How to Live a Natural Lifestyle
HOW TO LIVE A NATURAL LIFESTYLE
My journey to living the natural lifestyle I do today has evolved over the past seven years. I used to carelessly slather my body in every beautifully packaged lotion and potion on the market. I ate terribly, too. I mean really bad. No vegetables. No fruit. No water. Just grilled cheese, frozen pizzas, chicken fingers, and perogies. Basically, refined carbohydrates and processed food were my entire diet. I started slowly making changes and before I knew it I ended up at the opposite end of the spectrum. Swapping out chemical-laden personal care products and pesticide covered foods are the first steps to living a natural lifestyle.
PAYING THE PRICE FOR BEAUTY
When I started discovering what was actually in my beloved cosmetic and personal care products I was shocked (to say the least). I couldn’t believe that lack of care the governing bodies and companies had for the health of their customers. Known carcinogenic chemicals are routine ingredients for many of our personal care products – including that of our littlest humans.
My favourite resource for checking to see the chemical rating, ingredients, and any adverse effects in products is the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. You can search for thousands of different product reports to see how yours ranks. There’s also an option to build your own report if a product you’re searching for isn’t in the database yet.
While there are many chemicals to avoid in personal care products, here’s a quick list of some common ones and their harmful effects. You’ll notice many are endocrine disruptors. These are chemicals that can interfere with the body’s endocrine system, which is a collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects and other developmental disorders.
- Parabens – endocrine disruptors
- BHA and BHT – suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA)
- Synthetic colours – may cause cancer and be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain
- Fragrance – can trigger allergies and asthma, linked to cancer and neurotoxicity
- term to protect a company’s “secret formula” so ingredients DON’T have to be listed.
- Phthalates – Reproductive toxicant and endocrine disruptor
- Triclosan – suspected endocrine disruptor
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
- Formaldehyde – cancer causing
- Toluene – affects respiratory system, causes nausea and a skin irritant, exposure to vapours can cause developmental damage to the fetus
- Sunscreen chemicals (benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate) – may cause cellular damage and cancer
- PEG compounds – may cause cancer
There are many wonderful natural brands on the market, but I opt to make the majority of our personal care products. When it comes to baby care, I use coconut oil and lavender essential oil for everything from diaper cream to a relaxing post bath massage. Coconut oil and lavender also make for a super soothing sunburn remedy. I’ve actually replaced all of our store-bought cleaning products by using water, vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. Honestly, is there anything essential oils can’t do? If you’re interested in learning more about using essential oils in your home, contact me and I’d be happy to help.
Check out a few of my blog posts for easy and fun DIYs:
Whole, nutrient dense foods are the best nourishment you can feed yourself and your family. Avoid refined and processed foods like white bread, white rice, cereal, frozen breakfast foods, and junk food. Especially avoid artificial colours as they are extremely toxic to the body. In Europe, foods containing artificial food dyes are required by law to carry a warning about their effects:
“Consumption may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
Studies have linked artificial food dye, like allura red (aka Red #40), to ADHD and brain inflammation in children. Yellow #5, aka Tartrazine, is banned in Austria and Norway. Studies have shown it may cause allergic reactions such as asthma, hyperactivity in some children, and increases the risk of cancer. It’s also been linked to many other health problems like migraines, anxiety and fatigue.
Choosing organic foods whenever possible is important for everyone – but even more important for kids. Children are naturally more sensitive to pesticides than adults. Their smaller size causes a greater chemical burden on their little bodies than a full grown adult. The pesticides can also impair their growing brain and developing nervous system. So whenever possible, choose organic.
If organic isn’t in your budget, consider planting a garden in your backyard or using pots on your balcony to grow your own food. See if there are organic farms in your area that offer Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) programs. This allows you to get a basket of freshly harvested produce each week at a much lower cost. Plus, the food is fresher and often contains more nutrients. One of my favourite resources for organic food on a budget is the Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce – another EWG goodie. It lists the most chemically contaminated foods (and the least) for those looking to only get the most important foods organically.
I implore you to take responsibility for your own health, and that of your family’s, by being proactive about reading labels and removing chemicals from your home.