By Dr Jeffrey Morrison, M.D., C.N.S., and Stephanie Mandel
It’s a new year — the perfect time to recommit to eating and living clean! If you experience chronic symptoms like frequent headaches, fatigue, foggy thinking, or skin issues, while these can have many causes, you might want to look at your diet and environment with a critical eye. Avoiding toxins allows our bodies to detoxify efficiently and function optimally: better energy, clearer skin, mental clarity.
We all know it’s important to avoid toxins in our food - artificial coloring, trans fats, refined sugar. “Eating clean” has become a health mantra — more and more of us are replacing toxic, processed foods with fresh, organic, whole foods, and placing them at the center of a healthy diet and lifestyle. This is a wonderful thing! Yet, it is only part of the picture when trying to eliminate daily toxic exposures and allowing your body to detoxify most efficiently. At The Morrison Center, we always encourage our patients to address possible sources of toxic exposure in their homes.
While eating fresh, organic food is a must, reducing toxic exposure in your life is critical for optimal health.
Here’s a brief guide to common toxins and how to handle them.
1. TOXIC SOURCE: Plastic bottles and containers
Plastics are known endocrine disruptors, meaning they can mess with hormone levels, contributing to conditions like PMS, insomnia, and infertility. Research strongly suggests that some chemicals in plastics, like bisphenol A (BPA), are linked to certain kinds of cancer. In 2012, the FDA prohibited the use of BPA in baby bottles and children’s drinking cups.
● Replace plastic bottles and containers with glass or ceramic.
● If you do use plastics, don’t heat them! Transfer foods to glass or microwave-safe ceramic containers before heating.
● And, if you use plastics for cold storage, choose the safest with recycle numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5.
2. TOXIC SOURCE: Flame-resistant mattresses, furniture and synthetic fabrics
Flame retardants like Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and Tetrabromobisphneol A (TBBPA) are commonly used in furniture. They can affect hormonal balance, especially the thyroid. It is especially important to avoid these chemicals in the items we encounter daily, like mattresses, carpets, and couches.
● Use natural fabrics whenever possible.
● Look for furniture made with organic materials.
● Replace foam items manufactured before 2004, when PBDEs were made illegal.
3. TOXIC SOURCE: Cleaning products
While detergents, cleaning chemicals, and indoor fragrances seem like a good idea, they are actually loaded with toxic chemicals. Any product with the ingredient “fragrance” likely contains phthalates, another endocrine disruptor, and is linked in numerous studies to an increased risk of asthma, especially in children.
● Look for plant-based alternative cleaners, or make your own with basic ingredients: white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and warm water.
● When using conventional cleaning products, use gloves, open windows, and dilute with water.
4. TOXIC SOURCE: Aluminum or Teflon non-stick cookware
Aluminum is a heavy metal associated with neurodegenerative conditions, that can leach into food during cooking. Teflon cookware is made with a toxic chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTF), another endocrine disruptor that interferes with thyroid function. It is released into the air and food when the pans are heated or scratched.
- Replace aluminum/Teflon cookware with cast iron, pyrex, or stainless steel; a good brand is Scanpan.
5. Bring in broad leaf plants.
Plants are natural air purifiers, plus they look nice! Plants with the best air filtering qualities include the peace lily, rubber plant, Boston fern, and weeping fig.
6. Consider a warm mist humidifier.
During the winter, indoor air tends to be drier. This can lead to dry skin and sinuses, making us more vulnerable to colds. Adding humidity to the air can be very helpful to prevent these conditions. Rather than using a cool mist humidifier, which is susceptible to mold and bacterial growth, boil water or use a warm mist humidifier.
7. Use a water filter.
Even if your city has clean tap water at its source, by the time it reaches your tap, it’s picked up sediment and heavy metals from pipes, as well as bacteria and parasites. Chlorine is added to city water to kill those pathogens. An under-sink or countertop water charcoal filter can help remove a great deal of unwanted contaminants.
8. Clear the air.
Use a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) purifier.
Open windows to allow as much fresh air into your home as possible.
9. Use clean personal care products.
Select 100 percent natural skin care products, and check for unsafe ingredients on the Environmental Working Group’s database: www.ewg.org/skindeep
10. Consider supplements to help your body detoxify while you remove toxins from your home.
We love these high-quality supplements to support your body’s natural detox processes:
Buffered vitamin C, an important antioxidant. 2 capsules daily with food
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), helps the liver to detoxify. 2 capsules before bed
Liv.52, a blend of liver-supportive herbs. 2 capsules before bed
Don’t be overwhelmed — you can do this! Choose one of these “home detox” methods to start with, and gradually dig deeper. You and your family will thank you!
Dr. Jeffrey Morrison is a medical doctor, the author of Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind, and founder of The Morrison Center, in NYC. He partners with patients to find the underlying cause of their symptoms and provide a thorough, individualized treatment and nutritionally-based program to achieve optimal health result. Learn more about Dr. Morrison and The Morrison Center.
Stephanie Mandel is a Nutrition Advisor at The Morrison Center, in NYC, where she partners with clients to optimize their energy, vitality and physical well-being with the use of diet modification, and a balanced, natural approach. Learn more about The Morrison Center’s Nutrition Services.