How to Reduce Toxin Exposure

How Toxins Impact Health explains the types of toxins, where they’re hidden, and the health effects of carrying a large toxic burden. This post gives tips and more resources to begin (or advance) the journey to reducing toxin exposure!

As a reminder before diving in – this is a process. The goal is progress over perfection when it comes to switching to a more natural lifestyle. The process can be overwhelming and pricey if done all at once. Pick one area of the home and gradually do the rest at a speed that’s comfortable for you and your lifestyle.

Kitchen

Products

Where do most people store their cleaning products? Under the kitchen sink. Smack dab in the place where dishes and utensils are washed, food is prepped, and where there is direct or indirect exposure to our mouths. Eek! What can be done?

  • Consider where cleaning supplies are kept. If the switch to non-toxic alternatives has not been made, move cleaning supplies to a closet or other location where there is no exposure to food.
  • Transition cleaning supplies to non-toxic alternatives. Think about wiping counter tops with bleach and harsh chemicals and the increase in toxin exposure. This is where we place hands, chop food, and likely putting hands or food directly into the mouth after. In my opinion, natural cleaning wipes or sprays should be the priority of all the cleaning supplies.
  • Use apps like Think Dirty or Healthy Living while browsing store aisles to help choose non-toxic cleaning products. Do not be deceived by confusing labels like “natural” or “scent-free”, that does not automatically mean non-toxic.
  • Don’t forget about the dish and dishwasher soap. Remember, these products are the ones that have the most direct contact with plates and silverware (which have the most direct contact with us!)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is released from its source at an increase of 55-fold if it’s heated (1).

  • Avoid microwaving food in plastic or styrofoam containers (i.e. take-out food or leftovers stored in plastic tupperware).
  • Switch to a non-toxic mug for hot beverages.
  • Remove plastic lids when drinking a hot beverage from a coffee shop.
  • Transition plastic tupperware to glass storage containers. This can be costly if done all at once, look for sales or search Amazon to compare options.
  • Do not freeze plastic water bottles.

Other toxin sources:

  • Replace non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
  • Replace plastic cooking utensils with utensils made of wood or other non-toxic materials.
  • Swap traditional coffee filters, which contain bleach, to natural alternatives.
  • Filter tap water.
  • Keep an eye out for non-toxic (and usually environmentally-friendly) alternatives to plastic wrap and plastic baggies. I have used brands like Bee’s Wrap and ChicoBag.
  • Use stainless steel or glass water bottles.

Home

From small tweaks to major changes, there’s many options for decreasing the amount of toxins in the household.

  • Remove shoes at the door. This avoids tracking in chemicals from the outside.
  • Swap artificial scents (plug-ins, air fresheners, scented candles) for other forms of aromatherapy. Natural alternatives could be soy-based candles, using essential oils in diffusers, or looking for fragrance-free products.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. This type of filter removes contaminated house dust and helps clean the air.
  • When purchasing furniture and carpet avoid “flame-retardant” or “stain and water-resistant” options. They usually contain chemicals like perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). Look for naturally less flammable materials (ex: organic cotton, wool, and more).
  • Address old paint in older homes or apartments if needed. More of a concern if living in a house from pre-1970’s.
  • Add air-purifying plants as home decor. Healthline has an excellent list along with which toxin each plant is best at eliminating.

Bathroom

Beauty products

The body’s natural detoxification system helps to get rid of toxins that are consumed orally. Remember, everyone’s detoxification systems work at different rates and efficiencies (discussed in How Toxins Impact Health). It’s a different story when products are put directly on our skin. The skin is a porous organ and can absorb what’s put on it, directly into the bloodstream.

Transitioning beauty and personal care products is extremely individualized. Consider factors like how sensitive your skin is, how frequently you use the product (to help prioritize), and cost. With the high demand, there is an increasingly growing number of natural options on the market.

Consider swapping…

  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Dry shampoo
  • Body wash
  • Make-up
  • Body lotion
  • Face masks
  • Face cleansing products (wash, toner, lotions, etc.)
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothpaste & mouth wash
  • Facial and body scrubs

Where to look

The rest

  • Avoid anti-bacterial soaps.
  • Swap laundry detergent and drier sheets for natural alternatives. Look for non-toxic and unscented detergents. Instead of drier sheets, dryer balls can be used and scented with essential oils.
  • Add a filtered showerhead to filter out chemicals in water.
  • Transition cleaning supplies to non-toxic alternatives using apps listed under “Kitchen – Products”.
  • Replace vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one.

Conclusion

There is a lot to talk about when it comes to reducing toxin exposure, but it does not mean everything needs to happen at once. The transition has taken years for me and has had shifting priorities of what to tackle first. That’s ok! Live life in the way that rings true to you and aligns with your health goals.


Resources

  1. Le, H. “Bisphenol A is released from polycarbonate drinking bottles and mimics the neurotoxic actions of estrogen in developing cerebellar neurons.” Toxicology Letters 176.2 (2008): 149-156. PubMed Central. Web. 22 Feb 2019.

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