6 Ways to Reduce Everyday Exposure to Toxins
Updated: Jun 16
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We are all exposed to toxins on a daily basis, whether it be through the air we breathe, the food we eat, or the products we use. It is important to take steps to reduce our exposure to these toxins in order to maintain our health and well-being. There are many simple steps that can be taken in order to reduce exposure to toxins, such as using natural and non-toxic products, eating clean foods, and avoiding processed foods. In this article, I will review SIX ways I reduce my daily exposure to toxins!
1. Drink only filtered water
Most developed cities have a water system that is technically safe to drink from. Here in the U.S., Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates our water systems. But, just by doing a little research, you can see that the EPA does allow a small percentage of our water to be contaminated by pollutants such as chemicals and heavy metals. You can actually look up the quality of your drinking water where you live. In my area, our water is polluted with Nitrate (which is a chemical fertilizer), and radium (which is a naturally occurring radioactive metal, and is a forever chemical). That’s not to mention microplastics which are almost always present in our water.
A recent study showed that an average of 325 plastic particles were found in a liter of bottled water and 5.5 plastic particles per liter of tap water.
You can check your water quality online through websites such as gosimplelab.com, or by ordering a home test.
Most cities in the US also add fluoride to drinking water, which is still largely considered good, as some studies have shown it strengthens teeth. HOWEVER, it has now been well-studied (many many many studies have been completed, published, and peer-reviewed) that fluoride is a neurotoxin. It’s been well-researched that fluoride lowers IQ, especially in children, and causes neurotoxicity in adults. It’s especially dangerous to children because of its neurotoxic effects on neurodevelopment, affecting behavioral, cognitive, and psychosomatic symptoms. And yet, it’s still added to our drinking water…
Filtering water is important! Doing this research was actually a bit scary to me as it exposed the high amount of toxins in our water! Drinking unfiltered water is obviously a big way we consume and expose ourselves to toxins, but showering can be harmful as well, as we’re soaking our bodies and breathing in the steam that contains the above toxins. We have a filter on our drinking water currently, but I would love to one day have a high-quality filter for our house. A high-quality filter for the whole house can be a big investment, but if you’re like me and not ready to make that huge purchase yet, there are affordable options for your drinking water and your showers.
One important thing to consider when filtering is that in addition to filtering out heavy metals and chemical pollutants, we’re also filtering out minerals. While we get minerals in food, water is a large source. Some filters add minerals back into the water, but I opt to add them back in through liquid mineral drops. I usually add this to adrenal cocktails, instead of water, as juice disguises the taste better than water.
2. Switch household products to clean/non-toxic products
Many common household items contain ingredients that are actually harmful to our health! Most artificial fragrances disrupt our endocrine system, and many of the chemicals in cleaning products can be toxic if inhaled or ingested. Some common cleaning products that contain toxins are bleach, oven cleaners, and drain cleaners. Many of the chemicals in personal care products (such as lotions or makeup) can be absorbed through the skin.
These toxins are things like heavy metals, fragrances, and chemicals such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES, Phthalates, and Triclosan. These harmful ingredients can cause irritation, and allergies, but they can also contribute to cancers, and many are “Forever chemicals”, otherwise known as PFAS (resistant to water, grease, and heat). Forever chemicals or PFAS do not break down in the environment or our bodies, and are known to be harmful to both! They are found in common household items such as fabrics, plastic packaging, and many cosmetics.
See my post here to learn more about Why you should switch to non-toxic Household items, and see my post here for my personal recommendations!
3. Reduce the amount of processed food
Reducing the amount of processed food you eat is not only just generally good for your health, but it also reduces your exposure to added ingredients that are not good for the human body. Start reading the ingredients when you go into a grocery store. The ingredient lists on most processed foods are long and contain chemicals that are not actually food! Preservatives, gums, sweeteners, colorants, and seed oils are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ingredients to avoid. Most processed foods also contain traces of pesticides and microplastics, which are toxic to the human body.
It can be intimidating to cut out processed foods, especially if you mostly eat processed foods! See my post here on 6 Realistic Ways to Avoid Processed Foods. I’ve also written a post on What is Ancestral Eating if you want to dive into that!
4. Buy organic
Non-organic foods are farmed commercially using GMO crops and pesticides and herbicides. Commercially grown non-organic crops are grown for profit, NOT for our health! The most common herbicide used is glyphosate, which is toxic to the human body.
