Everyday Toxins - Part 2
As a practitioner who believes in holistic healing, it is important to me to guide my clients through healing that encompasses the mind, body and soul. Although I work with energetic modalities often viewed as “spiritual”, the physical body also needs support. More often than not, it is our physical body that we listen to as an indicator that something is not operating to our “one hundred percent” satisfaction. Furthermore, it has been my personal experience that the deeper spiritual work is largely enhanced and accessed when we support our physical bodies in as many ways as we can. Whether our bodies are showing signs of distress or symptoms of dis-ease (or not), we can endeavour to reduce the environmental impact of toxins by bringing a few things into awareness.
Our home is our sanctuary, and as such, offers us the greatest opportunity to support and nourish our physical self. Whether you travel a great deal or reside in one spot, there are hidden dangers in your day-to-day life that are silently destroying your whole health. In this three-part series, I will share my top ten discoveries on possible changes you can make in your life in order to take your wellness into your own hands. For those who have already read Part 1: feel free to skip on down to Number 6 (or re-read from Number 10 at your leisure).
Electromagnetic radiation in the low-gigahertz frequency is also known as EMF (“electromagnetic field”). EMFs are transmitted from wireless routers, Bluetooth devices, underground pipes and smart meters. We relish in the convenience of seamless internet connection; however, it may come with a price on our health. We have become so infatuated with the convenience of technology that, for the most part, we have stopped asking questions--at least, most of us have.
In Denmark, a group of 15-year-old girls did question the effects of wireless routers on human health, designing their school project around it. The standard science experiment was to grow watercress on a paper plate. The girls had a curiosity around routers and so they decided to create two test plots of cress seedlings. They used two sets of six plates and placed half of them in a room with no electronic equipment, and the other set of six plates next to two wireless routers. Over twelve days, many of the seedlings died in the room with the routers; any that lived quickly turned brown and died. Critics will argue that this is “child’s play”--however, it does raise some eyebrows on the true effects this technology could be having on our physical bodies, as well as on the nature surrounding us. The girls decided to do this experiment because they noticed they were all having trouble focusing at school and were experiencing headaches when they slept with their phones near their beds.
While we can’t get away from our neighbours, the smart meters or the shopping centres, we can take some small steps to help protect ourselves against EMFs. In your household, ensure that the router is not in a bedroom and put a timer on it so it shuts off during the night. Don’t keep your cell phone against your body and invest in headphones (not Bluetooth) instead that allow you to keep the phone away from your face. There are companies such as Smart Patch which offer a range of inexpensive products to help neutralize our environment.
In the early 1800s, we began adding chlorine to our drinking water as a means to combat some problematic bacteria like E. coli. While bacteria in our drinking water is potentially life-threatening, it is important to note we do NOT use chlorine because it’s the safest--we use it because it is the cheapest.
Chlorine is a naturally occurring element in the periodic table and is actually needed in small amounts by our bodies. That being said, when we are exposed to what our bodies deem “too much,” it turns against us and begins creating free radical cell damage within our bodies. High levels of chlorine are entering our bodies on a daily basis through our drinking water, our baths and our showers. There is a great deal of research linking respiratory conditions (such as asthma) to the effects of swimming pool or shower steam being inhaled. Further research also supports that there is a clear correlation between chlorine intake in our day-to-day lives and health concerns such as severe inflammation, heart disease and cancer.
Although our city water gets tested regularly, the levels of chlorine which they deem “safe” are being argued by many as incorrect. You can take matters into your own hands by investigating reverse osmosis water systems; my personal favorite is the Berkey Water System. Berkey not only provides drinking water solutions--it has filters for your shower as well.
8) Antibacterial Agents
When you take a moment to break down the meaning of the word “antibacterial”, it might give you some perspective on what the products claiming to have this property are doing to your health. “Anti-” means "against, opposed to, opposite of, instead," as per the Online Etymology dictionary. In Popular Science, Lita Proctor writes that the human body carries around enough bacteria to fill a soup can. We all know that not all bacteria is good; conversely, we are increasingly learning how important the good bacteria is in order to keep the dangerous bacteria at bay.
