Your Guide to Non-Toxic Living (+4 DIY Toxin-Free Recipes)
For some time now, detoxification has been developing into a big trend in the wellness world. But it’s more than a fad, non-toxic living is a mindset with which you approach life.
It all starts with being aware of the products we use in our homes and bodies.
Sadly, we fill them with a lot of products that are toxic.
And the worst part is that often these harmful toxins are invisible. Yet, they have a great negative impact on our health.
What can you do about it?
Start by getting educated and take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single stepLao Tzu
In this article, we’ll guide you towards taking that first (or second) step toward non-toxic living.
Ready to dive in?
Yes! Let’s do this!
What is non-toxic living?
Non-toxic living, also referred to as non-toxin living or toxin-free living, is about minimizing your exposure to and consumption of harmful chemicals.
First, let’s start by understanding what a toxin is.
Toxins are synthesized substances that are poisonous (toxic) to humans. Some well-known toxins include asbestos, benzene, arsenic, and chloroform. These toxins are found in many everyday items, like household cleaning products, makeup, and foods.
Exposure to these chemicals is linked with an array of illnesses, including asthma, anemia, asbestosis, and cancer.
But is it possible to live without chemicals?
While it might not be possible to live completely chemical-free, it’s definitely possible to minimize our exposure to them with some simple lifestyle changes.
If you’re at the start of your non-toxic living journey – first of all, congratulations! Keep in mind that you should start small because it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. You don’t need to banish all toxins from your life at once.
Start by making a few lifestyle changes, and as you learn more, continue to stack on your new, healthier habits.
The importance of a toxic-free lifestyle
We’ve established that many of the products we use in our daily life can harm us. But how harmful can they be?
Here are 5 reasons you should consider toxic-free living.
1. Protect your gut health
Our gut refers to the digestive tract. And a healthy gut is the foundation of our overall health and wellbeing. There are over 100 trillion microbial cells in the gut, and they are responsible for the proper functioning of our immune system, metabolism, psychological condition, and nutrition.
So, having good gut health simply means having a balance between good and bad microbial cells.
Studies show that many toxins can mess up our gut microbiome, including chemical pesticides, food additives, arsenic, and other heavy metals.
An imbalanced gut will wreak havoc on the body, which can lead to gastrointestinal conditions such as obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer, and can also cause autoimmune diseases.
Non-toxic living reduces the risk of ingesting or being exposed to toxins that can mess with your gut health.
2. Strengthen the immune system
Exposure to environmental toxins can not only affect your reproductive, nervous, and respiratory system, but also that of future generations, leading to a weakening of the immune system that can pass through generations.
Toxic chemical exposure is also linked with chronic inflammation and impairment of the immune system, also known as Immunotoxicity. And as we touch upon on the previous point, a gut health imbalance caused by toxin exposure can also cause the development of autoimmune disorders.
So, toxic-free living not only helps protect your immune system, but also the immune system of future generations.
3. Reduce the risk of developing cancer
There are more than 60 carcinogenic chemical substances. This is the number that we know so far. We can find these harmful toxins in our food, water, and everyday household and personal care products.
For instance, paraben is widely used as an artificial preservative in shampoos, toothpaste, deodorants, makeup, and many other everyday products.
Several studies have linked parabens with an increased risk of developing breast and prostate cancer. Yet, paraben is only one of the 60 carcinogens that we are exposed to every day.
What’s more, kids are more susceptible to experiencing the negative effects of harmful chemical exposure. According to research, there is a link between exposure to pesticides during early childhood and during pregnancy with a higher risk of developing childhood cancers.
But by adopting a toxic-free lifestyle, you can reduce your exposure to many carcinogens, and as such, reduce the risk of developing cancer as well as protect the young ones.
4. Live a healthier, more energetic lifestyle
For one, your gut is the main organ that aids the absorption of nutrients that fuel the body with energy. A healthy gut and a strong immune system will lower the risk of you getting sick.
Ultimately, reducing exposure to toxic chemicals will lead to you feeling healthier and more energetic.
5. Protect the environment and the future of the planet
All the toxins found in products, water, or food, eventually end up in our rivers, seas, or landfills. Pollution from toxic substances is a growing threat to nature, affecting wildlife, and natural resources, and coming back to affect our health and the future of the planet.
Therefore, a non-toxic lifestyle is not only good for you and your loved ones; it is also good for the environment.
Being a health-conscious consumer will influence governments to pass new regulations on the use of toxins and push companies to produce toxin-free products
Now you know why non-toxic living is important for your health and the environment, but you’re not sure where to start? Continue reading to find out how to embark on your toxic-free journey.
5 steps to start your non-toxic lifestyle
Transitioning to a non-toxic home can seem like an overwhelming task at first. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide with 5 practical steps to aid your toxin-free journey
1. Eat more organic, non-processed food
When embarking on your non-toxic living journey, it’s good to start with what you directly put in your body. As we said above, ingestible toxins can wreak havoc on your gut health.
Organic food is food grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, including pesticides. Therefore, eating organic food will reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.
