I don’t know about you, but I love the fall season… the excitement of back-to-school, the crisp change to the weather, the beautiful array of colors as leaves change, and the promise of new beginnings. There’s an inspirational energy this time of year, and I like to use it to tackle areas of my life that I want to change or address.
This season, I want to bring some attention to the environments we live in, and how to make low tox living a bit more approachable. Toxins in our daily environment are what I call “low hanging fruit” in terms of our health.
You’ve heard me share often about how toxins affect our thyroid health, and we usually think about industrial toxins we may be exposed to in our environment — but did you know that the concentrations of some pollutants can be 2-5 times higher indoors than outside? This is especially important, as many of us spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors!
As we head into the cooler seasons and more time spent indoors, it becomes critical to our health to address the toxins that are hiding in our own homes.
Many people are living with an overburdened liver that has a difficult time detoxifying the body from an accumulation of toxins. Symptoms of toxic overload may include digestive problems, bad breath, fatigue, weakness, constipation, headaches, hormonal imbalance, itchy skin, rashes, breakouts, joint pain, brain fog, irritability, chemical sensitivity, and weight loss resistance — just to name a few!
And since the liver is responsible for converting T4 to the active T3 hormone within the body, an impaired organ can result in an increase in thyroid symptoms.
Whatever we inhale, ingest, and absorb into our skin, eventually ends up circulating in our body. From our cleaning products and cosmetics, to pesticides and exhaust fumes, we’re exposed to thousands of chemicals a day.
Here are a few of the places where we commonly find toxins in our homes. I’ll share some tips on how to protect yourself from these toxins below, along with some of my favorite, tried-and-true product recommendations!
Fruits and Veggies Laden with Pesticides and Herbicides
Unfortunately, our agriculture system uses hundreds of herbicides and pesticides that are known to contribute to toxin burden. The herbicide Atrazine (which is banned in the EU but not the United States) has been linked to mitochondrial dysfunction, obesity, insulin resistance, and hormonal dysfunction.
Foods with the highest herbicide and pesticide presence include apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, and celery. Consider buying organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible, especially for anything with a soft skin. Keep in mind that organic food has a higher nutrient content, which may make it worth the added cost.
Our drinking water is one of the major sources of toxins that can challenge our health, and I recommend that everyone look into installing a home filtration system to purify their tap water. Why? Our water supply is loaded with chemical substances that can cause harm to our thyroids, including fluoride.
Fluoride has been added to most water supplies in the United States, Canada, and some parts of the UK, to prevent dental decay. However, it is also an endocrine disruptor. Although fluoride was actually used to treat hyperthyroidism up until the 1950s, as it is an effective thyroid suppressor at daily doses of 0.9 to 4.2 mg, studies confirm that most adults in fluoridated communities ingest between 1.6 and 6.6 mg of fluoride a day, effectively suppressing their thyroid function. (1)
Most common non-stick pots and pans contain phthalates and BPA, which are known endocrine disruptors. These chemicals may increase TSH and perpetuate the autoimmune attack on the thyroid. Aluminum is found in many cooking pans, and scratched non-stick pans are a common source of aluminum toxicity.
I recommend using cast iron pans or sourcing cookware that is certified free of aluminum and harmful substances.
Plastics and Plastic Food Containers
Many of the plastic containers we use to store our food contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen that can damage the thyroid gland, and BPA, a xenoestrogen that can perpetuate the autoimmune attack on the thyroid. Xenoestrogens may increase TSH and perpetuate the autoimmune attack on the thyroid. While there are BPA-free plastics available, glass storage containers and mason jars are a better choice for food storage. (2)
Personal Care Products
Most commercial personal products that we use every day are full of endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are toxic and wreak havoc on our hormones and health. Toxins commonly found in personal care products (including shampoo, lotions, and makeup) include phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and BPA.
Women, on average, use 12 personal care and cosmetics products per day, which amounts to 168 different chemical ingredients! In contrast, men use an average of six personal care products, with an average of 85 different chemicals, on a daily basis. (3) While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons as to why seven women develop Hashimoto’s for every one man with the condition, perhaps the use of endocrine-disrupting chemicals may play a role.
Conventional products used to clean the home are often riddled with toxins that are harmful to our health. These include synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, and phthalates, among many others. These toxic substances interfere with normal thyroid function and hormone synthesis, and can be a trigger for autoimmune thyroid disease.
