I am 34 years old, I have spent the better part of my life (roughly 22 years of those 35) fighting allergies (red, itching eyes, sneezing, wheezing), recurring illnesses and eczema, you name it. I was using eye drops, antihistamines and cortisone daily just to get by! I was not a happy puppy! 13 years ago I realized that most of my issues were caused by environmental and chemical triggers. I cut out wheat, sugar and coffee and my symptoms dramatically improved! Some of the triggers were out of my control unfortunately, like aircon in shopping centers (this immediately irritated my eyes and sinuses), pollution, chlorine in our water supply etc. I did what I could to give my body as much of a fighting chance as possible. The changes in my symptoms were drastic and I have never looked back!
Having moved to the farm two years ago, the environmental factors are even less out here. We have our own water supply that is not tampered with and contains no chlorine or chemicals, my skin is softer and I never ever struggle with itchy skin or red eyes. Bliss! I have, however, found that if I set foot back in town for a more than a few hours my symptoms creep up (not as aggressively as before, but noticeable). Which makes me wonder, how many chemicals are we bombarded with daily, in various sources? I don’t think we notice because we just deal with it, it seems part of the norm!
I have taken note over the years of how products are changing. They are moving further and further away from natural ingredients. Almost everything bought from commercial stores is NOT considered safe anymore, and that is no understatement. No produce, food, toiletries or medications or anything you buy in a store (unless it is a designated health store, and you still have to be mindful in some of these) can be trusted anymore. I cannot even begin to count the amount of times I have been asked about a ‘health product’ and when I ask to see the ingredient list, as true as bob, something is hiding in the list. ‘Healthy’ my bottom!
I write this blog in an effort to help open your eyes to the difficulty we face trusting major brands these days, or most brands. I write in hope of helping arm you with some info to fight the ongoing game of ‘chemical dodge ball’ as I like to call it. Lets look at what we are faced with on a daily basis.
You wake up and have a glass of water and then hop into the shower (chlorine and chemical treated water), chlorine can enter through skin and eyes. The risk of developing cancer is 93% higher in people who drink or are otherwise exposed to chlorinated water?² Chlorine is a potential health hazard to both children and adults, and it is an issue that should be taken quite seriously. (courtesy of Bioray website). According to Health Guidance website, tap water contains over 2000 different types of toxic chemicals. 2000! We didn’t cover ALL of those in science class.
After your shower you get your breakfast ready, fried eggs and toast? You use spray and cook? It contains dimethylpolysiloxane, diacetyl and propellants and GMO’s. The eggs you use come from a commercial farm that pumps their chickens full of hormones and locks them up for most of the day to ensure maximum egg production and fattening up.
The bread you eat:
- POTASSIUM BROMATE (helps bread rise and mature. Causes kidney and thyroid tumors when fed to rats and is listed as one of top 65 chemicals to cause cancer, yet the FDA approves it.)
- ADA, AZODICARBONAMIDE (improves strength and texture of bread, being investigated as potentially carcinogenic.)
PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OIL (meaning it contains transfats which we know to promote coronary heart disease)
- Sugar and high fructose corn syrup (both lethal)
BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE (BHA)
CARAMEL COLORING (used to change the colour of the breads, its the same one used in soft drinks)
- soybean oil or soy lecithin
look for breads that contain the basics of baking bread i.e. flour, yeast, water, salt
Or you opt for cereal for you and your family, which only contains
- Sugar (legal ‘cocaine’. More addictive than cocaine actually and with the same neurological responses.)
- high fructose corn syrup
- GMO’s (we all know how bad these must be, I mean they tamper with food. chemically to make it grow faster.)
- BHA and BHT (a widely used preservative that is considered safe in small doses but known as a major cause of cancer. BHT also a big no no for ADHD sufferers.)
- Soy lecithin (most soy is treated with a petrochemical called hexane, which is classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a neurotoxin and a hazardous air pollutant. tasty!).
- hydrogenated oils (contains transfat a major cause of heart disease),
- Fortified with synthetic vitamins (unlike vitamins found naturally in whole foods, these are synthetic versions which have been processed and stripped of their natural nutritional value, which can pose significant health risks. For example, too much synthetic vitamin A can cause liver damage, skeletal abnormalities, peeling skin and/or hair loss.) Splendid really!