In fact, according to a 2018 study, consumption of organic food is linked with a reduced risk of developing cancer.
Meanwhile, processed foods are full of harmful artificial additives a.k.a. Toxins. Simply put, non-processed food, also known as whole food, is food that has undergone little to no change of its natural state.
- Know which products are important to buy organic and which products are safe to eat non-organic. As a general rule, if you eat the skin or the edible part of a product that is close to the skin, then it’s best to consider buying organic since the pesticide residue is high on the skin.
- Use the EWG’s Healthy Living App to find non-GMO, certified organic foods, that has little to no added additives.
- Check out my guide on how to shop organic.
- Read my article on the difference between whole and processed foods and how you can incorporate more whole foods in your life.
- Download my free guide with step-by-step instructions on how to get started supporting your health through whole-food nutrition
2. Create a toxic-free kitchen
Think about the cookware and food storage containers you use. Did you know that almost all of them are coated in toxic material?
For instance, non-stick pans and pots are coated in a material known as Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene). While not harmful in itself, when this non-stick material reaches a temperature above 500°F (260°C), it releases toxic fumes that end up in the air and in your food. And several studies have found a link between this material and cancer, infertility issues, and lung diseases.
Moreover, tupperwares are another kitchen essential that may contain harmful toxins such as Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS) which can leach into your food. These plastics have been found to act as estrogens, causing many adverse health issues.
What’s more, the study found that even the plastic containers that were being advertised as free of BPA or free of estrogenic activity had detectable traces of estrogen. And as such, are toxic.
- If you’re looking for a non-stick pan, consider purchasing these non-toxic alternatives such as ceramic, stainless steel, or cast-iron pans instead of a Teflon-coated pan.
- Use glass food containers instead of plastic ones. This Amazon Basic Glass Container set will get you all containers you need!
3. Use safe cleaning products
Cleaning products are some of the most toxic items one can find in most homes. Most of these products contain harmful synthetic substances such as bleach, ammonia, chlorine, formaldehyde, or chemical fragrances.
The solution: turn to non-toxic cleaning products.
You may think non-toxic cleaning products don’t do a good job, but they clean as well as normal cleaning products.
- Turn to sustainable, transparent and non-toxic brands such as the Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyer, and Attitude. These brands make use of natural ingredients which will protect your homes, health, and the environment from the hazards of toxin exposure. You can also search for other non-toxic cleaning products from this non-profit environmental working group.
- Buy non-toxic laundry detergent and fabric softeners. I’ve been using Seventh Generation detergent and softener for over half a year now. I love the smell of the lavender softener. The smell isn’t too strong and it gets rid of the odor from outfits perfectly.
- I’ve tried several non-toxic dish soaps, but Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap is a clear winner for me. This non-toxic dish soap creates a good amount of foam and it easily washes oily stuff pretty well. I usually buy a big bottle and refill it when it runs out. Another thing I like about the Mrs. Meyer soap is that the smell isn’t too strong. Sometimes, normal dish soaps have a strong smell that lingers on my water bottle, making the water taste like soap. I don’t have this problem with the Mrs. Meyer soap.
- If you have a dishwasher, you can use Mrs. Meyer’s non-toxic dishwasher detergent.
- When it comes to cleaners, since I moved to Canada, I’ve been using Attitude’s floor cleaner and bathroom cleaner. They perfectly and effortlessly wipe off dirty spots on the floor and toilet. I also like that Attitude has bulk refills so that I don’t waste plastic each time.
- And if you’re looking for a safe bleach product, I’d recommend purchasing this non-chlorine bleach from Ecover.
- When possible, opt for making your own cleaning products using natural and safe ingredients. Check out my easy-to-make DIY surface cleaner recipe below.
DIY Surface cleaner recipe
- 1 cup of distilled/filtered water
- 1 cup of vinegar (any vinegar)
- 20 drops of tea tree oil
- 20 drops of essential lemon oil
A word of caution: if you have pets, essential oils can be toxic to them if not properly diluted. So, it might be best if you leave them out of this recipe. After all, their function is to provide a nice smell and it doesn’t affect the cleaning properties of this DIY surface cleaner.
- Prepare a spray bottle
- Fill the bottle with 1 cup of filtered water and vinegar
- Add tea tree oil and essential lemon oil
- Shake them all together
4. Use non-toxic personal care and beauty products
Commercial personal care products such as shampoos, deodorants, and body creams are full of toxic ingredients including parabens and artificial fragrances.
Here are some of my favorite personal care products that are effective and safe to use.
- I’ve always used non-toxic shampoo and conditioner but I wasn’t always happy with how my hair looked and felt. However, Attitude’s shampoo and conditioner have been a game-changer. My hair is healthier and smoother since I started using them. If you want to be even more cost-effective, you can buy refills for shampoo!
- After I dry my hair, I use Japanese Camellia oil every night. My hair felt so dry after I moved to Canada, due to a different climate, but since I started using the Camellia oil, my hair is really healthy even though I bleached my hair a year ago. I met the owner of the Camellia oil company at a farmer’s market half a year ago, and I have loved her product ever since!
