Have you ever stopped to think about what you are really eating, applying on your body, in constant contact with, or what you are breathing? Did you know that we are bombarded with over 20,000 chemicals per second? Our food, clothing, cosmetics, accessories, electronics, environment, plastics, furniture, etc, are all composed of thousands and thousands of chemicals, the list of which is endless. It is nearly impossible to live in a 100%-chemical free world, but we can take proactive measures to at least reduce our chemical exposure and decrease the burden that chemicals put on our body.
In 2005, a study done by the Environment Working Group found over 200 chemicals in the umbilical cords of newborn infants! If we already have such a toxic burden at birth, it’s not a surprise to see a rise in so many acute and chronic illnesses around the world. Certain chemicals are very toxic to our body and the accumulation or prolonged exposure can lead to a variety of health concerns. For example, certain chemicals like phthalates, PCB’s, dioxin and BPA, which are all commonly found in our day-to-day products, are commonly known as endocrine disrupters. They mimic and disrupt the hormones in your body, resulting in concerns of infertility, impaired thyroid function, early onset puberty or cancer. As another example, environmental pollutants and heavy metals such as mercury and lead commonly have an effect on our immune system and growth and development.
Our body has an amazing system of detoxification but the overwhelming amount of chemicals and toxins we are exposed to can plug our detoxification processes, resulting in several acute and chronic health concerns. We can support and help reduce our chemical burden by following some of the simple steps below:
1. Eat and drink right
Choose organic fruits and vegetables to the best of your ability. If that is difficult, buy veggie washes like ETL No. 9, which helps to remove more than 90% of pesticides from fruits and vegetables. There are also several foods to consume that help us detoxify heavy metals and other chemicals such as spirulina, chlorella, chia seeds, cilantro, parsley, broccoli, and kale.
In addition to eating right, make sure you are drinking right as well! Opt for water filters to ensure that chlorine and heavy metals are removed from your drinking water.
2. Breathe right
Improve the quality of air that you breath by getting an air purifier at home. In Singapore, we are unfortunately exposed to a lot of mold and dust, which contributes to allergies, headaches and poor immune systems. Installing a hypoallergenic air purifier, airing out your homes , and keeping it as dust and clutter free as possible provides for a suitable environment for you and your family. For those who smoke, choose to smoke outside of your homes.
In addition, plants are a great addition to have at home as they help clean up the air as well. Also opt for a carpet free home to reduce further accumulation of dust and other particles in the carpet.
3. Live right
Throw out the plastics! Remember the endocrine disruptors I just mentioned? Well, plastics are one of the biggest contributors for that! Replace all your plastic products with glassware. With regards to cookware, choose high quality stainless steel or cast iron products. When you go to the grocery, be sure to take your own cool tote bag with you!
For your home, use homemade cleaning solutions to clean your counters, floor and furniture. Here are some examples of cleaning formulas that you can make and put in a spray bottle to use as needed.
10 drops of lemongrass, lemon essential oils (EO), 4 drops of rosemary EO in 1 liter of filtered water.
½ cup white vinegar, 1 L filtered water and 2 tablespoons lemon
½ cup white vinegar, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 1-1.5 L of filtered water
Reduce the chemical load on your skin everyday by choosing cosmetics and products that are natural and chemical free. Refer to sites such as Environmental Working Group, Orgayana, or Iherb to find products that suit your needs. If you can’t pronounce over half the ingredients, that’s a good sign that there are a lot of chemicals in them!
4. Detox the right way
Detox has become the new fad and the large variety of programs can be overwhelming. My advice: Don’t do any crash or extreme detoxes because it may do more harm than good as some people come out of it feeling worse than before! For those who are using herbs and nutrients to detox, please do not self prescribe! I see several patients who have heard of a ‘product that their friend used’ and saw amazing results, yet it seems to be making them feel worse. Please seek professional advice if you’d like to improve your health and body through the right herbs and nutrients.
5. Create your own space
I have been going on about physical chemicals that affect our body, but let us not undermine the power of emotional toxicity as a burden as well. We all have those toxic relationships and people that somehow make us feel drained even when we interact with them for a few minutes. Reflect on yourself and see what your body and heart needs. Identify energies from people that bring you down and learn to protect yourself from them. As the great poet Rumi once said, “Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”