- artificial colourants (made from petroleum, antifreeze and ammonia, and are named according to a clinical numbering scheme. Blue #1 causes kidney tumors in mice. Red #2 and Blue #2 cause brain and bladder tumors in rats. Red #3 causes thyroid cancer in animals and is banned in cosmetics, but still allowed in food. Red #40 debilitates the immune system. Green #3 causes bladder and testes tumors. Yellow #5 and #6 cause adrenal tumors in animals. EAT UP! YUM).
- Sodium chloride (salt, too much can cause kidney damage.breakfast cereals marketed to children contain 60% more sodium than breakfast cereals marketed to adults. A healthy alternative to sodium chloride is unprocessed “raw” salt, such as Himalayan pink crystal salt, which contains 84 essential minerals and trace elements.(15)) . EAT up, delicious! ‘Blergh’
The soap, make up, shampoo and deodorant you use to get ready for your day all contain chemicals, some of which are horrendously nasty (look out for these in particular)
- Found in shampoo:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) …
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) …
- Parabens. …
- Fragrance. …
- Polyethylene Glycol.
- Found in make up: Phthalates.
- Triclosan. …
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). …
- Formaldehyde. …
- Found in deodorant:
- Aluminum Compounds (actually clogs your pores and prevents sweating. Aluminum exposure has been linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and interferes with your estrogen levels. When your body can’t process estrogen properly, there’s a higher risk for breast and prostrate cancer.1),
- Parabens (a preservative, but it is possibly one of the most harmful additives of all. Sometimes parabens act as estrogen in your body, which disrupts hormonal balances and has been linked to breast cancer and prostate cancer.),
- Steareths (These additives are the product of ethoxylation (weakening of harsh chemical in the manufacturing process), which simultaneously produces carcinogens and dioxanes),
- Triclosan (classified as a pesticide, combined with water it can also create a carcinogenic gas called chloroform),
- Propylene Glycol (can cause damage to your central nervous system, heart and liver.),
- TEA and DEA (absorbed through skin can affect kidneys and liver),
- Artificial Colors
To name a few! Check out your products and see how many of these you get in, just in the first few minutes of your day! You will be horrified.
Lunchtime you try and be healthy and order a salad. Except every leaf and every vegetable you nibble on has be sprayed with pesticides. Some veggies and fruits can be sprayed with up to 13 different pesticides at once! Gobble that down with a small soft drink or ice tea which contains:
* Carbon Dioxide (Carbon dioxide is responsible for the tangy taste, sparkle and preservation of the soft drink, though, unfortunately it is a harmful substance which can cause severe cell damage in our body. The dead cells further increase acidity of the body which can lead to cancers of various kinds. Drinking too many carbonated drinks in short time, especially in competitions, can lead to death from carbon dioxide poisoning)
- Caffeine, sounds fun due to energy spike but in consistent doses can increase the risk of bladder and stomach cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. If consumed during pregnancy, it may cause birth defects in babies. caffeine in soft drinks is absorbed faster than that in coffee and is a far more harmful form.
- phosphoric, fumaric, gluconic, acetic, tartaric, and citric acids, used to sweeten the drink and act as preservatives. All part of the reason soft drinks are so addictive, these cause high acidity levels in the body causing a perfect environment for cancers to thrive. These acids can also cause erosion of tooth enamel.
- Aspartame, high fructose corn syrup and tartrazine, carmoisine and brilliant blue (colours used in soft drinks and ban in a few countries. Nice one!)
- Sugar (needs no introduction, we all know how toxic sugar is)
The meat you eat, dairy, fruit and veg, all contain something chemical these days. Especially if it is of a commercial source. It is everywhere and in everything and the more you start looking, the more you will find. It is no wonder we are faced with such high rates of cancers and illnesses. How can the body function when all it is getting in on a daily basis is one chemical after the next!
So what now?
Now you do homework! You start looking around. You look for local suppliers of veg and fruit (I.e farmers markets, every town has some form of market or local farmers. Approach them!) Try get your chickens, lamb, vegetables and fruit (seasonal always, as these will be fresh and not blast frozen for months on end! Nature made fruit seasonal for a reason). As for fish, look for local fisherman if you are along the coast, or a fish monger in your area that will supply fresh fish. Preferably not farmed fish, they are also fed disgusting synthetic foods.
The general rule of thumb that I try and teach my clients is that if the product does not look like it does in nature then AVOID it! Know the source of your foods as well. Organic is more expensive but they are held to a certain standard that involves a hefty yearly fee as well as yearly check up to maintain standards, trust me, we were busy with the process for our honey (before the farm burnt down that is). The products are more expensive yes, but so is illness! You choose!
