Ingredients are important, but many of us are too busy to read the labels. They are important on everything we use from cosmetics, household cleaners, pesticides, drugs, food, water and so on. There are increasing links between the number of toxic chemicals that we take in and the number of health problems we have.
Part of the problem with the level of toxic chemicals we are now exposed to is that they tend to stay in the body. Once these toxins reach a critical mass, they can suppress your immune system and cause disease. Periodic cleansing is an important part of any natural health program, and it is as important to identify toxic chemicals in any products that you are still consuming and / or exposed to.
This is where becoming aware of ingredients matters. We live in a world where most of our food has some level of processing. Most of our cosmetics, shampoos and other toiletries are full of synthetic chemicals. On top of that, we use household cleaners, air fresheners, pesticides and many other products that fill the air we breathe with toxic chemicals.
If you are interested in being healthy, start reading your labels and question what is in there and if it is safe. I would start with your food. If you can’t pronounce it, I wouldn’t eat it. Look particularly for the excitotoxins that stimulate your nerve cells to death. These include any monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame, or sucralose (Splenda). Then look preservatives that have long chemical names. It is also important to eliminate hydrogenated oils – this means almost all margarines.
Then go to your shampoos and cosmetics and read the labels. Artificial color and fragrances are the first two things to get rid of. Then look for chemicals that you can’t pronounce. Many of them are petrochemical based. For example petrolatum (petroleum jelly) is used as a moisturizer, but it actually makes you skin dry and flaky in the long run. Petrolatum is in many lipsticks – I always wondered why lipstick made my lips peel.
Personal care products are typically filled with toxic chemicals. Even so-called “natural” products are not always clean. For instance, many natural products will contain sodium laurel sulfate, a sudsing agent that irritates the skin causing dry flaky skin and sometimes rashes. Also look for ethyl and methyl parabens which are preservatives. I particularly dislike these in natural progesterone creams because they tend to tie up the progesterone.
Many of us forget that what we breathe and put on our skin actually gets into our body and goes directly to the bloodstream without being filtered by the liver. Learn to question what you are using everyday and make healthier choices.
The other point I would like to make is don’t trust the government or the business making the product to determine what is safe and what is not safe. There are many popular products out there that are full of chemicals I would not use.
Remember that what is required to be on the label is legislated. There are chemicals that are used in processing that do not have to be disclosed. So labels can be deceptive –(on purpose). It is very important to do your own research and make your own decisions. Please be aware of the chemicals you are taking in by reading labels and researching the ingredients, brands and types of products.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.naturalcowgirl.wordpress.com