Detox your Household

Detox your Household

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Throughout the year the daily API in Hong Kong is often within the ‘very high’ range of 101-200, and occasionally spiking above a ‘very severe’ 200+. According to the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, an API above 100 can significantly compromise respiratory, immune and cardiovascular system health, contributing to the development of asthma, allergies, chronic respiratory infections, and atherosclerosis.  Children are uniquely vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment.  Unfortunately, air pollution is a fact of life in Hong Kong.  While moving to more pristine climes may not be a practical solution, there are some simple changes within the home that can be made to decrease the toxic burden on the family.

Step 1: start with a clean out of these key household contributors to the toxic burden:

Clean up your cleaning products: Hidden ingredients, which are not required to be listed on cleaning products, can cause everything from asthma to reproductive problems.  Eco-friendly products or good old-fashioned cleaning remedies are just as effective as the popular chemical options.  See references list below for ‘green’ cleaning ideas for just about every household cleaning requirement.

Ditch the antibacterial washes: Triclosan, found in many antibacterial hand soaps and washes, is linked to creating anti-biotic resistant bacteria or ‘Superbugs’ and is also known to disrupt thyroid function.

Swap chemical air fresheners for natural ones: most store-bought air fresheners consist of formaldehyde, petrochemicals, p-dichlorobenzene and aerosol pollutants, which “release pollutants into the room more or less continuously,” according to the EPA. Enjoy the natural fragrance of pure essential oils instead!

Switch to natural fabrics: synthetic material used for children’s clothing and mattresses, such as viscose and polyester, often contain flame retardant chemicals that leach into the skin and are linked to delayed brain development, reproductive problems and cancer.

Reduce your use of plastic: Plastics are convenient but the environment and our health pay a big price.  Not only is the manufacture and disposal of plastics hugely toxic to the soil, air, water, and the food chain, the use of certain plastics in the home can wreak havoc with our hormones.  Cooking or storing food in plastics (identified by the numbers 3-7) leaches toxic chemicals into the body, which interferes with hormone signalling systems and may alter the functioning of the brain, pituitary, reproductive organs, thyroid and other components of the endocrine system. Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals.  Use wax paper for wrapping, store foods in glass containers, don’t microwave food in plastic, buy BPA-free water bottles for drinking and don’t reuse the plastic water bottles you buy from the cooler.

Clean up your home environment: air purifiers, dehumidifiers and micro-filtration vacuum cleaners remove air pollution particulates, dust and mould from the indoor environment.  Use eco-friendly, toxin-free paints, such as EICO, to paint children’s bedrooms.

Step 2: Clean out your refrigerator and replace potentially toxic foods with clean, healthy options:

Ditch the hormone-laden dairy: hormones that are used to stimulate milk production in diary cows pass into the milk, yogurt and cheese we consume.  These hormones mimic the effect of oestrogen in our bodies but are much more stimulating. They can signal our bodies to either produce more oestrogen or shut down our oestrogen production.  Switch to organic, milk and diary products which are naturally hormone-free.

Embrace imperfectly shaped fruit and vegetables: the pesticides and fungicides used to ward off insects and fungi are also potent endocrine disruptors.  According to recent research by University College London, 30 of the 37 pesticides they tested altered male hormones. Female hormones are equally affected. They also block nutrient absorption.  Switch to organic produce where possible.  Nutrient-rich, organic vegetables are neither grown with pesticides nor genetically modified (GMO) seeds.

Swap the dirty dozen for their organic siblings: the 12 most ‘polluted’ conventionally grown fruit and vegetables are: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, peppers, peaches, nectarines, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, and courgettes.  Go organic for this dozen!

Eat the ‘clean 15’: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, aubergine, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, mushrooms, onions, papaya, pineapple, snap peas, and sweet potatoes are grown with the least amount of pesticides.

Give your fruit and veg a bath: remove water-resistant pesticide and fungicide residues by washing all fruit and vegetables just like you wash your hands – with detergent. A very small amount of specialised ‘veggie wash’ or good old dish detergent will remove pesticide residues. Alternatively, peel the skins.

Step 3: Improve the body’s detoxification and elimination capacity.

The liver is the body’s greatest recycling, regenerating and detoxifying organ.  It has the ability to recognise millions of potentially harmful chemicals and transform them into something harmless to the body and prepare them for elimination. The body’s ability to detoxify and eliminate depends on the right mix of nutrients and antioxidants, adequate dietary fibre and healthy gut flora.

Incorporate these top detoxifiers into the diet:

  • Blue-green algae, barley, wheatgrass, organic dark leafy greens, and spirulina rid the body of harmful environmental toxins from toxic metals, herbicides, cleaning products and pesticides.
  • Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel spouts strongly assist detoxification of endocrine disrupting toxins.
  • Dark red, blue and purple, gogi, and acai berries and green tea are powerful antioxidants that help improve liver function.
  • Onions and garlic are a great source of the key detoxifying liver enzyme, glutathione.
  • Apples, whole grain wheat, oats, corn, lentils, peas and figs are high in fibre, which binds toxins and removes them from the body as waste.
  • Milk thistle, dandelion root, artichoke, coriander and turmeric are used in western herbal medicine to chelate heavy metals and improve the detoxifying capability of the liver.
  • Live yogurt and probiotics contain ‘friendly bacteria’ which help neutralise toxin-producing bacteria and destructive yeast by maintaining a healthy balance of good flora in the gut.

This story appeared first on Stanley Wellness Centre’s web page: http://stanleywellnesscentre.com

It is written by Jeanette Lilly Blanks, a Naturopath, Western Medical Herbalist

B.A., B.H.Sc (Hons), M.N.I.M.H., M.N.H.A.A., M.A.T.M.S.

Read more about her here: http://stanleywellnesscentre.com/jeanette-lilly-blanks

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