Avocado Toast with a Twist

Avocado toast is a currently popular, healthy, lectin-free alternative to peanut butter or jam, or PB&J.  Breakfast, lunch, or an anytime snack are great reasons to give avocado toast a try.

Add Pesto for a Twist

I love avocado toast, especially with my signature twist of homemade, also incredibly healthy, pesto.

Featuring fresh basil and garlic from my backyard garden, my version of pesto can be quickly whipped up by adding parmesan, almonds, and just enough virgin olive oil (for the healthiest version) to create a paste. I use my Pampered Chef blender, love how well it works for this recipe.

Sorry, I never measure the ingredients when I blend a batch of pesto.  Or many other things for that matter.  You could Google a proper recipe for a guideline though.  Although traditional pesto recipes call for pine nuts, I prefer to use always-available-in-my-pantry almonds instead.  Remember, almonds contain healthy fatty acids.

I scrape a batch of pesto into an icecube tray, then freeze.  A few hours later, pop the cubes into a sealable container and store them in your freezer. 

Avocado toast
Cube of pesto

Uses for Pesto

My pesto cubes get added to soups, pasta, sauces, and more.  Just today I had pesto avocado toast with a few pieces of bacon left over from yesterday’s breakfast. 

Avocado toast
Crispy bacon

Pesto also makes a healthier substitute for mayo in a toasted tomato sandwich or a BLT.  I haven’t tried this yet, but can you imagine a macaroni or potato salad with pesto instead of mayo?

Use your imagination! The possibilities are endless. Let me know your favourites.

Grass or Grain-Fed, Free Range and Pasture-Raised

What’s the difference between grass or grain-fed, free-range, or pasture-raised when it comes to beef cattle and poultry? It can be confusing and advertising can be misleading. Read on to learn the difference.

Grass-Fed or Pasture-Raised

Grass-fed is also referred to as pasture-raised. For beef cattle, this means the cows live on grass without supplementation from grains of any kind. In the winter months, they live on hay which is just grass in a dried state.

Grass or Grain-Fed
Pasture-raised or grass-fed cows

Poultry that is pasture-raised refers to those that have outdoor access to scratch and peck at grass and bugs but shelter from hot sun, cold or wet weather. They are also supplied with feed. In other words, they are allowed to roam (somewhat) freely to do what comes natural to them.

Grass or Grain-fed
Free-range chickens

Grain-Fed Issues

Grain-fed refers to the cattle and poultry that are raised on grain alone.

The problem for cows lies in the fact that they (like many humans) cannot properly digest grains which causes numerous health issues. The reason for this is because cows are ruminants meaning their digestion process requires a fermentation stage.

The big issue for massive, grain-fed poultry stations is the lack of space for the birds to spread their wings, literally. Chicken and eggs sold in stores may claim to be “cage-free” but that doesn’t necessarily indicate they are raised humanely.

In fact, large grain-fed cattle and poultry stations are known to support inhumane practices too. Too often cattle and poultry are packed like sardines into a small area.

Animals fed corn as the grain leads to a whole other problem as corn is highly linked to GMO issues.

Then you have individuals like myself who are allergic to wheat. It took me years to figure out why I react to some eggs but not others.

Hybrids

Some cattle start off grass (pasture) fed but then end up receiving grains to fatten them up for market. This is referred to as “finishing.” Done humanely, (without overcrowding) this should not be a deal breaker.

You may not care whether your beef, poultry, or eggs are grass or grain-fed, free-range or pasture-raised. Educate yourself on the difference and you may just start caring.

These pictures were taken at my uncle’s farm where their cattle and chickens are grass-fed or pasture-raised. I love to visit this childhood-invoking farm with my grandchildren.

Lectins: Toxic Proteins or Revolutionary?

Lectins: Toxic Proteins or Revolutionary Research?