- Japanese Camellia also sells amazing Japanese bath bombs and hand soap too so check out their store!
- Another category of personal care products you should pay attention to is beauty products. This includes everything from hair dye to makeup and nail polish. Always read the label before purchasing these types of products and opt for brands that work with natural ingredients only. This website can help you find non-toxic skincare products and cosmetics.
- And when it comes to your nails, give nail stickers a try instead of using nail polish or gels. There are so many amazon nail stickers you can find online or on sites like Etsy.
- Try making your own DIY non-toxic products! It can be super easy and fun too.
- I tried to make scented candles myself in the past, but I couldn’t find non-toxic wax, so I gave up. Soy candles tend to be cheaper than beeswax candles. I love this soy candle from iHerb. This candle comes in four scents: Abundance, Healing, Money, and Positive Energy. Personally, I love Abundance.
DIY Deodorant spray recipe
I started making deodorant spray because I couldn’t find the products I would normally use in Japan. Therefore, I looked up DIY deodorant spray and it wasn’t difficult to make at all! My partner sweats a lot and I spray our bed and blanket every day to keep them smelling good. All I need to do is to mix essential oils and water, how easy is that?!
- 20 drops of tea tree oil
- 10 drops of lavender oil
- Filtered water
- Prepare a spray bottle
- Fill the bottle with filtered water
- Add 20 drops of tea tree oil and 10 drops of lavender oil
- Mix them all together in a bottle
DIY Hand & body cream recipe
I started making hand and body creams myself this winter because I realized non-toxic body and hand creams can be so expensive! I made one jar of body and hand cream and I still have lots. Plus it’s so easy to make.
- 1/2 cup of coconut oil
- 1 cup of shea butter
- Any essential oil you like
- Put shea butter and coconut oil in a small pot, and let it melt on low heat.
- Take the pot off the stove and add any essential oils you like. Add around 40 drops.
- Mix everything together with a whisk.
- Let it solidify in the fridge for a couple of hours.
- Whip it up with a whisk.
- Put the body butter in a jar
DIY Bath salt recipe
I always make bath salt myself because it’s super easy to make and it’s a lot cheaper than buying some, especially when we are talking about non-toxic bath salts. You only need four ingredients for this DIY bath salt recipe!
- A cup of Epsom salt
- A cup of Himalayan pink salt
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- 20 drops of any essential oil you like
- Add the Epsom salt and pink salt to a bowl
- Add 20 drops of any essential oil you like (you can add more if you prefer a strong scent)
- Mix them all together
- Add the baking powder
- Mix everything together and store in a glass jar
5. Pay attention to your drinking water and air quality
Your drinking water and the air you breathe are an important part of non-toxic living.
Nowadays you might see many terms going around such as purified, distilled, or remineralized water to name a few. They all sound very healthy, but alas, confusing.
The good news is that you don’t need to get into it all. The most important thing to know is that you should opt for spring water (I’ll get more into the why below).
And when it comes to air quality, you need to be aware of the inside pollutants, how to avoid them, and how to detoxify your house.
- Opt for spring water! Now I’ll tell you why this is the only label that matters on your bottled water. Spring water, also known as natural mineral water, is filled with a significant amount of natural minerals like magnesium and calcium that have many health benefits.
- When possible, store your water in glass bottles. Plastic bottles are often filled with toxic chemicals that will leech into the water and make their way inside your body. Or carry your water in this BPA-free bottle.
- Get your water tested. Tap water can happen to be contaminated with harmful chemicals such as lead that can cause serious health problems. Getting your water tested will help ensure that your water is safe to drink. You can easily test your water quality yourself with an at-home water test kit.
- Another way to ensure that your water is free of toxic chemicals is to use a water cartridge or a water purifier. A water cartridge or a filter serves to remove waterborne contaminants. Meanwhile, water purifiers not only remove harmful contaminants but can also improve the taste and smell of water. I personally use this large filtered water dispenser.
- To purify your air at home you can use an air filter/purifier. These air purifiers can eliminate toxic chemicals as well as unpleasant odors in your inside environment.
- Another natural way to improve your home’s air quality is to have house plants. And some plants are better than others when it comes to removing toxins. Some of the plants that will improve your indoor air quality, as recommended by the NASA Indoor Air Pollution study, are: Peace Lily, Philodendron, Rubber plants, Areca palms, Ficus, Snake plant, Aloe Vera, English Ivy, and Chinese Evergreen.
Ultimately, non-toxic living is about being a health-conscious consumer. That is, choosing to use products for your home and your body that do not contain harmful chemicals. As a bonus, when more of us choose to become more conscious consumers, we’re also signaling to the market the need for producing safer products
In this guide, we’ve shared some practical tips on how you can embark on this journey.
However, you don’t have to stress about implementing all these tips overnight. After all, stress is also bad for your health!
Remember, every step you take towards non-toxic living is one step closer to living a healthier life. At the end of the day, all the small steps will add up.