A recent study found that 80% of adults in the U.S. had glyphosate in their urine!
And while pesticides are said to be generally safe for human consumption, pesticides destroy gut health. That’s because pesticides are designed to kill pests (insects) on crops. Pesticides are poisonous to bugs, but not humans, except that, humans rely on microorganisms for health. Our bodies are populated with tiny cultures of organisms, especially in our guts. These cultures HUGELY contribute to our health. Pesticides, while they do not directly harm the human body, harm and destroy these colonies that make up our microbiome and gut health.
Organic foods are best because they do not contain chemical pesticides, but also because organic foods are generally more nutrient dense.
See my post here for Why You Should Buy Organic.
5. Reduce exposure to forever chemicals
Forever chemicals, otherwise known as PFAS (resistant to water, grease, and heat) are everywhere and toxic to the human body. Forever chemicals or PFAS do not break down in the environment or our bodies and are therefore stored in our bodies. Over time, PFAS build up in the body and can lead to negative impacts on immune and thyroid function, liver health, lipid and insulin balance, kidney function, reproductive and developmental outcomes, and even increase the risk of cancer.
Needless to say, it’s best to avoid PFAS whenever possible! Common items that contain PFAS are plastics, nonstick pots and pans, wax paper, aluminum, stain-resistant coating on the fabric, commercial cleaning products, and many common cosmetics. Luckily avoiding these products is not as difficult as you might initially think. What it really comes down to is a bit of education, and then mindfully switching out your products.
6. Ditch Hormonal Birth Control
There are MANY reasons to stop hormonal birth control besides just reducing toxins! (it trashes gut health, saps minerals from the body, and overrides your body's natural hormonal cycle which is vital to health, etc.) I’ve actually written a whole blog post about this here that you should check out, but let's focus on the toxic load that hormonal birth contributes to.
The reason hormonal birth control should be avoided is because
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified hormonal birth control as a Group 1 carcinogen.
This means that it has been determined to have the potential to cause cancer in humans due to containing synthetic progesterone and estrogen.
Need an alternative to prevent pregnancy?
There are natural options that are just as effective as hormonal birth control if done effectively. I can personally attest that natural options work well! Start here by learning about your natural cycle.
Using hormonal birth control to ease menstrual systems?
Your hormones are not balanced, and hormonal birth control is only masking the issue. Hormonal birth only covers up your systems, it does not address the root cause, and this will worsen your hormonal issues over time. (This actually makes me furious that doctors prescribe hormonal birth control instead of helping patients get to the root cause of their menstrual issues). Read my post here on 6 Ways to balance your hormones. It’s a good starting point.
People usually have one of two responses when confronted with this information. Either people do not take it seriously OR they panic.
If you’re someone who maybe thinks toxins aren’t that bad, read on. If not, skip the following 3 paragraphs.
You might be thinking, “But if these toxins are so harmful, why are they so prevalent? They can’t be that bad if they’re in everything.” Or maybe you’re thinking something along the lines of, “Well I grew up eating processed food and drinking out of the water hose, and I turned out just fine.”
But is it fine that obesity has tripled since 1970 (even though calorie intake has stayed roughly the same)? Is it fine that over 65% of the population takes at least one drug daily? Is it fine that 40% of children have at least one health condition? Is it fine that ⅙ children have a developmental delay and mental health disorder?
No! Absolutely not! Health is declining rapidly in America! Americans are marching towards chronic illness and prescription medications. You may have turned out fine, but many toxins are stored in the body. Those that can be metabolized still trash your gut health. We pass BOTH stored toxins and gut health to our children! So while you may have turned out fine, know that each generation will become progressively sicker and sicker, and the statistics reflect that. It’s time to make a change!
If you’re someone who’s anxious about the amount of toxins, and panicking a bit, this is for you:
In my opinion, the only sustainable way to live a toxin-free life is to actually be ok with a few toxins now and then. Removing 80% of toxins from your life will make a HUGE difference! If you live a lifestyle that is largely free of toxins, then occasionally drink from a plastic water bottle or order a pizza, you will not ruin your health. Health is something that is built over time. You build gut health, and you build immunity. My lifestyle of largely avoiding toxins in my home makes me feel more comfortable going out to eat with a friend because I know that I've built up my health over the course of years, and the meal out to eat will not ruin it. So don’t panic. Take it slow, and make it sustainable for you.