I grew up with a clever rhyme about beans being a “magical fruit” due to the sounds they often produced after consumption.  Reflecting upon this still brings a chuckle but also is a reminder of how often flatulence, bloating, acid reflux and all sorts of bowel imbalances get normalized in American culture. In my practice, I often hear things like, “oh, this is just how I am” or “some amount of gas is normal, right?” In actuality, all of the above symptoms are signals that your digestion is less than optimal. Why does it matter? In short, poor digestion leads not only to discomfort and potentially embarrassing symptoms but also to systemic inflammation and can develop into more serious disease states. What can you do about it? While every individual is unique and is treated as such in clinic, what follows are a list of some common ways to optimize digestion on a day to day basis.

Build With Quality Raw Materials

Eat a balanced diet composed of fresh, organic vegetables (especially root veggies and dark leafy greens), fruits, nuts, seeds and grains along with grass fed or wild caught meats if you choose to eat meat. These foods provide nutrients for whole body health but also specifically B vitamins and minerals such as zinc and magnesium that are necessary for adequate production of stomach acid and proper assimilation of nutrients. Avoid conventionally grown (non -organic) foods along with processed foods and sugars as they often contain harmful pesticides and herbicides which are known to cause harm to the mucosa of your gut. This disruption of gut mucosa inhibits your ability to absorb nutrients and can further lead to autoimmune and more serious disease states. In addition, processed foods and sugars actually take more energy than they give, depleting your stores of B vitamins and minerals that are critical for normal digestion.

Simply Eat When You Eat

Let eating take center stage by settling down to nosh in a relaxed environment rather than eating while driving, standing or multi – tasking. Avoiding these activities when eating helps minimize the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn helps to regulate levels of stomach acid to ensure proper digestion.  Focus on chewing each bite thoroughly in order to maximize the digestive process that starts in your mouth. Allowing this mindfulness to continue after meals aids in attuning to foods that may provoke digestive upset and would be best avoided or prepared in alternate ways.

Drink Up Between Meals

Imagine concocting a rich, savory stew then pouring a bucket of ice water into it. Ridiculous right? But that’s what we, often unknowingly, do at mealtimes.  Drinking copious amounts of liquids with meals, reduces the production of stomach acid and dilutes the chemical soup of digestive enzymes, stomach acid and bacteria that aid in processing food. Shoot for drinking liquids in between meals in order to stay hydrated but not interfere with the digestive symphony at mealtime. If you desire to have a beverage with meals, choose one with digestive properties such as a cup of ginger or lemon tea, kombucha or occasionally a small amount of beer or wine. If you feel that you need a beverage to swallow your food this is often an indication that you are not chewing your food thoroughly enough.

Befriend Fermented Foods

Have you ever wondered why those little pickles, famously called cornichons, always end up with the charcuterie, the miso soup gets served before your favorite sushi or a bratwurst is often blanketed in kraut? Traditional cultures have long known that the secret to good digestion lies in a bacterial process. Fermented foods are fairly ubiquitous in various cultures, most commonly known in the above examples along with kimchi, yogurt, kefir, apple cider vinegar and kombucha. These fermented foods and beverages contain the trifecta of factors necessary for proper digestion: acid, enzymes and probiotics. In addition, the beneficial bacteria they contain, often known as probiotics, contribute to a balanced gut microbiome. Modern research has shown that a healthy microbiome is involved in normal function of just about every bodily system and helps regulate normal immune, hormone and stress responses as well as brain function. Want to embrace the power of these foods and beverages? Try adding ¼ to 1/2c cup of unpasteurized, fermented veggies or beverages to each meal and observe how you feel. If you notice that adding fermented food increases your digestive symptoms this is often a clue that you may have a bacterial imbalance that would best be corrected via acupuncture, herbs and dietary change.

Sprout It Out

Grains, nuts, beans and seeds all are contained in a convenient protective coating in order that they may survive until conditions are ripe for germination. If these foods are consumed before they have the opportunity to be sprouted, the protective outer coatings can cause digestive distress and inflammation due to the phytates and lectins they contain.  Once again, we take the nod from traditional culinary systems and see that sprouting these foods not only removes the protective coating with its inflammatory compounds but also improves nutrient assimilation by creating digestive enzymes. Sprouting is fairly easy to do but pre-sprouted products are also available in most health food stores and even some major grocery chains. If you’re keen to give sprouting or fermenting a try, a great resource is the cookbook, Nourishing Traditionsby Sally Fallon.

Aperitif anyone?

Digestive bitters, traditionally derived from plants such as gentian root, have long been utilized to improve digestion, often in pre- dinner cocktails. Their efficacy lies in the ability of the plants’ bitter compounds, once detected by taste buds, to signal a release of stomach acid enzymes, and bile thus priming the body for digestion. Prepared bitters are widely available in a variety of flavors but check to make sure they are free of artificial colorings or flavors. If you feel inspired, you can also make your own concoction.  And no booze is necessary to enjoy. Try a bit of your favorite bitters in a small amount of sparkling or still water with a wedge of citrus. Refreshing and effective!

