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Baby Steps to Better Health

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It’s great that so many people in our country are embracing healthier lifestyles. In my daily blog surfing, I constantly see new blogs with articles about skin care, wellness, alternative healthcare, holistic living, cooking and eating organic foods, using organic skin care products with safe and non-toxic ingredients, fitness, etc.

Where to begin?

There is just so much information out there, and processing it all can seem like a daunting task. Many of us grew up eating conventional foods, most of which we now know contains pesticides, steroids, antibiotics, and growth hormones; and using conventional, chemically-based products in our homes and on our bodies.

Because of experts like those at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), we are now becoming more and more educated about how repeated, long-term consumption of these things can cause horrible illnesses and conditions like cancer, neurological and brain disorders, birth defects, etc.

Why Do I Need to Make a Change?

Many people are overwhelmed by the fact that many favorite products and foods that they have been using their entire lives can harm them. Some get defensive, and say “I’ve been using these products and eating conventional foods all my life and I’m just fine.” Well, if that is true, then why are so many more people today being diagnosed with cancer and other serious illnesses than years ago?

Many people blame the environment and pollution, or say that diagnostic medical technology has become more effective, which is certainly true.

But doesn’t it make sense that regularly ingesting (or topically applying) chemicals that are designed to kill other living things, along with other ingredients that are known carcinogens, hormonal disruptors, neurological toxins, etc. might just be the reason so many more people are getting sick? Think about it. Sure, you may have used these products your whole life and be fine today, but what about tomorrow? What about five or ten years from now?

Change Can Be Challenging

I came across an article by Estelle Hayes on the Huffington Post that discussed this topic. She mentioned several ingredients that people regularly consume on a daily basis by using cosmetics and hair products, and some of the potential harm they can cause.

She also recognized that accepting that these products are harmful is difficult for many people. Most people do not like change. Being asked to stop using a product they have used for years and switch to something that might look, feel, smell, or work differently can cause anxiety. People like familiar things. Sometimes there are memories associated with products people use, especially if they are fragranced.

A Complete and Immediate Overhaul Is Not Necessary

Instead of taking a gigantic garbage bag and emptying your closets and cabinets of all potentially toxic products at once (which I actually did, years ago), it is much easier on the nerves and the wallet to do it little by little.

Start with products that you need to replenish soon. Food is a great starting point. Next time you go to the grocery store, look for products that have either an “all natural” or organic alternative. Many large grocery chains, such as Safeway, are now offering all natural and/or organic store brand alternatives for a majority of their products. These stores are seeing the huge success that specialty stores like Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s have achieved and are starting to compete. As a result, the specialty stores have started lowering their prices and offering more coupons, loyalty programs, and sales because they now have more stores to compete with.

Next time you run out of your skin care products, try replacing them with a safer alternative. There are safe alternatives available in every type of retail environment these days. All you have to do is read the labels, and know what ingredients to avoid.

For specifics check out the EWG’s Cosmetic Safety Database. You can search for products by category, safety rating, or brand name, or even look up specific ingredients. It is a great resource, and takes away a lot of the guesswork.

Many of these products are available in stores, and nearly all of them are available online, with helpful user reviews. You don’t even have to replace your entire regimen at once…if you run out of one thing, like a cleanser, before you run out of your moisturizer, just replace the cleanser for now, then replace the moisturizer once it runs out. This goes for your hair care products as well.  Eventually you will have a full regimen of safe products.

Use the same strategy for your household products, like detergents, antibacterial wipes, and glass cleaners. There are now several brands available that contain ingredients that are safer for our environment and safer for you and your family.

Aren’t Safer Products Too Expensive?

If you think prices for safer products are high now, you have to look at it from this perspective: you cannot put a price on your family’s safety and health. The only way prices will go down is if demand goes up. So make changes to your cosmetics, hair care and personal products, and household products little by little and encourage others to do the same. The more aware people become, the safer and healthier we will all be; and eventually all product manufacturers will have to use safer ingredients and manufacturing practices.

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About Rachael Pontillo