For a lot of people, the start of September is like a second New Year’s Day. A new season and the transition to fall make this month a great time to start a detox, but that doesn’t only apply to your body — begin by extending your cleansing into your home.
There are various chemicals and hormone disruptors lurking in your environment that may contribute to toxicity. That’s why in my clinic practice I often prescribe a “home detox” to start, before cleanses for the liver and digestive system.
Here are some tips so that you can create a healthier, toxin-free home:
1. Detox your bathroom
Think of all the products we put on our skin, and imagine how the daily absorption of these chemicals adds up over a lifetime. This long-term exposure is a definite hormonal and health concern. Use this list from Environmental Defence to help you to avoid harmful chemicals in your cosmetics and skin care. Some ingredients are also listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of California as a carcinogen risk, including phthalates, acrylamide, formaldehyde and ethylene oxide.
Your cleansing products should be free of sodium lauryl sulphate, a harsh detergent present in shampoos and cleansers. The products you use on your body or face should be free of methylparabens, propylparabens, formaldehyde, imidazolidinyl urea, methylisothiazolinone, propylene glycol, paraffin, isopropyl alcohol, and sodium lauryl sulphate. You should know that most perfumed products contain many of these harmful chemicals, but the ingredients are not identified on the label. Therefore, look for products that contain natural oils and fragrances.
Here are my favourite brands and sources for natural skin care products:
- Korres — The company makes amazing body butters, lip balms, body lotions.
- Naturopathica — I love their Environmental Defense Mask.
- Juice Beauty — The Green Apple Peel is a fabulous exfoliant and their new stem cell moisturizer is fantastic.
- Burt’s Bees — They make a wonderful array of products for the whole family.
- Pure and Simple — A variety of natural skin care brands are available from this seller
- Skinceuticals — I love their hyaluronic acid serum and vitamin C serum.
- John Masters — I adore the green tea and vitamin C facial serums, blood orange and vanilla body moisturizer and all of their shampoos and conditioners.
- As an natural alternative to perfume, use body oils that are scented with natural essential oils.
- You can also check out Saffron Rouge for more a complete array of safe skin-care products
2. Detox your kitchen
Lurking in your kitchen are foods that can inhibit the success of your detox in a big way. The list below covers foods you should never eat. In fact, I recommend you remove them from your kitchen immediately to prevent further hormonal disruption.
- Products containing artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, etc.).
- Products containing high-fructose corn syrup.
- Vegetable oil, shortening, margarine, cottonseed oil; anything containing partially hydrogenated oils; products containing trans fats.
- Processed and packaged foods that contain lots of preservatives, loads of sodium and few nutrients, e.g., prepared pasta side dishes.
The next step of your kitchen detox is to get rid of your plastic food storage containers and replace them with glass. Use paper wraps instead of plastic whenever possible; if you do use plastic wraps, make sure those you put in contact with food do not contain phthalates (if you’re not sure, ask the manufacturer).
Never microwave foods in plastic containers or polystyrene foam, which may leach harmful compounds. Potentially harmful or cancer-causing, estrogen-like chemicals called dioxins can leech into your foods and drinks, especially when heated or frozen. Always choose metal, glass or wood instead of plastic for storing, reheating and serving foods.
We’ve all heard about the potential dangers of soft plastic water bottles. Avoid these as much as you can and never drink your water if it has been heated or frozen in your car. Do not refill bottles. When you need to, try to purchase water or juice products in glass bottles. You may want to consider a reverse-osmosis water system for your kitchen tap. It is much less expensive than buying a unit for the whole house. I have one installed at my clinic, cottage and at my home — I highly recommend it.
For cooking, avoid aluminum pots and pans because excess aluminum has been found by some researchers in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Limiting or eliminating your exposure to Teflon-coated pans is also a good idea, as the chemical used to make the non-stick substance is currently being studied for potential health risks.
Finally, a word on cleaning products and kitchenware: Choose household and laundry cleaning alternatives that are less toxic than standard products. Examples of less toxic cleaners include Kosher Soap, Citra Solv, Borax, That Orange Stuff and Nature Clean. For your laundry, consider non-toxic household products, such as the products by Seventh Generation. Once you complete your home detox you will find your body detox a lot more successful — check out our tips for a cleanse here.
Natasha Turner, N.D. is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist, and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet and her newest release, The Supercharged Hormone Diet, now available across Canada. She is also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique.