With summer nearing an end I’m getting ready to send my kids back to school and out into the world every day without me. While I think being at home is so important for my kids, and specifically being in a home where I can take a bit of control as to what their surrounded by and what they’re eating, I know it’s also important for them to be their own person and do things on their own without their mama.
But every day, I know they will return home to decompress and rejuvenate for the next day at school. And when they do, I want to make sure my home is a place where their body can take a break from the toxins and chemicals they are being exposed to constantly in school.
These chemicals add up, especially in little bodies, and become so prevalent, most every person on earth suffers from body burden due to environmental chemicals at home, work, school or in the natural environment.
What I’ve learned over the past few years from other experts and through doing my own research is that unburdening our bodies has lasting positive effects on our immune system specifically. An immune system that is burdened and working overtime cannot protect us the way the immune system with fewer toxin and chemical exposure can.
It’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to take the steps to create a whole living approach to health. Using my home to promote wellness and create a healing environment is key in my journey to a healthier house.
I’m sharing some of the ways you can remove the most notorious items in your home that create body burden and switch them out with toxin-free alternatives. This will help you and your family create your healthiest home and slowly unburden your own bodies.
BODY BURDEN AS AN IMMUNE SYSTEM STRESSOR
You might be wondering what body burden is. It’s mostly just what it sounds like, something that puts a burden on your body. Specifically, chemicals, a toxic substance or a radioactive element. It means these chemicals and toxic substances are building up in the body to a concentrated level, affecting the function of our body’s systems.
In terms of body burden, our bodies are like a cup. Chemicals and substances fill up the cup, and overtime, the cup can overflow. The overflow means the cup is filled to the brim with these substances and chemicals and is spilling over into other areas. The other areas that become affected are seen through a variety of symptoms such as allergies, fatigue, skin conditions, asthma general pain and brain fog.
While all of these symptoms are troublesome, a lot of them can be linked back down to a suppressed immune process. This study about a variety of toxins and chemicals is fascinating and extremely in depth regarding the toxicity of chemicals and how they suppress the immune system.
Another study shares that this phonephone of chemical pollutants have been accumulating in the environment and the foods we eat since World War II. Thinking about this length of time, it’s easy to see how these toxins and chemicals can build up in our own bodies when they’ve already built up in the environment we live in.
What’s even more troubling is that exposure even while in-utero can lead to adult disease over time (ewg.org reports). Often times the root of many problems comes from a suppressed immune system. The immune system, which consists of white blood cells and other lymphatic components provides immunity to the entire body from bacteria, viruses, parasites and tumors. The immune system helps the body know the difference between its own cells and tissues compared to foreign cells and substances. (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry)
This means the more foreign cells and substances are in the body, the harder the immune system has to work in order to protect the rest of the body. Anything from carcinogens to heavy metals must be identified by the immune system and then it must actively protect the body from that substance.
The more substances, the harder the immune system has to work. If you’re body is working overtime to protect you from things in our everyday products, it’s never getting a break and can become suppressed and weak over time.
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TOP CONTRIBUTORS TO BODY BURDEN IN THE HOME
Body burden can come from a number of different chemicals. Specifically, the CDC (center for Disease Control) reported that the average person in the United States has at least 212 chemicals in their blood and urine.
These chemicals come from products we use every day: plastic containers, toys, and makeup. It can also come from mold toxins, heavy metals, pesticides and solvents. Unfortunately, many of the products we use are not necessarily tested for safety. What’s more is that they are regularly approved for consumer use, despite their potential health effects.
Cleaning Products: Cleaning products have everything from harsh solvents intended to clean to synthetic fragrances that mask the solvent smell. There’s also bleach and components like phosphates that can cause long term damage to our nervous and lymphatic systems.
Toxic Mold: Toxic mold is an organic toxin, meaning it’s naturally occurring. While it isn’t a chemical, our bodies see it as a foreign stressor. What’s more is that toxic mold can begin to make it’s home in our lungs and airways, causing bigger problems if it becomes airborne.
