Reducing exposure to toxins and chemicals

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In my time working with people who have autoimmune diseases there is one thing I have found which seems to be a common theme. Many of my clients test positive to allergies such as mould, dust mites, grass and pollen.

These people are sensitive! Sensitive to smells, sounds, chemicals, gluten, dairy, mosquito bites, grass, mould and dust mites. Lupus often comes with additional health irritations and although you may not react to everything on this list you may react to one!

Some people think they don’t have any sensitivities, they think its normal to constantly sneeze when they cut the grass or feel fatigued when they stir up the dust inside the house. These reactions are not normal, they are an over sensitive system and an immune response.

What can we do about it? Firstly we can clean up our environment, this will help to reduce our exposure to toxins and make our life a little easier. Here are some things you can do TODAY to help reduce your interaction with chemicals and toxins.

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Most people do not give the toxic load of their indoor space a second thought but there are many things in our environment, which can contribute to ill health. To help clean up your indoor space I would recommend you firstly invest in some plants, having plants indoors isn’t as common today as it was in the 1980’s but they are very good for our air quality AND they help remove chemicals.

The NASA clean air study has a very comprehensive list of plants and it details which chemicals are removed by each of the plant types studied. For example the Bamboo palm will remove Formaldehyde, Xylene and Toluene from the air.

If you have a mould problem and suffer from asthma and/or allergies I highly recommend investing in a HEPA air purifier. HEPA stands for High-efficiency particulate arrestance, the filters do not remove gasses (such as cigarette smoke) but they are designed to remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles, larger than 0.3 micrometers (µm) in diameter.

Mould and its effect on our health is not discussed enough and many people remain unaware of its potential effects on wellbeing. Mould can cause allsorts of symptoms including shortness of breath, night sweats, numbness, sinus problems and fatigue.

Lastly think about the chemicals you use in your home, opt for natural based household cleaners instead of substances such as bleach (also called chlorine bleach or sodium hyperchloride) which let off noxious gases. There are many alternatives available in the market today and there is no reason to continue to use something, which can be harmful to your health. Making your own cleaning products isn’t too difficult. For scouring powder mix 1 cup of baking soda and ½ a cup of salt together. This can be used to clean baths and sinks. Alternatively you can always use a few drops of eucalyptus oil in water, this will disinfect and clean. White vinegar and baking soda are a great combination for cleaning your toilet. Just leave it to soak for an hour before flushing.

Drink GREAT water

We all know that we should be drinking around 1.5 to 2 litres of water a day but what about the quality of the water? I personally can taste the chlorine in a glass of water when it’s straight from the tap and drinking mineral water from a plastic bottle is not a good option. Tap water can be full of toxins- lead, arsenic, copper, lead and aluminium not to mention pesticides. Think about investing in a water filter to help eliminate toxins. It doesn’t have to be an expensive filtration system but its important to remember that products like the Brita Water Jug may seem inexpensive at first but the cost of the filter replacements does add up. This is still a good starting point and better than nothing. If you want to go for a filter which will eliminate fluoride, then I highly recommend the Zazen Water Filter, this is a counter top system. For more information on the Zazen water filtration system download the resource sheet.

Eliminate toxic foods

If you haven’t yet addressed your diet then now is the time. Processed foods, sugary snacks, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, grains and gluten all create inflammation and further aggravate an autoimmune disease (A.I). Many processed foods (especially confectionery) will contain some degree of genetically modified ingredients even if it doesn’t say so on the ingredients list.

If the idea of cutting out all of these foods is daunting then set yourself a goal of either trying it for 30 days or cutting out one thing at a time. Start with one of the foods you have the most such as diary, once you have got used to living without this then you can cut out another food and so on. Although most of the foods on this list wouldn’t be classed as toxic (except sugar and alcohol) they can be toxic to someone suffering SLE.

Radiation exposure

For me this is a huge area which impacts health, we simply do not know enough about the safety of mobile phones, Wi-Fi and other electromagnetic devices. The best piece of advice I can offer is play it safe. Use your mobile on speaker phone or use an ear piece, never have your phone beside your bed or even in the bed room at night if you absolutely must then put it on airplane mode. Turn off your Wi-Fi when you are not using it and try to have your modem away from where people sleep and spend most of their time. If it can transmit through buildings and walls how do we know it’s not moving through our body and affecting the electrical conductivity within us?

Avoid plastics

I could talk about plastics til the cows come home! Most things we buy these days come in plastic. I am sure you have seen some plastic items you buy now promote that they are ‘BPA FREE’. BPA or bisphenol A was a toxic substance used in plastics to make them softer. It disrupts hormones and causes problems with the thyroid and the adrenals not to mention that it can create havoc to the immune system. Tin cans are still lined with BPA unless it states BPA FREE on the can. Some but not all organic can foods are BPA FREE. I think avoiding plastic where you can is the best method. There are many other chemicals used in plastics that may harm our health (we just don’t know about them yet). Avoid buying a cook chicken in the supermarket which has been sitting in a plastic bag under a heat lamp for an hour, avoid mineral water sold in a plastic bottle and take away food sold hot in a plastic container. Also remember that just because it says BPA FREE it doesn’t mean TOXIC FREE!

These are all relatively small changes we can make which will mean our exposure to toxins and chemicals is lessened. This is a good thing not just for our health but also for our environment.