Episode 060: Seven Safer Choices to Detox Your Home
We’re learning more and more that health isn’t just about diet and exercise. We’re now hearing, more than ever before, on how toxins in consumer products that we use every day, inside of our homes and on our bodies, contain harmful ingredients that’s damaging our health. They can cause confusion in our bodies, inflammation and wreak havoc on our hormones.
In this episode, I’m sharing seven safer and practical choices that you can start making TODAY to detox your home and reduce your exposure to harmful toxins, specifically phthalates, Bisphenol-A (BPA) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).
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For the past four episodes, we’ve been talking about Breast Cancer Prevention Month from:
- Sharing a survivor’s story in Episode 056
- To how to support someone going through cancer treatments in Episode 057
- To how to support yourself if you’re the patient going through cancer treatment in Episode 058
- To how to advocate for more health-protective laws and today in Episode 059
So did you know that 85% of breast cancer occurs in women who have no family history of breast cancer?
It's time to take a look at environmental factors.
So today, we’re going to talk about what actions you can take, on a daily basis to reduce your exposure to carcinogens and other harmful toxins and WHY these are important areas to address.
But before I do, you might be wondering why? Why is Naomi talking about all of this?
Well, a large part of my work as a health coach and safer beauty advocate is to educate on practical ways to prevent common (but not normal) health issues, and unfortunately, breast cancer has become too common women’s health issue.
And, what I’m going to take about today are not only ways to prevent breast cancer, but also ways to reduce other chronic health issues and diseases too from metabolic syndrome to autoimmunity and a whole lot more!
Now, you may have noticed that more and more people are talking about toxins. More than just even a year or two ago! And this is because more and more people are becoming aware that health isn’t just about diet and exercise. There’s so much more to the story.
Well, we are learning more and more at how ingredients in products that we use every day, inside of our homes and on our bodies contain harmful ingredients that are proving to be damaging to our health.
And these harmful ingredients can cause confusion in our bodies, which essentially is what autoimmune diseases are. These ingredients can cause inflammation and wreak havoc on our hormones.
So while you probably heard many people talk about Breast Cancer Awareness this month, awareness isn’t an issue anymore, what we really need is more education on practical things that can done prevent disease.
So today, we’re going to talk about seven safer choices that you make TODAY to detox your home and reduce your exposure to known carcinogens.
So let’s jump in!
Tip #1: Choose Safer Cleaning Products
Many conventional cleaning products take away dirt and grime, but they leave behind harmful chemicals.
Have you ever been in your bathroom, scrubbing your tub using some kind of cleanser, or multiple cleansers like I have in the past, a scouring cleanser like Comet or Ajax, then a polishing cleanser, maybe a hard water remover and then after a while of scrubbing and scrubbing, you start to feel light-headed and nauseous.
Now we all know that it’s dangerous if we ingest any of those cleaners. In fact, we know we need to call the CDC and be rushed to emergency. But ingestion isn’t the only way these products are harmful.
The off-gassing of fumes in ingredients in those cleansers affects us by merely being exposed to them. They burn our skin, make our eyes water, give us headaches - and while all of these things while common, are not normal.
Protect yourself and your family from exposure to these toxic chemicals in everyday cleaning products that you use every day!
Use online databases like EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to find safer cleaning products that publicly disclose ingredients.
I’ve used this to make safer choices for:
- dish soap
- laundry and dishwasher detergent
- bathroom and all-purpose cleaners
- And even for paper towels that are chlorine free
Be sure to check out the show notes for a link to all the resources mentioned in this episode, along with a download summarizing all of these tips over at www.livefablife.com/060.
Tip #2: If You Don’t Know What’s In It, Don’t Use It!
If you’ve heard me talk about Beautycounter before, then you’ve probably heard me talk a lot about transparency and how brands in the beauty industry aren’t required to include all of the ingredients in their products on their product labels.
The same practices happen with cleaning products. Labeling loopholes allow companies that make cleaning products to avoid disclosing all of the ingredients that they use on cleaning product labels.
So my tip for you is to only buy and use cleaning products which disclose all ingredients on the product label to avoid possible exposure to harmful chemicals. Again, use resources like the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning database.
Tip #3: Avoid Fragrance
Have you ever have walked by a Bath and Body Works, or a Victoria’s Secret, or an Abercrombie and Fitch and got a headache from all of the strong smells coming out of those stores?
Or how about from Glade plug-ins?
