Today’s children begin at a disadvantage. The Environmental Working Group reported in July 2005 that, “Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied.” To think that was nearly 15 years ago and things have only gotten worse since then.
So what’s a Mama to do?? In the simplest terms, avoid all the toxins you can, and support the body to detox all the things you can’t avoid through proper nutrition.
While that seems like an easy statement, it takes a great deal of knowledge to accomplish those goals.
Let’s tackle part 1:
Here are some general guidelines to avoiding toxins
- Buy Organic food. Organic certification is the best defense we have against herbicides and pesticides like glyphosate, and the best third party certification available. While not a perfect system, organic certification means that the label and the ingredients match, the ingredients are not genetically modified, and the substances used to combat insects and weeds are less toxic to the human body if they are in fact using something at all.
- If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. That’s the motto in our house! The skin is the largest organ, and with some exceptions, everything you put on it is absorbed directly into the blood stream. Personal care products (lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc.) are not regulated, so marketing departments can say whatever they want. They can use terms like organic, plant-based, natural, etc. as much as they want. Ignore the marketing and look for two things—third party certification (like organic certification) and read the ingredients list. As a general rule, avoid anything that is an acronym (ex. PEG, BHT, etc) and avoid anything that has a number in it (ex. polysorbate 20). Some preservatives are highly toxic as well. And since the ingredients in personal care products are only tested by themselves and not in concert with one another, the more ingredients a product has, the more likely it is to have dangerous chemicals interactions in the product itself, so stick to shorter ingredients list. We could dedicate an entire blog post to just this one area, but for more information go the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working group.
- Drink filtered water. From pharmaceutical and birth control residue to added fluoride and dangerous microbials, tap water isn’t always the cleanest source of water. Getting a good filter will not only save you from overuse of plastic, it will also save you from the dissolved plastic compounds that can come from plastic water bottles.
- Consider air purifiers for your house. There are stand alone filters and ones that you can place directly on your furnace. This is especially important if you live near a highway or near air polluting industry.
- Use cleaner building supplies when working on your home. Things like carpet glue, paints, and even caulking can cause dangerous indoor air pollution. One of the worst for air pollution? Believe it or not, fabric softener and scented laundry detergent. Scented products typically contain hormone-disrupting chemicals. Better to stick to essential oils or food extracts or no scent at all.
- Manage EMF (Electro-magnetic fields) and blue light. The abundance of screen time and the constant exposure to electro-magnetic radiation is shown to have profound effects on health, especially children. A great resource to learn more is Clear Light Ventures.
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