Everyone wants to be healthy, to stay youthful and feel attractive but most people don’t necessarily want to spend a fortune or if they do, they somehow expect a guarantee that it will do what it says on the packaging. In our modern mostly hectic world we are constantly being told by someone or possibly the advertisers, that what people did in the old days was far too time consuming – what cook a whole meal from scratch? You mean even make the pizza base yourself? A ping meal is far more convenient, isn’t it and there’s less waste, what would I do with three-quarters of a left over cabbage, after all?
Aren’t we just being bombarded constantly with conflicting information that upon closer inspection really doesn’t add up or make a lot of sense? How can something wrapped in plastic – after all – and listing fifty or more different ingredients – most of which sound like Latin – really constitute the basis of a healthy well-balanced meal even if claims to be 99% fat free and what is the big deal about ‘fat’ anyway?
Most people can’t really afford to spend a lot of money on themselves particularly if they have a family and children or are living alone with bills to pay and yet do those same people always make the wisest of choices when deciding how to spend their budgets? Most of the time most people tend to buy the same old stuff they’ve always bought and nowadays it is so often something in a cardboard box or packet perhaps with several layers of other plastic and inside there is finally that something they can supposedly eat or put on their skin. The wrappings of our modern world are throw away but do we have to believe everything the advertisers tell us about their product? Is it necessarily healthier because it’s low in fat – what KIND of fat after all? Because the advertisers often ‘say’ it’s natural, what do they really mean about that too? ‘No unnatural ingredients’ and ‘preservative free’ – what does that imply when all these packaged goods have been processed some how and rarely come straight off a tree or out of the ground? Everywhere advertisements are bombarding us with information but we really DON’T know if they’re telling the truth or not. We are constantly being told to buy certain ready made foods because of some advertising slogan or sound-bite that is often misleading. If we analyse these subliminal messages aren’t they designed to sound like it is a miracle anyone ever survived without their products ?
In addition to all the items we can put in and smother our bodies, there are all the other things that we enclose ourselves with – clothing, footwear, cars, homes – all potential sources of further adulteration with chemicals and noxious gases that most of the time we don’t even notice any more. After all, this modern belief system is being buttressed continually by advertisements espousing the so-called ‘benefits’ of these products that it is hard to stop and ponder the veracity of many of their claims when there is far less publicity to the negative implications. Our society is so fast-paced with ease of access to all kinds of information nowadays through social media and the internet in general, it is difficult sometimes to work out what is real and what isn’t any more.
So if we can’t really trust and believe in all those products we are constantly putting into our mouths, spraying on to our bodies and homes and surrounding ourselves with, are there any genuinely ‘natural’ or safe alternatives out there which are not only cheaper and safer but are also, wait for it, maybe just maybe, are genuinely better for your health?
I don’t claim to have all the answers ( I’m still working towards finding a liquid soap useful for shampoo and body wash that doesn’t contain the useful toxic suspects) but at least I know my deodorant is safe and toxin free AND it works!
Below are a few tips that I find particularly invaluable to my life nowadays and are something which anyone can start to do straight away without a big financial outlay or sense of having to make major changes in their life-style. Baby-steps are always the easiest way to go with learning new habits; add in new ideas or routines gradually and slowly without trying too hard to give old habits up. Think how hard it is to keep up the good intentions of the New Year resolutions’ six weeks down the line when it’s still freezing cold outside, it’s dark and you’re craving your usual carb fix when you gave everything up in one go? Learning new ideas and incorporating them into your established routine can take time. Research has generally demonstrated time and time again that it takes at least 21 days of doing something new on consecutive days to establish a lasting pattern. Remember not to beat yourself up when trying something new if it doesn’t always happen and it is always easier to add in something new first before taking something old out. Stress is a major factor in whether or not anyone remains healthy so worrying about new patterns of behaviour and feeling guilty if you seem to fail is not beneficial either!
What is most important to bear in mind is that none of the substances or products we buy will kill us immediately. Yes, unfortunately there are known poisons in our everyday products that we put on our skin, spray in our air and even eat in our food, because they are supposedly at ‘safe’ levels. Sometimes there will be genuine research to back these claims up but even then, unless we have done the ‘research’ ourselves, who can we really trust? After all, these corporations who are selling their products are doing it above all else for profit so we have to ask ourselves certain questions like does this particular face cream or deodorant or processed food really have my long term health at heart? Ironically I tend to think if there is also an actual warning on the label such as do not to inhale or swallow or even that, just like cigarettes they will actually tell people they cause cancer, we really should be taking more notice!