Harness The Power of Herbs

Once again, we look to the wisdom of cultures past who have traditionally incorporated herbs and spices into daily cooking not only for their flavor but also for their digestive benefits. Chances are you may have some helpful medicine hiding out in your cupboard or fridge right now!  In fact, many commonly used herbs such as ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, black and red peppers, and various mints have powerful digestive properties. If you’d like to explore utilizing culinary herbs as medicine, a great resource is Alchemy of Herbsby Rosalee De La Foret.  This book provides great insight and recipes on how to incorporate common herbs into your diet and also speaks to the unique properties of each herb that may make them more suited to one type of person over the other. If this peaks your interest in utilizing herbs more intensively as medicine, keep in mind that practicing herbal medicine safely and effectively takes years of study. Therefore, it is best to seek guidance from a trained herbalist if you wish to incorporate more concentrated forms of herbs such as pills, powders or tinctures into your treatment regime. A trained professional can best assess what combination of herbs will best support your unique constitution and chief complaints.

Back Away From The Tums!

Antacids and Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are often used to treat acid reflux or indigestion. Initially these might sound like a helpful solution as they can neutralize acidity but they in truth make reflux even worse. Here’s why: Adequate levels of stomach acid are crucial to breaking down food, in particular proteins and fats. When the pH of the stomach becomes more basic, food (especially proteins and minerals) will sit and essentially compost, creating heat that rises up in the form of bloating or reflux. In addition, low stomach acid levels leave your body more prone to pathogenic bacteria such as H. Pylori which can cause and exacerbate acid reflux. So instead of reaching for an antacid, focus on utilizing a fermented food or digestive bitters with each meal to help restore the proper balance of stomach acid and bacteria. Sometimes these measures are enough to correct reflux but more stubborn cases respond best to a regime of herbs, acupuncture and dietary change.

Give It a Rest

Minimize snacking between meals and stop eating at least 2-3 hours before bedtime to allow your digestive system a chance to rest and reboot. In addition, implementing periods of intermittent fasting of 12 or more hours per day has been shown to not only improve digestion but also to lower insulin and cortisol levels, improve mental clarity and help maintain healthy weight. If you are drawn to try intermittent fasting start slowly, fasting 8-10 hours per day between dinner and breakfast. If you do not experience weakness, headaches or dizziness you can increase the length of the fast slowly. Some patients report feeling their best fasting 14-16 hours per day, but every individual can have a different response to extended fasts. Please note that intermittent fasting is not indicated for everyone. If you are a diabetic, elderly, frail or have a history of eating disorders intermittent fasting is not advised without the supervision of a medical provider.

While this list contains only a handful of suggestions, even these can be overwhelming for some individuals. If you feel led to experiment with some changes, try integrating just one this week and observe how it impacts your digestion and overall well – being. Then try adding in other tools, one at a time. Many patients find it helpful to keep a journal in order to keep track of  strategies they’ve implemented along with the symptomatic changes they’ve observed. Finally, in all things the key to change is mindfulness. Keep paying attention and your body’s inherent wisdom will start to point you to lifegiving dietary rhythms and a more harmonious digestive system!

10 Characteristics of a Toxic Relationship

Relationships are meant to be life giving, challenging and give a sense of connection and belonging. Unfortunately, I see many clients who are stuck in“toxic relationships” that often do the opposite. When I say toxic relationship, I mean any relationship whether it is a significant other, friend, child or family member. Toxic literally means poisonous. It is something that is harmful to us and our health and functioning. Therefore, a toxic relationship will interfere with our mental and emotional health and keep us from thriving. I also use toxic relationships and emotionally abusive relationships synonymously.

Another way to define a toxic relationship is relationships that involve emotional abuse. If a relationship has any kind of physical or sexual abuse, of course it is unhealthy and unsafe. I focus here of emotional abuse, however, because emotional abuse can often be very difficult to identify and is often a precursor to or a part of physical and sexual abuse. Many times emotional abuse can be just as damaging to a person as more overt forms of abuse. One way to define patterns of emotional abuse that characterizes a toxic relationship is any behavior or attitude that emotionally damages another person, regardless of whether there is conscious intent to do so.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that we do not need to demonize those who have hurt us or who we have been in a toxic relationship with. People who emotionally abuse often do so because that was what was modeled to them. They may not even realize that their behaviors or patterns in relationships are harmful and hurtful. This does not excuse their behavior but can help us have more compassion and realize that it’s not all about us. In addition, I often hear people use the term “toxic” in a very dismissive way (ie: Oh she is so toxic), as if that person should be quarantined and ignored forever. It also seems like using this word is a get out of jail free card to not look at ourselves and what part we have played in a toxic relationship. Of course there are cases when someone is so abusive or sick that there is nothing you can do to change things other than leave the relationship completely, other times, however, we can empower ourselves to change our patterns in our unhealthy relationships if we know what to look for and how to respond. If you are concerned that you might be in a toxic relationship or are unsure, read on to learn some common signs and ways to deal.

Identifying Abuse

Before we jump into some very specific forms of emotional abuse, take a moment to check in with yourself and by asking these questions:

How do I feel after spending time with this person?

Have I changed since spending time with this person? How?

What do my trusted friends and loved ones have to say about my relationship with this person?

Do I feel/believe that I have as much to offer them as they offer me?

Do I feel/believe that my opinion, ideas and feelings matter to them?

