A few days ago I went into my bathroom, emptied the contents of the cupboard and threw them all in the bin. I’ve been looking into the link between a healthy mind & body, and the toxins we absorb just by living in the modern world. This is not a new thing for me, but I’ve been taking it a bit more seriously, investigating a bit more thoroughly.
It’s probably at least 10 years since I realised the flushed cheeks, fatigue and that nasty angry, screaming feeling in my head were caused by additives in the food that i was eating. It was easy to stop choosing those foods from the supermarket shelves. Over the years I’ve traversed the full journey from avoiding a few obvious culprits, to checking the back of every packaged food I buy. The fact is, there’s not much packaged food I can buy, so I don’t.
These days I’m pretty much additive and preservative free in my daily diet. I’m not obsessive though. I still eat out regularly, will occasionally binge on chips or chocolate and will happily quaff wine that I know is laced with preservative 220. It’s a trade-off I guess. Some things are worth it!
About 3 years ago I found The Guide to Ethical Supermarket Shopping, and realised that most of my grocery budget was going to a small handful of massive, environmentally lazy, unethical corporations. Little bit by little bit I started changing brands for regular items like milk, cereal, toilet paper. I chose smaller, local brands that rated well in the guide. I started avoiding home brands when I learned that supermarkets screw local producers so far down on price that they have to cut quality or go out of business. It wasn’t a hard transition, it just took a bit of getting used to – remembering all those new brands. By the way The Ethical Guide is now available as an app. Download it!
Then I started thinking about the stuff I was putting on my body, which was being absorbed through my skin. I found out that food is 90% filtered by the liver, whereas substances we put on our skin are not filtered at all – so they are 100% absorbed. Basically what you put on your body has an effect ten times greater than what you eat. Soaps, cleansers, creams, soaks, scrubs, sprays, lotions, perfumes… reading the back of those jars & bottles started to give me the shivers. I now only use about 3 products on my skin and they are additive free to the best of my knowledge.
This week I realised I needed to take it to another level. It feels like the people around me, myself & my family included, are constantly suffering from illnesses and health issues both minor & major. I have barely seen anyone this winter, as social occasions are cancelled due to sickness. I don’t know the reasons for everybody’s poor health. But I just have this feeling that the further we get from our natural environment, the sicker we are getting. The further our food gets from it’s natural state, the worse it is for us. Doesn’t that make sense?
Google led where Google leads, and I ended up reading about xenoestrogens. I’m far from an expert, but did you know that almost all of us are likely to have more estrogen in our bodies than our ancestors (or indeed other less ‘advanced’ communities)? Xenoestrogens are compounds that mimic the behaviour of estrogen when absorbed into our bodies. They are in most plastics, detergents, beauty products, pesticides, preservatives, shampoos, air fresheners, toothpastes. They are also in most commercially raised, non-organic meat & dairy products. And water. Yup, the stuff has leached from our washing machines, our sinks, our bodies and into our soil, animals, plants and our water supply.
Scientists are still debating exactly what xenoestrogens will do to you, but to date I’ve not heard anyone say they are beneficial. That much no-one is arguing with. It seems universally accepted that excess estrogen can lead to problems with fertility, sperm count and menstruation. Estrogen dominance is a condition associated with headaches, stress, anxiety, fatigue, lowered immunity, insomnia, hair loss and PMS symptoms in women. The list of symptoms is long, and the list of related medical conditions includes scary ones like cancer.
It actually made me quite stressed just thinking about it (see I told you xenoestrogens can lead to stres). It’s hard to process and I can understand why most people prefer to avoid the topic altogether. Given it’s practically impossible to avoid the bad stuff, why even bother trying? Well, I’ve come a long way already, so I have decided to keep going.
This week I comprehensively trashed my kitchen & bathroom cupboards. I threw out almost every plastic container, except a few of the ‘less bad’ food storage ones (I’m just not ready yet!). But I made myself a promise to never use them in the microwave again. I also went out & bought pyrex containers to replace the old plastic ones.
Then I went through all the old hair & beauty products I’ve been storing under the sink for years, and accepted that I have now moved on. I will never again lather my body in methylparabens, soak in sulphates or spray myself with phosphates. No matter how delightful the label or the marketing. Into the bin they went. So therapeutic.
It’s been a good exercise. I’ve made a commitment to no more plastic – where possible. I am yet to figure out what to do about toothbrushes! And no doubt there are some things that are just better when made of plastic. But if it comes in contact with my body or my food, and there is an alternative – I’m going to choose it from now on.
What about you? It has taken me years to get to this point, and by now a lot of this stuff is just common sense. But to the newly initiated it probably sounds like a whole lot of hippy, paranoid claptrap. Especially given everywhere you turn you’re faced with products piled high with the very stuff i am trying to avoid.
I’ve been lucky (?) enough to have certain experiences in life that led me to this point. I sometimes wonder if it’s my duty to help the people I care about understand the risks they’re taking with their health, their bodies, their families. I know I know, it’s not. I’ve stayed quiet unless I know my friend is already thinking this way. But now I have a blog, so if you were foolish enough to come by for a look, now you know how I really feel!
Seriously though, let me know. Is it too hard? Too complicated? Too scary? Too time consuming?
When are YOU going to clear out YOUR bathroom cupboard???