August 10, 2020 4 min read

by Autumn Enloe, MS, RD, LD, CLT

Toxins are everywhere.

From the foods we eat, to the body products we use, to the water we drink, to the products we clean our homes with (1).

Toxins can be detrimental to our health for many reasons.

For example, pesticides in food have been linked to ADHD in children, parabens found in many body products may promote growth of breast cancer, and exposure to phthalates has been linked with obesity, changes in sex hormones, reduced fertility, and allergy and asthma symptoms (2,3,4).

It’s impossible to avoid toxins completely, but there are plenty of ways to help reduce your exposure to them.

Follow these six ways to reduce toxins today.

1. Eat Organic When Possible

 Buying organic vegetables and fruits can help reduce exposure to pesticides.

If you aren’t able to switch to 100% organic, choose organic for produce found on the “Dirty Dozen” list.

This is a list from The Environmental Working Group (EWG) that contains the non-organic produce that has been tested highest in pesticide residue.

Although the 2019 list has not come out yet, the produce listed on the 2019 Dirty Dozen list includes (5):

•Strawberries
•Spinach
•Nectarines
•Apples
•Grapes
•among others...

If you plan on buying any of the fruits and veggies on the Dirty Dozen list, make sure to buy the highest quality versions that you can find

 

2. Read Nutrition Labels

Many processed foods can contain added preservatives and chemicals to help increase shelf life.

Therefore, reading ingredient lists on products can be very helpful when trying to reduce toxins.

Although this is not a comprehensive list, avoid buying products that contain these common additives (6,7,8,9):

•Trans fats: Trans fats are not always clearly labeled, and are often disguised as other words such as “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated” oils.

•Vegetable Oils: Although these may sound healthy, these oils are often highly refined and should be avoided. Vegetable oils include canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil.

•Sodium nitrates: A preservative used in meat products and may increase risk for certain cancers, diabetes and heart disease. Look for products that don’t contain “sodium nitrates” in the ingredient list.

•High Fructose Corn Syrup: An artificial sugar used to sweeten many food products. It is easily stored as fat in the body and can be associated with weight gain. 

•Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): This is a flavor enhancer added to canned vegetables, soups, meats, and Chinese food. Intake of MSG may be linked to symptoms such as numbness, heart palpitations, chest pain, headache, and weakness. 

 

3. Drink More Filtered Water

Water is essential for our health and can help flush out toxins in the body.

To make sure you are drinking enough water, aim to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.

And don’t forget to use filtered water, because some tap waters may contain contaminants.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency found that about 85% of the population was drinking tap water that contained over 300 contaminants.

That’s why it’s best to filter your water with a water filtration system such as a water pitcher, countertop filter, or install a filtration system in your home (10).

 

4. Cut Out Plastic

Plastic is the go-to material for many products such as kitchen equipment and storage, toys, bags, and water bottles.

Not only is it harmful for the environment, it can also leach toxins into your food and skin.

Below are some tips to help reduce your plastic use:

•Use reusable cloth bags instead of plastic bags at the grocery store
•Replace a plastic water bottle with a glass one
•Use glass containers instead of plastic ones
•Bring your own coffee mug to the coffee shop
•Look for BPA-free canned foods and products

 

5. Check Your Body/Beauty Products For Toxins

Body products are poorly regulated and often contain toxins that have never been tested for safety. Avoid using body products that contain these common toxins:

•Parabens
•Phthalates
•Parfum (also known as fragrance)
•BHA and BHT
•Isopropyl
•PEG compounds
•Butyl
•Mercury
•Triclocarban
•Sodium lauryl or sodium sulfate
•Triclosan
•Lead
•Oxybenzone

We love Tanna Beauty + Wellness, a company that makes all-natural, raw beauty products. 

 

6. Use Better Cleaning Products

Cleaning products don’t have to disclose what ingredients they contain, which means that the products you use to spray, wipe and scrub with could contain potentially harmful toxins (11).

Replace toxic cleaning products with things like white vinegar, baking soda, borax, castile soap or essential oils.

Check out theserecipes for some DIY cleaning products recipes.


Conclusion

Although toxins cannot be completely avoided, you have the power to decrease them from the foods you eat, to the body products you use.

Try incorporating these six ways to reduce toxins to make this new year a much healthier and less toxic one.

 

_____________________________________________________________________
Autumn Enloe, MS, RD, LD, CLT
Autumn Enloe is a registered dietitian in Minnesota. She has a private practice where she focuses on helping women take care of themselves through proper nutrition, supplement and lifestyle adjustments. She provides remote nutrition coaching and frequently posts free nutrition content and recipes at her website: www.autumnenloe.com
_____________________________________________________________________

References:

(1) Young, M. (2014).  Environmental Toxins and Your Health. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/transcripts/1622_environmental-toxins-and-your-health
(2) Klein, S.,  (2010). Study: ADHD linked to pesticide exposure. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/17/pesticides.adhd/
(3)  Goodman, B. (2015). FAQ: Parabens and Breast Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/news/20151027/parabens-breast-cancer
(5) Environmental Working Group. (2019). Dirty Dozen™ Fruits and Vegetables with the Most Pesticides. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php
(6) Miller, P. E., Lazarus, P., Lesko, S. M., Cross, A. J., Sinha, R., Laio, J... Hartman, T. J. (2013). Meat-related compounds and colorectal cancer risk by anatomical subsite. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3584417/
(7) Katherine Zeratsky, R. D. (2018). The unhealthy preservative hiding in processed meats. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/sodium-nitrate/faq-20057848
(8) White, J. S. (2008). Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain't. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19064536
(9) Katherine Zeratsky, R. D. (2018). How does your body react to MSG? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/monosodium-glutamate/faq-20058196
(10) Lipman, F. (2018). Why You Simply MUST Filter Your Water. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-13217/why-you-simply-must-filter-your-water.html
(11) Cleaning Tips (2017). Top tips for healthy cleaning. Retrieved from  https://static.ewg.org/ewg-tip-sheets/EWG-CleanersTips.pdf

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