How do I feel while I am spending time with them? How does my body feel? (Relaxed, tense?)

You may notice that after spending time with certain people you feel peaceful or fulfilled while after spending time with others you feel drained or unsure of yourself. These are important feelings to pay attention to. Of course if you have one negative interaction with someone that makes you feel uneasy, that does not necessarily mean they are toxic and you should end the relationship. We are all imperfect humans and all good relationships have conflict and discomfort at times. However, if you find your interactions with someone consistently result in you feeling down, drained or insecure, there might be some toxic, emotionally abusive dynamics. Since some forms of toxicity in relationships can be so subtle, it can be helpful to check in with ourselves and our feelings. We might feel nervous or tense when we are about to see a certain person but not know why. What is fascinating is that our emotions and bodies can often pick up on emotional abuse before our conscious minds can. One possible reason is that we have been in these kinds of relationships most of our lives and think they are normal. Or the negative patterns started so small and grew at such a gradual pace that we have not realized how toxic our relationship has become. We can build up a tolerance to being treated poorly. And, the very nature of emotional abuse often leads to self doubt in the abused.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse involves clear and consistent patterns that I will list and go over below. These dynamics are destructive and often the intent is to make the other feel badly about him or herself. Remember, emotional abuse is any behavior or attitude that emotionally damages another person, regardless of whether there is conscious intent to do so. It can be overt and very openly demeaning or covert (more subtle). And as the definition says, it can be intentional or unintentional. You may realize there are some very subtle forms of one of these characteristics that simply need to be pointed out in order to make a change. If you identify any of these dynamics in one of your relationships, you do not necessarily need to immediately cut that person out of your life. It may mean that you need to reassess the relationship and make some changes, however.

These 10 types of emotional abuse are described in The Emotionally Abusive Relationship by Beverly Engel.

Domination: attempting to control another’s actions and always have their own way. The abuser may use threats and/or manipulation to get their way.

Verbal Assaults: Berating, belittling, criticizing, humiliating, name-calling, screaming, threatening, excessive blaming, shaming, using sarcasm in a cutting way, verbal abuse disguised as jokes. The abuser may then belittle you for being hurt by their words and taking it so seriously.

Constant Criticism/Continual Blaming: This can be difficult to identify. The person might put you down under the guise of humor, similar to verbal assaults, or claiming they are just trying to help you to be better. Engle describes this dynamic’s effects, saying “When someone is unrelentingly critical of you, always finds fault, can never be pleased, and blames you for everything that goes wrong, it is the insidious nature and cumulative effects of the abuse that do the damage.”

Abusive Expectations: When someone places unreasonable demands on you (ie: expecting a friend or partner to put aside everything in order to satisfy their needs, demanding a partner’s undivided attention, demanding constant sex, or requiring a friend/partner to spend all of his or her time with them.) Usually they react strongly when you do not meet these expectations.

Emotional Blackmail: Coercing another to do what you want by playing into their fear, guilt or compassion (ie: one partner threatening to end the relationship or withholding sex if they don’t get what they want, silent treatment, guilt trips, making you feel selfish when you do something they don’t want you to do, asking you to give something up as a way of proving your love/friendship/loyalty to him/her.) Again, this blackmail may be subtle or overt.

Unpredictable Responses: This is characterized by drastic mood swings, sudden emotional outbursts for no apparent reason and inconsistent responses. They may react to a situation fine one day and then explode at the same situation the next day. This causes others to feel constantly on edge-waiting for the other shoe to drop. This behavior is common with alcohol and drug abusers/addicts or those with various forms of mental illness. This form of emotional abuse keeps you in a hypervigilant state, needing to be ready to respond to the other’s explosions or mood swings.

Constant Chaos/Creating Crisis: This is characterized by continual upheavals and discord. The abuser may deliberately start arguments with you or others or seem to be in constant conflict with others. The phrase “addicted to drama” fits here. This behavior may serve to distract from their own problems, feelings of emptiness or feel more comfortable for those who were raised in chaotic environments.

Character Assasination: Constantly blowing someone’s mistakes out of proportion, humiliating, criticizing, making fun of someone in front of others, or discounting another’s achievements. This can also involve lying about someone to negatively influence others’ opinions of them and gossiping about their mistakes and failures.

Gaslighting: This term comes from the classic movie Gaslight in which a husband uses a variety of insidious techniques to make his wife doubt her perceptions, memory and sanity. The abuser may continually deny that certain events occurred or that he or she said something you both know was said or he or she my insinuate that you are exaggerating or lying. The abusive person may be trying to gain control over you or avoid taking responsibility for his or her actions. This often results in the abused doubting themselves and less likely to speak up when future abuse happens.

Sexual Harassment: This can occur anywhere, even with a romantic partner. Unwelcome sexual advances or any physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature that is uninvited and unwelcome constitutes sexual harassment. The perpetrator may coerce you into becoming sexual against your will or into doing sexual acts you have no desire to do or are even repulsed by. Often other forms of emotional abuse go hand in hand with sexual harassment such as gaslighting or constant criticizing. They may claim that they are helping you to be less repressed and more sexually free and criticize you for being uptight and prudish. Or they may claim they were just being friendly and that you are blowing their actions out of proportion. But if it makes you uncomfortable and is unwanted, it is harassment, no matter their intent.

