Detoxify your environment
We have seen how damaging toxicity can be to mental health. It is essential therefore to reduce our exposure to toxins as much as possible to ensure optimal mental health.
Find out more about how to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins in your home and outside from the guidelines below.
One of the most useful resources for learning about detoxifying our environments, and replacing toxic chemicals with natural products is the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s website.
Reduce or eliminate the use of toxic household products:
- Replace all chemical cleaning products with non-toxic ones which can be bought or homemade
- Avoid chlorine based cleaning products
- Avoid dry cleaning when possible as the clothes then contain residues of toxic dry cleaning fluid
- Try to use only organic laundry detergents
- Reduce or eliminate use of toxic heavy metal containing products such as lead paint or thimerosal-containing products
- Minimize exposure to bright and fluorescent lights, instead use subdued full-spectrum/natural incandescent bulbs or candlelight
- Try to find and use products which have not been treated with fire retardant which contains formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals
- Avoid synthetic foam and use natural latex instead, as it has formaldehyde in it
- Avoid wall paper, which also has formaldehyde in it
- Make your home a shoe-free zone to avoid tracking in chemicals from outside
- Use HEPA/ULPA filters and ionisers to reduce
- Volatile organic compounds (such as are found in synthetic carpets, furniture, and paints) and other sources of indoor pollution
- Keep house plants which help to clean the air
- Clean and monitor your heating systems for release of carbon monoxide
- Filter your drinking and bathing water to avoid pesticides, chlorine, herbicides, heavy metals, plastics, pharmaceuticals and other toxic chemicals which can be found in tap water
- Reverse osmosis tends to be the best filtration system, but as it depletes the water of all minerals, you may need to add trace minerals to your drinking water to compensate
- Swim in salt or ozone treated swimming pools
- Get genetically tested to work out your susceptibility to mould
- If you have HLA genotyping then you’ll be more susceptible when exposed to mould toxins or mycotoxins
- If you suspect you have mycotoxin related illness, you should do an organic acid test, which tests for the presence of bacteria or Candida in your body
- You should also have a health history to find out if you’ve been exposed to mould in the past
- If you are suffering, get your workspace or house tested for mould
- The cheapest way to do this is to buy some petri dishes and let them sit in the building for a few days
- If there are spores in the air then the dishes will grow mould. The only problem here is that some toxic moulds don’t release spores – so for this you might need to call an environmental specialist to take an air sample
- Mould can be found in walls, basements, on food, clothes, papers, etc.
- The most notoriously mouldy foods are coffee, tomatoes, fermented or aged cheeses, coffee, coa-coa, peanuts, pistachios, cashews and corn
- For most people these foods will all be fine, but if you’re highly susceptible to mould it might be worth being careful with these foods
- Peanuts from drier climates tend to be less mouldy, and some brands will be better than others – look out for brands that produce mycotoxin-free coffee, for example ‘Is Toxic Mould the Hidden Cause of Your Anxiety?’, Dr Jill Carnahan
- If your house or workspace is mouldy, you should move out, as cleaning it isn’t enough because dead mould can still be damaging
- Eliminate chemical cosmetics and replace them with natural ones which can be bought, or homemade
- Read the labels, as even if a product may say “natural”, it may still contain toxic chemicals
- Replace pots and pans which are coated with non-stick chemicals with enamel pots and pans, or “green” ones
- Avoid charbroiled foods which contain cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- Limit your use of the microwave as it generates AGEs (advanced glycation end products) in food, leading to oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
- Avoid large ocean fish which have high levels of mercury (tuna, swordfish, shark, etc.)
- Eat organic as often as possible so as to avoid the arsenic in pesticides among other chemicals, and if not possible
- Prioritize the clean fifteen and avoid the dirty dozen
- Wash any fruit and vegetables thoroughly with a vinegar and water rinse
- Never eat or drink from plastic that has been heated, either by the sun, or by microwaves etc..
- Toxic plastics leach into your food and drink and act as endocrine disruptors
- Use glass containers for your food and beverages whenever you can
- When using electric stoves, cook on the back burners as much as possible
Avoid excess exposure to environmental petrochemicals and toxins found in
- Garden chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers)
- Car exhaust
- Second hand smoke
Electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) has not been proven dangerous, but it has not been proven entirely safe either. Playing it safe by doing simple things to limit your exposure is easy to do, and makes sense until more conclusive evidence has been found on EMR’s safety.
Consider installing EMR filters and preventive technologies on devices and appliances. These may help limit EMR although studies are limited.
- If you’re not using it, turn it off or put it on airplane mode, especially when you go to sleep
- When it’s on, try and hold it at least six or seven inches away from your body
- Wireless mode and headsets may still conduct radiation, so consider putting your phone on speaker mode
- Don’t keep it in your pocket, or on your hip
- Limit children’s use of mobile phones, and try to limit yours if you’re pregnant
- Minimize your exposure to wireless communication devices, including mobile phones, cordless phones, and WiFi devices
- Don’t use it all the time, and sit back from the screen
In the bedroom
- Six feet is the recommended distance from all electronic devices during sleep
- Avoid water beds, electric blankets and metal frames
- Futons and wood-framed beds are better than metal-coiled mattresses and box springs
Avoiding and limiting environmental toxins is essential to optimising your detoxification ability. However we will never be able to avoid these toxins completely as they are everywhere.
Therefore, in addition to minimising our exposure to environmental toxins as much as possible, it is important to optimise our body’s natural ability to detoxify whatever toxins we are exposed to.