We often take for granted the environment we live in, the air we breathe and the many and varied products we put in or on our bodies each day. We have our favourite foods, our most loved personal care items and our tried-and-tested household cleaners, air fresheners and fragrances.
Unfortunately, many of these things contain chemicals that are simply not good for us, and your body may be trying to tell you! Fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, irregular periods, brain fog, frequent headaches – to name a few symptoms – may indicate hormone disruption in part from the onslaught of toxic chemicals we unknowingly inflict on ourselves hour after hour.
The good news is, that helping yourself heal, and as a wonderful bonus also helping the planet we call home, is not as overwhelming as you might expect. Cleaning out your toxic closet begins with a little information, an open mind and a willingness to make one change at a time.
Low Tox Life has become the go-to website for all things ‘clean’, offering a wealth of insights and educational podcasts, courses, blog posts and practical tips on cutting back the toxic gunk in your life bit by bit and without pressure, judgment or overly complicated directives. Alexx began Low Tox Life in 2010 when she had just had her first child. Having previously worked in the high-end cosmetics business, Alexx never really thought about all the colours, numbers and unpronounceable compounds going into and onto her body every day. She had been unwell with chronic tonsillitis, Alexx became unresponsive to antibiotics, and a friend suggested she try a naturopath. She undertook a three-day broth fast, started taking herbal supplements and (to her horror!) cut out gluten from her diet – but it worked!
“Cleaning out your toxic closet begins with a little information,
an open mind and a willingness to make one change at a time.”
– Alexx Stuart
“For the first time in my life as a 28/29 year old, I had to read labels on packets. Not only did I realise I had to look for wheat, rye, oats or barley, but so many bizarre food additives like natural flavour, hydrolysed protein and more. That then got me thinking, what the heck is all this other stuff in there?” Alexx said.
“I felt such a big sense of injustice that all these things ended up in our food supply – factory farmed meat, additives that in the research showed adverse health effects, petroleum-based colours, genetically modified grains… It all just felt so disconnected from nature,” she said.
This sense of awareness about what was on her plate ignited a passion in Alexx to find alternative ways of living on a more holistic level, without all the nasties.
“That whole psychological shift was such a powerful vehicle for change in my life that I then went about researching the home and body areas in the same way, and slowly and SO happily making changes.”
Low Tox Life became the platform from which she could share her increasing information and passion with like-minded people and build a supportive community committed to making a difference to their lives.
What are the common toxins to be aware of?
Alexx has put together her list of the top toxins to be aware of in our homes and body care.
Ditch the synthetic home fragrances – air fresheners, scented candles, scented reeds and fabric softener. They very often contain endocrine disruptive phthalates, which are the compounds that make the fragrances really powerful and long lasting.
Switch out your pillow for a natural wool, cotton or pure latex pillow. Our hot faces are squished against those things all night and breathing in micro
plastic dust from synthetic fibres isn’t ideal, not to mention the potential mould and dust mite contamination.
Tackle any mould issues you might have around the home. It is thought that around 24 per cent of us cannot clear mycotoxins that mould spores produce, so mould isn’t just annoying and stinky, it can be dangerous. Get that humidity level in your house down by means of better airflow and a
BEAUTY & BODY
Switch out your body products first. Everyone goes for the face products to start with, but the body has lot more skin than your face. Start with the body cream or lotion, and then move onto the bath gel and scrub. Choosing fragrance-free or naturally fragranced (such as with essential oils) is a great start. It is also wise to avoid parabens and sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate on the label. Instead, use a plain old school bar of soap for a quick, easy and cost-effective solution.
Examine your feminine hygiene products and switch to organic cotton or menstrual cups made from silicon where possible.
Opt for an aluminium – free and synthetic fragrance-free deodorant. We are meant to sweat, and preventing sweat blocks an important detox
Switch out your mascara for a natural alternative, such as the Ere Perez black waterproof mascara. Other common brands are made with Teflon and coal tar, so say no to this weirdness around your eyes!
How do toxins around the home and in our food affect our hormones?
The relationship between our hormone system and everyday toxins we absorb is complex, but in a nutshell it is the disruption to normal hormonal production that causes the varied symptoms we may feel. “Our biology was designed for the natural world and while there are many things about the
modern world that are exciting and excellent, we have to acknowledge that throwing a tonne of manmade nasties at our system day in, day out, eventually our bodies say enough is enough what is all this stuff?” Alexx said.
For example, phthalates in synthetic fragrances can mimic or block natural hormone production and signalling in the body. Our hormones become ‘confused’ and out of alignment with what is needed to maintain balance, and our bodies begin to suffer. Mould can also affect every system in the body. Alexx herself ended up quite unwell after living in two water damaged houses over a number of years. She experienced symptoms that included her heart, nervous system, muscles and even her tear ducts. Her son had frequent nosebleeds, which Alexx also attributed to the high levels of mould they lived in.
How do I reduce toxins in my home and diet?
Alexx’s suggestion is to give yourself a little leeway and start by getting to know alternative products to your usual choices, then simply swap them out as you finish each.
“Do not be hard on yourself about what you didn’t know, and then also be kind to yourself and patient as you learn the new low tox vocab, safe shops and brands. Then get busy swapping out as you run out; if you’d be buying that replacement item anyway, why not switch to a better version of it?” she said.
Her Go Low Tox program offers a wealth of information on which products are the best to try and where to shop, as well as cheat sheets accompanying each topic to help you on your journey to living low tox. Making small changes one at a time does not have to be a massive undertaking; we all live in a time-poor world and family budgets always need protecting. However, what going low tox does require is commitment, patience and understanding the importance not just for ourselves, but for our children.