Now What?

Maybe you are seeing that some of your relationships has one or multiple forms of emotional abuse at play. Maybe you are recognizing that you are the abuser. So now what do you do? If you are identifying yourself as the abuser, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Beating yourself up will not help you become more healthy. Most likely there is a reason you engage in these abusive, toxic behaviors in your relationships and now you can work to discover what that reason is. You can do this within the confines of a safe and empathetic therapeutic relationship. Many people seek therapy over talking to a good friend because there is no judgement and instead there is unconditional positive regard. That means us therapists believe the best about you and that while you may do bad things you are not yourself, bad. If you want to stop being emotionally abusive to people you care about, find a therapist who can help you be more aware of when you are engaging in these behaviors and what is driving them.

If you are seeing that you have been emotionally abused there are multiple helpful ways to respond. First, you probably need to set some boundaries with this person either directly or just in your own mind. This involves being clear about what you will and will not accept. This may be letting the person know that you do not like being talked down to or being called names and if they start doing that again, you will get up and leave. Many times people feel mean when they hold boundaries, but boundaries are not an ultimatum or empty threat. Instead, they are a way to emotionally protect yourself. Boundaries are also loving towards yourself and the other person and not done as a punishment. When you change what you will and will not put up with it gives the other person an opportunity to change for the better as well.

It is also important for you to be aware of how the abuse has twisted your perception of yourself. Most likely you have received countless subtle or overt messages that you are not good enough, incompetent, unattractive or any other number of negative things. This is going to take a toll on your sense of self, so be aware of any negative self talk and ask yourself, “Is this me or this other person’s voice?” Awareness is the first step to taking control over your mind again. From here you can work to rebuild what the abuse tore down: your self esteem, self confidence, passion, silliness, creativity, etc.

While you are recovering from this toxic relationship, it is immensely helpful to surround yourself with safe, supportive people who can remind you of who you really are and want to build you up. Sometimes we need others to remind us of what is true about us before we are able to do it for ourselves. Setting boundaries and changing our own patterns can be very difficult so it’s also helpful to have people cheering you on and reminding you of why you are making these changes.

You also may need to grieve the relationship as you adjust your expectations and hopes for this person or relationship, especially if it is someone very close like a spouse or parent. You may also experience strong anger as you realize how poorly you have been treated. Anger is an appropriate response and will demand to be felt. As you work through your anger you can eventually move toward forgiveness towards yourself for allowing yourself to be treated so poorly and possibly also towards the abuser. Forgiveness does not mean they have to remain in your life or that you think everything they said and did is okay. Forgiving them is releasing them and believing that you will be okay no matter what happens or doesn’t happen to them. Forgiveness is really for your well being, not theirs, though it may have positive effects for them as well.

Finally, rather than kick yourself for not realizing how bad this relationship was sooner, allow this experience to teach you what to look out for in the future so it doesn’t happen again. I work with many people who are struggling to get out of a pattern of toxic relationships. They wonder why they keep choosing emotionally abusive people. Often it is because they just focus on the other people and not themselves. There is something in us that draws us to these kinds of people and until we address that the cycle will continue. We also need to learn to trust our gut when it tells us something is off about this person. When we can use our previous experiences to inform our current actions in relationship we can make different choices that will lead to better relational outcomes.

 

cleaning up “toxic thoughts”

The great Greek philosopher Epictetus is credited with saying “it is not events that disturb us, but our interpretation of the event”. I love this quote, because it outlines a core concept of cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is a modality of psychotherapy that I draw upon frequently in my practice because it powerfully guides us to identify the connection between what we think, how we feel in response to the thoughts we think, and what we can choose to do behaviorally in response to our thoughts and feelings.

 

Just as environmental toxins can harm us physically, toxic thought patterns have the power to wreak havoc on our mental/emotional health. So, what can we do? Physically, if I learn that a substance in my lotion is harmful, I can take action. I can remove that product from my shelf and find a cleaner option. Similarly, psychotherapy can be a life-changing process where a person is guided to identify the onset and impact of specific thought patterns in their lives, which helps get to the root of many “problems”/symptoms and identify a way forward toward the changes they may desire to make. We can feel and act differently, which can noticeably improve quality of life!

 

First, we start with awareness. We act like curious scientists, searching out the “toxic” thoughts that are negative, distorted, untrue, inaccurate, and have potential to powerfully and negatively impact how we view ourselves, the world, and our future.

 

Let’s say that I recognize some repeating thoughts in my mind are, “If I make mistakes I’ve failed, people will judge me harshly, and I need to be perfect”. In examining the impact, I may realize that these specific thoughts cause me to feel anxious and behaviorally I may keep a guard up in relationship with others. From this step I can work to question the validity of these thoughts and implement/practice new ways of thinking and behaving.

 

There is so much I could expound upon here.   To simplify it to basics, it comes down to awareness, analysis, and choice.

  1. Awareness: what am I thinking? What thought popped into my mind when I noticed I was experiencing strong emotion?

 

  1. Analysis: once you have identified the thought, question it. Analyze it and evaluate it for truth. Identify distortions. What is the impact of this thinking on my feelings and behavior? What are the consequences?