Although lectins are proteins, they are not as good for us as one would think. They are beneficial in plants as they keep insects (kind of like a defense mechanism) away and contain nitrogen which is essential for plant growth. In the human body, however, lectins can be toxic!

Which Foods Contain Lectins?

These are the foods with the most lectins, in descending order:

  • legumes (peanuts, cashews, beans, soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lentils) with uncooked red kidney beans the worst. Butters (peanut butter, hummus) from these legumes also contain lectins.
  • wheat, corn, rice, oats, and quinoa
  • nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers)
  • dairy products containing casein A1 (most North American cows)
  • corn, soybean, and sunflower oils
  • squash family (zucchini, melons, cucumbers)
  • soy products (milk, beans, sprouts, tofu, oils)
  • many fruits, including bananas. See the list below for lectin-free fruit

Why Lectins can be Harmful

The reason lectins cause us so much grief is because they are incredibly sticky and therefore cannot be digested properly. Instead, they adhere to the cells in our guts so that vitamins and minerals do not get absorbed. They also stick to insulin receptors, blocking the hormone called Leptin, so your brain never recognizes when you are full. I’m sure you can guess where this is going. Yes, lectins increase your appetite. Amongst other things.

Increased appetite means weight gain is at the top of the long list of bad things lectins cause. The rest of the list includes achy joints, indigestion, digestive damage, fatigue, brain fog, constipation, mood swings, immune system suppression, depression, and overall poor health.

Everyone has heard of gluten and how millions are avoiding it whether they need to or not. Gluten is a lectin, but there are many other lectins that cause just as much grief (or more) for people with food sensitivities. In fact, if you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, you should avoid all lectins.

People like myself that suffer from a wheat (but not gluten) allergy realize that it is a protein in wheat that triggers my reactions. I was never told however that it was a lectin or that I might be lectin intolerant. This probably explains why those without Celiac disease or a gluten allergy (like myself) who have eliminated wheat from their diets feel so much better.

Wheat germ lectin has been shown in research to impact the immune system by increasing inflammation within our bodies. Not just in our stomach or intestines, but all over our bodies. Have you heard of “leaky gut syndrome?” This happens because lectins punch holes in our intestines (hence the leaky gut) letting toxins and bacteria out of your gut to invade and cause inflammatory responses in many other organs.

This resulting long-term inflammation has been linked to many serious medical conditions including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, uterine fibroids, breast and ovarian cysts, autoimmune diseases, and small airway obstruction (asthma) in the lungs. I was experiencing most of these health issues when I was first diagnosed with my wheat allergy. It took me persistence and quite a long time to figure this out.

The Good News About Lectins

Now for the good news! Lectins are not always bad. Recent research reveals that lectins have been shown to be beneficial in some revolutionary uses. I say revolutionary because the use of natural plant extracts instead of harmful and expensive chemical medication is just that. This is quite exciting, except perhaps for the mega-rich and powerful drug companies. Oops, sorry, I am digressing. Here are some of the revolutionary uses I spoke of:

  • Small amounts of lectins may help the good bacteria that live in the human digestive system.
  • Research suggests that lectins may be useful for helping to identify and diagnose cancer. Lectins are also being studied for their potential to slow down the rate that cancer cells multiply.
  • Researchers are even looking at lectins as potential treatments for illnesses caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Lectin-Free Foods

What foods are left to eat that are lectin-free you ask? If you don’t have any of the above health issues to try to clear up, don’t worry about them, lectins obviously don’t affect you. If you do feel the pain (literally), eat the lectin-rich foods (above) but ensure they are well-cooked and in moderation, and eat more of these lectin-free foods:

  • mushrooms, onions, garlic, celery, and carrots
  • broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus
  • leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc)
  • sweet potatoes (cooked)
  • cherries, apples, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, and lemons
  • pasture-raised (grass-fed) meat and chicken
  • sheep, goat, and coconut milk as well as South European (A2) cow’s milk
  • blanched (no skin) almonds, almond butter
  • olives and olive oil

To Consume or not to Consume Lectins

So, do you continue to consume foods containing lectins or eliminate them from your diet? Well, that depends on how badly they affect you. In my case I avoid wheat. Keeping a journal of foods (lectins) you eat and how they affect you can help decide which ones to eliminate from your diet.