As for toiletries and hygiene products. Less is more, in the ingredients that is hahah. That may sound odd but look for natural alternatives online at places like www.faithful-to-nature.co.za or Wellness warehouse, even your local health store will have many natural alternatives to your daily toiletries, like deodorant made with bicarb and coconut or make up that is chemical free. Always check out the ingredients, where you aren’t sure, ask! Less is more! Research and google.
These are a few of the sites I like to buy products from when I don’t feel like making them myself.
If you feel up to making your own products. Try out a few of these trusty recipes:
Deodorant (unisex, just change the essential oil you add for a more masculine or feminine smell)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 40-60 drops essential oils – Choice of Scents
- Female oils scents (lavender, lemon and sage) Male oils scents (cypress, rosemary and bergamot)
- Empty deodorant containers or just use a tupperware or sealed jar.
- Put coconut oil in bowl. Mix in bicarb. Add in essential oils. Store in a container or jar.
As for shampoo, I am a strong believer in Bicarb and apple cider vinegar. If you look on my blog you will find a write up on NO POO (no shampoo, before you panic!) and there you will find all the different recipes and options.
I have also written a blog entry on natural make up, what you can find online as well as what you can make using items from your pantry!
If this isn’t for you, then look up a few healthy alternative shampoo and conditioner options off the websites I have listed. I find Faithful-to-nature very reasonably priced. If you aren’t in South Africa, look for an alternative brand at your local health store!
For your own toothpaste:
I use 1tbsp bicarb (good for cleaning those pearly’s)
1 tbsp coconut oil (heals gums and fight gum disease, helps remove plaque and prevents tooth decay!)
1tsp activated charcoal (this helps whiten teeth, go sit down hydrogen peroxide!)
a few drops of peppermint, clove or mint oil
Plop a dollop on your toothbrush, brush and leave on for a few minutes. Don’t leave the bathroom until you are done, you will not look pretty!
Gargle, rinse and voila
P.s. if you can’t stand the thought of this mix, i’ve added two nice alternative brands (one for adults, one for kiddo’s)!
For homemade, I like to mix coconut oil (SPF10) with hemp oil! Melt them together and then let them chill in the fridge together until I need them. Hemp oil is known to protect against sun due to the fact that Hemp seed oil has an SPF rating of 6 and the plant is capable of developing its own UVR protection (just like other plants do), forming a natural protection from the sun. Hemp seed oil helps deflect some UV without hampering ever important absorption of vitamin D! You can even add zinc oxide powder to the mix for more protection! Carrot seed oil (available from local healthstore or online) has an SPF 30 (YIP) and wait for it, Red raspberry seed oil has an SPF of between 30-50 (a teaspoon is all you need of the oils).
If you prefer bought varieties, these are super!
Badger Sunscreen lotion works so well and is easy to find in stores or online! Available for babies,kids and adults. Remember that shelf life of natural products is not as long, this is a great thing, it means there aren’t disgusting additives and preservatives packed in there to extend its life.
If you have littlies and you are wondering how to navigate raising them on more natural foods and less chemical products, just remember the rule : “if it doesn’t look like it does in nature, don’t use it!”. If you need to start your baby on solids, don’t buy ready made foods (read their labels, shockingly high sugar content and preservatives). Make your own soft foods by steaming organic veg and then mashing it. Use brown rice. Sweet potatoes. Butternut. Fish. Chicken. Don’t give them juice, rather give them mashed fruit. Don’t give them cool drinks, rather give them rooibos tea. For toddlers and young kiddos, make snack bars using natural ingredients like oats and cocoa (check out my recipe section for a few ideas). Use breads made by a local bakery instead of a synthetic store bought version. Make your own ice tea (also in recipe section) instead of cool drinks. There are always ways around everything, it just depends on your willingness to do it yourself! The websites I have listed have many many alternatives to bath soaps, shampoo’s, toothpastes and creams etc.
See, it can be done! We can be victorious in this game of ‘chemical dodge ball!’
Down with chemicals!
I hope that this has opened your eyes a tiny bit to the mess we face when we just shop blindly. Companies are out for their own benefit and to line their own pockets, they don’t care what happens to us in the interim! Be mindful, be alert to labels and research! If you need to know, ask!