 

  1. Choice: what do I choose to do now with this information? Do I want to keep this pattern? Work to purposefully replace thoughts? Develop truths/affirmations to think on purpose?

 

With practice and intention, we can change what we think, how we feel, and what we do. We can be transformed through the renewing of our minds.

 

Resources for further information:

https://beckinstitute.org/

National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists: http://www.nacbt.org/

David Burns website: https://feelinggood.com/

 

 

A Clean Sweep: Practical Tips for Home Detox

In last month’s post we explored ways that you can minimize your toxic load with an overhaul of personal care products. This month we’ll expand on that journey by identifying common toxins found in homes and discuss ways that you can protect and enrich the health of your family and the environment.


WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Many of the TOXIC CHEMICALS IN QUESTION HAVE BEEN LINKED TO VARIOUS CANCERS, REPRODUCTIVE ABNORMALITIES, OBESITY, DIABETES, ASTHMA, ALLERGIES, ECZEMA, HEART AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES AND NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS.  It’s important to note that the effects of many toxins may not be felt or experienced immediately or in the short term. However, long term exposure even in small doses can pose serious health threats.

 

SO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE NEW SEASON, LET GO OF THE OLD AND MAKE A FEW CHANGES TO CULTIVATE A HOME SPACE OF PEACE, RESTORATION AND ABUNDANT LIFE! 

INDOOR AIR QUALITY

The EPA estimates that INDOOR AIR CONTAINS 2 TO 5 TIMES MORE POLLUTANTS THAN OUTDOOR AIR due to chemicals in SYNTHETIC CLEANERS, PAINTS, CARPETING AND SMOKE AS WELL AS MOLDS AND VIRUSES just to name a few16.Lest you be tempted to simply mask those unwanted particles a and smells with a scented “Plug in”, spray or candle, beware that most air fresheners and candles don’t’ clean the air but actually contribute to a host of health concerns due to the SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES they contain.

(Read more here: https://kairoscw.com/2019/08/27/cleaning-up-your-personal-care-products/).

In addition, candles are commonly made of PARAFFIN wax, which presents other problems. Paraffin is an unsustainable petroleum byproduct and studies have shown that burning PARAFFIN CANDLES RELEASES TOLULENE AND BENZENE FUMES THAT HAVE BEEN LINKED TO ASTHMA AND LUNG CANCER 6

VENTILATION:Instead of using synthetics to cover up scents, promote clean air in your home by REGULARLY OPENING DOORS AND WINDOWS DAILY, even for a short period of time to allow ventilation.

PLANT POWER:Consider adding air cleaning varieties of plants such as BROMELIADS, DRACAENA, PEACE LILIES, ENGLISH IVY, JADE AND SPIDER PLANTS in all rooms of your home. These plants have been shown to be naturally effective at FILTERING OUT MANY COMMON HARMFUL VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOCS) INCLUDING ACETONE, BENZENE AND FORMALDEHYDE17.

ESSENTIAL OILS AND CANDLES: If you enjoy scents in your space, utilize a DIFFUSER FILLED WITH PURE ESSENTIAL OILS. If burning candles, choose those that are paraffin free. Non – GMO soy candles are safe options but those made of BEESWAX are even better and also support the care and cultivation of our necessary pollinators, bees!

AIR FILTERS:Mold due to water damage, bacteria, germs, dust, dander, viruses and VOCs are common contaminants that can compromise the quality of the air in your home. Utilizing a HEPA FILTER AND/OR AIR SANITIZER can significantly increase air quality and would be recommended especially for INDIVIDUALS WHO STRUGGLE WITH CHRONIC SINUS CONGESTION, ALLERGIES, ASTHMA, HEADACHES, FATIGUE AND INFLAMMATORY CONDITIONS OF THE EYES, MUCOUS MEMBRANES AND RESPIRATORY TRACT. You may ALSO CONSIDER PURCHASING AIR FILTRATION SYSTEMS IF YOU LIVE IN A PARTICULARLY COLD CLIMATE which inhibits open window ventilation a good portion of the year.  If you’re in the market for an air filter, Intellipure, IQ Air and Guardian Molekule all offer good quality and highly recommended options.

WATER

Word on the street is that we are mostly water, therefore utilizing and protecting clean water as medicine is critical to vibrant health. Tap water quality can vary greatly depending on where you live but even in the United States, with some of the cleanest water supplies, CONTAMINANTS can frequently be found. These most often include LEAD, COPPER, ARSENIC, BACTERIA, VIRUSES, PARASITES, PHARMACEUTICALS, HERBICIDES, PESTICIDES AND RADON. If you are tempted to reach for bottled water in response I’d strongly advise you to turn elsewhere for a solution. BOTTLED WATER has been shown to absorb the ENDORCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS from its plastic containers that can have significant negative impacts on our health and that of the environment.

(Read more here: https://kairoscw.com/2019/07/31/whats-the-problem-with-plastic/).

In addition, consumer watch groups have revealed that in a majority of products, BOTTLED WATER IS SIMPLY BOTTED TAP WATER… JUST SIGNIFICANTLY MORE EXPENSIVE!

