The most physically toxic point in my life was around 5 years ago when my husband and I went through 2 renovations within a 2 year period with our gym. We renovated our second location and were there for barely 2 years before we moved to a third location- both requiring complete renovations. This was when I first learned my sensitivity to building materials. The headaches, the nausea, the fatigue... these two projects helped me quickly realize it wasn't a coincidence.
During the second renovation I had dyed my hair then went to the new location to check on things and spent about an hour in all the dust and fumes (even wearing a mask). However, the very next day, I awoke in the morning with the most painful, most nauseating migraine of my life. Feeling like I was having the worst hangover of my life without having one single drink, I felt like I had 10 tequila shots the night before. I vomited and went right back to sleep until mid afternoon.
I was stunned at how I could be so hungover without drinking. My toxic body burden was through the roof! I thought back, what happened the last few days? Oh yeah! The building materials and the hair dye. This horrible experience convinced me to swear off my exposure to both of those things and look further into relieving my toxic body burden.
In Managing Toxic Body Burden Part 1: Sources of Contamination, we talked about what toxins are lurking where- specifically in what you eat, water you drink, the air you breathe, and what you put on your body. If you missed that one you can read it here or follow the link at the bottom of the page.
Rule #1 in protecting yourself from contributing to toxic body burden is removing the offenders to prevent any further toxins from entering your body.
Here are steps you can take to protect you and your family.
1. Stop drinking, cooking, and bathing in tap water
Installing a whole house filter is ideal, but having a filter in the kitchen and on your shower heads is also easier and more cost effective.
Any type of kitchen filter is better. There are water filters, purifiers, and reverse osmosis to choose from. If you choose a reverse osmosis purification system, be sure to buy some drops to add trace minerals back into the water. I chose a Berkey filter with the added fluoride & chlorine filter.
If you find yourself needing to buy a bottle of water, buy spring or purified water in a glass container. 'Drinking water' will have added fluoride and distilled water is void of minerals.
2. clean your home (and clothes) with natural and homemade cleaners
The harsh and toxic chemicals in conventional cleaning product are completely unnecessary, end up costing you more, and add to environmental toxicity not just in your home, but in your community.
My two favorite go-to cleaning solutions are 50/50 white vinegar:water and essential oils (such as thieves, rosemary, lavender, thyme, lemon) in water. These are both great for disinfecting toilets, bathrooms, kitchen, and the vinegar solution leaves a streak free shine on glass and mirrors.
The internet is full of all these DIY concoctions so it's easy to get recipes. If you don't want to bother making your own, there are many natural brands out there like Honest, Ecover, Seventh Generation, & Method. These are better than the conventional cleaners, but some may still smell harsh or contain controversial ingredients.
3. Use only natural personal care products or food on your skin, hair, & Nails.
It only takes a few seconds for your skin to absorb what's on top of it. It then enters your tissues, lymph, and possibly blood stream.
Like cleaning products, there is a plethora of natural products good for you and the environment. When reading labels, remember that fragrance is a harsh chemical and an endocrine disruptor. Consider essential oils as an alternative.
Your kitchen often has all you need for personal care. I follow the rule- if you can't eat it, it doesn't belong on the skin either. For instance, I wash my face with the oil cleansing method and use lemon juice or baking soda to exfoliate.
4. Eat food as close to it's natural form as possible
Clean eating has varying degrees. One can simply cut out processed food, while on the other hand, you have the person who grows their own veggies and has no run-off from conventional farming (I'm jealous of this person!).
The more a food is unrecognizable as a plant or the animal in which it originated, the more it's been processed. Food grown organically is in it's most natural form compared to food grown with all the pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
With this rule in mind, you'll be avoiding additives and preservatives like citric acid, which is not made from citrus, but GMO corn sugar and mold.
5. breathe fresh, clean air
Remember... we take in air, water, and food to survive and thrive. The air quality we breathe is what we have the least control over out of those three.
Allow new items to off-gas outside before bring them in your home. Think of items that have that "new" smell or remind you of perfume (usually that perfume is fungicide). This goes for anything you buy in a box (especially if it's plastic), furniture, anything painted, stained, or finished.
Avoid scented candles, air fresheners, or any chemicals in a spray can as these are normally endocrine disruptors and chemicals you don't want in your lungs and entering blood stream. Instead, put out baking soda in a bowl or charcoal bags to absorb unpleasant smells and unscented beeswax candles (like these) or a high quality air filter to purify the air.
Open your windows as much as possible to let in fresh air! Remember, your home itself (the walls, flooring, furnishings, etc.) are all off-gassing constantly. Because of this, indoor air is often more polluted that outdoor air. Don't we always feel better after going outside and breathing in fresh air? Let the air in as much as weather permits.
make changes slowly
Don't end up like me where you wake up one day hungover from toxic body burden. I know all of these steps may feel overwhelming. I discovered most of these things over time, but it may be helpful to create a priority list and change things as you go.
To your health and healing,