Well, when it comes to reading ingredients labels, fragrance is a common thing listed on them. But “fragrance” is not an ingredient. We see a ton of long scientific names on ingredient labels, and then there’s, “fragrance.”
Well, "fragrance" is a catch-all word that can include hundreds of chemicals that make up the scent of the product, and often those hundreds of chemicals include phthalates. Phthalate is an obesogen that is used to make the scent in the products stick around.
Now if you’re wondering, “what the heck are obesogens” be sure to go back to and listen to Episode 055 to learn all about it.
So think of “fragrances” as a cocktail of ingredients that can include dozens or more potentially harmful chemicals, many of which are found in common cleaning products that have a fragrance.
So I need you to be a detective, and search product ingredient labels for this term; and if you see fragrance, put it back on the shelf and slowly step away.
Now let’s get back to phthalates for a minute and talk about why they’re a problem.
In addition to holding scents to products, Phthalates are also used to make plastics soft - things like shower curtains or rubber duckies.
They act as a synthetic estrogen, which means that when they enter your body, they impersonate a critical hormone, estrogen, but they’re not, which makes they classified as an “EDC” or an Endocrine Disrupting Chemical.
For long-time listeners, here’s a fresher:
Your endocrine system is a network of glands in your body that’s responsible for secreting hormones which regulate just about every bodily function in some way - from your growth, to your metabolism and weight, to how your body digests foods, to how your body responds to stress, to your libido and sexual function, to your appetite, your ability to sleep well - you name it!
Your endocrine system is a regulator in your body, much in the same way that a thermostat regulates the temperature in a room. And EDC’s, or Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, mess with that feedback system.
And it results in your body either having too much of a hormones or not enough - because EDC’s have the ability to block or mimic natural hormones in the body.
So bringing it back to breast cancer prevention, estrogen dominance has been found to be closely related to breast cancer! So avoid products that mimic estrogen and disrupt your endocrine system!
Bringing it to your day-to-day, stop buying and using cleaning products with fragrance, unless you know what is in them:
Avoid chemical air fresheners - skip the Glade plugins, avoid sprays, and even scented candles unless you know what’s in them! And don’t just avoid them in your house, but in your car too!
Most air "fresheners" actually work by covering up odors, instead of neutralizing them, or they work by releasing a nerve-deadening agent into your nostrils!
So if you want your house (and your car) to smell amazing use plant-based essential oils or flowers and plants, or just open your windows and let in some fresh air.
Another area where you’ll find a lot of phthalates is with your laundry detergents. Conventional laundry detergents like ALL, TIDE, AND GAIN - they’re all loaded with all kinds of chemicals, including the smells that give your clothes that "mountain rain" freshness!
I used to use the little Downy pellets that would leave my towels smelling “Mountain Fresh” - what does that even mean? Mountain Fresh just means - FRESH AIR!
So let’s switch to using more natural, plant-based laundry detergents from brands like Biokleen or Ecover. If how things smell is really important to you, these brands use plant-based essential oils to scent a few products in their line.
The same applies to dryer sheets, which are not an essential product for cleaning and are full of other chemicals that are just as bad if not worse than phthalates.
Tip #4 - Clean More Naturally
So although I’ve told you about the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, you can also get crunchy and make your own cleaning products too! I do this from time-to-time by using baking soda to neutralize odors, especially in the kitchen sink! And I also sometimes use vinegar to clean and deodorize things like the kitchen counters!
You can add a cup of vinegar to your laundry to brighten up your whites. It’ll also help remove smells and tougher grime. I did this a lot when I used to do a lot of Bikram. It helped so much because you sweat so much in hot yoga!
And like I said earlier if how things smell is important to you, add a small cloth with a few drops of essential oil to your drying cycle.
Other natural cleaning tips are to add a few drops of your favorite citrus juice from lemons, limes or oranges) or essential oils (like lavender, eucalyptus) to vinegar and water. Use a glass bottle and spray that around your home to freshen things up.
The next time you need a new vacuum, get one with a HEPA filter that will reduce sending chemicals into the air, which then gets into your lungs.
I could go on and on here, but you get the idea.
Now let’s move from tips for cleaning to tips for a safer kitchen.
Tip #5 - Kick the Can
By kicking the can, I mean canned foods. The problem is canned foods is that many brands line them with bisphenol-A, aka as BPA.
BPA is a chemical that’s commonly found in some types of clear, hard plastic (like reusable water bottles), in the lining of canned foods, and in a few other surprising places, like cash register receipts!
