January is officially Detox Month. The time of year that we cleanse our bodies of all the toxins we poured in over Christmas.
But what about the toxins we are exposed to all year round? From plastics to pesticides to pollutants, it's virtually impossible to avoid exposure to potentially harmful chemicals on a daily basis. But there are steps we can take to limit the damage.
Wanna know your bisphenols from your phthalates? Click here for definitions, otherwise scroll down for ways to reduce your exposure...
The thing with all these toxins (or toxicants, as they are offically known) is, once they're in, it's not so easy to get them out. They circulate around your system for a while, then settle down in fat cells and there they stay.
The list below will give you a heads up on what to look out for and how to limit your exposure.
Reduce your exposure
1. Choose your animal products carefully. Think about how they themselves were fed. Choose organic and grass-fed wherever possible. When cooking meat, avoid methods that allow the meat to char or burn.
2. If you eat salmon regularly, opt for wild-caught (not farmed). And for fish generally, check out the UK Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide for up to date information.
3. Consider a water filter. There are so many on the market, ranging from a simple jug to whole house filtration systems.
4. Filter the air in the your bedroom with air purifying plants. Click here for a list of NASA approved plants that may encourage cleaner air. Bear in mind though, that NASA's report came out in 1989 and tested the effects of houseplants in sealed conditions. More recent analysis suggests that it might in fact take 1,000 square metres of plants to have any beneficial effect in a typical home environment! (5).
5. Avoid cling film and buy cans that are labelled BPA free. Look for Biona or Mr Organic.
6. Wash plastic by hand, even where it says 'dishwasher-safe'. It only takes 20 dishwasher cycles for BPA to leach considerably from plastic (6).
7. Shop local, seasonal and organic wherever possible. Wash all fruit and vegetables before use.
8. Familiarise yourself with the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen list of high/low-pesticide produce.
9. Choose unscented personal care products and buy 'phthalate-free' where possible. Avoid anti-perspirants. Check out the EWG Skin Deep database for the safety rating of over 70,000 cosmetics.
10. Use glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers for heating and storing hot food. Never heat plastic containers in a microwave. Avoid drinking from plastic water bottles where you can. Sometimes there will be a number printed on the bottom of plastic bottles... avoid numbers 3, 6 and 7 (6).
And it goes without saying that you'll be making a vitally important contribution to the health of our planet by limiting your plastic use.
If you want to know more, check out Dr Joe Pizzorno's book, 'The Toxin Solution'. Dr Pizzorno is a world-leading authority on natural and integrative medicine.
And lastly, keep smiling!
Perhaps the biggest health problem we face as a society today is STRESS, so don't let chemicals get you down. It's impossible for us to avoid environmental toxins completely, so keep smiling and do what works for you.
Staying in the present moment and feeling gratitude for what life is offering you right now, this minute, will flood your body with happiness and ward off a great many toxic nasties!
1. Lee, D. (2018). Evidence of the Possible Harm of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Humans: Ongoing Debates and Key Issues. Endocrinology and Metabolism. 33(1), pp.44-52.
2. Wany, Y., Zhu, H. & Kannan, K. (2019). A Review of Biomonitoring of Phthalate Exposures. Toxics. 7(2), pp.21.
3. Jaishankar, M. et al. (2014). Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals. Interdisciplinary Toxicology. 7(2), pp.60-72.
4. Hussein, I. & Mansour, M. (2016). A review on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: Source, environmental impact, effect on human health and remediation. Science Direct. 25(1), pp.107-123.
5. Cummings, B. & Waring, M. (2019). Potted plants do not improve indoor air quality: a review and analysis of reported VOC removal efficiencies. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. doi:10.1038/s41370-019-0175-9
6. Institute for Functional Medicine. 'The problem with plastics' (2018).
About the Author
Julie Hypher is a BANT registered Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist and founder of Wildwood Nutrition, a dedicated nutritional therapy clinic in Hamble, Hampshire. She runs private Clinics every Tuesday and Thursday.