I like to think of our bodies being like a water butt that is slowly being dripped into continuously over months and years with various inflammatory matter. One drip of cigarette smoke, one drop of chlorine, two drops of parabens, another drop of electro magnetic frequency. At first our barrel (body) can ‘hold’ these foreign substances because they still at a low level. Most of the time we continue to function as these man-made chemicals hang around in our bodies while our immune system tries to get rid of them. As we get older, we may start to feel less flexible, look older and have digestive issues which we usually put it down to the ageing process and rarely question that it is our whole life-style choice. We have an immune system after all which is there to deal with toxins that enter our body anyway. However over time the amount of poisons compared to non poisons may reach a critical limit which is when the barrel overflows, pouring its toxic waste everywhere…
In the case of our bodies, when the immune system cannot cope with all the stress from life-style choices and modern unnatural products, chronic diseases like cancer, autoimmune and heart disease finally reveal all their symptoms, that have been developing below the brim of the barrel. While we are still allowing the drip, drip drip of these unnatural substances into our bodies we are carrying on as usual and when the barrel finally overflows it is difficult to ascertain exactly why a particular health problem manifested over another. People are given a cancer diagnosis everyday and wonder why me? What did I do wrong? And yet if only more people knew just how much their cancer or other chronic disease could have been prevented by making simple changes in their diet and avoiding these artificial creams and cleansers – if only they had been making these simple changes in their lives before they were faced with the even bigger challenge of reversing a disease that even most of mainstream medicine still consider incurable. Recent research has finally proven for example that cancer is a modern disease and simply did not exist thousands of years ago before mass produced products and chemicals of our modern world.
Although of course it may be difficult to trace the direct source of any health problem back to one thing in your life, just be warned and be prepared to make little changes to keep yourself healthier for longer.
Finally, here they are, some handy tips to make your life less toxic:
1 Household cleaners:
Next time you spill some coffee on your pristine work surface, do yourself a big favour and don’t reach for the ‘Cillit Bang’ or ‘Detox’ spray, reach for a bottle of ordinary vinegar (I use cider vinegar because it’s gluten free but if you’re not worried about this, you can use Malt) and grab a tub of bicarbonate of soda from the cake ingredient cupboard. Both these ingredients are very cheap (about a £1 each or less if you buy in bulk) and for convenience of use, decant vinegar into an old washed out disinfectant spray bottle and if you have a flour shaker around, put bicarb into that. I tend to use non metallic scrubbing sponges (again £1 for six), J-cloths but any sponge or cloth for wiping down work surfaces work providing they are absorbent and you’re set to clean your work surfaces and bathroom without toxic cleaners. Unlike conventional shop bought ones you don’t have to worry about inhaling something that might be damaging your lungs or poisoning you via your skin. Just sprinkle a little bicarb over the area that needs cleaning and spray some vinegar over the top. It will start fizzing and now you can just rub it off, adding a little more bicarb if necessary or scrubbing harder for more stubborn marks.
Instead of vinegar you can also use lemon juice and if you’ve got half a lemon you’ve already squeezed almost dry, the skin or zest can be used to add a little fragrance as well as cleaning power to the mix. I like to add a few drops of lemon orange and clove essential oils to a spray bottle with ordinary tap water to just freshen work surfaces too.
2 Start making your own body products from household food ingredients
When I discovered how to make deodorant that really worked from relatively cheap food ingredients my first thought was why the hell didn’t I start making my own personal freshness product years ago! On my website so far there are recipes for this, lip balm and body scrub all non toxic with the understanding that 60% of what you put ‘on’ your body is absorbed through the skin, so the ingredients should be safe enough to swallow although I wouldn’t necessarily advocate this!
3 Staying safe out and about
Plastics are everywhere nowadays – lining food cans, plastic bottles for water and sodas, covering our food in the supermarkets and somewhere every box, container and bag we purchase ‘stuff’ in. It often gives off an unpleasant odour and this should be a warning to us that it’s not something we should be inhaling or spending a lot of time around. As such we need to remember that plastic is not something our food or drink should be in long term contact with even if it’s supposedly BPA free. No plastics are really safe for our food or drinks if you really want to be serious about this. There are alternative plasticlining free drinks containers available and the stainless steel ones which come with a screw lid that hold 500ml are usually a sufficient quantity for most people’s needs in one trip. I recently bought one for my daughter to take to school and it is not heavy, doesn’t get squashed and keeps the drink cooler than if it were in a normal plastic one. I am not being sponsored for advertising any particular brand but if you google ‘stainless steel drink bottles’ there will be lots of companies there which pop up. Just make sure they are not lined with any form of plastic!
Tip 1: when buying a take away coffee do NOT drink from the plastic lid that comes with it. Unless the purveyor has the biodegradable safe ones, do not even allow this on your drink to carry it away. It may seem convenient BUT it is highly toxic and although of course you won’t get ill from it immediately, think of it like being a smoker. One cigarette won’t kill you but if you do it long enough over time….
