12 Jun

Recognizing and Removing Toxins


Detox is a word that has most people thinking about juice cleanses and water fasts, but the truth is there are other more effective ways to eliminate toxins that may not feel so restrictive. Did you know there are hundreds of chemicals and toxins found in our everyday products that cause a host of issues from weight gain, headaches and hormonal imbalances to reproductive issues? The good news is that these products can be eliminated easily or swapped for cleaner products that are devoid of long-term negative consequences.

European countries have banned more than 2,000 hazardous ingredients over the past 13 years; most of them are still legal in the United States and found in everyday products. It’s preposterous! My goal with this article is not only to inform you about toxic ingredients and how they interfere with the body's various systems but also to include options for alternative products that work well without the negative consequences.

Air Fresheners + Fragrances

Phthalates are an active ingredient in most fragrance products that enable the scent to last longer but which unfortunately can cause an array of problems. This specific ingredient has been found in 86% of air fresheners and also can be found in other products such as arsenal sprays, plastics, paints, pesticides and cosmetics. (1) Most phthalates are well known to interfere with the production of testosterone and pose health risks associated with cancer, reproductive abnormalities, endocrine disruption, birth defects and respiratory problems. 

Fragrance is an ingredient found in many “smell good” products that hide a cocktail of more than 100 toxic ingredients. Manufacturers are not required to list fragrance ingredients on product labels because they are considered to be “trade secrets.” Even natural fragrances found on product labels can be just as toxic as synthetic fragrances. 

Formaldehyde, which has been linked to cancers of the nose and throat, is another ingredient commonly found in air fresheners. The National Toxicology Program has stated that formaldehyde also can lead to frequent nosebleeds, asthma, and other respiratory illness. In 2013, a study of more than 2,000 pregnant women found that those who used plug-in air fresheners during gestation were statistically more likely to have babies suffering from serious lung infections. (2)

If that wasn’t enough to convince you to trash your air fresheners, volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, are compounds with a low boiling point that form gas or vapor at room temperature. These are common ingredients in scent dispersal agents but which unfortunately can increase the risk of asthma, particularly in children. 

It is very difficult to find air fresheners that do not contain harmful ingredients. In regard to air fresheners, specifically, my best advice is to toss them all and invest in a quality air purifier. Essential oils in a diffuser are also great alternatives if you like to be surrounded by specific scents. 

Cleaning Products

Some of the thorniest issues regarding the ingredients in cleaning products have much to do with the added fragrances that we discussed in detail above. Fragrances create a false impression that the products perform better just because they smell better, which is nonsense. They also contain ingredients full of parabens, polyethylene glycols (PEGs) and VOCs—endocrine disruptors that create hormonal issues. 

Another popular cleaning ingredient is 1,-dioxide which is used as a solvent and has been known to cause vertigo, drowsiness, headaches, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. (3) 

A study conducted in 2010 by the New York State Department of Health found that children born to women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant had an elevated risk of birth defects. (4)

Fortunately, there are many alternatives to cleaning products. So ditch the ones that are heavily colored, scented and/or contain any of the ingredients above and switch them out with something less damaging.

Do-It-Yourself All Purpose Cleaner

2 cups distilled vinegar

2 cups water

Alternative Brands

Branch Basics All Purpose Spray

Ecos Free & Clear Dish Soap - Fragrance Free 

Laundry Detergent

Aside from making your own or reading numerous ingredient lists to find a healthier alternative, another option is to ditch the detergents altogether and invest in an O3 WaterWorks Aqueous Ozone laundry system. This system uses ozone rather than detergent to clean clothes and remove stains. So, not only are you ditching the toxins, you are saving money and helping the environment. It’s a win, win, win!

Plastics

Almost all plastics are derived from fossil fuels and a few of the more hazardous chemicals associated with plastics include bisphenols (BPA), heavy metals, flame retardants, phthalates and fluorinated compounds. 

BPA  is a more common toxin that was banned in baby bottles and sippy cups nationwide in 2012. While most plastic products claim to be BPA-free, which is a step in the right direction, there are still toxins and chemicals that can leach from plastics such as phthalates, and they can interfere with the body’s endocrine system to produce adverse developmental, reproductive and neurological effects in humans. (5) The CDC warns that “short term exposure to phthalates is toxic, even at low doses.” 

