I can’t tell you how many times I hear patients come in and tell me that their allergies are bothering them as an explanation as to why they are stiffly and their sinuses are clogged. Most of them blame it on the seasons, or a certain season, but many times I see patients suffer from these symptoms year-round. Well, while the change in season can cause some allergies the more common cause of chronic congestion and runny noses can often be the toxins in our environment.
Not only can these toxins cause allergy like symptoms but they can also cause chronic headaches, cause pain, make you experience fatigue, contribute to many chronic diseases, disrupt your endocrine system, and many, many more symptoms that people think are normal. Well, these symptoms may be common but they are not normal and toxins can be a major cause of them.
Some of you may be thinking that you aren’t really exposed to that many toxins in your environment and that this is not something that you need to pay attention to, but you may be surprised. Toxins come in all shapes and sizes and are found in many everyday places and products. Some of the most common toxins that we come in contact with every day are dust, pet dander, cleaning products that have chlorine and fragrances, cosmetics, toxins on our food, heavy metals in deodorant and in cookware, fabric softener with its toxin fragrances, tap water that has heavy metals and fluoride, BPA plastics products like Tupperware and the receipts you get at the store, and the air you breathe which is filled with all kinds of toxins especially if you live in a city.
Now, before we start to get into how to reduce your exposure to these substances it is important to realize that you can drive yourself crazy trying to get rid of all the toxins in your environment. For the sake of sanity, it is essential that you not do this. Just avoid the toxins when you can and don’t stress about the ones that you have no control over. As long as you are constantly trying to improve your toxin avoiding habits then that is the best we can do.
So, let’s go into the 5 most important areas that you can reduce your toxin exposure in order to make the biggest dent in your overall toxic load.
- Food – Our food is full of toxins whether they are naturally made by the plant that produces the food or are man-made and put on our food in the form of herbicides, pesticides, and hormones. One of the best ways to avoid man-made toxins in our food is to buy organic. Organic is worth the price for the reduction of chemicals exposed to your body it gives. Organic may not be completely free of chemicals but testing shows it is significantly reduced. Some of the foods we eat also have substances that are naturally toxin to us. For example, peanuts grow a mold on them called aflatoxin which is the most cancer-causing mold we know of. Some plants also make what are called lectins that can be very toxic to people and cause a wide range of symptoms. The foods with the highest amount of lectins are grains, legumes, and night shade vegetables like tomato, eggplant, potato, and peppers. It is also important to eat grass-fed or pastured animal products because if the animal you eat eats lots of corn and grain, which are full of lectins, then you eat those lectins when you eat them. Just some food for thought.
- Water – It is very important that we drink toxin free water. Depending on where you live your tap water could have heavy metals, fluoride, chlorine, herbicides, pesticides, hormones, and residues of medications people flush down the toilet. Luckily, this is a pretty easy fix as you can just get a water filter. Unfortunately, the small pitcher filters or the one on the front of the refrigerator don’t get enough things out to make the water toxin free. The best counter top electric water filter out there is called the Aquatru. There is also the Big Berky gravity water filters and if you want to install a whole house water filter or at least one that will fit under your sink you can go to friendsofwater.com. Bottled water may not be the best options either as many companies have admitted that it is basically bottled tap water. Plus, it comes in plastic bottles which leaches into the water. The best bet is filtration.
- Air – It is impossible to control all the air you breathe as you walk into and out of many different environments every day. Since we can’t always control the indoor air quality at work or other places we may spend lots of time, the best thing to do is to make sure the air in your home is free of as many different toxins as possible, especially in your bedroom where you spend, hopefully, 8 hours breathing every night. HEPA air filters are good for getting a fair amount of toxins out of the air but the best air filter on the market is the Air Doctor. This filter will get more toxins out of your air and out of your body than any other. Having it at your disposal can significantly reduce your toxic load.
- Cleaning Products – The products we use to clean and sanitize our homes are extremely troublesome to our physiology. Everything from dish soap, to Febreze, to laundry detergent and fabric softeners. It’s time to stop cleaning with toxics substances and clean out your cleaning cupboard so you can replace them with non-toxic substitutes. There are tons of companies that are making lower or non-toxic cleaning products now, if you can’t find them in the store just get on the internet and search for a good brand and order from there. In reality, we don’t even need to buy a certain product. If you just get on the internet and research non-toxic cleaning product alternatives you will find many simple ways to make your own cleaning products at home without the toxic by-products.
- Cosmetics – Lastly, we need to stop putting toxic substances directly on our bodies. For example, there are toxic heavy metals found in deodorants and in makeup which gets absorbed through the skin. Soaps and shampoos are also full of toxins and many of them actually kill off the microbes that we want in and on our bodies in order to have a healthy microbial ecosystem. We are starting to learn that the constant use of antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers may not have been the best idea. Again, there are plenty of good companies making alternative products and one of my favorites is livinglibations.com. It is worth noting that riding yourself of as many toxins as possible and eating a nutrient dense and clean diet can significantly reduce the need for many of the cosmetics we use. It can clear up skin, reduce body odor, and give you much healthier hair and nails.
Following these steps and always looking for ways to detoxify your personal environment is one of the most important aspects of attaining life-long health.
Stay healthy out there!
Dr. Stephen Hussey is a board certified Chiropractor and Functional Medicine practitioner who lives in Roanoke, VA. He is director of Functional Medicine at Balance Wellspace where he specializes in managing chronic conditionssuch as Diabetes, Thyroid Disorders, Autoimmune Diseases, Heart Disease, Weight Loss, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Asthma, High Blood Pressure, Allergies, Liver Disease, Migraines, and many more.