How They Affect Your Health and How to Avoid Them
Before I was diagnosed with my autoimmune conditions, I had never heard of toxic products. Well, I take that back. I knew toxic products existed, but I thought of them in terms of cigarettes and antifreeze. Or rat poison and roach spray. To me, toxic products were things that were obviously bad for humans and things I could choose not to come into contact with.
I had no idea that I needed to be aware of the potentially dangerous products all throughout my home. Finding out that shampoo, body wash and soaps, makeup, deodorant, perfume, household cleaners, laundry detergents and dryer sheets, even items in your pantry, could be harmful to my health was a shock. More shocking was it when I discovered that these poisonous ingredients could be contributing to my autoimmune diseases.
The list of products and ingredients you need to be pay attention to is long but by sharing this with you, I don’t mean to overwhelm you. This article is meant to arm you with information so you are empowered to make decisions on the products you choose to buy and bring into your home. Today we’re going to look at the products you need to be most aware of and why. Stay with me until the end of the article where I’ll be sharing some ways to easily research your products and how to find replacements if you find you need to.
What Does ‘Toxic Products’ Really Mean?
Toxic is defined by Merriam-Webster as containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation. Death or serious debilitation. Now put that into the context of household items you use every day and yikes! While death may be an overstatement for what we’re discussing here, when we look into the impact toxic products have on us, debilitating is certainly an appropriate description.
How Toxic Products Can Affect Your Health
Toxic products can affect your health in a number of ways. From how your hormones function to the weakening of your immune system, there really are no organs or bodily systems that are safe from toxins. The endocrine system, which is responsible for your metabolism, energy levels and reproductive organs and the immune system are especially sensitive to many of these chemicals.1 It is perhaps even more important to protect these areas as a woman with an autoimmune condition.
Hygiene and household items can contain carcinogens (cancer causing ingredients), trigger allergic reactions, affect reproduction and cause birth defects, disrupt hormone production and even mimic hormones. These chemicals also overload your liver and kidney preventing them from doing their job of detoxifying your body of harmful intruders. Talk about a double whammy!
Which Toxins Are You Most Likely To Come Across?
Phthalates– found in fragrances, nail polish, plastic
Parabens– found in shampoo, face wash, lotion and foundation
Polyethylene glycol (PEG)– found in makeup, cleaners and baby wipes
Sulfates (SLS and SLES)– found in detergents, shampoos, body washes, soaps and toothpaste
Fragrance– found in perfumes and any chemically derived scent added detergents, soaps, shampoos, candles, air fresheners, etc.
Bisphenol A (BPA)– found in plastic like water bottles and food storage containers
Triclosan– found in dishwashing detergents and “antibacterial” soaps.
Triclosan is of an interesting concern because it can cause antibiotics to become less or ineffective because it promotes the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.2
How Can You Avoid Toxic Products?
The best way to avoid toxic products is to know what to be on the look out for. Just because a makeup or skin care line advertises itself to be “green” or “clean” doesn’t make it so. Unfortunately, there aren’t many regulations on the cosmetic and beauty industry. This makes green washing (making false or misleading claims to make consumers believe the item is good for the environment) quite common.
There are quite a few products out there that would have you believe they are good options based on marketing. However, taking a moment to read through the ingredients label would prove otherwise.
Educating yourself on the ingredients you want to avoid is step one. Step two is knowing where to research products you currently have in your home or are looking to buy.
Websites like Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Skin Deep, Think Dirty and Cosmetic Info are a few resources you can rely on. These sites let you research individual ingredients or scan a product’s barcode (using their apps) and get an immediate report on it! There are thousands of products already logged in these databases making it easy to look for personal care, makeup, sunscreen, deodorant, dish and laundry detergents, cleaning products and much more. These sites also offer verified brands that they have already checked out and given the safe stamp of approval if you need suggestions for new products.
Less Toxic Means Better Health
Toxic products were not anything my doctor or specialists talked to me about. It was through doing my own research on how to help myself heal that I stumbled across this information. What you don’t know, you don’t know. But what you don’t know could be severely affecting your health and making your symptoms worse. This is why this is a subject near and dear to me.
In making the switch to less and non-toxic products, you are doing yourself (and your family) a huge favor. Not only are you lowering the toxic load in your body, but you are removing sources of future health harm.
Take time to research. Decide what you want to prioritize in replacing. Swap out your products as you run out of what you have.
If I’ve learned anything through my own health journey and from coaching women with autoimmune disorders, it is that small steps in the right direction go a long way in recovering and maintaining your health.
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