Remember when heading to the beach meant slathering on the SPF 50, loading your bag with plastic water bottles, and hitting up the snack bar for fresh fish tacos? It wasn’t so long ago that these habits were hailed as healthy, safe and effective alternatives to baby oil, soda and french fries.
We now know that many “safe” behaviors also expose us to harmful toxins. During the summer months, in particular, you may be exposed to more chemicals in sunscreens, bug sprays and pesticides than usual. We tend to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables during the summer, for example, but they are often sprayed with chemicals that are best not ingested. We also use more insect repellent.
“Many people don’t realize the effects of toxicity on their bodies. We see signs of toxicity present as hormonal imbalances, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and brain fog/memory loss, among others,” says Jenna Richardson, Clinical Director of Princeton Integrative Health.
Fortunately, there are many easy steps you can take to limit your exposure to harmful toxins. The key is to stay informed, read product labels and talk to your healthcare provider.
Here are some tips from PIH:
- Get a Little Sun. But Don’t Misuse Sunscreen. The sun gives us a much needed boost of vitamin D, but it also increases our risk of skin cancer. It’s best to seek shade between 10 am and 2 pm; wear a hat, sunglasses and other protective clothing; and avoid sunscreens with retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) and worrisome ingredients such as oxybenzone. Keep in mind that high SPFs don’t necessarily protect you more and may give you a false sense of security.
- Stay Hydrated. But Ditch the Plastic Water Bottles. The chemicals in plastics can seep into the liquid contents of a plastic bottle, especially when left in high heat. Use glass or stainless steel water bottles whenever possible, and refill them with filtered water.
- Eat Fresh Fish. But Choose Wisely. Fish and shellfish are a good source of protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids, but some contain harmful chemicals or high levels of mercury. Select fish and shellfish that have been wild caught in fresh, clean waters.
- Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables! But Keep It Clean. To limit your exposure to toxic pesticides, buy organic when possible, always wash your produce before eating, and review the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.”
- Delay Before You Spray. Read the Label on Insect Repellent. Look for alternative products, such as pure essential oils, and keep your skin covered as best as possible when outdoors, particularly in wooded areas.
It is always wise to consult with your healthcare professional about what is best for you.
To schedule a consultation, call 609.512.1468.
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