It’s Week Five of our Six Week All Natural Challenge. So far we’ve discussed how artificial colors and flavors, artificial preservatives, excitotoxins (artificial sweeteners and MSG), and artificial fragrance can effect behavior in children, as well as negatively effect your health. For those of you who may be new to the Challenge, please read my short article on Circle of Moms that explains how I used an all natural diet to control my daughter’s ADHD like symptoms, here. You can also learn more about the All Natural Challenge and how it works by clicking on the All Natural Challenge tab at the top of this page. I encourage you to read the Success Stories to hear how other Moms have used the All Natural Challenge to improve their child’s behavior as well.
This week’s challenge is all about body care. I can tell you first hand that the products you use on your hair, skin, and teeth can make a very big difference in your child’s behavior. When I began weeding out the artificial ingredients in our diet I became an avid label reader. One night I was brushing my daughter’s teeth and just happened to pick up the toothpaste container and began reading the ingredients. I was shocked. Open mouth and all. The toothpaste I’d been using for my daughter contained not only artificial flavors and colors, but those artificial colors weren’t even approved for use in food. She’s a child, she swallows toothpaste like it’s candy. Because they make it look and taste like candy, of course. So I began doing some research and found that toothpaste wasn’t the only problem.
Everything that touches your skin is in some way absorbed by your body. From the shampoo that sits on your scalp to the lotion you use on your elbows, to the soap you use to wash your hands – it all effects you. And if you’re trying hard to stick to an all natural diet to improve your child’s behavior, you can easily sabotage yourself if you’re not careful. There are plenty of ingredients that can cause uncontrollable behavior, and even worse, serious health problems.
The first set of ingredients to watch out for will make perfect sense to you if you’ve been following the All Natural Challenge since week one. They are the same things you want to avoid in your food – artificial colors, artificial flavors, and artificial fragrance. They are every bit as bad on your skin as they are in your stomach. Those things are self explanatory, right? Here’s one you might not have thought about – what color are the bristles on your child’s toothbrush? If they aren’t white you should consider changing that toothpaste soon. And those blue “indicator” bristles that are supposed to tell you when your toothbrush needs changing? Those are artificial colors too. Do you really need them? No. Are they good for your health? No.
In addition to those ingredients there are a few others you definitely don’t want to see in your body care products. First up is Parabens. They can go by the name methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben. Parabens are used as a preservative in things like lotions, shampoos, and shower gel. The scary thing about this ingredient is that they have been proven to be endocrine disruptors, meaning they cause your naturally produced hormones to become very confused. They most closely mimic the hormone estrogen, so the body doesn’t know if it’s producing too much or too little estrogen at any time. And now for the kicker – parabens have been found inside breast cancer tumors. While no official link has been made, you can draw your own conclusions as to whether you want parabens being absorbed into your skin each day.
The second little ingredient that can cause big problems is Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS). SLS is added to products as a foaming agent. It’s what makes your shampoo feel like it’s working. In reality it may be making you sick. There are many studies that link SLS to eye deformities in children, even in children who have never gotten SLS in their eyes. Just the exposure to it through the skin is enough to cause eye problems. SLS is has also been linked to a process called protein denaturing, which means it damages skin cells. There are several articles that question whether SLS may be leading to an increase in skin cancer in recent years. I’m not done yet. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is commonly manufactured along with dioxane. When SLS and dioxane are combined they create a powerful combination that has the ability to damage your kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. I’d rather skip the foaming action, thank you very much.
Let’s talk about fluoride for a minute. My philosophy is always to arm you with all the information I have about ingredients and additives and let you make your own informed decision. Fluoride is going to one of those judgement calls you will have to make. While most dentists and health officials agree that fluoride leads to reduced cavities, there are other less desirable effects of fluoride. Recent research does link fluoride to learning difficulties and behavior problems in some children. I encourage you to do your own research and make your own decisions when it comes to fluoride.
The last ingredient to discuss today is an important one. It’s called Triclosan, and it’s a main ingredient in all those anti-bacterial gels and hand soaps. It’s very good at killing bad bacteria. But it’s also very good at killing good bacteria too. Overuse of triclosan, meaning anti-bacterial products, are believed to the cause of many of the “super bugs” we’re seeing in recent times. The bacteria that are strong enough to survive triclosan breed and create even stronger bacteria. That’s not good for anyone. One more thing to note, all those anti-bacterial gels, foams, and soaps don’t kill viruses. Viruses are generally what make you sick in the first place and are what gets passed around from person to person. The CDC as well as many other sources recommend plain old soap and water for that very reason. Triclosan has also been shown to cause damage to hormone function as well as liver damage. And when it’s mixed with chlorinated water it forms chloroform. Do I need to keep going with all the reasons why anti-bacterial products aren’t really what they’re made out to be? Probably not, so I’ll stop now. Just know that plain soap and water is much safer you, your family, and the environment.
Now, after all of that, you’re probably worried about whether you’ll ever be able to find products that fit into all those parameters. Believe me, it’s not that hard. You can check out the list of products in my Store tab at the top of the page to see some of the things I’ve personally used and can recommend. I’ve grouped them all under All Natural Body Care. In addition to those products I love the 365 Brand of fragrance free body care from Whole Foods – shampoo, conditioner, shower gel – I use them all for myself and the kids too. They’re really well priced compared to most other brands, and they’re very high quality. For toothpaste I love Tom’s of Maine for both kids and adults. You can find the kind with no fluoride at Whole Foods as well, or through Amazon. Kiss My Face makes wonderful moisturizers and soap which can be found at Walgreen’s and Target, along with California Baby and Alba Botanica. Any questions about other types of products? Just email or comment below and I’m happy to help.
That’s it for week five – take a look at your daily clean routine. Get rid of all the artificial junk along with the chemicals that are concern for your family’s health. It may not seem like a big step to take but it’s very important. If you’re still seeing behavior issues this may be the answer you need. As always, feel free to contact me at contact.ourfamilyeats at gmail dot com if you have any questions about this week or any of the past weeks. Have you been using the All Natural Challenge and seeing great results? I’d love to add your story to the Success Story page! Come back next week for the final week of the Challenge! You’re almost there!
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