Living a healthy lifestyle can prove to be a difficult thing if your understanding of health is only what you eat & how much you exercise. We are used to so many household items that we use for cooking & cleaning without realising the dangers that they pose. From toothpaste riddled with flouride to non stick cookware.
Its easy to assume that going vegan, meditating and doing yoga is the answer to making sure we stay on top of our health. It is unfortunately not enough. We are complex beings and although our gut is the gateway to a healthier temple, our environment affects us a lot more than we give credit for. Below is a brief list of everyday items that are common in just about every household that pose great risks to our health.
- Tooth paste- This is one item that often gets overlooked because its something that you dont swallow, ideally, and doesnt stay in your mouth for long. The fancy labels always state how good they are for your gums, give you whiter teeth etc. It is also very hard to decipher which ingredients are harmful and which arent as the wording can be a nightmare to make sense of. Our mouth-body connection is very real, bad oral health can lead to an array of different health complications. With ingredients such as flouride, the smallest amount can cause acute toxicity. Diethanolamine (DEA) that is the foaming agent, is a compound that is yet another known hormone disruptor, and the EWG (environmental working group) ranks it at a full 10 on its hazard scale. These are just two of many other ingredients that are in common toothpastes.
- Non stick cookware- The very coating that makes a pot or a pan non stick is Polytetrafluoroethylene, which releases gases when exposed to heat. Theres a chemical called C8 that releases toxins when heated, there has been some scientific data that have shown that these chemicals cause birth defects & disrupts the endocrine system. (Theres a netflix documentary called The Devil We know, worthwhile watching if you want more details). The endocrine system is made up of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries (in females) and testicles (in males). The endocrine system affects almost every organ and cell in the body, due its function being coordinating between different organs through hormones, which are chemicals released into the bloodstream. A gland selects and removes materials from the blood, processes them and secretes the finished chemical product for use somewhere in the body. The chemicals in the non stick ware have been linked to cancers and many other health complications. At least four of the chemicals in the cookware never break down in the environment, and some are widely found in human blood.
- Antiperspirant- Breast cancer is one of the biggest components that have been linked to antiperspirants. Its been scientifically proven that aluminum can also be absorbed through the skin, especially skin damaged by shaving, and may accumulate in the body over time as a result of this type of exposure. According to EWG the health effects of aluminum have been extensively investigated, with particular focus on neurological diseases, among others. Aluminum came under investigation as a possible carcinogen because it can damage DNA and prevent DNA repair, which are well-known mechanisms of carcinogenesis (the formation of cancer). This led to the hypothesis that aluminum in antiperspirants could penetrate the skin, accumulate in the breast and cause tumor formation by damaging DNA.
- skin and hair hair care- On average 60% of what goes on our skin (scalp included) goes into our bloodstream. The most common chemical found in beauty products is paraben, which is used as preservative in deodorants, moisturisers, shampoos, body wash and makeup, and increases the chances of breast cancer. Its chemical structure is similar to estrogen and it can be carcinogenic even in tiny amounts. Men who use products containing parabens can have lower sperm counts and less testosterone. It could also cause endocrine disruption. Meanwhile, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers found in nail products, hair dye, hair straighteners, false eyelash adhesives, cosmetic glues and some shampoos, is also linked to causing cancer and can also damage the immune system. There’s also ethanolamine, which contains impurities like nitrosamines and is usually not listed on product labels. It’s actually a respiratory, skin and organ cancer causing toxicants, and is usually found in soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners and dyes, shaving creams, eyeliners, mascara, fragrances and sunscreens.
- Household cleaning products- The association between persistent wheezing and prenatal exposure to household cleaning chemicals is evident among children when they reach 7 years of age. The respiratory effects seem to have persisted throughout childhood, which raises the possibility that they could be lifelong. The bottom line is that exposure to chemicals in household products might be harmful to babies both before and after birth. The studies underline the importance of making safer choices—especially in cleaning products. Not only are the ingredients in the bottle important, but some findings show that the form they come in, particularly sprays, should be carefully considered as well.
- Mattress- Since the mid- to late ’60s, most mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds that can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. Formaldehyde, which is used to make one of the adhesives that hold mattresses together, has been linked to asthma, allergies, and lung, nose, and throat cancers. And then there are cotton pesticides and flame-retardant chemicals, which can cause cancer and nervous-system disorders. In 2005, Walter Bader, owner of the “green mattress” company Lifekind and author of the book Toxic Bedrooms, sent several mattresses to an Atlanta-based lab. A memory-foam model was found to emit 61 chemicals, including the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene. Although there is a lot more research required there is still not enough data to determine whether low levels of these chemicals will eventually make people sick. It is however the dose that makes the poisons.
This is just a small part of what encouraged our change in habits and scrutinising everyday items we use. Luckily we live in a time where we can get hold of non toxic version of everything we use.
As a part of these changes i began making most of the things that we use. This was the start of my skin and hair care company MalmalByAsliM, another post on different streams of income, what started off as a healthier way of life lead to a business.
What we eat has a huge impact on our overall health but there are so many factors in our immediate environment which we have control over, once we educate ourselves on the dangers of these items, that we can change so that we can lead a healthier life.
As always please feel free to reach out with any questions or any further information you would like.
Until next time,
Blessings from me and mine to you and yours.
Casas L, Zock JP, Carsin AE, Fernandez-Somoano A, Esplugues A, Santa-Marina L, Tardón A, Ballester F, Basterrechea M, Sunyer J. 2013a. The use of household cleaning products during pregnancy and lower respiratory tract infections and wheezing during early life. Int J Public Health. Oct;58(5):757-64.
Henderson J, Sherriff A, Farrow A, Ayres JG. 2008. Household chemicals, persistent wheezing and lung function: effect modification by atopy? Eur Respir J. Mar;31(3):547-54.
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