Microplastics also carry a range of contaminants such as trace metals and harmful chemicals that can leach from the plastic surface, increasing the effect for toxicity. 

Regarding baby bottles, a study was conducted in 2020 which reported that babies may be consuming up to one million microplastics daily when fed from polypropylene bottles! (6) This is mainly caused by sterilizing and heating up the milk in the propylene bottle. One solution, when there is no access to glass bottles, is to heat the breastmilk or formula in a glass jar, then let it cool before transferring to the drinking bottle. 

The best way to eliminate the toxins found in plastics is to replace them with glass. You can easily find glass tupperware, bottles, and cups as well as stainless steel water bottles on Amazon or at the nearest grocery store.

Cosmetics

According to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group in 2019, women, on average, use 12 products every day containing 168 unique ingredients while men, on the other hand, use an average of 6 products with 85 unique ingredients. (7) This study in particular shows that some of the chemicals included in personal care and cosmetic products have been linked to health problems, including cancer and infertility. A few ingredients of concern include phthalates, formaldehyde, mercury, asbestos, triclosan, and benzophenone. 

The Cosmetic Act of 1938 brought cosmetics and medical devices under more control, and while these companies are now required to include a label with adequate directions for safe use, cosmetic companies were not and still are not required to use safe ingredients, list all of their ingredients, test their products, use good manufacturing practices to prevent contamination or even recall products they know are dangerous. 

Things to look out for among your own personal beauty products such as makeup, shampoos and conditioners, lotions, face wash, etc. are parabens, formaldehyde releasers (DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bronopol, bromo-5nitro-1,3-dioxane), phthalates including DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance. 

Aside from reviewing your cosmetic ingredient list, there are a few companies that pride themselves on creating products that are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates or petrochemicals such as ILIA, INIKA, BeautyCounter, and Au Naturale. Consider buying those brands instead.  

Bug Spray

Insect repellants are regulated as pesticides in the United States because their active ingredients are pesticides. These repellents are made up of both active and inert ingredients. Active ingredients must appear on the label but inert ingredients are not required to be labeled and can include solvents, preservatives, anti-caking or foaming agents and even fragrance—all of which can be toxic. 

One active ingredient to look out for is DEET, which has been linked to skin blisters, seizures, memory loss, headaches, stiffness, shortness of breath, and skin irritation. DEET is also linked to neurotoxicity that may lead to physiological problems such as motor skills, learning and memory dysfunction, as well as behavioral problems. 

Cyfluthrin resembles DDT and is linked to neurotoxicity, interfering with sodium and potassium ion channels in the nerves, which can result in loss of coordination, muscle trembling, behavioral changes, decreased glucose and red blood cells, and disruption of liver function, among other things. Other harmful active ingredients include pyrethroids, permethrin, prallethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, metofluthrin, phenothrin, etc.

Opt for a natural bug spray with minimal ingredients. We currently use California Baby for both ourselves and our children. 

Sunscreen 

In 2019 the FDA found only two ingredients in sunscreen that could be classified as safe and effective; zinc oxide and titanium oxide. (9) Numerous studies have found endocrine-disrupting effects in homosalate, avobenzone, and oxybenzone, which are found in concentrations up to 15 percent—far exceeding the safe amount. Avoiding ingredients that we’ve listed above and opting for mineral-based sunscreens is the safest route. 

We do our best to avoid sunscreen and opt for smart and limited sun exposure but when sunscreen use is necessary, I feel confident using the Pipette Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

Other toxic products can include fabric softeners, non-stick cookware, mattresses, laptops, dry-cleaned clothes and more. Toxic products and chemicals are all around us, and some of them seem impossible to avoid. The dose makes the poison, therefore, the more you can focus on the areas in your life where you can reduce exposure, the better! If you are concerned with some of the specific products you are using such as shampoos, soap, makeup, sunscreen, baby products, etc., download the EWG healthy living app to get a rating of the cleanliness of the products in question. My family uses this app often when scouting new products; it’s extremely reliable. It’s the company’s mission to create policies that ban harmful ingredients from everyday products.

Health is so much more than just nutrition and fitness. If you are looking for a more holistic approach to reaching your goals, as well as a company that strives to bridge the gap between health and fitness, reach out to a Central Athlete coach today to learn more about our services. 



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