Toxicity Finally Gets Banned

In 2014, the FDA announced that manufacturers had to show that antibacterial soap was both safe and more effective than simply washing with conventional soap and water, or they would have to take it off the shelves in the next few years. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration finally announced it’s banning triclosan and related antibacterial soap chemicals, meaning manufacturers have one year to remove it and 18 other antibacterial ingredients from products (or pull products containing these ingredients from store shelves). Is this a good thing? Don’t we want to have antibacterial cleansers around to keep us healthy? Well, not when they’re actually causing more harm than good!

For years, even the FDA admitted that regular soap and water proved just as effective as antibacterial soaps but without the harmful side effects, urging everyday people to skip out on the overkill of using antibacterial soap. The largest concern about antibacterial soaps and cleansers? Using them contributes to antibiotic resistance, meaning the more we expose germs to germ-fighting substances like antibiotics and antibacterial soaps, the better they adapt. (Nature is really good at adapting!) If this happens on a broad enough scale, it can essentially render that chemical useless against the strain of bacteria. This is currently a big problem in medicine—one the World Health Organization calls a “threat to global health security.” (That alone should convince you not to use the stuff!)

If that doesn’t do it, however, perhaps this will – triclosan is one of the worst endocrine disruptors to date. It interferes with the body’s regulation of the thyroid hormone, possibly because it chemically resembles the hormone closely enough that it can bind to its receptor sites. As such, it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer. It can even hide itself in breast milk!

Add to that the fact that children with prolonged exposure to triclosan have a higher chance of developing allergies, including peanut allergies and hay fever. Scientists speculate that this could be a result of reduced exposure to bacteria, which could be necessary for proper immune system functioning and development. Prolonged exposure to this chemical also causes liver damage and is linked to liver cancer.

So we applaud the FDA’s decision to finally ban triclosan and 18 other antibacterial chemicals! Here are the important points that you need to know:

  • The active ingredients involved in this FDA antibacterial ingredient ban include: cloflucarban, fluorosalan, hexachlorophene, hexylresorcinol, iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate), iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol), nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine, poloxamer-iodine complex, povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent, undecoylium chloride iodine complex, methylbenzethonium chloride, phenol (greater than 1.5 percent), phenol (less than 1.5 percent) 16, secondary amyltricresols, sodium oxychlorosene, tribromsalan, triclocarban, triclosan, triple dye

  • Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the rulemaking by removing products from the market or reformulating (removing antibacterial active ingredients) these products
  • This FDA ban applies to over-the-counter consumer hand soaps and body washes . It does not ban the uses of these antibacterial soap chemicals sanitizers or wipes, or in soaps used in hospital or food service settings.
  • The FDA is allowing one more year before ruling on three other antibacterial ingredients in consumer soaps and body washes— benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol (PCMX) Consumer antibacterial washes containing these specific ingredients may be marketed during this time while data are being collected.

     

Oversanitation is making us sicker than ever, guys. It does all of the above; it can lead to nutrient deficiencies and digestive issues; and it even affects the environment. So make sure you go the soap and water route always and clean friendly!

What You Should Know About Precocious Puberty

 

Remember puberty – that awkward, sometimes uncomfortable phase of childhood that somehow meant you were turning into a young woman? Do you remember how old you were when it hit or when you first got your period? Well if you have a daughter, chances are she has or will be experiencing puberty much, much younger than you did. It’s called “precocious puberty” – the appearance of secondary sex characteristics like pubic hair or breast growth before age 8, or the onset of menarche before age 9 – and impacts at least 1 in 5,000 U.S. children, and the rate is on the rise.

Currently the average age of the onset of menstruation is 12. But even before the first period, changes start to happen to girls’ bodies – signs of development, such as breast “budding” and growth of pubic hair. And these developments have become so common amongst 7, 8 and 9 year olds that doctors have simply deemed it the new “normal”. But are our girls ready for these changes and puberty at such a young age? What negative consequences might there be? Unfortunately, many. Early puberty can set the stage for emotional and behavioral problems, and is linked to lower self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, alcohol use, earlier loss of virginity, more sexual partners and increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases. There is also evidence that suggests these girls are at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer, later in life.