Air Fresheners and Scented Candles
Studies confirm that most conventional air fresheners and related products contain a high number of chemicals. (4) Synthetic fragrances found in some candles, incense, personal care products (sprays, etc.), cleaning products, and even “odor removal” and air freshener products, may contain harmful toxins, including VOCs and EDCs.
Even cleaning, laundry, fragrance, and personal care products marketed as “natural” or “green” can still contain chemicals that have been artificially synthesized, and could cause health problems.
Furniture and carpeting can be a significant source of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are emitted as gasses from a variety of both solid and liquid sources. The main sources of VOCs are adhesives, paints/varnishes, upholstery, carpeting, manufactured wood products, pesticides, cleaning agents, etc. Formaldehyde is a very common VOC found in the home, and research has found that chemicals such as formaldehyde can interfere with normal thyroid function and hormone synthesis, and can be a trigger for autoimmune thyroid disease. (5) Benzene is another form of VOC that commonly outgasses from furniture and is toxic to our health.
Dry cleaned clothes contain chemical solvents such as perchloroethylene (perc), thought to be a human carcinogen. It is better to choose clothes made of untreated, natural materials such as unbleached cotton or hemp. If you must dry clean clothes, try and find a cleaner that uses liquid carbon dioxide or the wet cleaning method.
Furniture and Electronics Containing Fire-retardant Chemicals
Flame retardants have been associated with worsening thyroid function, impacts on the immune system, adverse effects on fetal and child development, changes in neurologic function, and even cancer. (6)
While a few types of flame retardants have been banned in the U.S. and other countries, there are hundreds of flame retardants still routinely used in mattresses, furniture, flame-retardant fabrics, carpets, drapes, electrical appliances, automobiles, and many household products.
Exposure to flame retardant toxins can linger a long time in your home (think about the lifetime of products such as that favorite comfy sofa or Grampa’s well-worn overstuffed chair!), and in the greater environment. Since many flame retardants are applied as coatings, not bonded with the material they are used on, the coatings can break down over time and end up in the air or as dust in your home, and elsewhere in the environment.
To help mitigate the effects of toxins in your home, consider these strategies:
- Get an infrared sauna: Saunas offer a relaxing way to eliminate toxins that reside deep in our tissues. However, the more I’ve researched saunas, the more I’ve realized that not all infrared saunas are created the same. I’m a lover of research, case studies, and facts, which is one reason why I like Sunlighten Saunas. Their products are based on extensive research combined with personal experience, and they offer a range of options for every household size and budget.
- Please note that sauna use may not be recommended in specific circumstances, or for those with certain medical conditions. You can learn more about infrared sauna contraindications on Sunlighten’s website, as well as in my article on Saunas and Hashimoto’s here. Please consult with your practitioner and discuss any concerns, before use.
- Purify your air with a quality air filter: A home air purifier is great for clearing out airborne toxins in the air you breathe every day. Air Doctor is the first affordable air purifier that not only removes almost 100% of particles (pollen, dust, pet dander, mold spores and smoke), but also removes the vast majority of toxic ozone, volatile organic chemicals and gasses in the air. I have one in my son’s room, our master bedroom, and our main living area, to help with the air quality indoors. I also love that this air purifier has a “dark” mode so that I don’t have to see blue lights at night. It also makes a “white noise” sound, which is relaxing and helps me sleep.
- Consume more organic foods: The Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists are great resources put out by the Environmental Working Group each year, that keep you updated on which produce contains the most pesticides. You can also add glycine and ION* Gut Support to your routine to lower your glyphosate burden.
- Consider liver support: The Rootcology Liver Reset powder and Liver Support Kit are designed to help your body gently release toxins and support liver health.
- Filter your water: Clearly Filtered offers a variety of water filtration systems, including water pitchers, shower heads, and under-the-sink filters, that are able to remove up to 99 percent of fluoride from the water. Their website provides links to independent testing results from EPA-accredited laboratories that show the levels of contaminants their products are able to remove from the water source. (You can get 10% off their new filtration systems using code DRWENTZ10 at checkout!)
Consider these 5 swaps at home to help clean up your routine:
- Household Cleaners: I recently discovered Branch Basics’ cleaning solutions and have been using them in every room! The plant- and mineral-based, fragrance-free ingredients gently remove dirt, grease, and grime, without the harmful toxins that are found in many conventional cleaning products. (My readers can use code IZABELLAWENTZ for 15% off all Starter Kits.)
