One of the biggest blind spot we have when it comes to pain, mysterious health issues, and/or being stuck at a weight-loss plateau, is toxins. Because toxins represent a constant barrage, because they are impossible to avoid, and because they hide in plain sight, getting a handle on reducing your chemical problem could be where we stand to make some significant gains in our health.
BIG PICTURE CONTEXT
There are over 80,000 man-made chemicals introduced in the last 100 years that never existed before in human history. In other words, our bodies have a whole new problem to deal with that we were not created to handle.
If the chemical intake exceeds our ability to purge them (and trust me it does) our bodies do their best to tuck away these chemical these chemical in our fat cells, and for the really bad stuff, deep in our liver where they can’t get out.
A percentage of our biological bandwidth that could be going toward other tasks (i.e. healing and weight management) is being unnecessarily taken up trying to protect us from chemicals.
We are barraged with toxins from birth to the grave – A study done by the Environment Working Group found the umbilical cord blood from newborn babies has over 200 pollutants present including dioxins, jet fuel, pesticides, and all sorts of hormone disrupting chemicals.
The Bad News: It is impossible to get away from all these chemicals. Your body will never be completely free of toxins.
The Good News: There are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your exposure to toxins. This is by no means an exhaustive list but here are the:
THE TOP FIVE MEASURES YOU CAN TAKE
1. Get a High Quality Filter for Your Drinking Water. Get to know what’s in your tap water and you’ll start to get a sour stomach just learning about it. (There’s no water on the planet that’s not affected by the way). A good water filter is one of the best places to start reducing your exposure to toxins.
A filter that removes fluoride is preferred if you can find one. NOTE: I know I know, fluoride is supposed to be good for you. Trust me on it, or go look it up yourself. It’s actually toxic. Read the warning label on your toothpaste with fluoride if you want a curious place to start.
If you want a good place to look for filters I recommend checking out Radiant Life, www.radiantlifecatalog.com
2. Get a Filter For Your Shower. Your skin is a filter, but it doesn’t catch everything. So, you can either have a filter in your shower, or you can be a filter. Reducing the amount of toxins hitting your skin in the shower (chlorine especially if you live in a big city) is a great way to reduce your toxic exposure.
SIDE NOTE ABOUT YOUNGER LOOKING SKIN. I don't know where else to put this idea so here goes: It's a budding theory of mine--I have no way to back up with any research by the way...it's just a hunch. I do shampoo my hair, but I never wash my face and only use soap on the (ahem) stinky parts when I shower--arm pits, underwear area, and feet. I figure 1) unless my skin actually has dirt it, it's probably not in need of scrubbing and...
2) Think about young black people's skin typically looks. What's different? Well for one thing, the amount of oil on their skin. It makes sense to me to honor the work my sebaceous glands do to put the right balance of bacteria and oils on my skin. Maybe constantly stripping off our natural oils and healthy bacteria with soap isn't the best thing to keep our skin looking young and healthy? Thoughts? Anyone know of any research on this?
3. Upgrade Your Personal Hygiene Products. Take a look at the ingredients in the products you put on your face and skin. Chances are your poisoning yourself a little every day. As the Chinese proverb says, “You can bleed to death from a thousand tiny cuts.” The majority of personal products contain some level or carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
Check out the Environmental Working Groups website www.ewg.org. They have a great database for tap water pollutants and toxins in cosmetics. They even have a QR code scanner you can take to the store (or to your bathroom) to scan barcodes of products and begin to get a window into how toxic your products may or may not be.
As a general rule, if you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin. PAUSE: I realize I am totally neglecting the emotional side of finding and using products that you feel make you feel beautiful ladies. That's a topic for another blog. My point here is the more ingredients you can recognize on a label the better. You can look beautiful using the natural products. You just haven't found them yet. Never give up your search. Eventually you’ll start to develop your trusted, go-to brands.
4. Upgrade Your Household Cleansers. Similar to personal hygiene, the stuff we clean our homes with (or other products in and around the home--like weed killers) can be quite toxic. What’s good for cleaning grime off something probably isn’t good in your lungs, on your fingers or anywhere else in your body for that matter.
Looking for effective, natural products takes some work, but is totally worth it. NOTE: Laundry detergent is probably the most important place to start. Having low-level toxins on your skin all day can wreak havoc on your endocrine glands and other systems.
Replace plastic and non-stick with glass and stainless steel anywhere you can: Plastic is super convenient, yet many forms of it are not great for your health. It’s easy for these products to slowly degrade and find their way into your blood stream. Remember, these products were made with convenience in mind, not necessarily health. NEVER microwave plastic. It puts dioxin in your food, and that causes cancer.
5. Think About What You Can Do To Get Off Medications. I’m no doctor so what you do here is between you and your physician. However, I can tell you drugs are by nature toxic, thus the reason they all have side effects. Not all drugs are terrible and while they certainly have their place (trauma and ER especially), drugs don’t heal. They only cover up problems by accelerating, suppressing or replacing a bodily function.
Many drugs (like birth control…sorry) end up causing cancer, anti-depressants typically cause sustained weight gain, antacids cause bones loss and hip fractures, and don’t get me started on the cardiac damage done by cholesterol-lower medications (how did we fall for that one?)
Bottom line is if you regularly take medication(s), there is probably a whole world of other options for you that will help your body heal and lose weight. Continuing to put something toxic in your body, creating new symptoms, and expecting a different result sounds a bit like a definition of insanity.
Don’t just take my word for it on the above list. If you want more information on this topic, or want to do a deep dive, check out the outstanding books The Hundred Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald, or Slow Death by Rubber Duck or Toxin Toxout by Rick Smith and Bruce Laurie.
Here's to reducing our toxic burden, spending our hard-earned money on products that make our bodies and environment healthier, and maybe even showering smarter?
Who's with me?