A better solution is to invest in a quality WATER FILTER. These come in a variety of forms. If possible installing a whole house water filter is best as it filters not only drinking water but also shower and bath water. If you rent or are unable to purchase a large – scale system, there are plenty of counter or sink mounted filters available to meet your needs.

Check out the EWG.ORG TAP WATER DATABASE AS WELL AS WATER FILTER BUYING GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST SOLUTION FOR YOUR AREA AND SITUATION.

CLEANERS

Most commonly found household cleaners contain a variety of HARMFUL CHEMICALS that have been linked to ALLERGIES & RESPIRATORY ILLNESS (BLEACH, AMMONIA, QUATERNARY AMMONIUM COMPOUNDS, ETHANOLAMINES)11,12, CANCERS (1-4 DIOXANE, FORMALDEHYDE)8,15  and REPRODUCTIVE AND DEVELOPMENTAL TOXICITIES (BORIC ACID, DIETHYLENE GLYCOL MONOMETHYL ETHER)1, 5 . Yikes!

CURIOUS WHAT’S IN YOUR CLEANERS? EXPLORE THEIR SAFETY rating at the Environmental Working Groups Guide to Cleaners: https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners.  If your products don’t score well then considering switching to one of the EWG.ORG recommended products or reduce your cleaning costs by switching to BAKING SODA AND VINEGAR as your primary cleaners. These two basic components can clean just about anything. You can also ADD QUALITY ESSENTIAL OILS such as lemon or orange to up the cleaning power. In addition, most essential oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties that help kill non- beneficial bacteria on contact.

DETERGENTS AND SOAPS

Everybody seems to love that “clean” smell of their freshly washed clothes and linens but many commonly used detergents and dish soaps contain a variety of harmful CARCINOGENS and ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS also found in personal care products such as SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, PHTHALATES and PARABENS. Similar to your cleaning arsenal CHECK OUT THE SAFETY OF YOUR LAUNDRY PRODUCTS STACK UP HERE : https://www.ewg.org/guides/categories/9-Laundry

Keep in mind that whatever detergent you wash in will be carried out in the wastewater as well remain in contact with your skin and inhaled during use. Look for POWDERED OR TABLET FORMS OF DETERGENTS AND DISH WASHING SOAP packaged in easily recyclable paper and free of all the offending chemicals and plastic containers. Making your own detergent is also simple and cost effective. Or consider switching to a MAGNETIC LAUNDRY WASHING SYSTEM that requires no detergent at all! If whitening or stain removal is required UTILIZE A HYDROGEN PEROXIDE BLEACH AS OPPOSED TO CHLORINE. Also DITCH THE LAUNDRY SHEETS IMMEDIATELY as they typically contain a host of carcinogens and endocrine disruptors that remain on your clothes and get vented into the air while drying.  Opt instead for WOOL DRYER BALLS which work wonderfully to fluff and soften your clothes and reduce static. Even better, save energy and cash by LETTING CLOTHES AIR DRY outside, or in a well- ventilated area inside.

 COOKWARE AND FOOD/BEVERAGE STORAGE

AVOID pans with PLASTICIZED NON- STICK COATINGS SUCH AS TEFLON and OPT FOR STAINLESS, CAST IRON OR ENAMEL INSTEAD. Teflon is made of the chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid(PFOA). PFOA is not a naturally occurring compound and yet it is found in the blood of most people living in industrialized countries. Animal studies with rats and primates have shown that PFOA CAUSES CANCER, LIVER DAMAGE, GROWTH DEFECTS, IMMUNE SYSTEM DAMAGE AND DEATH. PFOA has also been LINKED TO HIGH CHOLESTEROL in humans and an EPA advisory board reported that PFOA IS A “LIKELY” CARCINOGEN IN HUMANS 14. NEWERNON – STICK COOKWARE CONTAINING PFCS (PERFLUORINATED CHEMICALS) ARE ALSO BEST AVOIDED as their use has been linked to CANCERS, HORMONE AND REPRODUCTIVE ABNORMALITIES as well as DISEASES OF THE CARDIOVASCULAR AND IMMUNE SYSTEMS in humans 7.In addition, DITCH PLASTIC CONTAINERS AND BEVERAGE BOTTLES and STORE FOOD IN GLASS OR STAINLESS instead to avoid the toxic effects of chemicals leaching into food and drinks.

(Read more here: https://kairoscw.com/2019/07/31/whats-the-problem-with-plastic/)

CUTTING BOARDS

AVOID cutting boards made of PLASTIC and those containing the ANTIBACTERIAL CHEMICAL TRICLOSAN which has been banned for use in soaps in the US but still shows up in a variety of other products including home utensils, trash bags and toothpaste ( Read more here: https://kairoscw.com/2019/08/27/cleaning-up-your-personal-care-products/)

TRY UTILIZING GLASS OR CERAMIC as they are easy to sanitize and do not incur the knife damage or pose the health threats that plastic cutting boards do. Cutting boards made of a HARDER WOOD SUCH AS BAMBOO are also good choices as they resist scarring from knives and absorb very little moisture. SEALING YOUR CUTTING BOARDS ONCE PER MONTH helps restore the bacterial and moisture resistance capabilities. When sealing, choose a food grade oil such as rice bran, coconut, lemon oil or beeswax when sealing to prevent introducing toxins to your food. If you’re extra concerned about wood boards harboring bacteria, UC Davis researchers recommend “SANITIZING” small wooden cutting boards in the microwave since they do not tolerate being cleaned in the dishwasher 2.

