Updated 23 April 2014

Detox your kitchen

Take our Toxic Tour, starting with the heart of the home – your kitchen – to identify the culprits and replace them with healthier, greener alternatives.

Harmful chemicals lurk in many innocent-seeming items of everyday modern life.

Taken singly, in tiny doses, they don't cause obvious harm. But there's concern about what they do to our health cumulatively; the "chemical load" we carry may well be linked to rising rates of cancer, asthma and developmental disorders, among others.

Read: Our cancer-causing world

“Detoxing” the kitchen is especially important as food is one of the main routes toxins can enter our bodies.

Some toxins enter food during processing and packaging; others are inadvertently added from chemicals in cleaning products.

Detox kitchen surfaces

* Reduce and/or dilute the amount of commercial cleaning products you use on kitchen surfaces - and use a bit more elbow grease instead! (Vigorous housework burns around 200 calories an hour.)

* Rinse well with plain water afterwards if you must use commercial cleaners. This is especially important when it comes to washing dishes.

* Keep windows and doors open for good ventilation while using commercial cleaners, which tend to give off harmful fumes.

* Try natural cleaners with ingredients like lemon juice, vinegar and bicarb. They have surprisingly high germ-busting power, but they're so safe you can eat them.

* Ban commercial drain cleaners from your home - they're toxin bombs. Use this old faithful method instead.

Read: Lemons: golden fruit

Detox your food

Many of our foods contain artificial additives (just read the product labels).

Lower your intake of potentially harmful substances:

* Use natural flavours whenever possible. Avoid or radically cut back on foods that contain artificial flavourants, sweeteners, colourants and preservatives. Foods that often contain additives include convenience foods, deli/luncheon meats like polony, chips, sweetened "diet" products, fruit "nectars" and squashes, fizzy drinks, packet soups and desserts.

* Include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet. The less processing, the better - for you and the environment.

* Rinse fresh produce very well to remove traces of pesticides.

* Food packaging can also contain harmful chemicals, which may leach into food. The golden rule here is to avoid heating food or drink in plastic containers or wrap. Choose glass or paper packaging when possible, and decant food from plastic containers and cans when you get it home. Steel or tin containers are generally otherwise fine, but cans are often lined with plastic about which there is some concern.

* Don't use spray / aerosol coating products when cooking - these contain chemical propellants, which may cause damage to the nervous system.

Follow us in coming weeks, as we detox the rest of the house. The idea for doing a "Toxic Tour" of the home comes from groundWork.

Read more:

Swop 'liquid candy' for water
Plastic protection

Olivia Rose-Innes is Health24’s EnviroHealth Editor. Read more of her columns and articles or post a question to her expert forum.


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