Are everyday household items making you sick?

Organic food is becoming a household word, even Costco has recently announced that they are jumping on the organic band wagon. Somehow, (or through lots of research) we have finally made the connection that pesticides – chemicals that are used to kill insects, plants, and other animals – might have some detrimental health effects on us humans.

What other chemicals are in our environment that could also be contributing to our overall lack of optimal health – body/face products, household cleaners, food additives or over-the-counter drugs, like aspirin?

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I am always on the search for a great facial cleanser and have been begging my sister to make one (hint, hint). Until that happens, I am always looking at labels and making sure that I can understand all of the ingredients. Why is it so important for me to find one that doesn’t have any man-made chemicals…three words

Toxicity Produces Disease.

A recent 2015, study looked at our every day exposure to household chemicals.(1) The Authors of this study believe that “lifestyle factors are responsible for a considerable portion of cancer incidence worldwide.” The World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) suggest that between 7% and 19% of cancers are attributable to toxic environmental exposures. However, the authors believe this is a low estimate because we can’t measure what happens when multiple chemicals interact in the body.

 

“Our analysis suggests that the cumulative effects of individual (non-carcinogenic) chemicals acting on different pathways, and a variety of related systems, organs, tissues and cells could plausibly conspire to produce carcinogenic synergies.”(1)

Whether or not these man-made chemicals directly or indirectly contribute to cancer, they DO have a profound effect on the bodies natural detoxification mechanisms.  These chemicals are not food and therefore, are classified as a toxin by the body.

Here’s a few signs and symptoms that your body could be overwhelmed by man-made chemicals or toxins:

  • Acne/skin problems
  • Trouble loosing weight
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • PMS
  • Irritable bowel symptoms
  • – and my favorite – an overall feeling of yuck that can’t be pinned down to one thing.

Detoxification is “the way the body heals and repairs itself, and always has – an internal cleansing process that takes place continuously…naturally.”(2)

Let’s look at what happens in the body if just a couple of the systems that are involved in detoxification are overwhelmed by too many toxins.

Blood supplies every organ and cell in your body and is central to the immune system function, specifically allowing white blood cells to get to areas of infection. If large amounts of toxins are in your blood, not only could your heart be affected, but it could possibly affect whether your immune system can fight off things like the common cold.

Liver’s main job is cleansing and purifying the blood. It neutralizes toxins through two pathways and then sends it out through the kidneys or intestines as waste. If one of these pathways is overwhelmed with a large amount of toxin, or the right nutrients are not available to process the toxin, then the toxin gets recirculated back into the body through the blood. Some of these toxins get stored in our fat cells (especially heavy metals, petroleum products, and other similar chemicals).

A great example of an indirect effect of an overwhelmed detox system is seen when the hormone estrogen can’t be removed from the body.  Estrogen rises and falls with a woman’s menstrual cycle, once it’s not needed anymore it gets processed as waste. However, if the liver detox pathway is sluggish, excess estrogen gets recirculated back in the body. It usually ends up getting stored in the breast tissue, causing breast tenderness around women’s menstrual cycle.

Here’s some tips to reduce your toxins and help your body detoxify:

Drink water – at least 1/2 of your body weight in ounces every day – this will help flush toxins out of your body.

Remove as many man-made chemicals as you can. Look around your house at your cosmetics, cleaners, and medications, are there safer products you could be using?

A great resource is the Environmental Working Group’s website

Stop using pesticides – there are many other natural options to getting rid of household nuisance insects.  Here’s some ideas.

Buy as many organic foods as you can – this will decrease your direct exposure to pesticides, and will also help keep those pesticides from harming our farm workers, building them up in the soil, and getting in our water.

In 2010, Scientific American reported on the agreement by EPA to finally ban aldicarb, which is used to kill pests on cotton, citrus and potatoes. EPA finally admitted, 25 years after a watermelon poisoning event, that it was not safe especially to babies and children.(3)

How many other pesticides are being used right now that have harmful effects, but not being acknowledged?

Remove processed foods from your diet – chemicals used to preserve food or make the food taste better can be toxic. A great example – artificial sweeteners – many have now been tied to an increased risk of cancer.

Go for a walk – movement helps the lymphatic system keep things circulating so that toxins can eventually get moved out of the body.

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1 – Carcinogenesis, 2015, Vol. 36, Supplement 1, S254–S296. “Carcinogenic potential of low-dose exposures to chemical mixtures in the environment: the challenge ahead.”

2 – Definition provided by the Nutritional Therapy Association

3 – “Toxic Pesticide Banned after decades of Use.” Scientific American, Aug. 18, 2010.

 

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