Our world is full of toxins. Ones that weren’t around hundreds of years ago and some that were. It can be overwhelming to get started on a less toxic journey. Below I have outlined 10 things you can DO. These are in no particular order, but if say I had a child with asthma or eczema or I had a hormonal imbalance, I would start with fragrance and go from there. Each person and family’s situation is unique. Just because you cannot do all 10 of these today doesn’t mean you can’t do one of them. Every little bit helps!
1 | Cut out fragrance. Fragrance is an umbrella term that companies are allowed to use to protect “trade secrets” but what multiple studies have found is that under this one ingredient on the label, up to 300 chemicals can be found, including phthalates. These chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, lower testosterone and mimic estrogen and contribute to the early onset of puberty as well as increasingly painful periods and the development of estrogen linked diseases such as ovarian cysts and endometriosis. For more info on phthalates, check out Dr. Shanna Swan’s work (a leading reproductive epidemiologist and researcher). Here is one article about her book, Countdown. As well, fragrance is irritating to the skin and can worsen skin conditions such as eczema.
Does cutting out fragrance mean no more candles? In my opinion, yes. Unless you are using beeswax candles with lead free wicks that are unscented. Why? A quantitative meta-analysis in 2016 found that 10 chemicals were found in 90% of indoor dust samples. Phthalates, flame retardants, PFAs (or forever chemicals, see below), and synthetic fragrance, were among the top chemicals found. Now everything in this world is a chemical, but what I am speaking to here are the TOXIC man-made chemicals that most of the time were not tested on humans before coming onto the market. The chemicals mentioned cause hormone disruption, cancer, immune alteration, and more.
2 | Buy organic when possible. I know, this is a big step and does add a considerable expense. But approaching it one step at a time is much more manageable. Buying organic, whether meat, produce, or processed foods lowers pesticide exposure, especially glyphosate which has estrogenic and gut microbiome disruption effects in the body, among other things. Here is a great way to start - buy the Clean 15 non-organic, but stick with organic on the Dirty Dozen. This is a list compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) every year that ranks pesticide contamination of produce. (For more on glyphosate, check out my highlight on Instagram!)
Clean 15 (2021) | recommended non-organic
Frozen sweet peas
Dirty Dozen | recommended organic
Kale, collard, and mustard greens
Bell and hot peppers
3 | Filter your water. About 75% of the United States has fluoridated water. Fluoride is a neurotoxin, it calcifies the pineal gland, and is a thyroid antagonist...BAD for the thyroid. In areas where we fluoridate the water, hypothyroidism rates are DOUBLE. As well, a study conducted by the USGS in 1999 and 2000 found pharmaceutical medications in 80% of water samples that were tested in 30 states. PFA (forever chemical) contamination is another factor to consider as much of the water in the US has been shown to be contaminated with these chemicals that are associated with reproductive and developmental issues, cancer, and more. To learn more about drinking water in the US, check out this report by the EWG.
Good filters include Clearly Filtered, Aqua Tru, Berkey, reverse osmosis with a remineralization filter. Some whole house systems do exist as well. If you get a reverse osmosis filter, be sure to either add minerals into your drinking water or install a remineralization filter, otherwise you will lose necessary minerals in the water.
4 | Clean up those cleaning products. Unfortunately, many cleaning products available on store shelves contain fragrance and other toxic ingredients like formaldehyde releasers, endocrine disruptors, etc. Even products that are made to look clean are often greenwashed on the outside, but containing many of the same toxic ingredients on the inside. As well, many of the cleaners on the market are disinfectants like Clorox wipes that kill “99.9% of bacteria”.. no! This is not good and is contributing to gut microbiome disruption. In 2020, researchers at Duke University confirmed a direct link between disinfectants and lowered levels of gut bacteria in children. We have become obsessed with sterilizing everything to our own detriment.
My favorite cleaning products are linked HERE, clean and plant based!