Why the change in onset? There are several theories out there with the biggest being that environmental chemicals are playing a role. We’re surrounded by chemicals in products everyday and some of these chemicals contain estrogen-mimicking, “gender-bending” chemicals – chemicals that disrupt hormones. For example, Bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial petrochemical that acts as a synthetic estrogen, is found in our plastics and our tin can linings, in dental sealants and on cash-register receipts. In tests done by the Environmental Working Group, 90% of of newborns tested had BPA in their umbilical cord blood. Scary, huh? Other chemicals include phthalates, a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient. They’re also one of the most pervasive of the endocrine disrupters, found in everything from processed food packaging and shower curtains to detergents, toys and beauty products like nail polish, hair spray, shampoo, deodorants, and fragrances. There’s also PCBs and DDE which may also be associated with early sexual development in girls. And on top of all that, these chemicals can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Another possible factor in early puberty is a deficiency in Vitamin D. In one study, upon measuring vitamin D levels in 242 girls aged 5-12, researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that those who were deficient were twice as likely to start menstruation during the study period as those with higher levels. Vitamin D deficiency is also a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease and many other diseases. Entering puberty early also puts one at more risk for certain cancers such as breast cancer because one is exposed to estrogen for a longer period of time. So it could be that some of the increased risks that come from early puberty are linked to low vitamin D levels.

And finally, obesity and stress have both been linked to precocious puberty. Obesity exposes girls to more estrogen because estrogen is both stored and produced in fat tissue. The main theory about stress seems to be: “Evolutionary psychology offers a theory,” the New York Times reports. “A stressful childhood inclines a body toward early reproduction; if life is hard, best to mature young. But such theories are tough to prove.”

So what can you do? Looking at the above, you can try to avoid environmental chemicals as much as possible. You can make sure your daughter is getting plenty of sun exposure (while wearing plenty of sunscreen!) and taking a Vitamin D supplement. And regular exercise appears to be one of the best known ways to help prevent early puberty. Other things to keep in mind though are that because of precocious puberty, you may need to start broaching some tricky subjects with your child a bit earlier than you’d planned. Make sure your child knows their body will be changing and that it’s normal for everyone to change at different rates. Younger children are often far more receptive to talking about body issues and puberty. And there’s a possibility that the “birds and the bees” talk might need to happen earlier as hormones are hitting earlier. Most important of all though? Our daughters need us to model loving their bodies and appreciating what those amazing bodies can do rather than criticizing it or wishing for something different.

Natural Alternatives to Sunscreen – The Round Up

natural-sunscreen

In the past week, we’ve spent some time talking about how all sunscreens aren’t created equal and how many of them contain chemicals of which you might not have been aware. Yet you obviously know that too much sun damage can also harm you in the long run. So where’s the middle ground? Here are the top natural alternatives to sunscreen that will help minimize sun damage while not invading your body with harmful man made chemicals.

  • Diet: As always, it’s important to start anything that concerns your body by focusing on your diet. Everything you put in your body controls in some way or another how your body looks and acts. Remember what we said in our last blog? Good skin comes from the inside out. This also means that you can help prepare your skin for the sun through what you eat. Eating foods rich in healthy fats and antioxidants helps protect your skin from damage, including UV damage. That means you should reach for dark, colorful fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids and other powerful antioxidants. Also eat nuts, seeds, coconut oil, avocados, and microalgae for the best omega fatty acids and even some healthy saturated fats.
  • Clothing: Clothing is the easiest and most obvious option for protection. It’s important to get some Vitamin D though, so cover up after about 20 minutes in the sun by wearing something white to reflect rays or even just a sunhat.
  • Astaxanthin: This is what gives salmon their reddish pink coloring. They get it from microalgae that produce astaxanthin to protect themselves from UV rays. Literally a bit of sunscreen in a pill, astaxanthin is protects our skin from solar injuries and even helps prevent DNA from being damaged by ultra violet rays.
  • Sesame Oil: Pure sesame oil can block out approximately 30 percent of the sun’s rays.
    Apply sesame oil to the exposed skin once every one to two hours for maximum sun protection.
  • Red Raspberry Seed Oil: This is one of the best seed-oil sunscreens. It averages between 28-50 SPF and blocks the troublesome UVB rays.
  • Coconut Oil: Coconut oil can block up to 20% of the sun’s rays. You should apply once an hour for maximum protection.
  • Carrot Seed Oil: Carrot seed oil may be a little harder to find, but it boasts 38-40 SPF.
  • Wheat Germ Oil: Wheat germ oil is naturally moisturizing while touting an SPF of 20.
  • Aloe Vera: Normally we think of aloe vera for application after we’ve been in a sun as it can soothe a sunburn. However, it can also be used as a sunscreen as it, like coconut oil, can block up to 20% of the sun’s rays. Apply every one to two hours.
  • Natural Sunscreens: There are still several sunscreens available on the market that don’t contain harmful ingredients. To find out what they are and which works best for you, check out the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) yearly list of sunscreens that make the cut.
  • Make Your Own Sunscreen: You can even make your own sunscreen by mixing some of the above ingredients with other ingredients like shea butter and beeswax. You can find different recipes online like this one.

