My article on 44 health builders was so popular, I was inspired to look at the flip side. Being healthy isn’t about just doing the right things, it also involves avoiding habits that can make you sick. Obviously, if I was a smoker but did all the things on my Healthy Living list, I would still be in a situation of causing my body some harm. So, over the years I have subconsciously created a list of things I try to avoid. I’ve even been called a “goodie two shoes” -no offense taken, Amy 😉 because of my healthy habits, I actually take it as a compliment. It reminds me that I’ve come a long way.
The truth is, I have not always lived the best I could and I’ve made many poor choices in life. I’m thankful that our bodies are designed to heal if you give them time, avoid the triggers that make you ill and fuel it with only the best. No matter what your age is, never take your health for granted. It’s really a gift that you should care for, it’s the only body you have!
You can make your own list that will most likely look a little different than mine. The key is to listen to your body, what’s good for one is not necessarily good for all. Since we all have slightly different chemistry make-ups, blood types and health histories, your list of what to avoid should be personalized. I’m also a bit of a canary in a coal mine and have a couple of items I’m just allergic to (#4 & #14). I left them on the list to make my point that some things are unique to each of us. Pay attention, take note, and do something about it!
Not sure if something should be on your list or not? Eliminate it for a week or two, then re-introduce it, paying careful attention to your energy and any out of the ordinary symptoms: headache, nausea, fatigue. If any of these crop up, it may not just be coincidence, but something to add to your list.
Many of these health busters are universal and just plain bad for you. Science has shown this, and continues to show it. So what’s keeping you from avoiding the harmful things in your life?
- Microwaves The long term consequences are still unknown, one kid’s science fair project showed a plant dying after just a couple of days being fed microwaved water. Rocket science? Not quite, but enough uncertainty for me to avoid the use of them.
- Iodized (table) salt This washed, processed product is the savory equivalent of white sugar. Most table salt, like common iodized salt is actually made for industrial use (for processing chemicals), not for human consumption. Years ago after I traded up to Celtic Sea Salt I used table salt at a restaurant and it burned my tongue! Yuk. Besides, there are so many other options that are like whole foods.
- MSG Short for Monosodium Glutamate, it’s in every flavored chip, most snack mixes, salad dressings and many soups. It’s a cheap way to add spice to foods without using real ingredients. Some speculate it is addicting and causes a host of side effects. I believe it also dulls your taste buds so you need more to get your fix…..food for thought.
- White flour Even before my wheat allergy was discovered, I avoided it, opting for whole grains instead.
- White sugar Moves fast in all the wrong directions: blood sugar spike, energy crash and converts to FAT quickly.
- Canola oil was one of the first genetically altered foods.
- Pesticides on foods I always buy organic for produce on the dirty dozen list.
- Pesticides in the garden/lawn Our family uses natural fertilizer made from corn and integrate natural pest management into my garden like praying mantis.
- Processed, packaged foods Most contain high levels of sodium, and more preservatives & chemicals than you can count on both hands. Our bodies were not designed to consume chemicals like this called “food”, is it any wonder our population has so many diseases?
- Department store cosmetics have chemicals that your skin drinks (including synthetic fragrance) in as well as the perfumed environment you have to stand in when you make your purchase. You can check www.ewg.org/skindeep to check the safety of your current cosmetics. Not sure if you’re bothered by synthetic fragrance? Try taking a break from perfume for a few weeks, then re-introduce it and notice how you feel.
- Evening news Most TV is filled with violence, unfortunately the evening news is often negative. When you’re exposed to violence and turmoil whether on TV or in real life, it heighten’s your nervous system. If you watch active shows or engage in agitating conversations right before bed, it will take your nervous system more time to calm down and ease into a peaceful night’s sleep.
- Bleach Terrible for your respiratory system, it’s considered an asthma trigger. It also breaks down into dioxin, a known carcinogen. Essential oils, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar disinfect just as effectively without the toxins of bleach.
- Over the counter drugs often result in side effects that are worse than the original symptoms. Have intelligent conversations with your doctor about what meds are really necessary for your personal situation.
- Flax seed Is an allergen for me, anaphylactic allergic so I avoid it at all costs! It’s good for most people, but not for me.
- Nail polish (except Priti) – Traditional nailpolish with ingredients like tolulene and benzene are especially hazardous to small kids and pregnant women. Your body can absorb toxins through your skin, nails and the air you breath. Nail polish and removers cover all these points of entry, unless you apply and remove it without touching your skin and hold your breath.
- Health food store essential oils come from unknown sources and little if any verification of sourcing, quality or purity.
- Candy My exception: dark chocolate.
- Soda Who needs extra sugar or artificial sweeteners?
- Bug spray with DEET What do I use instead? A Purifying blend or my own mix of lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary. Neem and Soybean oil are supposedly mosquito deterrents as well. We have too many safe options to risk DEET exposure.
- Oven cleaners Some of the most toxic household cleaning products have been banned in European countries but still allowed for sale in the USA.
- Toxic people You know them, the ones who are always complaining, dissatisfied or gossiping about what everyone else is doing instead of how they can have a positive influence on the world. You adopt attitudes and behaviors from those you are surrounded with, limit your time with those that sap your positive energy.