Tip 2 : don’t allow plastic bottles containing drink to heat up in the sun eg inside a car. The liquid does plasticise ie leach into the water or drink and contaminate it. Never place plastic bottles with drink in a freezer either to cool it down. similarly beer cans etc as they are also lined with plastic too (besides they will explode if forgotten as well !)
Tip3:Think carefully about what substances you allow to come into contact with your food, either during preparation, storage or cooking. Ideally do not use anything plastic to store food or eat from. I know this may not be convenient when you’re not used to the idea, but wrapping home-made food in grease-proof paper inside a plastic lunchbox is a healthier alternative and certainly not PVC cling wrap! ‘Tin foil’ (aluminium foil) is similarly highly toxic and should not be used to wrap food or cook with but again, baking paper works and can be tied up with chemical free non plastic string when cooking something which needs to be wrapped eg fish.
Tip4: this is not about plastics but about sunlight. Throw those artificial suntan lotions away now! Most people in the western hemisphere nowadays when tested are found to be Vitamin D deficient and where do you get this essential substance from? Sunlight and do you know it is necessary for the functioning of over 2,000 genes in the body? Genes that are interacting with us and our environment (inside our bodies as well as outside) all the time. Ok, don’t sit in the sun till you go red, still be sensible but PLEASE allow yourself some exposure to the sun every day when possible. It’s not only good for you physically it’s good for you mentally too and even helps with your internal body clock (see EMF’s and computer screens below)
Tip5: When buying any new clothing items or household soft furnishings that CAN be washed, please do so BEFORE use. there is often a warning on clothing particularly that the item should be washed before wearing because it will have been drenched in a chemical fire-retardant which in contact with the body becomes an irritant. Unfortunately most soft furnishings, including sofas, chairs, carpets, rugs, cushions and mattresses also contain these substances which will hang around in the home for a long time. Of course we can’t all afford to change these household items for organic chemical free ones in one go (they tend to cost a fortune anyway) but it is something to bear in mind.
4 Decide to say good-bye to aspartame, other artificial flavourings and sugar (eventually)
Aspartame and Monosodium Glutamate are still available in processed foods and drinks yet they are both known as neuro- or excitotoxins and basically damage brain tissue. If you have to have a sweet-flavoured soda, (baby steps after all, you can’t give everything up at once) go for a real sugar-sweetened beverage instead. The diet claim of the drink is not genuine anyway as the sweetness of the liquid confuses the body to produce insulin (the blood glucose absorption hormone) anyway so so-called diet sodas can actually slow down the metabolism and increase weight gain anyway! Ideally you should try and cut down on sugar consumption too but don’t try and do this all at once. Sugar is bad for your body too but it is the lesser of the two evils. Try and think of sugar as a recreational drug and as such treat it with respect and as an occasional source of enjoyment rather than an every day addictive habit.
MSG is also a neurotoxin and should be avoided for the same reason. Over time, if you reduce your intake of these artificial substances slowly you will reduce your desire for them.
Although sugar in food has been linked to tooth decay for many years the truth is not as simple as sugar rotting the teeth directly. It is having a good balanced diet that is critical to whether or not our teeth decay so ensuring that sugar and other refined foods are not eaten with every meal and balancing everything with more natural foods, teeth will stay strong from the inside out. Bacteria settle on teeth and eat away at them when the body’s immune system is out of kilter from a too acidic diet (from highly processed foods and too much meat and dairy). A diet high in plant material will balance this out and teeth will remain healthier without the need for fluoride, which again is another poison to be avoided at all costs
5 Oral health without shop bought toothpastes (containing nasties like fluoride)
Commerical toothpastes have been sold to us as consumers for decades most probably due to the minty flavour which serves to freshen breath and also with the myth that the fluoride will protect us from tooth decay. My own view (and this is corroborated by tons of research) that a healthy diet is all you really need to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Sadly the addition of fluoride to many water supplies has also been linked to many health problems and should be banned everywhere.
As for keeping your mouth healthy, again, coconut oil is all you really need to keep plaque from building up. Being naturally antiseptic, ‘oil pulling’ by allowing a teaspoon of coconut oil to stay in the mouth for as long as you can (ideally 15-20 mins daily) is a perfect way to keep your mouth in pristine health. Yes, you can still brush if you like and if you still like the idea of a ‘tooth-paste’ make some yourself with coconut oil, bicarbonate of soda and flavour if you like, with a drop of peppermint essential oil.
6 How you cook your food
Never cook with TEFLON or non-stick pans, bakeware. These are especially toxic when they become damaged (as they so often do when people use metallic implements while cooking with them). Always cook with stainless steel if possible. Aluminium (another potential poison when in contact with food) is also far from ideal but again, try to change all your cookware over time away from these metallic tools.
Avoid polyunsaturated oils as these are not good for your health either, particularly when heated.