5 | Change up your cookware. Nonstick cookware PTFE (Teflon, which is known to release chemicals that present mild to severe toxicity), PFOA (listed as a carcinogen by the IARC) , PFAS (a group of thousands of chemicals which the EPA says can be harmful to reproductive health, carcinogenic, causes developmental delays in children, and are hormone disruptors). I use cast iron and stainless steel (304 is the best quality). Other options like ceramic (Ex. Greenpan)
6 | Switch to glass food storage and limit plastic use. This is due to BPA and BPS (there are more chemicals in this category considered to be cousins of BPA that cause the same issues). One 2011 study found that “almost all of the 455 commercially available plastics that were tested leached estrogenic chemicals.” Independent studies have also found that the “lowest dose elicited the strongest effects…”. BPA and it’s cousin BPS are commonly found in plastic food storage. This is one of the worst ways to be exposed because we eat what is in inside the container. If you are not ready to switch everything out, start with not heating food in plastic. Reheat on stove or on a plate. BPA and BPS are also found in plastic water bottles. Choose stainless steel or glass water bottles. These are my favorite glass food storage containers.
7 | Swap out your skincare and beauty products. It has been estimated that 70% of personal care and makeup products are contaminated with harmful impurities like lead, mercury, and formaldehyde. More than half contain “penetration enhancers” and 33% of products contain chemicals proven to be carcinogenic. In 2000, the FDA stated that of the 10,500 possible ingredients (probably many more by now), that could go into making cosmetics, only 11% have actually been reviewed for safety and few have been banned on the basis of safety concerns. Companies do not need FDA approval to add an ingredient to your makeup. One large study found that 61% of lipsticks contain lead which has massive neurological effects. Another study found that over half of the makeup that was studied (231 samples), contained PFAs (or forever chemicals). The brands were “high quality” and drug store brands like MAC, Clinique, NARS, Estee Lauder, Covergirl, L’Oreal, and more. Again, these chemicals are linked with cancer, birth defects, liver disease, and more.
These toxic chemicals go on your face, your eyes, near your mucous membranes. Your skin is the largest organ of your body, it really matters what you put on your skin! I use mostly Young Living makeup, make my own face serum or use CBD Beauty Boost. Other clean makeup brands include DIME Beauty, Ilia, etc.
8 | Open your doors and windows every day for at least 10-15 minutes. Add on an air purifier for added benefit. The average person spends 90% of their time indoors and with our houses being built more air tight, along with a flood of toxic chemicals being used in the home in the form of personal care and cleaning products, candles, etc., our indoor environment is estimated to be 7-8 times worse than outdoor air. NOT good. Try to start a daily practice of opening windows and doors for 10-15 minutes at a time. This helps reduce the concentration of air pollutants and increases air exchange in the home. Getting a quality air purifier like this one is a very helpful step as well!
9 | Choose better cooking oils. Avoid cooking with vegetable (mostly from soybean) and canola oil. These oils are unstable and are susceptible to oxidative stress. This makes them more likely to be reactive in the body and cause inflammation, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It is due to the way they are processed and refined. Consumption of soybean oil has increased 100-fold since 1909. Soybeans are most notably one of the crops most sprayed with glyphosate which adds another layer of harmful effects. What do I cook with? In my opinion, organic coconut oil, olive oil, grassfed butter, grassfed beef tallow are all wonderful options to cook with in the home.
10 | Laugh, dance, sing, smile…..EVERY SINGLE DAY. Laughing has actually been proven to improve your immune system, relieve pain, decrease blood pressure, and lower perception of stress. Dancing has been shown to improve stress, boost mood, and just makes you feel GOOD. Singing stimulates your vagal nerve which provides parasympathetic nervous system BALANCE, gets us out of fight or flight and into rest and HEAL.
Stress is a TOXIN. If transitioning to a less toxic lifestyle stresses you, STOP! Take a break and then start with just one thing. BABY STEPS! Stressing about that which will make us healthier isn’t helpful either! Breathe...go outside, sit in the sunshine, and remember, it does not have to be all at once, but one step at a time we can make our homes less toxic.
Don't forget, baby steps help! Our bodies do get rid of these toxins BUT we must slow down the onslaught of exposure. I don’t believe we can live without any exposure, but we can do our best to lower it. I have seen these steps make a difference in respiratory, skin, hormone, gut issues and more. One step at a time you can make changes that will impact the health trajectory of your family.
If you are interested in any of the products I mentioned or in switching to Thieves cleaning products or diffusing oils instead of burning candles in your home, browse recommended non-toxic products below to purchase so I can help you along your less toxic journey!
PLEASE NOTE: This information is not meant to be medical advice, this is educational and how I would approach in my home. Please see your healthcare provider before changing anything or adding any supplements to your routine.