Summer shouldn’t be spent worrying about what toxins are getting into your body – summer should be about having fun, vacations, time at the beach and time with your family. Use our sunscreen alternatives and enjoy your summer!

Good Skin Comes from Within!

goodskin

George Orwell once said, “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.” Why? Because your skin portrays the kind of lifestyle you’ve led and even more so, the type of diet you’ve lived by. How is that possible? You might think that skin problems are on the surface, but most skin problems originate in your body, not just on your skin. The reason for this is because the body is one whole integrated system. This includes your skin. So no matter what condition, disease, or health problem you face, the root causes can be traced back to the same underlying factors such as diet problems (food allergies, leaky gut, etc), a need for detoxification, inflammation and stress.

When it comes to your diet, first and foremost, it’s important to identify what food allergies and sensitivities you might have (such as gluten or dairy). You can do this by doing an elimination diet or a simple blood test. There’s also the matter of the leaky gut. How do you know if you have leaky gut? There are tests your doctor can run but the symptoms include: digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); seasonal allergies or asthma; hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS; diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease; diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia; mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD; skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema; diagnosis of candida overgrowth; and food allergies or food intolerances. What is leaky gut? Leaky gut occurs when tight junctions in your intestinal lining break apart allowing things like toxins, microbes, undigested food particles, and more to escape from your intestines and travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. The main culprits are foods, infections, and toxins. Gluten is the number one cause of leaky gut.

So how can you help your skin when it comes to your diet? After eliminating food allergies, have a look at the foods that will help your skin glow. Antioxidant-rich foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are at the top of the list of skin-boosting foods because they help to fight free radicals, which can contribute to signs of aging. Olive oil and legumes are also beneficial. Omega-3 fats, which are found in fish and fish oils, walnuts, and flaxseeds, are also important for skin health, as they support healthy cell membranes, which will help keep skin cells hydrated and plump. Green tea has also emerged as a powerful beverage for skin health. With both antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties, green tea is protective against harmful oxidative stress. Take probiotics for a healthy gut. Turkey, tuna and brazil nuts are also good because they contain the mineral selenium, which experts say plays a key role in the health of skin cells. And always remember water! In addition to keeping cells hydrated, water helps cells move nutrients in and toxins out, which Lipski says automatically leaves skin looking better.

Some of the above mentioned foods also help fight inflammation. Antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and veggies have anti-inflammatory compounds. And green tea has anti-inflammatory properties as well (not to mention possibly helping to reduce the risk of skin cancer!). The polyphenols in green tea have anti-inflammatory properties that may also be beneficial to skin health overall. Omega-3 fatty acids also fall into the anti-inflammatory category. Another excellent way to fight inflammation? Move! Get out and take a walk around the block, take a yoga class, do anything you enjoy that will get the blood pumping.

Stress is a huge factor in our lives and can have a huge impact on our skin. Emotional stress can take a major toll on the appearance of your skin. Not only does stress lessen your skin’s ability to function properly, putting it at risk of skin diseases and increasing the length of time wounds take to heal, but stress also speeds up the rate of cellular aging, which can make you look older, faster. We know how hard it can be to de-stress, but try your best to carve out some time for yourself where you can be alone everyday. Meditate, read a book, take a walk, call a friend. All of these things can help lower your stress levels.

We know you already know this but we’ll throw it out there anyway, just as a reminder. Do your best to avoid these following things: 1) smoking – smoking damages collagen and elastin while decreasing blood flow to your skin. This makes it difficult for your skin cells to receive enough oxygen and nutrients to stay healthy. The physical act of smoking can also contribute to expression lines around your lips and eyes (from pursing your lips and squinting); 2) drinking alcohol – while an occasional glass of wine is not likely to cause your skin much harm, too much alcohol can damage blood vessels over time, leading to permanently flushed skin or visible blood vessels on your skin’s surface; 3) sugar – eating too much sugar or refined carbs leads to the production of advanced glycation end products. These molecules damage collagen and elastin, and contribute to wrinkles and sagging skin.

And finally detoxify. Detoxification is a fabulous way to look and feel better while eliminating toxins from your body. We have a wonderful detoxification program here at Integrative Wellness Advisors that can really help you get back to basics and feeling great.

Beautiful skin isn’t achieved by what you put on the outside, it’s what you put on the inside that counts!