Don’t overheat any cooking oils either as they denature at extreme temperatures, causing poisons to form and avoid any food that is burnt. Burnt substances formed on meat and starches (acrylamide) is highly toxic and linked to cancer. Again avoid processed foods as they are often pre-cooked in overheated oils high in this toxic substance already eg oven chips, crisps, etc. Check out this link on a popular potato based product if you’d like more information on just how nasty these kind of snacks really are.
The purity of one’s water supply can be lacking too in many places nowadays, including many traces of drugs (that do not break down in the processing of tap water) and pesticides but there are a few options that ameliorate some risks, from chlorine in particular. When showering, always do so with the window open as the chlorine in the water supply forms a mist that is easily inhaled and is unhealthy long term. When soaking in the bath, always add a couple of cupfuls of Epsom salts, which not only help relax you for bed and restful sleep, the magnesium within them is absorbed by the body and is important in over 200 different bodily functions. It may also help to negate the chorine in the water too. Iodine is a trace element which can be lacking in our modern diet but is not something that we should be swallowing in large quantities either. As such, supplementation of this element can be most beneficially derived from Kelp and best obtained from a reputable company like Cytoplan. However, always get advice from a nutritional therapist before supplementing yourself.
Fortunately fluoride is not in the water supply where I live but in some areas in the UK this is still a problem. Ideally get a water filter on all taps or invest in a reverse osmosis filter system but of course this is not cheap either but is something to think about long term. Regular jug filters do little more than remove the chlorine so long term investment in something that removes far more than this chemical is a wise move. Always use filtered water for drinks and cooking use and at least let tap water stand for an hour or two before use as the chlorine will have dispersed. I tend to decant my filtered water into glass bottles which I can then store in the fridge. Buying bottled mineral water is a mug’s game as it is extremely expensive for what it is and is not even guaranteed to be free from substances such as fluoride! And of course it mostly comes in plastic too…
7 Avoid the ‘dirty dozen’ when food shopping and aim for the ‘clean fifteen’ when buying fruit and veg
These lists refer the presence of residue pesticides in non organically grown fresh produce. The lists from the Environmental Working Group in the US is updated yearly and for 2016 I can tell you that if you were going to buy strawberries, organic is the safest bet. Last year, strawberries as they were unfortunately top of the list for containing dangerously high levels of pesticides, linked to cancer.
As usual, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and apples were also in the top twelve along with spinach, cucumber and nectarines. Check it out for yourself for this year and also find the safer ones to buy if you can’t afford to buy organic. Sadly organic produce is really expensive but if you want to be really health conscious it is the safest bet nowadays. Ideally try and grow some foods yourself even if you don’t have access to outside space, tomatoes can be grown on a windowsill and sprouting vegetables (high in protein) can even be done on a counter work top.
8 Ferment your own food
Virtually anything can be fermented and a recent resurgence of these old-fashioned methods of preserving foods are finally being proven by the latest scientific research to be good for the microbiome. The micro-what? Check out my other blog post here for an introduction and also my Kombucha and Sauerkraut recipes.
9 Make bone broth
This is an inexpensive basis for most savoury meals and can be frozen in ice cube trays for use when required. The recipe for this is elsewhere on this website. Please try it out as it is not only extremely healthy but also very tasty.
10 EMF’s (electro magnetic frequencies)
Today it has been estimated that there are 100 million more EMF’s around than there were 60 years ago. What are EMF’s well they’re the forms of radiation we can’t see or hear but are everywhere emitting from our computer screens, mobile phones and now even our ‘smart’ cars! Do yourself a big favour and stop carrying mobile phones in your body pockets, when making a phone call, keep the device at least 1 cm away from your head (this is even advised on the Apple website so what does THAT infer?) but personally I prefer to make all my calls with the speaker on (go outside or away from others if you think it will disturb them) but avoid that radiation at all costs.
And at night, remember to turn the phone to airplane mode if you can’t bear to turn it off altogether and never sleep with it by your bed!
When using these devices in the evening, try and get hold of special blue tinted lenses (they are commercially available) to fool your brain that the artificial lighting from the screen is not a signal to stay awake. Many people working on laptops etc in the evening find sleeping a problem unless they have either stopped using their devices hours before bed or use these special glasses instead.
You can also buy certain products which apparently help to keep you ‘grounded’ from the EMF’s which after all are not natural to human beings or any life forms on this planet and will interfere with our natural body balance. At time of writing there has not been enough research done to proof the safety of these electronic devices that we all seem to be permanently attached to and yet there is more and more evidence that proves that constant phone use is deleterious to our cells at a DNA level. I personally use ‘energy dots’ on my home equipment from a UK based company and at least feel that I am doing something to negate the effects of EMF’s even if I have no physical proof myself. Sometimes you have to trust someone and if the product itself does not emit radiation, if it’s only a placebo, it’s better than nothing!