The answer for those of you without an obvious reaction is to simply reduce the lectins you eat. It is not necessary to completely eliminate them, and there are ways to reduce the number of lectins you are putting into your body. Sprouting, fermenting, removing the seeds, or cooking the culprits well will severely diminish the lectins’ potency. Get your pressure cooker out and dust it off!

Intuitive Eating

The moral of this story is to listen to your body. That simple practice is called intuitive eating. If you suffer from many or any of the health issues listed above, maybe you are lectin intolerant! I wish I had this information ten years ago when I was going through my personal battle to figure out what was wrong with me. My doctor wanted to put me on antidepressants, but I refused, believing it was more complicated than that. I’m sure glad I did. I feel better now pushing 60 than I did throughout most of my 40’s and early 50’s!

photo credit


Indian Spices: Turmeric, Curcumin, Cumin, and Curry Powder

Indian spices

If you, like me, are confused about the difference between the Indian spices such as turmeric, curcumin, cumin, and curry powder, this post should help…

Turmeric

Let’s start with turmeric.  Turmeric, also known as Indian saffron, is a plant in the ginger family, native to southeast Asia and India.  It has a bitter but warm taste and is often used to color and flavor butters, cheeses, mustards, and curry powders.  Although the leaves are used to wrap and cook food in areas where it is grown, it is the rhizomes of the turmeric plant that are ground into a powder used around the world to color and flavor food.

The root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine to treat conditions such as heartburn, gallbladder disorders, diabetes, arthritis, stomach pain, headaches, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease, lung infections, menstrual problems, depression, water retention, bronchitis, kidney infections, colds, fibromyalgia, skin inflammations, as well as both fungal and bacterial infections.  Current research is hoping to prove that turmeric is also effective against cancer.

Personally, to take advantage of the amazing health benefits, I use turmeric in my custom smoothies every morning.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the main component of turmeric rhizomes that imparts the typical bright yellow color.  It stains everything it touches, so be warned! That’s about the only downside of this wonderful, healthy spice though.

Cumin

Cumin is the dried seeds of a herb in the parsley family, mainly grown in India as well as other tropical and subtropical, frost-free areas around the world.  The seeds are used ground or whole as a spice to give flavor and aroma to food. I add ground cumin to soups, stews, stir-frys, and more. Once you learn and appreciate the unique taste, you can use your imagination to decide where it should be added.

Indian spices

Curry Powder

Curry powder is a spice blend containing primarily turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili pepper.  A similar blend of spices is called garam masala in south Asia.  Some commercial blends of curry powder also contain ginger, garlic, fennel seed, mustard seed, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, and or cinnamon.

Curry powder is very convenient as it contains most of the other Indian spices mentioned in one bottle. I add it to soups, stews, sauces, etc, even devilled eggs! Once again, use your imagination to add this unique flavour to just about anything.

Indian spices

Well, I learned the difference between these Indian spices (turmeric, curcumin, cumin, and curry powder) while researching this post.  I hope it was helpful.  Try some of these spices soon to add flavor and color to your cooking while preventing or treating many health issues at the same time.

photo credit

 

Expiry Date, Can we Predict Our Own?

expiry date

On what would have been my mother’s ninety-third birthday, I am pondering whether or not we can predict our own expiry date. Sounds morbid, I know, but this thought has crossed my mind many times since my mom passed away suddenly and much too early at the age of sixty-five.

How Much Does Genetics Count for our Expiry Date?

As mentioned, my mother died at the age of sixty-five. My father was seventy-eight although I believe he would have lived longer if my mother had. He was devastated upon her early demise and never really recovered. His broken heart gave out twelve years later.

