Janet Levatin, MD
Holistic Pediatrician, Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Adults
It’s impossible for humans to live completely naturally in today’s world, no matter how hard we try. I do my best to live as naturally as possible, however, because it’s important to me to stay as healthy as I can. Since I know I can’t change my genetics, my age, or what has happened to me in the past, I want to do what I can to maximize good health now and in the future. That’s why I try to make good choices when I choose what to ingest and what products to use.
Toxic chemicals and influences abound these days and sadly, they are causing disease and polluting the earth. Let’s look at a few common toxins and explore what we can do to try to avoid them.
Most of what is called “food” these days is far from wholesome. Edibles that come in boxes are laced with chemicals and additives, and contain derivatives such as GMO-derived soy and corn and Roundup-soaked wheat. These genetically altered or otherwise modified crops cause a great deal of inflammation, leading to allergies and a wide variety of chronic diseases. As if that were not enough, store-bought “food” is filled with colorings, preservatives, fertilizer residues, and homogenizers such as propylene glycol (an ingredient of antifreeze….. yes, I said antifreeze). These substances have no nutrient value, cannot be digested, and are often stored in the adipose (fat) tissue of the body, leading to toxic, inflamed body fat.
Most packaged foods are also laced with unbelievable amounts of sugar. Sugar, under many names, can be found in soups, breads, crackers, chips, nut butters, salsas, juices, cereals, yogurts, prepared meats, salad dressings, and more… not just in candy, cookies, and the other sweets where we expect to find it. No wonder Americans are experiencing epidemics of diabetes, obesity, cancer, allergies and other chronic diseases.
What to do about food
Do your best to eat single-ingredient, unadulterated foods, such as vegetables, fruits, meats, seeds, nuts and legumes. It is preferable to obtain locally or regionally grown produce that is organic and not genetically modified. For meats and dairy products, it is best to seek out those that are pasture-raised, hormone free, and antibiotic free. It is not easy to eat naturally, as we need to choose carefully from among the vast sea of food choices, but the benefits are very rewarding. You will be healthier and need for medical care and fewer medications. For me, it’s worth it!
Personal Care Products
Our skin is our biggest organ. Everything put on the skin is absorbed into the body, so it is very important to be mindful of the products we select. Most commercial products – soaps, lotions, makeup, sunscreens, and more – contain a long list of chemicals that are about as far from “natural” as you can get. I am talking about alcohols, synthetic fragrances, preservatives, propylene glycol (yes, antifreeze again) and more. While well over 1,000 chemicals are banned for use in personal care products in Europe, only 11 have been banned in the U.S. Our daily toxic exposure is huge. The cheap byproducts of the chemical and petroleum industries are used to create a panoply of products that the marketing departments of these massive companies convince us we “need.”
Fragrances, a particularly toxic component contained in many products, contribute to a variety of conditions including asthma, allergies, sinus problems, headaches, dermatitis and more.
In addition to contributing to illness, toxic residues go down the drain every time we use commercial shampoos, soaps, sunscreens, make-up and lotions. This is causing known and unknown damage to the environment and most life forms.
Cleaning and Laundry Products
Much of what is said about personal care products can also be said about cleaning, laundry and air “freshening” products. Conventional detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain fragrances and other harmful chemicals that negatively affect both people and the environment. The Earth’s water is adversely affected when laundry and cleaning chemicals go down the drain. The air is negatively impacted when fragrances are pumped into it from dryer vents and fragrance-emitting air “freshening” sprays and stay-in-place units.
What to do about personal care and household products
I recommend completely avoiding personal care and cleaning products that contain preservatives, fragrances, and chemical sounding names. Instead choose products from companies that are making bonafide natural products, such as Poofy Organics, Badger and Pure Haven Essentials. Be aware that labeling of products is not well regulated, so products can be labeled “holistic,” “natural,” and even “organic,” even when they really are not. It is important to research companies who products you choose.
Another alternative is making your own body care products from simple ingredients such as coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter, cacao butter and aloe vera. Cleaning products can be made from simple ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar. If you want a “fragrance,” use authentic essential oils in stead of the toxic, synthetic alternatives.
I’m going to cut to the chase here: when it comes to eliminating a chronic disease, drugs are not the solution. Managing chronic illness with prescriptions has become the status quo in healthcare, but most medications simply mask symptoms. All drugs can cause side effects, which then leads to more prescriptions to address the side effects. A vicious, downward spiral of worsening health ensues. Drugs may be needed in an acute trauma or for other life-threatening situations, but they do not resolve chronic health problems. Period.
Getting healthy and staying healthy requires knowing what is healthy and being willing to make the necessary changes in your daily routines. I constantly work to improve my lifestyle, and I encourage everyone to do the same. Taking charge of what you can change will serve you well. It will provide you with a longer, healthier life and will help your children and future generations.