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Yours in Health: Living a toxin-free lifestyle

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There are many harsh chemicals, toxins and fragrances in much of the cleaning products that we use every day. Our bodies are constantly burdened by the toxins in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Being aware of what chemicals are in your household cleansers can help to decrease your body burden. 

What is body burden? Body burden is the buildup of toxic chemicals within our body. This can come from food additives, pesticides, inhaling toxic chemicals and chemicals coming in contact with our skin. Eliminating toxic cleaning products and chemicals is a good place to start when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle.

Cleaning product toxins can cause an inflammatory response in our bodies and specifically affect the lungs and the mucus membranes. Chemicals in household cleaners can cause lung cancer, asthma, allergy symptoms, and autoimmune response. According to the American Lung Association, “VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds,” include toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde. VOCs are in cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners and a lengthy list of other sources. VOCs, according to American Lung Association, cause ear, eye and throat irritation, difficulty breathing, nausea, damage to the central nervous system and even cancer.

Phthalates are plasticizers that help to make plastics and vinyl flexible. They also help to make products more durable and have a longer shelf life. Phthalates are almost always formulated to produce synthetic scents and fragrances. 

The thing about these toxins is that they are considered endocrine disruptors, meaning that they mimic hormones, leading to infertility, thyroid dysfunction, and breast cancer. Studies have also shown that phthalates lead to long-term kidney damage. A study in the Environmental Health Perspectives, found that high levels of phthalates can even cause DNA damage in human sperm. 

Phthlates are commonly found in laundry detergent, deodorant, cosmetics, vinyl, carpet and anything with a fragrance or perfume. Cleaning products, plastic bottles, plastic wrap, and plastic food containers are other common products that contain this chemical. 

Phthlates are NOT listed on ingredient lists, therefore it is important to avoid anything that has added fragrances. The best way to avoid this toxin is to buy products that are not stored in plastic containers. Use DIY hair, skin care, and household cleaners whenever possible. 

Wondering about some safe alternative recipes? Here are some great DIY cleaning options:

Surface cleaner: 

  • 2 cups of distilled water
  • ¼ cup of castile soap
  • 15 drops of orange or lemon essential oil

Mix into a glass spray bottle and use within three weeks. 

I also make other surface cleaners, without soap, adding:

  • 2 cups of distilled water
  • ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol
  • 7-8 drops of clove oil
  • 7-8 drops of orange oil

For a natural bleach alternative, try ¾ cup of hydrogen peroxide with ¼ cup of lemon juice, 1 TBSP of citric acid, 20 drops of lemon essential oil, add to a half gallon container and fill the rest with water. Bam! You will have lighter and brighter whites!

You can make your own dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and even grout cleaner. Essential oils, vinegar and castile soap will soon be your best friends. 

Dr. Andrea Wick is a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist. She graduated from Life University in Marietta, Georgia, and now practices at Healing Hands Chiropractic in Big Sky. She has a passion for holistic health care and being active in the outdoors.

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