So, is my own expiry date closer to sixty-five or seventy-eight, or somewhere in between? I realize there are many other factors involved, but I admit these thoughts have affected many choices I have made recently as I approach the dreaded sixty-five year marker.

Is Sixty the new Forty?

I certainly hope so. I think I am healthier and fitter than my parents were in their sixties. If this holds true, maybe my expiry date will be extended for good health. Although each decade seems to bring its own health issues, mine have been relatively minor, especially since I have the wheat thing figured out.

Early Retirement

One of the decisions made due to a potential early expiry date was to retire early, at the age of fifty-two. Well sort of. I accepted a severance package to leave my position within a hospital laboratory at that age but started a landscaping business the very next day. That was ten years ago already. Time does indeed fly when you’re having fun! This season I have cut back on my gardening services to spend more time with my recently retired husband.

Retirement Plans

With both of us retired, we are hoping to kickstart the cottage renovations we have been considering for several years now. Unfortunately, these renovation plans always seem to find a way to get postponed, with one delay after another. The latest delay was due to the recent storm and the ensuing and extensive cleanup here in Ontario.

Travel, something many of us have missed over the past few years during the pandemic, is also in our retirement plans. We may need more months and years to fit all the plans in.

Enjoying the Fruits of our Labour

Thinking about expiry dates only increases the urgency to accomplish items on our to-do list, including renovations. After all, it is important to enjoy the fruits of our labour!

photo credit

Dementia: Can You Prevent it?

dementia

As I get older, every time I forget something I wonder if dementia is imminent. Forgetfulness is common as we age, but just how forgetful is normal, and what level is more worrisome? We all joke about having “senior moments” but when do the jokes become reality?

What is Dementia

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes dementia as the following:

Dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Though dementia mostly affects older adults, it is not a part of normal aging

CDC

Excess Protein in the Brain

Research is showing that excess protein causes a toxic, plaque-like buildup in the brain that kills off brain cells. Known medically as proteinopathies, the group of diseases that exhibit this protein accumulation includes the several forms of dementia.

Normal Aging

CDC assures that these age-related changes in our memory are perfectly normal:

  • Occasionally misplacing items
  • Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
  • Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
  • Forgetting the most recent events

This list also includes going upstairs for something, then forgetting why you went upstairs. Phew, I bet that’s a pretty common occurrence for many of us within my generation.

Worrisome Symptoms

As well as problems with memory, dementia symptoms include issues with communication, attention, problem-solving or judgment, and behavior or personality changes.

For example, if you get lost in a familiar neighbourhood, forget the name of a close friend or family member, find yourself unable to complete familiar tasks, organize or plan, notice decreased coordination, or start using inappropriate/wrong words in a conversation, you should seek medical help.

Warding off Dementia

Any activity that exercises your brain helps to keep dementia at bay. Referred to as cognitive engagement, this includes reading, puzzles, word games (like Wordle), and more.

Physical exercise also helps as it forces more oxygen into your brain. Low or inadequate levels of oxygen, medically called hypoxia, is defined by the National Library of Medicine (NLH) as:

Hypoxia, a condition where oxygen supply to tissue is inadequate, induces free radical generation leading to oxidative protein modifications and tissue damage [2427]. Oxygen supply also acts as a modulator of aging processes [28]. The cerebrovascular disorders and hypoxia-ischemia injuries in the brain are projected as a primary cause of protein pathologies that leads to cognitive impairment and dementia [2930]. In short, hypoxia-ischemia injury in the brain persuades DPMs that can lead to aging, age-associated diseases, and neurodegeneration.

NIH

Social interaction has also been shown to reduce the risk of dementia and slow down its progression if it does happen. Maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure helps lower the risk of dementia as does avoiding/quitting smoking. Avoiding or reducing saturated fats, salt, and sugar is key to a healthy diet, which in turn helps maintain that healthy weight.