When most products are marketed as being antibacterial, they are only speaking a half-truth, which is that they may in fact be killing some bacteria--but usually it is the good kind. Using antibacterial soap has been proven to affect the hormones in the body, cause allergies, harm the environment, and create superbugs by causing a genetic mutation in the bacteria. Most harmful disease is caused by a virus, not a bacteria--further highlighting that an antibacterial soap is not doing you any favours. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the science in the Oxford Journal.
7) Corn and Soy
Okay, so this is a touchy subject. I am not going to get into the GMO topic here, or even bog you down with the nutritional pros and cons of these two foods. I do, however, wish to broach the topic of a much-discussed chemical that is used in their farming processes, which is called glyphosate.
Glyphosate--also known as Roundup--was originally designed as an antibiotic. Here is where etymology is key again: this word (“antibiotic”) directly means “against life.” Much awareness is being brought to the table concerning superbugs and the misuse of antibiotics in medicine, and so I feel it is important that people understand the connection between the two and realize how damaging this chemical is to our system.
Glyphosate is being sprayed on many crops (by the way, many farmers are against this practice and are penalized for their dislike of this product), especially corn and soy, as a pesticide. This product has an innate ability to bind to the gluten protein found in grains, which then allows it to enter the gut lining and wreak havoc. As the glyphosate finds its way into our water streams, it is finding more than one way to enter our bodies, which heavily taxes our liver and kidney function.
There is a great deal of science around the amino acid glycine (as found in this publication) which can take you in-depth into understanding why glyphosate impeding the body’s uptake of glycine is so devastating to our health. To help minimize the use of glyphosate in farming practices, you can use your dollars to vote by buying organic. There are many agencies lobbying against the use of glyphosate that you can get active with, such as Lead Now. To support your body, consider having grain-free days, a paleo and/or ketogenic (“keto”) focus, and consulting a herbalist for liver-nutritive herbs. My favorite herbs for spring and late summer are the Reishi mushroom and nettle.
There are multiple resources that clearly outline how our paleolithic ancestors, much like today’s toddlers, used squatting to work on tools, rest, and eliminate. In our modern lives, squatting has been replaced by sitting which is, as put forth by Dr. Levine; “the new smoking.” You can read more about the effects of sitting at Start Standing. Having a toddler is one of the best ways to witness some of the movement we lose as adults. One such movement is the squat. Children often play in a squat position, reach for things down low in a squat, and most of them (as any parent who has potty trained knows) will squat instinctively as a sign of an impending bowel movement. Many of us are aware of needing to move, but the reason squatting made my list has to do with going to the bathroom, much as our children seem to come equipped knowing.
The Canadian Cancer Society lists colorectal cancer as the second most common cancer to be diagnosed among Canadians. A great deal of research has shown that a large part of the damage to our colon can come from our posture while on the toilet. There is a way to help get you into the squat without asking you to have Olympian-strength thighs, and it is called the Squatty Potty®. The potty is a simple stool that stows neatly around your toilet and raises your feet while you eliminate. The folks at Squatty Potty® have done the research and can clearly explain why their design works. It can be purchased in Canada at Canadian Tire and Bed Bath & Beyond, with different options to suit any bathroom decor!
This is a hard one for people to accept. We have become very attached to our vanilla-scented offices, lavender-scented deodorant, or bathing ourselves in Coco Chanel. The sad truth is that these very smells are toxic to those wearing them and to those breathing them in. In cosmetics and household products, when the words fragrance, parfum, and perfume are used, they are exempt from giving you their composite ingredients to protect proprietary blends. The “down and dirty” is that all synthetic fragrances contain chemicals that mimic hormones and, as a result, disrupt hormone function. The range of health effects is not limited to the person wearing them and can cause symptoms ranging from asthma to low sperm count. To avoid the toxicity while still indulging in pleasing aromas, consider products made with all-natural scents that are based on essential oils. For a list of harmful chemicals in cosmetics, check out this list by David Suzuki.
