Today we are more exposed to environmental chemicals than ever before. We have pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in our food; air pollution from traffic; chlorine and fluoride in our drinking water; mercury in our oceans and the vast cocktails of chemicals in our food and drinks packaging (plastics), personal care and household products. Many of these chemicals are new and we don’t know the long term effects on our health or our environment.
But is this really a problem and if so, what can be done about it?
The answer is ‘yes’, it’s definitely a problem. The liver and kidneys are industrious, wonderful elimination organs but they can only take so much! And the constant circulation of chemicals in our blood stream contributes to inflammation, a key trigger for most serious and chronic disease. Inflammation is even thought to be the cause of mental illnesses such as depression.
Manufacturers will tell you there are little to no risks with the chemicals in our environment and perhaps if we encountered the chemicals one at a time that might hold true but, consider that the average woman has applied over 150 chemicals just through using regular personal care products before leaving the house every day! Many of these chemicals mimic or interfere with hormonal balance so it’s easy to see why infertility and female cancers are on the increase. Particularly when coupled with other poor diet and lifestyle choices.
The problem is that these chemicals get stored in our bodies as they can’t easily be broken down and excreted – there’s just so many! The chemicals enter our bloodstream and after circulating freely, effectively bathing every tissue in our bodies, the chemicals finally get stored in our fat cells. Phew, they’re out of the way but, then consider that all our major organs are protected by fat and that our brains are mostly made of fat – is it any wonder that dementia is on the increase and that with an increasingly obese nation, most cancers are on the rise?
It can all feel a bit miserable but there are some things we can all do to reduce our toxic load through our diet and lifestyle. There will be hundreds that we simply cannot avoid but many that we can so in other words:
Choose your chemicals wisely…
- Where possible, switch to organic food (reducing chemical pesticides) and if you can only change a couple of items in your shopping basket to organic, make it fruit and veg that cannot be peeled and dairy products (non-organic dairy contains hormones and antibiotics).
- Get the whole family to switch to organic, plant-based personal care and laundry and cleaning products (ditch the bleach!) This includes female sanitary products which are typically made from synthetic fibres and then bleached; suncreams which are designed to be absorbed through the skin and mainstream baby products which contain a horrifying number of chemicals. There are lots of natural ranges available nowadays which may be either naturally fragranced or fragrance free.
- If you’re cycling, running or walking choose routes that avoid heavy traffic (air pollution) – this is also important for the school run as kids’ bodies are smaller than adults and less able to cope with chemical onslaughts (asthma in children is on the rise due to increased pollution).
- Cook from scratch – as well as being cheaper, you then avoid processed nutrient-poor foods and plastics which are powerful hormone disrupters.
- Buy a water filter unless you’re lucky enough to have your own natural spring in the garden! Our tap water is treated to make it ‘safe’ from bacteria but the chemical treatment poses other threats. Studies have shown that high fluoride exposure can have an impact on the neurodevelopment of children. You can check if fluoride is routinely artificially added to the drinking water in your area online (in Bristol it is not currently artificially added).
If you can incorporate some of these changes into your every day life, you may be reducing your risk of many of the most serious and chronic diseases as well as increasing your fertility, improving your mental health and your chance of healthy ageing. It also means that you may be able to ‘get away’ with occasionally indulging in some of the chemicals in life that can be fun like wine and coffee and with Christmas around the corner that could be useful…
For further advice about how to choose your chemicals wisely and improve your health and well being, please contact me for a no-obligation chat.