternative.
- Air Quality - Gyms with newer equipment will have higher VOCs in the air, as will gyms that have been recently cleaned with conventional cleaning products. Both VOCs and conventional cleaning products can do damage to the lungs, so you can avoid this by working out outside, or finding a little corner in your gym with a window nearby to set up shop and breathe fresh air.
In the Bedroom
Make up and Personal Care Items - Conventional body lotions and make up often contain ingredients like formaldehyde, triclosan and fragrance that are taxing to the body, and some that are carcinogenic. This consumer category is largely unregulated, which means a lot of toxic stuff makes its way directly onto our skin. Your best bet is to always check your labels, and opt for a cleaner alternative when you can, like the organic skincare line from Blue Labelle. Their body and face oils are raw, cold pressed and luxurious, lightweight and moisturizing, and I've been putting a few drops of lavender in my detox baths at night to relax. It's the best! You can use code YBCBlueLabelle (not case sensitive) to take 20% off! Offer terms: One use of code per customer, minimum spend £15 /approx $18. Code will take 20% off everything apart from the Blue Labelle Kits category. Code expires Dec 31, 2017 and they ship worldwide.
- Mattresses - By law in the United States, mattresses need to pass a test to show that they are flame retardant. As a result, most conventional mattresses contain chemicals like polybrominated diphenyl ether (aka as PBDE), which do not have to be disclosed, by the way, to ensure they comply with the law. PBDEs have been banned in Europe, Canada and several states and the EPA has classified them as a possible human carcinogen. To avoid them, opt for a non-toxic mattress like IntelliBed (use code YOGABYCANDACE for 10% off)
In the Bathroom
- Hand soap - Most conventional hand soaps (and some kitchenware, toys, furniture and clothing) contain triclosan, which is known to throw off hormones. Check your labels, as it should be listed if it's an over the counter product. Choose something like Murchison-Hume Superlative Hand Soap which is gentle, yet effective, and does not contain triclosan.
- Conventional cleaning products - Many conventional cleaning products contain phthalates, which disrupt hormones. Some types of phthalates have already been deemed "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" so, if you're looking to avoid that nonsense, you can make your own cleaner, or try an eco-friendly, non-toxic line like the one from Murchison-Hume.
Remember, it's not feasible to avoid every single chemical there is out there. And the stress of worrying about every single little thing is likely more detrimental to your health than just maintaining a general awareness and avoiding exposure when you can. I'll be honest, I'm not perfect with this stuff - a lot of my make up isn't non-toxic, for example. But in all other aspects of my life, I try to minimize my exposure to toxic ingredients. I think it's important to live your life without being obsessed one way or the other. If I'm traveling and the hotel doesn't have natural laundry detergent and getting a natural detergent for them to use isn't feasible, I'm still going to have them wash my clothes with conventional junk. One time isn't going to ruin my life, you know? I like the idea of learning as much as possible, and being aware, but also being flexible every once in a while. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Is this new information to you? If so, what were your thoughts upon reading this? If not, what have you done to reduce your exposure to toxic ingredients? Where else in your life could you make little changes to reduce our exposure to toxic ingredients?