I have brushed on the topic of chemical exposure and health concerns in many blogs. Today I want to dive a little deeper into the meaning of toxic burden. The toxic burden is the toxic load our bodies carry while still trying to function normally. We are exposed to chemicals and toxic substances in so many ways. There are toxins in our food supply, the air, the water, personal care products, household cleaning products, lawn maintenance, make-up, packaging, and so much more.
“Clean”, “green”, “non-toxic”– these are words that are trendy, or bougie these days. So many companies have “green” versions of products to cater to that trend. I have fallen into the trap of “green-washing”. You know, when the package looks non-toxic and good for the environment? The claims on the label even support it? However, the actual ingredient list is far from clean. The list is full of hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and artificial fragrances.
I have been keeping an eye on current environmental laws and recently 100 protections have been reversed. This means that even more, harmful chemicals will find their way into our personal care products and the environment. There are over 1400 chemicals that have been banned in Europe but are allowed in the USA. To become aware of these chemicals we have to become adept at reading labels and knowing what is in our products.
Risks of Toxic Burden
Like I said, the toxic burden is the load our bodies carry while still functioning normally. What about those times when our bodies say enough is enough? There is a time when the toxins build-up and start to affect our health. For me, it started happening in my teens (although I didn’t have a clue) but by my 30’s I had a lot going on. It was showing up in my bloodwork, health appointments, and truly making me feel unwell.
Some of us are more sensitive than others and there are a variety of ways toxicity will manifest. Fatigue, headaches, eczema, sleep issues, allergies/breathing issues, infertility, acne, certain cancers, and so much more. The toxic burden can also fuel existing conditions– think autoimmune hell!
Areas of Concern
There are so many things we encounter in our lives that are toxic offenders. In our family, we have several key areas we work to keep as pure as possible. We can not control all that happens in the world around us, however, we can control what goes on in our homes. I’ll share a list of the areas we are mindful of in our home.
- Water Quality — Nothing quite wakes you up about water quality until you live through a “water crisis“. 2014 did it for me! In our home, we are particularly careful with our cooking and drinking water. Ultimately, a whole-home system is on my list but right now we make sure what we are ingesting is clean. You can receive a local report from your public water system to know where the areas of concern are in your system. We use a Berkey Water Filter in our home and also purchase some 5-gallon refillable jugs from a local water supplier. I am careful about the plastic our water is packaged in and won’t buy single-use bottles.
- Air Quality— Mold, allergens, and synthetic aromas are all a cause for concern and air toxicity. Removing candles, air fresheners and synthetic fragrances improve the air quality rather quickly. We only use pure essential oils and diffusers and natural cleaning products.
- Personal Care Products/Household Cleaning— These are one of the biggest offenders. After learning how to read the labels more closely (or even scan the barcode Think Dirty App or EWG) I’ve found that I am not comfortable using about 90% of the items found in most stores. I have a few places that I shop for the majority of these items. This means less choices or experimentation and sometimes I pay a little more. I’m okay with that. Less choices = less stress and also you generally get what you pay for. I’ve found that most higher quality products require less (a little goes a long way) and I have less waste and clutter as a side benefit.
- Food— I know I’ve shared this info many times but it is worth repeating. I generally try to eat food that is as close to natural as possible. A diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, humanely raised meats/dairy, organic if I can or at least following the dirty-dozen list. Eating locally and in season is also great but isn’t always the most accessible.
Getting to Know Yourself
It is important to know yourself and do your own research. Information is so readily available and it is easy to find contradictory information. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You have to know yourself and what level of “green” living you want to adopt. My best advice is to find out what is most important to you when making the switch and start there. Baby-steps are always the best and most sustainable. When researching look at all sides and from different perspectives, from a reputable source.
In our family we have worked within our budget and have found solutions and for us, we are very, very cautious about what we use. Like I mentioned above, we avoid 90% (if not more) of mainstream-store personal and home care items.
I have a few companies I trust, I make some things and purchase some locally made items. The majority of our products come from Young Living, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs. They offer so much, I love everything they create, and the ease of one-stop shopping does it for me.
Another thing that happens when you begin to remove toxic substances from your life is that you will begin to have keener sense of body awareness. Most likely your health will improve (issues you may not even know you have will clear) and you will definitely notice when you come in contact with a chemical and have a reaction.