Plastic in the Kitchen: Plastics contain phthalates and other synthetic chemicals that have a long half life, meaning they stay in the body for really long periods of time. When these stay in the body for long periods of time, it becomes difficult for the body to function as normal, and it becomes extremely burdened. This is particularly true when plastics are heated with food or the food we eat is touching them.
Pesticides in Housedust: Dust in your house is more than just skin cells (gross!) and fibers from clothes and upholstery. House dust can contain bacteria, pesticides and other chemicals we use in our home or bring in from the outside. Pesticides are a huge source of body burden and should be avoided at all costs.
Synthetic Fragrances: And then there are synthetic fragrances. These chemical concoctions are just that, chemicals. Often times we don’t even know what’s in these formulas due to trade secret. Synthetic fragrances are just about everywhere and they also stick around for long periods of time once they’re in our bloodstream.
Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is in furniture, home materials and glues that we use in home building. It’s also been found in cleaners that we use around our homes. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and our immune system works on overdrive to protect the rest of our body from this chemical.
Personal Care Products: Personal care products contain a variety of ingredients that affect our body. Most often they have a direct route to our bloodstream as we are using the product directly on our skin. Once it enters the bloodstream, the synthetic chemicals stay for long periods of time, traveling through our system and affecting different areas of our body.
GAME PLAN TO CHANGE
The seven areas listed above are a great place to get started. And making a plan to change doesn’t have to be super complex or overwhelming. Each change you make is a step in the right direction and gives you a little bit more control over your own environment.
For me, the easiest one to start with was completely eliminating synthetic fragrances. You can grab my Synthetic Fragrance Checklist to help you eliminate and replace your cleaning, home decor and home products efficiently and easily.
I then moved on to my cleaning products, which I used the Ditch & Switch Worksheet for to make sure I was doing a thorough job. Another way to start eliminating these toxins is to replace them as you use them, or use a “once a week” rule when you’re out shopping or ordering your home products.
Be sure to make sure you’re not falling for the lies of greenwashing when purchasing new alternatives to ANYTHING. So many products look and sound like they are safe for use, but often times they still contain synthetic fragrances and other chemicals that are not safe for our bodies.
I like to use the Think Dirty App to get an idea about the safety of a particular product.
However you go through your home, either on one fell swoop or in a more methodical, slow pattern, you’re doing a tremendous thing for you and your family. I’ve helped many families reduce their use of toxic products and create a healthier home with my one on one consultations, which you can learn more about here.
IMMUNE SUPPORT WITH ESSENTIAL OILS
Another way I support a healthy immune system at home is with the use of essential oils. Now, I’m not a doctor, but I AM a mom who tries her best to prevent illness from running rampant at home. If there’s nothing I hate more, it’s a virus that makes its way through my whole family.
I’ve shared on my IG Stories before how this last school year we got by with absolutely no sick days due to a virus. NONE my friends. I don’t think essential oils are a magic potion that kept us unscathed from the stomach bugs, colds and flues going around each of my girls’ schools. But I do think that essential oils paired with restful sleep and a healthy diet have contributed to a winter I would love to do again.
Specifically, we use Thieves, Frankincense and Copaiba on the bottoms of our feet every single day. This is to promote a healthy immune system and give our body the tools it needs to fight off viruses. This roller recipe has kept us alive these past years when everyone around us was dropping like flies it seemed like.
This study talks about the effects of Essential Oils (similar to the Thieves Blend) on the human immune system in regards to inflammation and general immune function. It shares that there is in fact a correlation between Essential Oils and how our body protects us.
Another way that I use essential oils to support my immune system is a bit indirectly. Our bodies respond negatively to consistent stress. Getting stressed out once in a while doesn’t do a lot in terms of health to the rest of our bodies. But feeling even low grade stress consistently or for long periods of time takes its toll on the rest of our bodies.
Essential oils are fantastic for emotional support and really help with feelings of anxiety and stress. I use them for myself with rollers and diffusers and so do my kids. If you were around here last week I shared some of my blends for the beginning of school, which always proves to be a stress-filled time.
Essential oils like valor and lavender help create a feeling of calm in the midst of business. Other oils like Bergamot promote a feeling of happiness. The benefits of these essential oils are endless, but using them to work through hard feelings or keep peace in your home ultimately benefits your immune system too.