As ambassadors of health it’s important to consider, not only the things you’re putting in your body through nutrition, but also what you’re putting on your body that influences your health. Chemicals that are in many household products, like cleaning supplies and cosmetics can contribute to toxin buildup in your body which will determine your state of health. Toxins easily enter the body when they are applied topically and absorbed through the skin or inhaled and absorbed through the mucous membranes.
Many of the items we use everyday contain amounts of toxic chemicals, from baby powder to artificial sweeteners. We’ll break down some of the most common chemicals you’ll likely encounter so you are aware of the potential health risks.
- Parabens top the list because over use of these can alter the bodies normal hormone function, leading to possible reproductive problems and cancers. Parabens are compounds that are used as a preservatives in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industry and can contain the names, methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butyl. Common products that contain parabens are mouisturizers, makeup, creams, and perfumes. Be sure to check the ingredients the next time you grab your favorite product, the same way you would check the quality of ingredients contained in your food.
- Talc comes in a close second because it is a common ingredient in baby powders to treat diaper rash and even reduce body odor. Some products may use talc that contains asbestos which is a known carcinogen, however most cosmetic talc powders are asbestos free. It’s better to play it safe and check the ingredients before you use it. The better option would be to steer clear of talc and choose versions of baby powder made with corn starch.
- Aluminum Zirconium is another chemical that’s found in most deodorants and serves as an antiperspirant which obstructs pores in the skin and prevents sweat from leaving the body. There is some evidence that links aluminum use with Alzheimers disease but other studies suggest that there is no correlation. At the end of the day you can choose to limit the amount of chemicals you put on your body by choosing aluminum free deodorants.
- Propylene Glycol is a chemical that is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medications, cosmetics, or food products. It can be used as a less toxic anti-freeze in food processing centers or residential water pipes where accidental indigestion may be possible, it’s also used in common food products like ice cream and artificial sweeteners. The FDA has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food, however some studies show that it contributes to skin irritation, neurological symptoms, cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues, potentially toxic to liver and kidneys, probably not safe for infants and children, and may be a pathway for other harmful chemicals. Although it may be safe, the potential health complications are something to avoid by limiting your intake of this chemical.
- Oxybenzone is a common chemical used in sunscreen to absorb ultraviolet light, but some research shows that it can be absorbed through the skin. Experts believe oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. Such contradictory information, we need sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, yet some of the sunscreens we use may also contribute to skin cancer… confusion overload. My suggestion is that you try using mineral sunscreens with ingredients like zinc oxide which create a physical barrier on the skin to protect it from the sun, instead of chemical sunscreens which contain potentially harmful ingredients. However, sun exposure is good for health and wellbeing so make sure you get outside to take advantage of the natural Vitamin D! I recommend trying to expose yourself during the times when the UV light is least intense like in the morning and evening and if you do go outside during the afternoon make sure you have access to shade, can cover yourself with clothing, or apply a mineral based sunscreen, and ideally only spending a few hours at a time in the sun as your tolerance to the UV light increases over time.
The purpose of this is to create toxic awareness, not toxic fear or avoidance, because it’s impossible to be completely toxin free. What you can do is pick and choose what you expose yourself to, for example if you can use natural sweeteners instead of artificial sweeteners then you’re able to limit the amount of toxins entering your body. By creating more awareness of what ingredients are in the products we use everyday we can begin to make substitutions that lead to a healthier lifestyle by choosing the natural choice instead of something artificial that contains chemicals that aren’t great for us. If we spend time making decisions about eating healthy food that is natural and doesn’t contain chemicals and preservatives then we should also prioritize the quality of the products we use everyday and limit the amount of toxins we expose ourselves to. Remember that your health and wellbeing is influenced through the quality of the food you eat, what you choose to drink, your physical activity, and also the quality of household and cosmetic products you use.