There are two types of toxins, external and internal. External toxins come from outside of our bodies in the form of pollution, radiation, chemicals, and others. Internal toxins come from our internal body processes and often result in the creation of free radicals, which can have damaging effects on the body. This article focuses on external toxins, and how we can reduce exposure to these, although if you want to read about how to reduce free radicals, you can read my previous article on the benefit of antioxidants.
1. Use Natural Cleaning Products
One way is changing the products we use in cleaning to minimize or avoid harsh and damaging chemicals when we clean. Synthetic cleaning sprays and chemicals are readily available in the market, and there are separate solutions for almost every cleaning need. You can fine window cleaners, glass cleaners, wood cleaners, stainless steel cleaners, and so on. Instead of using synthetic cleaners, it is best to use natural options. For example, instead of using Drano to unclog a sink, a snake or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda can do the trick (Haas, 2012). Also mixing tea tree essential oil in water makes for a great disinfectant solution for surfaces. In addition, instead of drying clothes in clothes dryer with a dryer sheet, place a tissue with a couple drops of essential oils. You can also skip the dryer altogether and hang clothes out in the open to air dry naturally, and save energy.
2. Do Not Use Plastics in the Microwave
When it comes to using the microwave, my personal belief is that the use of the microwave should be avoided, not only because microwaving dries food out and eliminates some of the nutritional components of the food, but also because it adds radiation and electrical waves into our food and environment. But, if someone is compelled to use the microwave, it is best to not use plastic inside the microwave. When using plastics in the microwave, some of the plastic material gets absorbed into the food (Haas, 2012). In addition, some plastics contain BPA or bisphenol A, which is highly toxic. We should avoid using plastics as much as possible, and for example, not drink water from plastic bottles, as it is likely that BPA from the plastic gets into the water we drink. In the microwave, use microwave-safe glass or ceramic, such as Pyrex.
3. Get the Right Kitchen Tools
In terms of kitchen tools and utensils, it is best to avoid non-clad aluminum, since aluminum is toxic and the metal can get into our food if non-coated aluminum utensils are used (Haas, 2012). Cast-iron and stainless steel appliances do not leak metal into the food, and are safe choices. Also, it is best to use plastic or wood utensils with non-stick pots and pans to avoid scratching the surface of the non-stick pan. If the surface gets scratch, the non-stick material can end up in the food. Thus, once a non-stick pan gets scratched it is best to discard it. Other non-toxic utensils that can be used are pressure cookers, bamboo steamers, blenders, garlic presses, high-temperature-resistant rubber spatulas, and tea balls (Haas, 2012). Haas (2012) recommends having a variety of cutting boards, and using each for a specific food item. For instance, he recommends using one for meats and a separate one for produce. In addition, anytime raw chicken is cut on a board, it must be washed thoroughly before it is used again.
4. Drink Purified Water
One item that is chemically laden in our environment is water. It is hard to get clean water that is free from metals. When preparing drinking water it is best to boil it, treat it via reverse osmosis, or filter it through a solid-carbon activated charcoal filter (Haas, 2012). When buying water look for spring water or carbonated waters that are sold in glass bottles, although make sure that they do not contain artificial additives and sugars (Haas, 2012).
5. Buy Organic Cotton
“Cotton is one of the most heavily treated (with insecticides) crops in the Unites States” (Haas, 2012, p. 215). Using organic cotton and natural fibers is the best choice to avoid heavy chemicals in clothing.
6. Spend Time Away From Technology
Lastly, spending time away from technology is important for many reasons. Spending time everyday with peace and quiet, free from TV’s, computers, cell phones, tablets, and others is necessary to ensure we can have peace of mind and reduce stress. Spending some time away from gadgets and screens prior to going to bed can also improve the quality of sleep. Spending some time away from all the wonderful technology in our lives reduces our exposure to electromagnetic waves and radiation, both of which can be so damaging.
Reducing toxic living takes time, and as with anything, it is best to take small steps. Instead of looking at this list and making all changes at once, which could be overwhelming, choose one item at a time focus on that until it feels natural and comfortable, and then focus on the next item. Also, start with something that would create a small impact, and later on focus on those items that would require more effort. For instance, start first with not using plastics in the microwave. If you store leftover food in plastic containers, serve it on a ceramic plate, cover the food with a paper napkin, and then heat it up in the microwave. I am not advising that you change all of your kitchen tools at once. If you own non-stick pans, wait until they get scratched to discard them, and then invest in cast-iron or stainless steel pans to replace them. I am also not advising that you replace all your cottons with organic and natural fiber options, but perhaps the next time you are in need of a cotton item, consider the organic option. The idea is not to create radical changes in your habits, but rather small changes over a period of time that result in long-lasting effects.
Haas, E. M. (2012). The Detox Diet- The Definitive Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, and Detox Plans (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Ten Speed Press.