Why environmental toxins are ruining your gut health. Plus, five simple steps to start taking today.
Are you struggling with candida overgrowth, leaky gut, IBS, bloating, acne, yeast infections, infertility, or other gut health issues? If you’re doing all the things you’re supposed to, but not getting results, there may be one more piece of the puzzle that you’re missing.
If you’ve changed your diet, focused on your stress, prioritized exercise, and you still aren’t seeing your symptoms go away… it’s time to ditch the toxins.
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Ditch the toxins? What does that have to do with gut health?
Everything. Since 1940, we’ve seen over 77,000 new chemicals introduced in our world (it’s likely a much higher number). It’s estimated that over 2,000 new chemicals are introduced into our environment every year now. These chemicals are found in SO MANY THINGS that come into close contact with our bodies – both inside and out. These impact our gut microbiome and can throw off the balance of healthy bacteria which can lead to a ton of health issues from yeast overgrowth to digestive issues to hormone imbalance, an impaired immune system and more.
What are the key culprits to be aware of?
Food, Personal hygiene/skincare, Cookware, Food storage, Water, and Cleaning products are some of the most prevalent and dangerous sources of environmental toxins in our everyday lives. There are more chemicals in these products than you might realize (yes, even “green” ones). All of these products interact internally with our body, even if they aren’t put “in” our bodies.
From phthalates (hormone-disrupting chemicals) hidden behind words like “fragrance” or “perfume” in personal care and cleaning products, to the average of 4.5 pesticides found on a single apple, it’s important to open our eyes to how many chemicals we interact with on a daily basis that can have an impact on our skin, our gut microbiome, nervous system, hormones and our overall wellbeing.
Is buying organic food really that important?
In a word? Yes. Chemical pesticides are used more than ever today. While they can be helpful in food growth and preservation, the chemicals used can also have major damaging effects on our bodies. Some of these toxins are even linked to cancer and negative impacts on our reproductive, immune and nervous symptoms!
But which foods are most covered with pesticides (and therefore most important to eat organic)? Does everything need to be organic? While organic is always preferred, it’s not always feasible – sometimes organic options just aren’t available, or you need to prioritize where you’ll spend your money.
That’s why the Environmental Working Group puts out a list every year of the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen. Use these as a guide when shopping – try to at least get the “dirty dozen” foods as organic whenever possible. These include a lot of fruits with softer or more permeable outsides and leafy greens. But foods like avocado, cantaloupe, or honeydew all have harder outside skins and the pesticides are less likely to penetrate the fruit.
What’s hiding in your Skincare?
Did you know that the year the government last passed legislation regulating the cosmetic industry was in 1938!? Think about how many chemicals have been created and introduced into our world and our skincare since then. It’s mind-boggling. AND, the laws have pretty sizable loopholes that allow for carcinogenic chemicals (cancer causing) and other toxic ingredients to be in our products. These are present in the things we use everyday.
The toxins in your skincare — from your sunscreen, to your deodorant, moisturizer or foundation — can wreak havoc on your skin and gut microbiome (don’t forget, your skin is your body’s largest organ, too!).
The brand I love to use (both for their safe products and for their advocacy in the skincare industry!) is Beautycounter. The company excludes over 1,800 questionable ingredients and lobbies regularly for reform around our skincare laws and regulations. They’re free of parabins, phthalates, fragrance, and more. Message me if you want to try something and don’t know where to start, or if you just want my favorite recs!
What you cook and store your food in is as important as the food you put into your body.
If you’re reading this on my blog, you’re likely already aware of the importance of a healthy diet in maintaining gut health. But did you realize that the cookware used to make your food is almost as important as the food itself? Even the healthiest diet can result in health issues if your cookware is leeching toxic chemicals into it.
Some of the biggest offenders:
- Teflon – Non-stick and easy to find, but one of the most toxic options. People who have been over-exposed to these chemicals can get something called the “Teflon Flu.” As soon as you notice any chipping or scratching you should stop using this kind of cookware immediately or else it will begin to leech into your food.
Better alternatives: Cast Iron or Ceramic Cookware.
- Copper Cookware. When copper cookware isn’t coated it can release copper into our food, especually when we cook with acidic foods.
Better alternative: Stainlesss Steel cookware
- Aluminum Cookware or Aluminum Foil. Aluminum is a neurotoxic metal (poison for your nervous system). Elevated aluminum levels have been linked to several central nervous system diseases, including Alzheimer’s and ALS. Aluminum foil and chipped cookware can leech aluminum into your food.
Better alternatives: Glass cookware or glass food storage, and parchment paper.
Did you know that the air inside our homes can be up to 500 times more polluted than the outdoor air!? From our cleaning products, to candles and air fresheners, soaps, shampoos, and more — you would be shocked to see how many toxic chemicals actually are in our homes.
As a friendly reminder, there’s no such thing as a “clean” scent — that smell that we all love so much is actually likely synthetic chemicals. (The opposite of “clean.”)
My favorite non-toxic cleaning brand is Branch Basics. Their plant-based cleaners are all created from the same concentrate, and they’re free of “fragrance” and other chemicals that have no place in our homes.
I feel 100% safe using Branch Basics on my kitchen counters, to wash my hands, to do my laundry, scrub out tough stovetop stains, and even to wash my fruits & veggies. (yes, even in COVID times, this stuff will really clean your home!)
Check it out and try your own starter kit for $10 off with coupon code “ADIOS” through 11/30/20.
Where to begin? 5 simple steps to take today:
I know this all can feel a bit overwhelming… so start by taking stock of what you currently have in your home.
What products do you and your family use the most?
What is running out soon that you’ll need to replace?
- Check your skincare. Look your most used products up on the EWG website to see how safe they are. Then swap them out one by one as they run out. You can always contact me with your Beautycounter questions if you’d like to try a sample or learn more!
- Check your cookware. Even if you can’t replace it all today, take some time to look at the kind of cookware you have in your house and the state it’s in. Is any of it nonstick w/ a black coating? Is any of that coating scratched off? That’s what we want to avoid. Consider switching even 1-2 of your most used pots and pans to alternatives like ceramic or stainless steel.
- Toss toxic cleaning products. Not sure what ingredients to look for? Here’s a list of where to start. Replace your core cleaning products with a Branch Basics starter set (10% off w/ code “ADIOS”)
- Check your food & drink storage. Still using plastic containers to store or heat your food? Consider making the switch to glass food storage. It’s clean, simple to wash, looks great in your fridge & is SO MUCH BETTER for your gut health. These are my current favorites.
- Save the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists on your phone so you have them handy when grocery shopping. Try to start with this list, focusing the most on buying the “dirty dozen” as organic if possible.
What else would you add to this list?