Do your part to reduce your risk!

photo credit: pexels-photo-8172897

Herbs for Homemade Remedies

herbs for homemade remedies

Recently I told you about my penchant for alternative medicine. A big part of that is using homemade remedies, many of which come from backyard herbs. Reading The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies from cover to cover I was itching to try many of the herbs in my kitchen or garden.

Oregano

Oregano imparts a unique and subtle flavour to Mediterranean dishes, so is a staple in many kitchen spice cupboards, including mine. It is a hardy, low-growing, perennial plant, perfect for the front of your garden beds. The tiny leaves can be used fresh or dried and crumbled for storage. The leaves can be sprinkled in dishes or steeped as a tea. Oregano oil can be extracted from the leaves and stems or purchased as an essential oil but must be used cautiously (diluted with carrier oils) as it is quite potent on its own.

Uses for oregano include:

  • eliminating skin blemishes and dark spots
  • contains omega 3, heart-healthy fatty acids
  • improves cholesterol levels
  • treats yeast, fungal and viral infections
  • asthma and bronchial infections
  • weight loss, metabolism stimulation
  • boosts immune systems with its vitamins A and C


Rosemary

Another common herb, rosemary is also found in many kitchens. It lends flavour to roasted meats, especially lamb, or potatoes. Its tiny, needle-like leaves can be sprinkled directly on food or steeped in a tea.

According to research, rosemary is beneficial to:

  • improve concentration and memory
  • treat circulation issues and headaches
  • reduce joint and gut inflammation
  • treat fungus and bacterial infections
  • increase energy
  • treat hair loss
  • treat bad breath

Thyme

Varieties of thyme are endless as hardy garden perennials. Their leaves can also be sprinkled on food in the kitchen. Thyme oil or thymol is a respected disinfectant known to kill bacteria and viruses. To wipe down household surfaces, I swear by Soluguard, a product from Melaleuca that combines thyme and lemon.

herbs for homemade remedies
thyme and lemon disinfectant

Thyme can be used for the following ailments:

  • a disinfectant as above due to antiseptic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic properties
  • sore throats, bronchitis, and coughs
  • gum disease, cavities
  • acne
  • boosting the immune system
  • stomach flu symptoms
  • epileptic seizures
  • lice, crabs, worms, and scabies
  • skin lesions, sores, and warts

Dandelion

Everyone knows what a dandelion looks like. All parts of this common weed are edible. The flowers and leaves can be added fresh to salads and the roots dried for tea. The flowers can also be fermented to make dandelion wine.

The many advantages of dandelion include:

  • using the roots for liver, kidney, gallbladder, and GI issues as they remove toxins, help digest fats, and restore electrolyte balance
  • the leaves can be used as a diuretic and antibiotic to treat urinary tract infections
  • high levels of iron, other minerals, and vitamins prevent anemias caused by deficiencies
  • enhances milk production and treats mastitis for breastfeeding women
  • reduces inflammation in arthritic sufferers
  • protects bones from osteoporosis
  • controls blood sugar by stimulating the production of insulin and eliminating excess sugar from bloodstream

Chives

The pretty purply-pink flower heads on chives are very recognizable in our gardens. The leaves can be clipped at the base of the plant and used to:

  • lower cholesterol
  • prevent strokes
  • detoxify
  • flush our systems as a diuretic
  • boost the immune system

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is not as common (at least in my neck of the woods) but can be ordered from health food stores. Its berries, leaves, and roots are all useful.

The many benefits of ashwagandha include:

  • anti-inflammatory, for managing arthritic pain
  • improves immune function by reducing stress hormones and increasing white blood cell production
  • protects the brain from degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • anti-oxidant properties that help treat colon, stomach, breast, ovarian, and lung cancers.
  • improves memory

These are just a few herbs for possible homemade remedies that caught my eye. There are many more out there; do your own research!

photo credit

Alternative Medicine

alternative medicine

Recently a friend asked my advice to help with a painful bout of constipation she was suffering from. On several new medications for multiple health issues, I believed these medications to be the culprit of her discomfort. She knows that I am a strong proponent of alternative medicine, so hoped I could suggest a home remedy that did not involve more medication.