- All household cleaners Shower & tub sprays, floor cleaners are often filled with synthetic fragrance as well as harsh cleaning ingredients that shouldn’t come in contact with skin or vapors that shouldn’t be breathed in. I used to clean my bathtub out after I cleaned my bathtub with bleach cleanser, not any more! Simple, essential oil infused ingredients now!
- Traditional toothpaste Flouride is still a controversial ingredient and traditional toothpastes contain questionable ingredients like propylene glycol.
- Tencel clothing is one of the most toxic fabrics to produce. One manufacturer of Tencel fabric is at the top of the list of Environmental Polluters to the air.
- Packaged nuts from the grocery store may be rancid after sitting on the shelf too long. Nuts should be refrigerated or frozen to keep fresh. Next time you eat nuts, smell them first. You’ll probably be surprised at how well you can detect a rancid nut that has an off odor.
- Artificial colors & flavorings I hate to think how it’s coloring my insides, and leaving chemicals behind.
- Flavored chips or snacks I will eat kettle chips once in a while since they’re just potatoes & salt. I’ve read so many labels I can confidently say that anything with blazing, hot, spicy or ranch in the name has MSG as well as chemical preservatives. These things are not food, they are entertainment.
- Synthetic Fragrance & Air fresheners This should be no surprise to you if you’ve been reading my articles. Plug-ins, spray air fresheners or stick up deodorizers are toxic and (asthma triggers)
- Non-organic soybeans or soymilk. Soy is one of the most highly sprayed crops, genetically modified to withstand Round-Up Weed Killer, YUK! Is the $10 more an acre the farmers get with these pesticide crops worth our health and cost to the environment?
- Perfume (hormone disruptors), as if exposure to plastics and BPA isn’t enough, we are consciously spraying these chemicals on our bodies.
- Nutrasweet, Splenda or any other artificial sweeteners or sugar (Stevia). These don’t help you lose weight, and there’s a chance they’ll make you sick.
- Pork Too much controversy over whether it is healthy or not….plus I don’t feel well when I eat it.
- City tap water Often loaded with heavy metals, antibiotics and pesticide residue that your body can drink in.
- Anti-perspirant Our bodies were designed to sweat, it’s a way we naturally detoxify. What happens if you stop it? Most likely your body re-absorbs the toxins and puts them somewhere else, often in fatty tissue. Hmmm, could your anti-perspirant be making you fat?? Not sure.
- Sport drinks Most drinks are filled with synthetic vitamins, sugars & artificial colors? I use Nngxia Red & Polar Mins to replenish vital nutrients during exercise.
- Hard liquor taxes your liver and disrupt your blood sugar, both of these but a burden on your body. I opt for heart healthy red wine in moderation. Call me a goodie two shoes? I did enough hard liquor in college to satisfy my curiosity and no good came of it. It’s cheap (or not so cheap) entertainment and an ineffective way of dealing with stress.
- Hand sanitizer I just use old fashioned soap and water, Cinnamon/clove waterless hand purifier when I can’t.
- Clothing with anti-microbial fibers (socks are the most common) which often use nano-particles. These tiny particles can be absorbed by your body and they are having detrimental effects on the environment, disrupting our world even more and possibly contributing to greenhouse gases. The long term effects these micro-molecules have on our bodies is just not known. Only time will tell, and I don’t want to be the guinea pig.
- Bottled water unless it’s a purified water, via reverse osmosis, it’s most likely no better than tap water. It’s much easier to fill my own glass bottle with purified water from my home.
- Shampoo from the grocery store – loaded with chemicals and preservatives like methylchorothiazolinone that can impact all body systems including your nervous system.
- Bath & Beauty shops – I actually walk on the other side of the mall if I pass by these stores, I can smell the aroma from outside the front door. If I linger even for a minute, I know I’ll suffer a headache or nausea for hours after. These chemicals are building up in our bodies, our environments and they last a long time.
- Media that is negative Media shapes our attitudes, expectations and perceptions. Listening to lyrics, watching TV or reading books about behaviors that are not healthy doesn’t do much to support me in my efforts. I want to learn from my mistakes, move forward and make better choices. I don’t want to continue to surround myself with media that fills my mind with attitudes and ideas that conflict with my goals to a healthier mind and body. I believe we can learn from other’s mistakes, but how often do we re-visit the same weaknesses in characters before it begins to influence us? My mantra for media? Thoreau: “Read only the best books first, lest you don’t have time for the rest”.
- Drive-thru food I’d rather wait until I can eat some wholesome food or snacks that are often within a few minutes away. Good things come to those who wait.
- Caffeine I quit caffeine years ago when I first got pregnant, but it wasn’t easy. At one point I was drinking a pot of coffee and 3-4 cans of diet soda (caffeinated) a day. Now that I’m free of caffeine, I have it once in a while, but I’m free of the addiction and tension I had when I couldn’t get my fix. I sleep better and have natural energy and a clear picture of how my body is feeling each day.
Healthy living is a journey, it takes time to develop habits that stick for the long haul. Give yourself credit for the things you’ve done, even start your own list of health busters you’ve already avoided. Then slowly add to the list. Find things you can easily trade out first, then move to more challenging items that you may have an emotional connection to. Is there anything on my list that surprised you?