PAPER PRODUCTS

Did you know that conventional TOILET PAPER, FACIAL TISSUES AND PAPER TOWELS OFTEN EXPOSE YOU TO HARMFUL CHEMICALS EVERY TIME YOU USE THEM?  These include SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES AND LOTIONS as well as FORMALDEHYDE which is used to improve the strength of the paper product and CHLORINE employed to whiten paper products. Minimize your toxic exposure by purchasing products made of 100% RECYCLED, CHLORINE AND BPA FREE PAPER OR MORE SUSTAINABLE BAMBOO PRODUCTS that also help others (check out: reelpaper.com).

When it comes to cleaning, consider utilizing newspaper instead of paper towels for cleaning mirrors and glass and recycled old clothing cut up into rags for cleaning surfaces.

GARDENING

Getting out and digging in the dirt is good for your soul but synthetic pesticides and herbicides are definitely not! GLYPHOSATE the active component in ROUND UP, a commonly used herbicide on wheat, corn and soy crops as well as home gardening, can now be found widely in air, soil, food, water and human urine 9,13,3  and it’s producer Monsanto is currently in litigation in multiple cases linking the use of Round Up to Non – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In response to the significant health threats Glyphosate poses, Germany and Austria have already banned its use in their countries but at this point the EPA in the United States has failed to follow suit. Protect yourself and your surrounds today by opting for ORGANIC garden products instead. Create your own nutrient dense fertilizer by starting a WORM BIN or COMPOST PILE and thereby keep food waste out of the landfill. Also consider PLANTING NATIVE SPECIES in or around your garden to ATTRACT NATURAL PREDATORS and keep pesky pests at bay as well as ATTRACT NATIVE POLLINATORS to help make your harvest abundant. NOT SURE HOW TO GET STARTED?

GROWORGANIC.COM IS CHOCK FULL OF RESOURCES TO HELP YOU ON YOUR WAY!

PET CARE

We love those critters in our lives and choosing non- toxic products to aid in their care is beneficial for them and for our families.

*IN GENERAL: Start by making quality food and filtered water in non-plastic bowls the base of care. Also keep in mind that the chemicals that negatively affect us as humans also typically have negative effects on our pets. For example, when selecting grooming products, choose those free of chemicals that you would also avoid using on yourself (Read more here: https://kairoscw.com/2019/08/27/cleaning-up-your-personal-care-products/)

*FLEAS: If you live in an area where fleas are common consider utilizing essential oil soaps, sprays and diatomaceous earth preventatively. If you choose to use flea medications on your cat or dog opt for an oral version if your pet is able to handle them as opposed to topical varieties which can be absorbed by family members after touching their pets.

*DOGS:  When headed out on a dog walk choose compostable dog waste bags as most of these are made of plant fibers that break down easily as opposed to plastic that never goes away. Chew and other toys are helpful entertainment for Fido, when purchasing, choose non-toxic options such as rubber, hide, bones, or natural fibers to avoid your pooch getting a stomach full of harmful synthetic chemicals

*CATS: When it comes to litters, avoid most conventional brands as they typically contain HARMFUL SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES AND HIGH LEVELS OF SILICA DUST that have been linked to pulmonary disease 10.Instead choose litter made from natural materials such as WOOD PELLETS, GRAINS OR PUT THOSE OLD PAPER SHREDS to work and make your own!

HOME FURNISHINGS

Carpeting, furniture, mattresses, paint and electronics are just a few home items that are notorious for their ability to “off gas” HARMFUL VOCS such as flame retardants like Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs). PBDEs are abundant in: house dust, water, soil, animals and human tissues and have been shown to be DEVELOPMENTAL NEUROTOXINS AND ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS4. Some VOC off gassing can be easily noticed via phenomenon like that “new carpet smell” but many escape conscious detection. In order to protect yourself from these ubiquitous chemicals, utilize some of the above strategies of proper VENTILATION, AIR CLEANING PLANT SPECIES AND AIR FILTRATION SYSTEMS. In addition, consider REMOVING POTENTIAL KNOWN SOURCES OF TOXICITY. Before buying anything new check out THE HEALTHY LIVING HOME GUIDE AT EWG.ORG FOR TIPS ON WHAT TO AVOID AND HOW TO MINIMIZE VOC EXPOSURE IN NEW PRODUCTS.

CONSIDERING A REMODEL?

Be empowered that you have ample choices in materials and methods that will be beneficial for

Your family and that of the environment. Need a place to start? Check out Green Built Alliance’s homeowners resources here: https://www.greenbuilt.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/GreenHomeGuide-Bath.pdf?x95341

WHERE CAN I RECYCLE HAZARDOUS HOME PRODUCTS?

