How to reduce your toxic exposure at home
Updated: May 11, 2020
What are toxins and how do they affect us?
Buildings and their construction materials, furnishings and electrical products are constantly giving off chemicals into their environments. Whether this be through leaking out into the air, or by getting into the water supply or our soil through the manufacturing process. These chemicals include, but are not limited to: formaldehyde, chlorine, heavy metals, Bisphenol A (BPA), prescription medications, and pesticides.
When I first began researching into this, I was shocked to read about the harsh chemicals that soft furnishings such as mattresses and sofas are sprayed with. I understand that they need to be sprayed with fire retardants for safety measures, but it also comes at a cost. These fire retardant sprays contain toxic chemicals which have been found to be endocrine disruptors, directly affect the thyroid gland, cause cancer, damage the immune system, damage the reproductive system, have adverse effects on fetal and child development, and can damage neurological function.
So many people are suffering from these health issues. ESPECIALLY endocrine issues which cause hormone imbalances. I don’t think I’ve spoken to one woman that has absolutely no issues with her menstrual cycle. These issues are everything from infertility to painful periods to a horrendous menopause experience, fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, oestrogen dominance, low progesterone… the list goes on. These are things that women live with everyday as doctors dismiss these symptoms and make us feel as if there is nothing that can be done and that it is normal. Well, I am here to tell you it is NOT NORMAL. These hormone imbalances can be exacerbated and even triggered by toxins in our environments. If we are suffering from any of the above issues, we need to take steps to minimise our toxic exposure.
Our bodies are designed to detoxify themselves and they do this extremely well. However, as our levels of toxic exposure continue to build, our bodies cannot cope efficiently, and this is where things start to go wrong. Today, more than ever, we are surrounded with all sorts of chemicals that were never even in existence 20 years ago. As the amount of toxins in our environment continues to grow, it is vital that we reduce our toxic exposure as much as possible and assist our bodies with the detoxification process.
“…any toxin in great amounts can have an adverse reaction on our thyroid gland, which is our very own environmental sensory gland.” Izabella Wentz
This is even more paramount for those with autoimmune diseases as they have an impaired ability for the body to detoxify itself. Toxins have also been found to be a massive trigger for the development of autoimmune disease. In addition to this, many (if not all) of these chemicals have been linked directly to blocking thyroid function! This is why minimising toxic exposure and living a clean lifestyle is such an important component when healing from thyroid disease and Hashimoto’s.
How to reduce your toxic exposure at home:
Now of course it would be impossible to remove ALL chemicals that you ever come into contact with, as you would have to get rid of all your furniture, electricals, and leave your home and any sign of civilisation to go and live in a cave! For those of us who can’t do those things, we will have to start making small changes with things we can control. One of the ways we can start is by looking at our home environments. I have put together my top tips for reducing your toxic exposure in your own home:
Fill your home with plants which act as natural air purifiers. We need to keep remembering how amazing nature is. We can learn so much from nature. Plants are absolutely miraculous. Certain plants have the natural ability to absorb toxins from their environment and also release fresh oxygen into the air. These plants include Aloe Vera, Snake plant, Peace Lily, Spider plant and Devil’s Ivy amongst others. Ideally you should place one in every room - but at a minimum put one in your bedroom and also one in your main living space. When I was doing my research into which indoor plants were the best purifiers and easiest to look after, the Snake plant and Peace Lily came up trumps. I currently have a beautiful yellow and green snake plant and a wonderful Peace Lily, and I will definitely be investing in another snake plant to join the family :). Peace Lily’s remove the following toxins from the environment: benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene. Snake plants remove the following toxins from the environment: formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene and xylene.
Invest in a Himalayan salt lamp. Place in the bedroom to purify the air and remove toxins. They have also been found to neutralise electromagnetic frequencies and are fantastic at improving the quality of your sleep.
Drink pure filtered water. Tap water has been found to contain numerous chemicals such as fluoride, chlorine, aluminium, plastic, herbicides, prescription medications and arsenic. It is so important if you are suffering with thyroid issues to drink pure, filtered water. There are many plastic filters on the market, and whilst they are fantastic at filtering chemicals from tap water, they are plastic at the end of the day and over time, small particles may begin to break down and get into your water. I began to actually taste plastic in my water after a while using my plastic water filter jug. So, I found the best solution for me personally was to fill several glass jugs up with water and place a Binchotan charcoal stick into each one. Binchotan is an active form of charcoal which the Japanese have been using to purify their drinking water for centuries. It naturally removes chemicals such as chlorine and also adds good minerals into the water. It does take between 3-8 hours to fully cleanse the water, but its well worth it. It takes away the chemical taste from tap water. It also stops the water from going stale especially if you are in a hard water area (like where I live!). Just pop into the fridge in the evening and they are all ready for the next day! I get my charcoal sticks from Black and Blum: https://black-blum.com/products/binchotan-charcoal-1
Switch all your cookware and utensils to non-toxic materials. Toxins can easily leak into the food this way due to the heat releasing the chemical non-stick coatings or aluminium. I changed every plastic utensil over to wooden or bamboo, and I changed all of my pots and pans to a brand called Greenpan: https://www.greenpan.co.uk/products
Switch out your washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets/soap, hand wash, surface cleaner for all natural alternatives. There are fantastic brands such as Ecover which offer more gentle alternatives to kitchen and bathroom cleaners. Or you could go a step further and make your own completely natural and totally toxin-free kitchen cleaners! Use a solution of bicarbonate of soda and hot water to wipe your kitchen worktops clean. For stains, pour some freshly squeezed lemon juice onto the effected area and sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda over it. Leave for an hour and then gently scrub the stain and rinse and wipe away.
Swap out all your plastic food containers for glass, stainless steel, or bamboo. We all know by now that plastic is not great for the environment. Reduce the demand for plastic by simply not purchasing plastic food containers any more. Many plastic food containers contain the chemical BPA which has been directly linked to creating autoimmune disorders. Also, when plastic containers are washed in hot water or heated up in the microwave, the plastic particles can break down and leak into the food. It’s safer to not keep your food in plastic (or aluminium for that matter) and to use glass or stainless steel instead. Plastic food containers have also been found to contain formaldehyde, which has been directly linked to inhibit thyroid function.
Swap your toxic-filled air freshener for a natural and safe alternative. Air fresheners are full of synthetic solvents and artificial fragrances. Make your own by filling a glass spray bottle with water and fresh lemon juice. Or buy a mist diffuser which acts as a humidifier and an air freshener all-in-one - just fill with water and add a few drops of a pure organic essential oil. I like to use frankincense as it is described as the ‘king’ of all oils and renowned for its thyroid-healing abilities. Make sure that the diffuser is BPA-free. This is the diffuser that I have: https://liveinthelight.co.uk/collections/diffusers/products/tulip-wood-effect-diffuser-400ml
These steps are just the beginning of your journey into limiting your toxic exposure. However, doing these steps will greatly improve your health, and your body’s ability to detoxify and heal itself. The trick in healing from thyroid issues, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmune disorders, is to give your body the best chance that it has in order to heal by itself. If we give our bodies the right tools, and remove the triggers, it will heal.
Wentz, Izabella, The Thyroid and Formaldehyde Connection: https://thyroidpharmacist.com/articles/thyroid-formaldehyde-connection/
Kippola, Palmer, Top 6 Autoimmune Triggers: Toxins https://palmerkippola.com/toxins/top-6-autoimmune-triggers-toxins/