She was right; home remedies are my thing. Here are just a few of my favourites.

Fresh Lemon Juice and Water

A glass of water with fresh lemon juice squeezed into it works wonders for constipation. I drink a glassful most mornings to keep bowel movements regular in frequency and consistency. In my friend’s case, a few glasses of lemon and water fixed her problem within a few hours. I suggested she drinks one glass of this concoction every day too.

Another benefit of lemon is the fact that the alkalinity it promotes within your body is useful to prevent and alleviate many other health issues. In fact, some people swear by this lemon and water trick for losing weight too.

alternative medicine
Photo by shutter_speed on Pexels.com

Exercise and Fresh Air

Exercise is believed to be beneficial and therapeutic for many health issues including depression, weight management, and more. Exercising outdoors in fresh air is even better, especially if the sun is shining. The vitamin D your skin absorbs from the sunshine is beneficial for boosting immune systems too. The health of our immune systems has proven to be so important in our battle with Covid-19 throughout the pandemic.

Essential Oils

I love essential oils for so many reasons. In short, the multitude of scents available in these oils can be implemented for skincare, air fresheners, mood enhancers, perfume, hair conditioners, and more. The best part is that these scents are created from nature instead of from artificial chemicals. That’s why I include essential oils in my list of alternative medicine. I am such a fan of essential oils from Vitality Extracts that I have become an “influencer” with them. If you order from there, be sure to use my link.

Purchase the oils individually or in blends, in roller applicators, or bottles with droppers.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies are common in alternative medicine. I just purchased the book entitled The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies by herbalist, biologist, and MS defier Nicole Apelian, PhD. I am gradually working my way through the three hundred and some pages. In addition, this book is rated 5-star, so I am sure to learn lots of new remedies. Most importantly, many of these herbs are so common that you probably have them around your house. I know I do.

Modern Medicine vs Alternative Medicine

Not that I am against modern medicine. Science has come a long way in medical research, antibiotics, and vaccines, all of which are important and necessary advancements. I just feel that too often medication is over-prescribed. Consequently, popping pills is a band-aid fix, masking the problem instead of addressing or fixing it. For example, pain killers should be only be used as a temporary fix until the cause of the pain can be alleviated.

Many times the side effects of medication are as painful or dangerous as the condition they are treating. The problem intensifies when multiple medications are taken, making matters worse. Have you ever read the possible side effects of prescribed medications? The lists are extensive, the possible reactions scary.

Conclusions

Whenever possible I rely on alternative medicine to improve my health and treat symptoms. Part of that decision is because many chemical medications affect me adversely. In summary, I like the fact that alternative medicine relies on natural remedies as opposed to chemical cocktails.

Neuroplasticity: for ADHD and More

I came across a fascinating article recently on how neurons (brain cells) can be trained or rewired to overcome disease, conditions, and injury. To clarify, this training process is called neuroplasticity, currently used with success on both adults and children.

Likewise, Medicinenet defines neuroplasticity as:

 The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment

Medicinenet.com

Children and Neuroplasticity

Are you worried about your child(ren) and their inability to focus and behave? Are they falling behind in school? Learn how you can help them rewire their brains without the band-aid fix of medication. Watch this:

Methods by Maxi Mind

These methods in the video may appear simple, too good to be true, but apparently they can work wonders to achieve mental focus.

Juggling

Who knew? Juggling obviously takes physical dexterity but did you know it also trains your brain to focus? This video can teach you the (??) simple steps to learn the technique…

Bean Bag Toss

If juggling doesn’t appeal to you or seems too complicated, try the simpler focusing trick of a bean bag toss. Throw a bean bag from one hand to the other, ensuring the bag only goes to eye level; watch it go back and forth.

