Everyday we are surrounded by chemicals. These are, by and large, harmful to our bodies which are unable to process them as we would natural substances. In small doses our bodies can cope, gradually moving these unnatural substances through our body until they are excreted. I believe that over many years, prolonged exposure can lead to chemical build up within our bodies causing blockages, bad cell generation and toxicity resulting in bad health and disease.
There are two critical elements that allow us to rid our bodies of chemicals – eating natural foods and exercising. Natural foods will not overburden and clog a digestive system. Artificial foods – themselves introducing an array of chemicals into our body, will clog, bloat and slow down our digestive function. Exercising regularly will keep our lungs, muscles, bones and tissues in good working order, better able to move and clear blockages and preventing chemicals from accumulating in any one spot.
Both these elements are critical to good health. Eating naturally but failing to exercise can lead to chemical build up within our organs, muscles or body tissue. Exercise is the body’s way of contracting and releasing muscles and tissue, helping the body to rid itself of these chemicals. Exercising but failing to eat natural foods prevents our bodies from having the right nutrients and diet to bolster our defense systems. Natural foods and exercise are both hugely important to long term health.
The pressures of modern life means that all too often we plunge for the easy route. We are becoming lazy. We spend more time on Youtube than washing up, TV instead of preparing a healthy meal, worrying about stresses at work rather than enjoying the company of those around us. The convenience and availability of chemical solutions mean that we barely register a thought as to what we are spraying, wiping, washing and rubbing into our bodies, so rushed are we to get out the door.
Some of the most common ways, apart from eating processed foods, that we introduce harmful chemicals into our bodies are below. This does not list the full chemicals in each product but is a short introduction to give an idea of the amount of chemicals we subject our bodies to in everyday life – and then wonder what caused us to fall ill!
Anti-perspirant sprays / deodorants: These are full of nasties like aluminum (linked to cancer), propylene glycol (suspected of causing long term damage to the central nervous system), phthalates (birth defects), triclosan (a pesticide) and parabens (disrupts hormones). Our skin is a porous layer of tissue. It is designed to breathe and sweat. What we spray on it is absorbed easily. Tests on urine have registered the chemicals in deodorants showing how easy our skin absorbs what we place on it. These chemicals are processed by our organs, infecting and toxifying as they go through our system. Tiny chemical particulars can be absorbed into our water and blood streams and carried throughout the body. In particular, we spray deodorants and anti-perspirants under our arms – which are full of lymph nodes and once absorbed there can be transported around our lymphatic system quickly. I don’t care how cool the adverts are for anti-perspirants or how manly/sexy/good/rich they will make you – truth is they are toxifying and killing you. Don’t spray these chemicals onto your body.
Body Wash / Shampoo: Parabens, phthalates and triclosan all crop up again in body washes and shampoos along with synthetic colours, sodium lauryl sulfate (lung and organ irritant), propylene glycol (causes dermatitis and skin irritation). Our head has a very thin layer of skin and is covered in blood vessels meaning shampoos we wash our hair with are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly and in close proximity to the brain.
Sunscreen: Sun is essential for our bodies. When you think about it, sunscreen is designed to block out the sun from our bodies. I’m not recommending that you bin the sunscreen on your holiday in the Mediterranean, but it is worthwhile being aware that many of the chemicals already listed are in most suncreams. I personally chose not to use suncream to any great extent – but I also don’t lounge about in the sun all day leaving my skin burn. Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in sunscreen and is known to disrupt hormones – it especially should not be used on children or those that are pregnant. It is often found in mother’s milk and affects the sperm count in males. Far from the sun kissed body that suncreams use in their adverts, the ingredients in suncream and well known irritants and are toxic to our organs.
Air Fresheners: I hate these. Walking into a townhouse and smelling a sickly sweet forest should cause most people to know that they are instantly breathing in chemicals that will harm you. Phthalates, benzene (can cause leukemia in children, probably adults too), toulene (affects the airways, brain, nervous system) and formaldehyde (causes cancer in the upper respiratory system) are all present in copious quantities. Never use air fresheners. Cut some flowers or greenery and pop in a vase!
Washing-up liquids: Most of us don’t think twice about squirting a big load of washing-up liquid onto the dishes and then proceeding to eat off those same dishes. Formaldehyde, lauramine oxide (irritates the skin), alcohol denat (alcohol packed full of chemicals to stop you drinking it) and cyclohexyldimethylamine (pronounce that and then say you trust it!). At a minimum, rinse off your dishes with water, preferably boiling hot water. At best, switch to lemon, salt and vinegar for cleaning.
Laundry Detergent / Powder : Designed to remain within the fabric of our clothes with added chemicals to make them appear whiter and softer, these toxins decompose slowly and being in close contact with the skin are absorbed into our bodies. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – which has many names – is widely used in cleaning products and is an irritant, toxic substance which may go on to cause mutations in our cells. 1,4 Dioxane is a by-product of SLS and will cause cancer.
Makeup: Cosmetics have been used by mankind for thousands of years but it is only over the last 100 years that we’ve decided that adding synthetic materials and strange toxic substances to lather on our skin is a great idea. Dibutyl phthalate (endocrine disruptor), 1,4 dioxane, siloxanes (disrupts the reproductive system) as well as previously mentioned chemicals. If you must use cosmetics, look for organic and even food grade ingredients.
It can be extremely difficult to engage in modern life and not use some chemicals in our cleaning, washing and cosmetics. But we should be aware of what exactly we are subjecting our bodies to and how it affects them. One small does will not cause cancer. Repeated use of these chemicals – which repeat in many of our household products – will overload the body with toxins and cause cancerous cell mutations at worst.
National agencies typically specify the maximum amounts of these chemicals that can be used in products but no long term study on the effects of prolonged use of these chemicals everyday has been carried out. Don’t be taken in by claims that they are under ‘recommend guidelines’ – these products are lethal and will make you sick.
If you can’t cut something out, at least minimize it as much as possible. Always look for natural, organic, real products. Look to what was used before man decided adding by-products of petroleum products to everyday products was a good idea.