The ancient art of feng shui has been teaching us for centuries that to find harmony and flow, we need clear and open spaces! We all have that counter, table, desk, room, or entire house that seems to naturally accumulate “stuff.” Some amount of clutter is not truly harmful, but what often happens is that the small pile of clutter continues to grow. The more “stuff” we have, the more work we have to do organizing and cleaning and ultimately, this can take a toll on our emotional, social, physical and financial well-being. Clutter can also greatly affect our creativity by shifting us from our “being” state into a more “doing” state, creating an internal disharmony. While a total minimalist approach doesn’t work for everyone, the insightful documentary Minimalism provides insights into ways to reduce what you own and helps you highlight other parts of your life that you value more than “stuff”. I do believe that there is a balance between owning things and enjoying our surroundings--and that the balance is different for everyone. In taking a holistic approach to health, it is important that we evaluate and draw awareness to all aspects of our surroundings to ensure that we are creating and maintaining possibilities for optimal flow and whole health.
3) Blue Light
This is no shocker: more and more research continues to surface on the harmful effects of blue light. Our televisions, tablets, cell phones (and ultimately, any screen device) all emit blue light. Blue light isn’t all bad; in fact, it is a necessary part of our existence. The sun emits blue light, which we need for a variety of biological functions. When we continue to sit in artificial blue light conditions, however, we basically begin to tell our brain that we are still in the sun, and it begins to affect our circadian rhythms--which, over time, can lead to dis-ease. There are a host of free apps available for smartphones and laptops that help reduce blue light, as well as special glasses that one can purchase. There is a lot of supporting information that recommends turning off all devices a minimum of one hour before bedtime; personally, I try to adhere to this along with the apps/filters. One of the ways I achieve this is to save dishes or cleaning duties as the last thing I do at night, effectively creating a screen-free bedtime routine.
Speaking of circadian rhythms, shoes and concrete have really been messing with our connection to planet Earth. While most people don’t want to walk barefoot in snow or to step on thistles, our modern shoes have become designed with an extreme amount of material keeping us removed from feeling the ground beneath us. When we lose connection to the earth, it’s not just a spiritual loss; it is also physical, as a shoe that restricts sensation is often restricting the foot’s natural movement as well. The folks at Petra Fisher Movement explain all about minimalism in shoes and what that means to your overall health and well-being.
1) Essential Oils
Okay, you must be curious as to why I recommended essential oils instead of parfum earlier, whilst having them listed here as my NUMBER ONE toxin to avoid. Great question! I saw a meme the other day in the Mompreneur organization that summed it up brilliantly: “Friends don’t let friends ingest undiluted essential oils.” Essential oils are excellent substitutes for harmful and harsh cleaning products or cosmetics. They can be used by trained aromatherapists for a multitude of health ailments and are useful in a first aid kit, too. All of that being said, it it extremely important for people to understand that when you take a plant and break it down through distillation into its separate parts, you no longer retain the native healing properties of the plant. For example, peppermint as a whole plant is highly intuitive. It acts as a nervine and can help calm or stimulate the body as it sees fit when it is consumed as tea, drinking the water from its soaked leaves. In doing so, you get all components of the plant together such as tannins, terpenes, and volatile oils. As an essential oil, however, you begin to lose all of the parts of the plant and instead get what becomes very similar to a pharmaceutical-grade isolated compound. There are professionals trained in the administration of essential oils--much as there are pharmacists--and I would caution you to inquire as to credentials before taking the advice to ingest ANY essential oil. Keep in mind that our stomachs are made up of bacteria, and the majority of essential oils’ number one claim is being “anti-bacterial.” Like any alternative form of healing, essential oils have great benefit--I use them often, sparingly and diluted; but almost never ingested.
From the ground-up is ultimately what taking a holistic approach to healing is all about. We all possess the ability to heal from within and having the knowledge to make good decisions can help with the inner healing journey. The content that I have covered in this email is NOT a bad-news blog! I am passionate about empowering you with ways in which you can take your own health and wellness into your own hands by providing you with informative possibilities. As a holistic health practitioner, I address many of the emotional and spiritual areas of dis-ease in the body, but I also feel that the physical body needs maintenance and support along the way. Working with the tips across this three-part series will shine a light on ways for you to take a proactive approach to your own health and wellness!
Be Well & Stay Curious,
** Always talk to a medical doctor before making diet or exercise changes, this information is not intended to replace a medical practitioners advice, please see your general physician regularly." **