Atlassian for Neuroplasticity Exercises

Exercises, techniques and tips from Atlassian will help boost your productivity by training and looking after your brain. Poor concentration, poor memory and more can be a thing of the past.

neuroplasticity and Atlassian

POND: Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Disorders

POND translates scientific research on various neurodevelopmental disorders into treatment practices. Make physical appointments or receive news and resources in newsletter format through a mailing list. Take part in a research study; get involved directly.

C8 Sciences Reports on Neuroplasticity

C8 Sciences explains how to shape the brain with activity. Nobel-prize-winning research has shown that neuroplasticity is most effective in young children. The belief that kid’s brains are like sponges just happens to be true; they soak up more knowledge and training before the age of five than anyone does in later years.

Conclusions

I’ve learned it’s never too late to rewire or train your brain. Whether you play Wordle every day or learn to juggle, make sure you keep your brain exercised!

Even more significant, this research supports the possibility of rewiring the brains of children afflicted with learning disorders or behavioral problems. In short, many of these issues show up when children reach school age. What have you got to lose when you or your child’s teachers notice your child is struggling?

In summary, it is important to recognize the struggle and do anything you can to help.

Household Toxins Might be Making you Sick

household toxins

Common household toxins may be making you sick.  In some cases you don’t even know you are sick. Toxins are present in your home in the form of cleaning products, paints, furniture, synthetic building materials such as particle board and insulation, carpets, and even your printer and photocopier! Learn about the common culprits and just what they can do to your health.

VOCs are Household Toxins

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful gases released by all of the common household items listed above.  These gases cause lethargy, skin rashes, headaches, drowsiness, itchy eyes, asthma-like symptoms, and even cancer.

Be aware of what you are bringing into your home!  I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I was cleaning my house.  Out of my usual brand of toilet cleaner, I grabbed a bottle of Javex sitting around the house from my pre-toxin awareness days.   I used it (sparingly) to clean the toilets in my home…

Symptoms of Household Toxins

The next day I woke up with what I thought was the start of a cold.  My chest felt heavy and I could not seem to draw a full breath into my lungs.  I also had a vague headache, and a “tickle” in my throat, but no other cold like symptoms developed.  Later on that day, I developed a shallow, dry cough which felt like my lungs were trying to clear whatever was irritating them. 

These symptoms lasted for four days.  Coincidence?   I don’t think so; this is how my lungs felt most of the time before I switched to non-toxic products. The products I now use are all made with tea tree oil, an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, natural ingredient.  My respirologist agrees, as my asthma-like symptoms have disappeared since switching to these non-toxic products.

Houseplants Remove Household Toxins

You can also make your home healthier by adding house plants to your decor.  Not only do plants look nice, but they can also help keep your family healthy.  Carbon dioxide and the VOCs described above, as well as other harmful gases such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene are absorbed through the roots as well as through pores in the leaves of plants.   In exchange, beneficial and healthy products like oxygen and moisture are released into the air for us to breathe.

Choose plants such as spider plants, dracaena, English ivy, mother-in-law tongues, bamboo palms, and other tropical plants. These choices are all easy to grow and readily available.  Tropical plants are suitable for indoors in homes and offices because they are used to growing and processing gases in reduced light under the canopies of jungles and rain forests.  Water your plants thoroughly with warm water and let the soil dry out between watering; too much water is the easiest way to kill your house plants.

Fifteen medium to large plants (greater than six-inch pots) in an average-sized 2000 square foot home can greatly improve the air quality in your home. So, get growing!

In Conclusion

Get rid of the common household toxins making your family sick by removing offending chemical compounds and adding houseplants. Check out a recent post on what I’ve learned about houseplant care. My house is fast becoming a jungle, but I love it.

A green landscape outside can improve the air quality in your yard and even your neighbourhood as well. Planting lots of shrubs, trees, perennials and annuals can turn your yards into a healthy environment for you as well as the birds and other wildlife.