Written by: Alexandria Muirhead, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Many say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where people gather to laugh and show love for others. It is one of the most important rooms in the house where we create meals to nourish ourselves, family and friends. There are many items that we use in our kitchen that we believe are safe but in reality they can have a negative impact on our health. These impacts can happen right away or happen over years. This phenomenon is called bioaccumulation and it can contribute to a whole host of health issues including autoimmune diseases and infertility. This is caused by chemicals and toxins that disrupt our normal body systems such as our immune system, hormonal (endocrine) system, circulatory system, nervous system and more. It affects all of our body systems and leads to symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, irritability, digestive issues, gas, bloating, allergies, asthma, PMS, brittle nails, hair loss, and sleep troubles.
Please don’t panic or worry! Keep reading!
Just as your body accumulates these toxins and chemicals, your body can eliminate them once you have stopped exposing yourself to them! Our bodies are so amazing and fascinating. They want to be in homeostasis and have all of our systems working together flawlessly. In Holistic Nutrition, we know that once you remove what is causing you to feel unwell, support your body and give it time to rebalance, that your health will be restored! I believe this and know this to be true because I have personally experienced it. You can not heal in the same environment that you became sick in.
The top 3 kitchen item swaps that you can do to reduce your exposure to harmful toxins and chemicals!
Yes, I know. This one was hard for me to do as well. Isn’t non-stick so convent and easy? Nothing sticks to it and it’s a breeze to clean. These are amazing qualities but they come with a price. Teflon coated cookware contain chemicals that over time leach out into your food and you consume it. PFC, PFOS and PFOA are three chemicals that bioaccumulate and disrupt your body systems. 1.They have banned PFOA from being used in teflon products since it has been shown to be carcinogenic to the thyroid, kidneys, testicles, ovarian and bladder. 2. There is growing evidence that states that PFOA are not the only chemical to have negative effects on our health.
Teflon manufacturers say that it can be safe, if used properly. We don use it the way the manufacturer recommended which exposes us to these chemicals. Proper use of non-stick pans including not heating it higher than 260oC (500oF), do use if coating is chipped or scratched and use for a maximum of 6 months. It has been shown that an empty pan or a pan with oil can heat to 500oF within 2 minutes. We have all done these things and I am included in this! I had the same non-stick pan for years with scratches and would place some oil in the pan to heat up and I am sure it got to above 500oF. Those chemicals are released once these things happen and get into our bodies.
What to use instead!
Once I learned about the chemicals in non-stick pans I began to look into alternatives! It took me a while to come around since non-stick is so convenient but the health benefits are worth it! Instead you can use cast iron pans or stainless steel pans. Cast iron can take a little bit of maintenance but is an excellent option once you’ve gotten the hang of it. There are lots of resources online on how to use and care for cast iron! Stainless steel is another opinion! Food tends to stick which is why oil, broth or water should be used. You can find lots of resources on how to use and care for stainless steel pans with a quick google search!
This is a big one since plastic has taken over the modern kitchen. There are plastic utensils (spatula, stirring spoon, slotted spoon, tongs, masher, whisks), plastic cutting boards, plastic measure cups/spoons, plastic mixing bowls, plastic strainer, plastic wrap, plastic food storage containers, plastic water bottles and the list goes on and on!
This is a really important one since all of these plastics contain chemicals called endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) and exposes us to xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are synthetic chemicals that have the same chemical structure as estrogen and therefore binds to the estrogen receptors in our bodies. They have a very strong effect and contribute to hormonal imbalances, estrogen dominance, low progesterone, endometriosis, PCOS, and estrogen driven cancers.
How and what to use instead?!
I always recommend switching things slowly and doing this process gradually. First become aware of all the plastic you are using in your kitchen. Once something gets worn out and is in need of being replaced, buy the non-plastic option! This makes it much easier to do and does not create a large financial burden of having to buy everything at once.
||Happy Hormone Swap
|Plastic Utensils (spatula, stirring spoon, slotted spoon, tongs, masher, whisks, etc)
||Wooden or Stainless Steel Utensils
|Plastic Cutting Board
||Wooden Cutting Board (plastic cutting boards also harbor and allow bacteria to grow, wood is always best!)
|Plastic Measuring Cups/Spoons
||Stainless Steel or Glass Measuring Cups or Spoons
|Plastic Mixing Bowls
||Stainless Steel, Ceramic, or Glass Mixing Bowls
||Stainless Steel Strainer
|Plastic Food Wrap
|Plastic Food Storage Containers
||Glass or Stainless Steel Containers
|Plastic Water Bottles
||Glass or Stainless Steel Water Bottles
Don’t feel overwhelmed by this change. It’s best to take it slow and do things one at a time. Use this knowledge as power and begin to switch over these items to reduce you and your families exposure to xenoestrogens. Stores like Winners and Homesense are great place’s to get some of these items at a lower cost.
- Ditch the Toxic Cleaners & Soaps!
There seems to be a cleaner for everything these days, am I right? Every surface and area of the home seems to have a specific cleaner to clean it. Conventional household and kitchen cleaners are a major source of toxic exposure in the home. You can use The Environmental Working Group to see where you cleaners rank. They have a system that they use to tell you if your cleaners are toxic or not. I also believe that household cleaners are a big waste of money! You really don’t need a different cleaner for every surface and room. Homemade cleaners are the best and safest option and save you lots of money! Having one all purpose, natural cleaner will reduce the toxins in your home, save you money and reduce the clutter in your laundry room where you store your cleaners.
Your hand soap, dish soap and dishwasher detergent also contain chemicals that we want to avoid!
What to use instead?
Make your own! Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water. You can add essential oils to give it a natural smell if you wish! Vinegar is a very potent disinfectant and kills bacteria. That is why it is used in preserving, so bacteria and mold does not grow.
Natural Cleaners! You can use castile soap and dilute it to use all over your home. You can also visit your local Health Food Store and ask them about safe and non=toxic cleaning products they carry. Two of my favorite brands are:
Branch Basics and Seventh Generation. Branch Basics is a really great company that creates safe and effective cleaning products. Their products are safe for humans and for the environment and are not tested on animals. Seventh Generation is a wonderful company that has cleaners, baby items, soaps, and dishwashing detergent/pucks.
Small actions everyday that are in alignment with your wellness goals is what creates sustainable change and allows you to achieve those goals!