Not a happy hour with a chemical cocktail

We all know chemicals are bad for our health. They create oxidative damage to our cells and create roaming free radicals – words we are used to hearing, but what do they mean, how does it happen and how is it linked to most chronic conditions? For example we know that there is a link between Asbestos and Lung Cancer, but what about the small amounts of chemicals we are exposed to everyday, and not just their individual toxicity, but in their interactions and their potential lethal combination. The cocktails we create, little and often and whether willingly or not, will play a massive role in our cellular, and therefore overall, health.

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Chemicals are in our Food, Air and Water. Things we can presumably try to control somewhat. Eat organic and as unprocessed as possible, use an air purifier in our homes or wear a mask while out and about (not my personal choice but a choice all the same) and using a water filter or buying bottled, mineral water. But say you buy all organic food, but then use a chemical detergent to wash your dishes and utensils, or a heavy duty surface cleaner or bleach for the floors. Not to mention bug killers sprayed in the kitchen. What about when you use plastic containers to store food or the cling film that wraps our organic vegetables? Look in your bathroom, shampoos, cleansers, toothpaste, nail polish, soap, moisturiser’s make-up, sun cream, insect repellent. The list is endless, that’s before you go to put on your clothes washed in chemical cleaners and softeners, or gone through chemical processes in their manufacture. The skin has an enormous surface area that excretes and also absorbs. However I think the most pointless combination is an air purifier used with chemical air fresheners, especially those automatic dispensers! Even without my usual rant on vaccinations and their chemical content.

So the list is endless and very daunting. When we look at our health and the health of those around us, most things can be helped by cleaning-up what we use and how we use it. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make. For example, my husband has very mild asthma; he thought it was the air-conditioning, then the dust in the carpets, then the pollution or the humidity, that was making him need his inhaler more frequently whenever we came to Hong Kong. When we moved we were able to experiment. I chucked out the automatic air freshener in the bathroom and hey presto, complete turn around.

Chemicals react with your body and with each other. Slowly start to replace things as you have finished with them e.g. replace the surface cleaners with the same spray bottle rinsed out completely and filled with water, tea tree, lavender and a squeeze of lemon. You will find that this works at removing grease, and it is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and completely non-toxic. Changing to more earth friendly products will reduce your toxic output for the environment but they will still contain chemicals; try using eco balls or soap flakes in the wash, and don’t forget the numerous uses for the amazingly simple – bicarbonate of soda!

Clean up your cosmetics. Your hair and skin will change, but that’s because they are not constantly being stripped of their natural oils (sodium laurel sulphate is the main culprit for this) and goodness, and being replaced with a coating of chemicals which makes your skin appear duller when you don’t use it, give it time and it will be a million times better than it ever was. I have only used blends of oils such as Almond, avocado, jojoba, wheat germ and rosehip with various aromatherapy oils depending on my mood, part of the body I want to use it for, and for what purpose. For example a great blend for a facial oil is rose, frankincense and lavender; an amazing after-sun blend is chamomile, neroli, lavender and geranium, which also doubles as a very good insect repellent, as does lemongrass, grapefruit and geranium. Use the blended oils directly on skin, in the bath, as a makeup remover, as a hair-mask, or on your hands, nails and feet before you go to bed. Save an absolute fortune and have something completely unique and bespoke for you. Parabens may be a hormone disrupter and may have an impact on ‘bad’ oestrogen production that can lead to pcos, fibroids, painful periods and other oestrogen dominant conditions including prostate, breast, cervical and uterine cancer. It’s not about what and how much oestrogen comes into our body; it’s more about what happens to it afterwards and how the body then excretes it. But that is a whole other blog I will get to very soon as it is a big passion of mine!

One of the major players in chemicals and chronic disease is beginning to come to light. Humble sun cream and its connection to skin cancer. There is research to suggest that completely blocking UVA and UVB rays may be the answer. Australia is one of the countries with an increasing number of people with Vitamin D deficiency (foods containing Vitamin D include egg yolk, fish liver oils, butter and sprouted seeds) an important component which holds vital anti-cancer and general health properties by being a very powerful anti-oxidant. They are even starting to suggest that Australia’s high skin cancer rate has very little to do with the hole in the ozone layer but with the sun creams everyone is using and their chemical effect, combined with vitamin D deficiency. Personally I rarely use sun cream, but I am sensible about my sun exposure at the same time. No more than 20 minutes, during the hottest part of the day, with 40% skin exposure may be enough. If I am sunbathing the first 20 mins will be in part shade (I always wear a hat or have my face in the shade) and then I will generally use a factor 20-30. Burning is obviously not an option and will of course produce a lot of damage; I am not condoning that in any way.

If you start in the spring your body builds up its natural defences to the sun, melatonin, and so by the summer when the sun is at its strongest you will have a good degree of natural sun block. After the 20 mins, sleeves, shade, hats etc and obviously keeping well hydrated and your diet packed full of antioxidants in the form of Selenium (Alfalfa, broccoli, eggs, fish, organ meats, onion, garlic), Vitamin A (apricots, barley grass, carrots, fish liver oils, green leafy veg, eggs), Beta Carotene (broccoli, carrots, yellow veg, papaya, spinach, sweet potato, tomatoes- as uncooked as possible), C (Ascorbic acid- Blackcurrants, broccoli, brussel sprouts, guava, parsley, pineapple, raw cabbage, strawberries, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits), E (almonds, apricot oil, beef, egg yolk, hazelnuts, sunflowers, wheat germ) and glutathione (asparagus, avocado, eggs, garlic, plant and animal tissue, whey protein) should also massively help in the prevention of skin cancer and of course cancer in general. Seek out the most natural sun creams. Also the iris in your eyes is a major player in vitamin D production so try and hold off putting on those shades, for as long as possible, and if you wear glasses with UVA and UVB protection, have a sit down and take them off for a bit.

Chemicals are largely stored in your fat tissue. Chlorella can help to chelate them out of your body. Be careful if you go down this route and always add greens gradually as they can play havoc with your digestive system. Also always consult a professional nutritionist before adding any supplement to your lifestyle, contact me for more personal recomendation.

A last footnote, those chemicals in disposable nappies (in the gels and the materials), are being absorbed into your little babies skin. Use natural ones or re-usable ones.

Here are some links to back up some of what I have said, let me know if you have any questions or information to add.

http://www.thelosthaven.co.uk/BSoda.htm uses for baking soda

http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/sunlight.html

http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/cancer/melanoma/

http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=509 A truly brilliant cancer charity

http://products.mercola.com/chlorella/ You can skip the video if you want!

Books used:

Staying Healthy with Nutrition (2006)Elson Hass

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy (1991) V.A. Worwood

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