BPA was first synthesized back in 1891 as a synthetic estrogen (remember this again, here’s the connection to breast cancer prevention).
It was once considered for use as a pharmaceutical hormone replacement, and over the years, made its way into hundreds of thousands of consumer products, and is currently found in the bodies of 98% of Americans.
It’s consistently found in the blood of people tested, and it’s capable of mimicking - copying - natural estrogen in the human body and is linked to symptoms like weight gain, obesity and insulin resistance, and diabetes. It’s a well-established obesogen and is linked to changes in the way that our fat cells grow and develop.
Even though BPA is found in a large number of products around us, the easiest place to start avoiding it is by changing how you use canned foods.
All canned foods, including soup, soda, beer, beans, and everything in-between, have an epoxy lining inside the can that uses BPA. And research shows that BPA migrates from the can lining into our food and then into our bodies.
Most canned food companies still use BPA to line their metal cans.
So how can you make a safer choice here -
Choose fresh, frozen or dried foods, but stay away from that can opener away. Use freshly prepared foods whenever possible.
Now there are a few brands like Eden Organics, Native Forest, Eco Fish & Vital Choice who offer some of their products in BPA-Free cans - these brands are safe, and should be the only canned foods in your home!
Tip #6 - Get Out of Plastic
BPA is also used in water bottles, baby bottles, in the plastic food processor bowls, and blender carafes.
Certain things like heat, oil, acidity, and abrasion increase the rate at which BPA is released from the plastic and into the foods you eat.
That's right... That plastic gets right into your food! Care for a little BPA with your lunch?
So instead of plastics, opt to use glass, ceramic and stainless steel food storage containers and water bottles.
And never microwave plastic — even “microwave-safe” plastics can leach chemicals into food when heated.
Now a couple of other tips here -
I know a popular use of Vitamixes is to use it to make soups. In fact, its a major selling point of theirs right? Well, remember, we never want to mix plastics with heat so don’t make soup in your Vitamix! Use a pot over the stove with an Immersion blender instead!
Now you might think that you’re good here because you use “BPA-free” things. BUT you should know that BPA can be replaced with equally harmful ingredients like Bisphenol-F or BPF, or Bisphenol-S, BPS.
As a consumer, you need to understand marketing ploys that brands will use to make you think that you’re making safer choices. Again, use the resources and tips that I’ve shared with you.
Tip #7 - Ditch Teflon Pots and Pans
Now this one might surprise you because up until a few years ago, I too had no idea that Teflon in my pots and pans were harmful too.
But, some toxic compounds are used in non-stick cookware. While they keep your food and stains from sticking to your pots and pans, they also stick around in the body for a very long time and have been linked to cancer.
PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) is a chemical used in the manufacture of non-stick cookware and is also found in greaseproof paper products like microwave popcorn bags, and pizza boxes.
Like Phthalates, PFOA is also an obesogen that interferes with your thyroid hormones, and your thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating your weight and metabolism.
So non-stick cookware was initially sold under the premise that using less oil to cook with will help you lose weight, which is super ironic considering that the chemicals used in the making of non-stick coatings can have the opposite effect!
Also, if your non-stick cookware or bakeware is scratched, definitely ditch it! Flakes of that chemical coating will end up in your food.
So instead, swap individual pieces out for safer, healthier cooking surfaces.
What should you use instead?
Well, make the switch to:
- Cast Iron
- Enameled Cast Iron
- Stainless Steel
I use a cast iron and what I love about it is that when it’s cared for properly, it’ll become non-stick over time! And, cast iron skillets & griddles are super affordable and can be purchased for less than $40!
I’ve gotten Lodge USA pieces right from Amazon.
If you’re still feeling skeptical, know that non-stick cookware has a short shelf life. After a few years, the coatings wear off, which, as you now know, is dangerous.
Cast iron, enameled cast iron, and stainless steel will last you a lifetime!
So let’s quickly recap the seven safer choices you can make to detox your home:
- Choose safer cleaning products
- If you don’t know what’s in it, don’t use it
- Avoid products with fragrance
- Clean more naturally with DIY recipes
- Kick the can and avoid canned foods
- Get out of plastic
- Ditch Teflon pots and pans
Now if you’d like a copy of all of these tips for yourself, head on over to www.livefablife.com/060 to get the free PDF download.
That’s it for this week! Once again, you can find me at www.livefablife.com, join my email list for insider exclusives, weekly updates and find out how we can work together too!
Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next week!
Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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