As you eliminate hazardous household products such as cleaners or paint please be sure to dispose of them properly to avoid environmental contamination. For a list of guidelines on recycling household products and a resource to locate the nearest facility to your home go to:

https://search.earth911.com/?utm_source=earth911-header&utm_medium=top-navigation-menu&utm_campaign=top-nav-recycle-search-button

LET FOOD BE YOUR DAILY MEDICINE FOR DETOX

It’s virtually impossible to avoid toxins in our current age but the good news is, we are hardwired to detox! IT’S ALSO CLEAR THAT YOUR ABILITY TO DETOX, WHILE SOMEWHAT SUBJECT TO GENETIC VARIATION, CAN LARGELY BE INFLUENCED BY YOUR DIETARY CHOICES!!!  An organic, plant – based diet rich in dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, onions and at least 25 grams of fiber per day will naturally support your body’s own systems of detox. Adding in dandelion tea or greens and turmeric also directly supports the liver which bears the brunt of detox and is easily overloaded.

CHOOSE MINDFULLY FOR LIFE!

Knowledge IS power. Power to change. Power to enrich your life and the lives around you. Power to create a cleaner and more vibrant future…

IN WHAT WAYS CAN YOU CHOOSE TO USE THE POWER OF WHAT YOU KNOW TO MINIMIZE YOUR TOXIC LOAD AND BENEFIT THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY TODAY? WHAT FRIEND OR LOVED ONE CAN YOU SHARE THESE LIFE – GIVING TIPS WITH?

References

1.CDHS (California Department of Health Services, now California Department of Public Health). 2007. Glycol Ethers: Fact Sheet: California Department of Health Services, Occupational Health Branch, Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS).

2.Cliver, D. O. (2002). Plastic and Wooden Cutting Boards. University of California—Davis Food Safety Laboratory.

3.Conrad, A., Schröter-Kermani, C., Hoppe, H. W., Rüther, M., Pieper, S., & Kolossa-Gehring, M. (2017). Glyphosate in German adults–Time trend (2001 to 2015) of human exposure to a widely used herbicide. International journal of hygiene and environmental health220(1), 8-16.

4.Costa, L. G., Giordano, G., Tagliaferri, S., & Caglieri, A. (2008). Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants: environmental contamination, human body burden and potentialadverse health effects. Acta Bio Medica Atenei Parmensis79(3), 172-183.

5.EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 2006. Boric Acid/Sodium Borate Salts: HED Chapter of the Tolerance Reassessment Eligibility Decision Document (TRED). PC Codes: 011001 (boric acid), 011102 (sodium tetraborate decahydrate), 011110 (sodium tetraborate pentahydrate), 011112 (sodium tetraborate anhydrous), 011103 (disodium octaborate tetrahydrate), 011107 (disodium octaborate anhydrous), 011104 (sodium metaborate).

6.Frequent use of certain candles produces unwanted chemicals. (2009, August 24). Retrieved September 27, 2019, from https://www.scsu.edu/news_article.aspx?news_id=832

7.Jogsten, I. E., Nadal, M., van Bavel, B., Lindström, G., & Domingo, J. L. (2012). Per-and polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in house dust and indoor air in Catalonia, Spain: implications for human exposure. Environment international39(1), 172-180.

8.Kano, H., Umeda, Y., Kasai, T., Sasaki, T., Matsumoto, M., Yamazaki, K., … & Fukushima, S. (2009). Carcinogenicity studies of 1, 4-dioxane administered in drinking-water to rats and mice for 2 years. Food and chemical toxicology47(11), 2776-2784.

9.Mercurio, P., Flores, F., Mueller, J. F., Carter, S., & Negri, A. P. (2014). Glyphosate persistence in seawater. Marine pollution bulletin85(2), 385-390.

10.Musk, A. W., Greville, H. W., & Tribe, A. E. (1980). Pulmonary disease from occupational exposure to an artificial aluminium silicate used for cat litter. Occupational and Environmental Medicine37(4), 367-372.

11.Obadia M, Liss GM, Lou W, Purdham J, Tarlo SM. 2009. Relationships between asthma and work exposures among non-domestic cleaners in Ontario. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 52(9): 716-723.

12.Sherriff A, Farrow A, Golding J, Henderson J. 2005. Frequent use of chemical household products is associated with persistent wheezing in pre-school age children. Thorax 60(1): 45-49.

13.Simonetti, E., Cartaud, G., Quinn, R. M., Marotti, I., & Dinelli, G. (2015). An Interlaboratory comparative study on the quantitative determination of glyphosate at low levels in wheat flour. Journal of AOAC International98(6), 1760-1768.

14.Steenland, K., Fletcher, T., & Savitz, D. A. (2010). Epidemiologic evidence on the health effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Environmental health perspectives118(8), 1100-1108.

15.Swenberg, J.A, Moeller, B.C, Lu, K., Rager, J. E., Fry, R.C. & Starr, T.B. (2013. Formaldehyde carcinogenicity research: 30 years and counting for mode of action, epidemiology and cancer risk assessment. Toxicologic pathology, 41(2), 181-189.

16.U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1987. The total exposure assessment methodology (TEAM) study: Summary and analysis. EPA/600/6-87/002a. Washington, DC.

17.Yang, D. S., Pennisi, S. V., Son, K. C., & Kays, S. J. (2009). Screening indoor plants for volatile organic pollutant removal efficiency. HortScience44(5), 1377-1381.

 

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