How to live a chemical free life can seem incredibly daunting when you begin thinking about changing your diet, beauty regime and overall lifestyle, with the average woman putting on about 515 synthetic chemicals every day – a cosmetic cocktail of industrial produced chemicals that have been linked to cancer, infertility, hormonal imbalances, and, in some cases, rather than delivering the ‘anti-ageing’ promise, are actually causing us to age faster.
All pretty daunting, right? But that’s why we’re here to help with our green guide to chemical-free eating and beauty. Following on from our Organic Food and Beauty Workshop, we’ve had Little Bird Organics founder Megan May, Nutritionist and Naturopath Nellie Pigot and Yoga Instructor, Naturopath and Medical Herbalist Dani Ramaekers summarise their key takeaway notes.
Quality thoughts, water, sleep, breath, movement and good food are the basis for natural beauty – and as Dani demonstrated in the workshop, good food is as beneficial on the outside of the body as it is on the inside – with the kitchen providing many natural, economical and timely beauty products from ingredients right under our fingertips.
Our skin is the largest organ in our body, and absorbs everything we put on it, and so it makes sense to keep our beauty regime as natural and organic as possible – externally, the skin is getting all the goodness it needs without the funky chemicals found in a lot of beauty products, internally, no added synthetic chemicals means that the liver has less of a toxic load to deal with, freeing up the liver so it can focus on more important tasks such as detoxification and recycling natural hormones.
When the liver has things under control, our body’s secondary route of detoxification, the skin, is left bright and clear – and so using natural beauty products for the health of our skin works from the inside out and outside in – win-win, right!? You can find recipes for Dani’s Avocado & Honey Face Mask, Coconut Oil & Coffee Body Scrub and Homemade Moisturiser here.
There are chemicals in our food, water, the air we breathe, the clothing we wear, the carpet we walk on, and the plastic that surrounds us –with the average person being exposed to more than 700,000 different toxic chemicals on a daily basis – yikes! To steer clear of all chemicals is a little like steering clear of bad smells, you will come in contact with them. However, this is no reason to loose all hope and dive into a pool of chemicals… Instead, knowing where to avoid them and how to deal with them can help.
Our bodies are incredible, being made up of organs that are naturally programmed to detoxify and cope with the toxins it is exposed to. However, with such an abundance of largely unavoidable chemicals in the environment, it makes sense to reduce our chemical load wherever possible, to help reduce the toxic load in our bodies and enable them to function optimally. You can give your body a helping hand to detoxify on a daily basis with many of the natural wholefoods that help support our liver and kidneys to eliminate toxins from the body. Megan recommends things like cucumber, celery, beets, parsley, coriander, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, chlorella, blue green algae and good wholefood fibres like flaxseeds & sprouts.
Eating a largely organic and wholefoods diet wherever possible makes sense on so many levels – from being more sustainable and environmentally friendly, to being better for our own and our family’s health through exposing us to less chemicals, as well as helping aid our body in naturally coping with them.
Some chemical compounds in our environment such as phthalates (plastics), parabens (cosmetics), pesticides and herbicides act as hormone mimickers, disrupting our hormones by mimicking our natural hormones and binding to receptors. For example, the hormone mimicker Xenoestrogen binds to estrogen receptors, leading to too much natural estrogen floating around which ends up in fat cells increasing endometriosis, polycistic ovaries, obesity, diabetes and breast cancer. Therefore, it is incredibly crucial to not only try avoiding these chemicals wherever you can, but also help your body cope with them by eating foods that assist your body to help them move on – cruciferous vegetables are particularly good at helping remove ‘bad’ estrogens from your body.
Nellie’s top tip for creating healthy bodies is to get focused on your gut! A healthy gut has such a vast array of benefits - it helps our bodies cope with toxins, it protects our body from pathogens and parasites, and helps make important nutrients like Vitamin D and B vitamins and Serotonin – the chemical messenger that lifts our mood and alleviates anxiety.
In order to have a healthy gut, Nellie recommends taking probiotics and eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, miso and kombucha. But don’t stop there, it’s not all about putting probiotics into you, you can also help the proliferation of your body’s own good bacteria thrive. Just as important as probiotics are prebiotics (prebiotics are foods that feed the probiotics). Fruits and vegetables are excellent prebiotic foods; in particular fibrous carbohydrates such as garlic, onions, apples, asparagus and leafy greens provide soluble fibre that feed the healthy flora in the gut.
While it can seem overwhelming when you start thinking about toxins, start small. There are so many small changes we can make in our daily lives that all add up to bigger ones, helping reduce our toxic load. In addition to being mindful about what you put on and in your body, there are some other simple things you can do at home such as choosing to use non-toxic cleaning products, planting indoor plants to purify the air around you and taking off your shoes at the door. So what are you waiting for? Detox that bathroom cabinet by starting with a simple synthetic and chemical free skincare routine, and instead of thinking about what to eliminate from your diet, think about what you are going to add to it – such as making sure you eat leafy greens, beets and sauerkraut every single day. Start with this simple delicious breakfast smoothie bowl we created for you – to provide you with an abundance of probiotics, prebiotics, fibre, cruciferous vegetables and algae’s to help your gut and your body thrive!
The Sustaining Green Smoothie Bowl
A beautiful organic smoothie bowl packed full of an abundance of skin loving, naturally detoxifying and gut nourishing foods, as well as healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals leaving you full, satisfied, energized and glowing for the day ahead – as well as helping your body naturally cope with those 700,000 chemicals! Win-win-win, right!?
1 handful of spinach or other greens
1 handful mint
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/5-1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cashew butter
1 frozen banana (or fresh with the addition of 1/2 cup ice)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 tsp spirulina or chlorella (optional)
Macadamia & Berry Grawnola
Place all the smoothie bowl ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. You may need to use a tamper to get it blending well. The mixture should be nice and thick.
*You can make this ahead of time and keep in the fridge.