One of the biggest reasons for switching to natural cleaning products is because the majority of proprietary cleaners contain a welter of toxins that you will breathe in, touch and absorb almost constantly. The modern world, particularly in urban areas, contains a vast barrage of environmental toxins from industry, transport and waste, but the place where we are exposed to most toxins is in our own homes. In fact, most of these toxins are ones that we have introduced into our environment in an attempt to get it cleaner and (ironically) healthier – and paid good money for the dubious privilege.
So what? Is it really a problem? Isn’t the body tough enough to deal with toxins in the system? To a certain extent, yes. The body is good at fighting off and eliminating toxins – this is one of the primary functions of the liver. However, depending on your diet, lifestyle and genetics, you can get too much in the way of toxins: this is called toxic overload.
Many of us take the symptoms of toxic overload for granted and just put it down to stress, a Nasty Bug Going Round, genetics or The Way Things Are. The list of toxic overload symptoms is extensive and quite surprising. And often, switching to using natural cleaning products, plus a few other steps can reduce or even eliminate these common health problems.
Symptoms of toxic overload include some or all of the following:
* tiredness or fatigue that won’t go away after a good night’s sleep and other healthy sleeping habits;
* asthma and autoimmune problems, either because the chemicals in commercial cleaners are triggering allergies or because the immune system is under-exposed to bacteria thanks to a “too clean” environment (this latter factor is known as the “hygiene hypothesis”);
* cancer: many of the active ingredients in commercial cleaners are carcinogens;
* headaches: usually caused by artificial fragrances, but any toxin can be to blame;
* skin problems, ranging from dry, itchy skin to full-blown eczema and psoriasis;
* hormonal problems: some cleaning chemicals affect the body’s chemical pathways, thus disrupting the hormones, which may lead to problems like depression, infertility and worsened PMS symptoms;
* weight problems: if the body can’t flush out toxins via urine or sweat, it will lock the culprits away where they can’t cause problems – in the fat cells. The more toxins, the more fat cells needed to bury them in.
The six worst culprits for introducing toxins into the household environment are:
* cigarette smoke: you know smoking will kill you so quit – now, and with no excuses;
* artificial fragrances, especially the plug-in type that continually releases compounds to “bathe your house in aroma” (translation: submit you to a continual barrage of toxins);
* dry cleaning products: don’t dry clean clothes unless you really have to;
* oven cleaners: some gynaecologists suggest that pregnant women shouldn’t use these – need any more be said?
* drain cleaners: it’s corrosive enough to melt through blockages made by hair, soap, skin particles and general goop, and requires the use of rubber gloves = nasty;
* dishwashing powder: if you don’t have time to switch to handwashing dishes, be careful not to breathe in the steam when you open the dishwasher.
What else can you do to purge the toxins from your environment as well as switching to using natural cleaning products?
* Exercise more and work up a good sweat: sweat purges out toxins from the system and the exercise will improve your overall health level.
* Drink more water: fluids flush out toxins via urine, so you need plenty to get out the nasties. Other beverages such as green tea and fruit juice – and even tea and coffee will do. Green tea and fruit juice also contain detoxifying antioxidants.
* Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, preferably organic. This will strengthen your system so you can deal with the toxins you face, and will also provide antioxidants to fix some of the damage. Fibre in fruit and vegetables also cleans out the colon, where toxins can often get trapped.
* Relax! Stress creates its own toxins and makes it harder for the body to cope with the toxins already there.
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