- Personal Care: The Wellnesse line of haircare and toothpastes by Katie Wells (aka the “Wellness Mama”) contains high-quality, safe ingredients that are clearly labeled, so there are no surprises! I love their shampoo for keeping my long hair soft and manageable, and their natural, fluoride-free whitening toothpaste is a favorite that can remineralize teeth. Their new aloe and driftwood deodorant not only smells great, but really works, getting me through soccer momming in 100°F degree heat. 🙂
- Coffee: Mold toxins can be present in some coffee, and I love Dave Asprey’s commitment to creating mold-free coffee. I’ve been testing Dave Asprey’s new patent-pending coffee formula called Danger. While regular coffee can deplete nutrients and dehydrate us, Danger is designed to remineralize your body with over 50 trace minerals, nutrients, and electrolytes. (It’s also mold-free!) Use discount code IZABELLA10 for 10% off your first purchase!
- Food Storage: Use glass storage containers or mason jars to store food, as opposed to plastic containers that can leach harmful toxins.
- Teas: In place of plastic tea bags, which can expose us to harmful microplastics, I recommend Pique Tea, which uses tea crystals that have been screened for heavy metals and pesticides. Their Earl Grey and Matcha have become my recent favorites!
- Skin Care: Annmarie Skin Care is a line of natural skin care products that you can trust because they use only herbs and extracts straight from nature in their purest form. They even have a trial package, so you can test their products out and see how they work for you! I have been enjoying their Rejuvenating Facial Oil. 🙂
Bonus: If you are into functional medicine testing, I wanted to let you know that by popular request, I’m now collaborating with Rupa Labs to offer self-directed patient labs.
The labs I most often use to uncover a toxic burden are from Mosaic Labs (formerly known as Great Plain Labs) and include the following tests:
- Organic Acids: tests for toxic mold accumulation as well as salicylates and oxalate accumulation, among other things
- MycoTox: tests for current exposure to mold toxins
- Glyphosate: tests for glyphosate buildup
- Hair Toxic Element Exposure Profile: tests for heavy metals you may have been exposed to
And if you’re really ready to take your health to the next level and clear your body of toxins, I invite you to join me for the next Root Cause Reset.
The Root Cause Reset supports the liver with 4 easy steps to jumpstart your healing, making you feel brighter, happier and more alive — quickly.
Sign up now for our next program session!
I hope you find some of these resources and suggestions helpful, and I encourage you to pick a few areas in your home that you can start detoxing, with some simple swaps this fall.
For more resources, be sure to check out the Resources page of my website. I am constantly updating it with all of the new thyroid-friendly finds that I come across! And for more information on the importance of liver health and detoxification, check out my article on How Supporting the Liver Is Key To Recovering From Thyroid Disease.
Here’s to a healthy fall season!
- Guth S, Hüser S, Roth A, et al. Toxicity of fluoride: critical evaluation of evidence for human developmental neurotoxicity in epidemiological studies, animal experiments and in vitro analyses. Arch Toxicol. 2020;94(5):1375-1415. doi:10.1007/s00204-020-02725-2
- Arduc A, Aycicek Dogan B, Bilmez S Imga Nasirouglu N, Tuna MM, Isik S, Berker D, Guler S. High prevalence of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: does the imbalance between estradiol and progesterone play a role? Endocrine Research. 2015;40(4):204-210. doi:10.3109/07435800.2015.1015730.
- Lupkin, Sydney. Women Put an Average of 168 Chemicals on Their Bodies Each Day, Consumer Group Says. ABC News. 27 April 2015. Accessed April 18, 2022. https://abcnews.go.com
- Frack L, Sutton B. 3,163 ingredients hide behind the word “fragrance.” Environmental Working Group website. Published February 2, 2010. Accessed March 30, 2020. https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/3163-ingredients-hide-behind-word-fragrance
- Brent GA. Environmental exposures and autoimmune thyroid disease. Thyroid. 2010;20(7):755-761. doi:10.1089/thy.2010.1636
- Allen JG, Gale S, Zoeller RT, Spengler JD, Birnbaum L, McNeely E. PBDE flame retardants, thyroid disease, and menopausal status in U.S. women. Environ Health. 2016;15(1):60. Published 2016 May 24.