Detoxify your home - one room at a time.
By Amy Crawford
First published January 2013.
Toxicity is widely spoken and written about. Yet so many of us are (or have been) ignorant to our daily toxic exposure.
By detoxification I don't mean a seven day juice fast or a hard core, restrictive diet. I mean a process that involves making life-long changes to your habits that will help maintain and restore your health forever.
So let's be clear on this. Detoxification IS an essential component of lifelong health. Every single one of us is being poisoned in some way, shape or form, every day. The good news is that we can dramatically reduce the impact of these toxins by being more aware of where they are coming from and changing some simple daily habits.
On that note, here I'm sharing with you my (admittedly drastic) process of toxic detoxification, in an effort to help inspire others looking to clean up their lives (and livers).
But first, my toxic overload.
At the time of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) diagnosis in 2011 I had undergone a multitude of tests to ascertain the cause of my illness. There were no viruses to speak of that were typically associated with CFS. Most certainly I had a highly compromised immune system which lead to persistent viral infections, but we needed to get to the root of my immune system, to better understand WHY it was so weak.
The final option was to have a highly detailed analysis of my bloods completed, generating a 148 page report detailing everything that was out of whack in my system - and toxicity readings off The Richter Scale.
The worst offenders were mercury, lead, pesticides and petrochemicals and whilst scary, at least we had answers. How had my body accumulated this level of toxicity? I have not lived in highly industrial areas nor near farms that spray chemicals. I grew up in Tasmania renowned for it's clean air and water. My understanding is that many years ago my body either lost it's ability to detoxify, or was never particularly efficient at it - so I simply became a vestibule for toxins.
The detoxification process for me was therefore radical. I had no choice but to purify my life in every way possible (heck, I even moved temporarily to Tasmania!). It required discipline but with little complaint; I chose good health and desperately wanted it back.
So, off I went, tackling one room at a time, as quickly as I could.
Don't underestimate the chemicals in your bathroom! Toothpastes, dental floss, body creams (my lifelong adoration of dark blue Nivea died an ugly death), synthetic toothbrushes, soaps, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, hair products, nail polish, nail polish removers, fake tan, face masks, make up (including mascara, lipstick, foundation, eye shadow). The list goes on. ALL of it went. And all of it was replaced with chemical free, natural products. That was a gradual process but such a satisfying one.
Oh and don't get me started on perfume AKA endocrine disruptors!
Under the Kitchen Sink.
DANGER ZONE! Far out I had some nasties under there.
Bench top sprays, oven cleaners, washing up liquid, window cleaner, bleach; it was a chemical party down there. GONE. All of these products have been replaced with 100% natural products and a fair bit of elbow grease. There is something very satisfying about buying locally made, 100% natural cleaning products. That alone makes my heart sing.
I said goodbye to my plastic microwave dishes, teflon coated pans, plastic storage containers (well to the extent I would never put warm food in them, for the moment I will freeze cold food in them), plastic cups, plastic anything. And glad wrap on the food in the microwave? Paper towels folks, that's where it's at!
This I found an eye opener. I was told to go to my cupboard and look at the ingredient list of everything I was eating. I was sworn off all refined sugar so anything with sugar went straight to the bin, as with gluten. In fact anything processed was out (I was put on a strict whole food diet that would better support my digestive and immune systems). This included dry biscuits (including rice cakes), gluten free pastas, condiments, sauces, vinegars, oils, relishes (noooo!), jams.
Again, it was kinda drastic.
To manage this process gradually, simply start looking at the ingredients on the back of your supermarket purchases. Lists as long as your arm of ingredients - emulsifiers, stabilisers, preservatives, numbers you will take forever to get your head around. If you don't know what they are, put them back.
Then there's the fridge! Icecream, mustards, more sauces, cheese (of the very processed variety) - see ya!
Fruit and Vegetables.
Unless it was organic it wasn't allowed into my digestive tract. So yep, I guess that made things expensive, yet simple.
These days I choose to buy organic. I appreciate this can be a costly exercise but when you buy organic you tend to value it more; as such you eat less, savouring the flavour. I also now justify this expense by negligble spending in other areas of my life (the expensive face creams and perfumes, just for a start).
At the least do try and purchase organic greens and berries.
If I'd been in a better position financially (i.e. was still earning money and knew when my illness would abate) I would have invested in a top of the range water filter. Whilst in Tassie I drank spring water, an expensive habit but a worthwhile one at the time.
Right now I do my best with what I have. I was given a Brita water filter which fits neatly under my sink.
Oh my goodness, how was I going to get my towels soft?!
Out went the fabric softeners, the washing powder, the bleaches, the whitening agents, Sards, all of it. You think we are not ingesting this stuff? My word we are. It is leaching through our skin into our blood streams.
Everything is now washed with nasty chemical free products. I don't think my white sheets have looked white since, but in the scheme of things, who really cares.
I was blonde for most of my adult life, up until my diagnosis. Every 8 weeks I had my hair bleached and every 8 weeks my poor brain suffered as a result. I am fortunate now to have found a wonderful organic colourist, Organika, in Melbourne. I am not quite ready for the greys to win, yet.
My Best Advice?
Detoxification is a process and one that can be done gradually and without waste. Don't let it overwhelm you.
Simply finish what you have and replace it with a natural, toxic free product. When your sugary nut butter runs out consider making your own (there's a recipe here!), when your softener runs out start appreciating the scratchy feel of towels again (it only lasts for one or two uses). Replace your perfumes with my beloved essential oils (you can grab them wholesale here) and whip up your own beloved blends - and what beautiful gifts for friends too.
Just start making subtle changes to your daily habits. As per 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, "your bodies are temples..."