You know enough not to drink poison, right?
It wouldn’t occur to you to take a bath in formaldehyde, would you?
You wouldn’t knowingly shoot gasoline into your veins, right?
No, of course not. That’s ridiculous. That would be suicide.
And yet, every day most of us subject our bodies to a relentless assault of toxins in our environments. Most of them are so small that we aren’t aware of them (or we have grown so accustomed to them that we tune them out), but over time they compound each other.
Suddenly Aware of Your Environment
Last summer, the power went out at my office for about an hour during a storm (and I’m not talking about the week it was off after Hurricane Irma). Now, my office is pretty quiet most of the time. Most people would say they could hear a pin drop. But when the power went out, I became aware of how loud my office really is. Between the HVAC, the computers, and the fluorescent light ballasts, there was a constant barrage of low-level noise all around me, and I didn’t even notice it until it suddenly went silent.
I had been tuning it out unconsciously.
We can say the same of the pollution in our homes.
Detox Starts With Recognizing the Toxins
I often talk here about detoxing your body with nutrition (including the 28-day detox program I use for some of my patients), but you can undo a good diet by exposure to environmental toxins. After all, while your digestive system has a filter in place to identify and destroy toxins, your skin does not. Toxins that enter your body through your skin, hair, and lungs go straight to your organs unfiltered. This is another one of those situations where wholeness in one area of your life can be hampered by disease in another.
For instance, you can’t smell radon gas, but it can gradually poison you. On the other hand, you can usually smell mold forming in your house – depending on how sensitive your sniffer is – but you don’t recognize that it’s mold, you might not take action to get rid of it. There’s no telling how many respiratory infections, allergies, and rashes untreated mold causes. Same goes for mildew.
Naturally, when people figure out they have mold or mildew in their homes, they go right to Walmart and buy a jug of the latest “mold and mildew treatment” for their homes. It’s usually a strong chemical formula that destroys the bacteria at the source. But, just like an antibiotic kills everything around it indiscriminately, household cleaners are loaded with chemicals like ammonia (remember when Windex commercials used to point out that they had extra-strength Ammonia-D?). Ammonia isn’t just poisonous to mildew, it’s directly linked to bronchitis and asthma (if you’ve read this blog before, do you remember the word we use for that? Right, inflammation).
The Solution Worse Than The Problem
The common ingredients you see on the packaging of household cleaners (chlorine, sodium hydroxide, triclosan, Butoxyethanol, etc.) are dangerous to your lungs, skin, brain, and many are hormone disruptors as well. All of them can cause or inflame cancer if you spend too much time with them. Sure, they’re powerful cleaning agents, but at what cost?
To say nothing of the ingredients they aren’t required to list on the packaging. A poison by any other name…
Triclosan is the active ingredient in antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers and it is really on my radar right now. I am seeing more and more research coming out showing that “antibacterial” products are causing more harm than good. Like prescription antibiotics, they kill cells indiscriminately and are linked to a rise in antibiotic-resistant strains of viruses. If you kill 99.9% of bacteria, guess which ones survive? The strongest ones, right? If the strongest virus cells begin reproducing with their DNA adapted to protect them from antibiotics, eventually, you have a super-race of bacteria you can’t kill with chemicals. That is the looming crisis the medical community is facing. We have been dishing out antibiotics like candy and the bacteria we’ve been trying to kill have outsmarted us.
What about plastic containers? There has been some major pushback about plastic packaging over the last 20 years, as people become more aware of the ways plastic cells leach into water and food. Remember back in the 1970s when people discovered that the sealants in aluminum food cans were leaching mercury into the food supply? This is like that. Now, your plastic containers have little numbers imprinted on them to show you what type of plastic they are made of. Some are high in a chemical called Bisphenol-A, which can cause reproductive disorders. If you leave a case of plastic water bottles in the car and they get hot, don’t drink them. Heat accelerates the toxin leaching. Choose stainless steel or glass containers for your food and drinks.
Have you ever walked into someone’s home and the smell of air fresheners was so strong that it just about knocked you out? You might be better off staying outside. One of the key ingredients in air fresheners, scented soaps, and detergents is phthalates. Phthalates are linked to endocrine problems. Your endocrine system regulates your hormones and neurotransmitters. They control your body’s height, weight, metabolism, sexual development, and so on. If you have children in your house, you definitely want to minimize the use of fragrances around them. I understand the desire to mask the odors around a teenager’s bedroom and bathroom, but those developmental years are when they most need to be protected from strong chemicals. There are better ways, and next week I will share them with you.
Take An Inventory
This week, I want you to take an inventory of the chemicals in your house. Over time, we will start to replace them with organic alternatives. Some of these will be easy to swap out with a better alternative; others will be more difficult:
- Cleaners with ammonia, chlorine, sodium hydroxide, butoxyethanol (or anything that includes “ethanol” in the name). Oven cleaners and drain cleaners are especially corrosive.
- Fragrances, air fresheners, soaps, shampoos, detergents, and even toilet paper with phthalates.
- Aerosols (I’ll get into the dangers of aerosols later).
- Gasoline, paint, pesticides and herbicides.
- Mold, mildew and dust in the A/C ducts (have them inspected).
- Radon gas or leaking natural gas (again, have them inspected).
- Formaldehyde in the carpet, bedding, and “flame retardant” clothing.
I know it feels like I’m nitpicking, but even though each of these products may fall under the “safe” threshold for household use, they add up and compound each other. It’s like the old example that says, “one marble won’t fill up a Mason jar, but if you keep pouring them in, it will fill up.”
Plus, some of them can be deadly in combination. If you have ammonia and chlorine leaching fumes into a cabinet together, they can poison you.
Wholeness Is Bigger Than Your Body
A clean living and working environment is just as much a part of wholeness as a straight spine and a healthy diet. It all works together.
We had such an amazing time with Dr. Jacquline Romero last Thursday night at our monthly Fundamental Foods and Friends Dinner. We had nearly 40 people in my little office!! If you missed it, I’m so sorry. In May, we’re going to talk more about detoxing your life and give you some tactics for making your space safe for your family, so I hope you’ll make plans to be there.
In the meantime, if this article provoked your thinking a little bit, I hope you’ll take a few seconds to share it on your favorite social channel. Help me get the word out about wellness to a generation that is getting sick because they just don’t know there’s a better way.
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas