Each and every day, you come into contact with a large number of items—many of which have health risks that can accumulate over time. Many chemicals appear safe yet aren’t, and are not likely to be suspected when your health starts failing.
But other items that are part of the “standard” of contemporary living—such as electronics and even your office chair—can also do more harm than good in the long run.
The list of offending items can certainly be made exceedingly long, but here I will list 10 everyday items that you’d be better off without. A recent article in Time Magazine lists even more items you should throw away for better health.
#1: Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose (Splenda) trick your body into storing fat and raise your risk of diabetes, so if you’re looking for health benefits, you’d be better off throwing those colorful little packets in the trash.
The same goes for any food or beverage containing artificial sweeteners, such as diet soda. Besides worsening insulin sensitivity and promoting weight gain, artificial sweeteners also promote other more serious health problems, including heart attacks, stroke2, and Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the mechanisms by which artificial sweeteners promote obesity and disease is by disrupting your intestinal microflora. Specifically, artificial sweeteners alter metabolic pathways associated with metabolic function.
Decreased function has been observed in pathways associated with the transport of sugar in your body, for example. Artificial sweeteners have also been found to induce gut dysbiosis and glucose intolerance in otherwise healthy people.
#2: Plastic Food Containers and Bottles
Tossing your plastic food containers and plastic bottles is a basic step to reducing your exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA), bisphenol-S (BPS), and phthalates.
Your endocrine system as a whole is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been linked to a wide number of adverse effects, including:
- Reproductive health problems
- Hypertension: According to one randomized, controlled trial, BPA from cans or plastic bottles can raise your blood pressure within just a few hours of ingestion
- Reduced IQ in children
- Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning
- Cancer of the breast, prostate, and thyroid
Heat, along with wear and tear through multiple washings can increase the amount of chemicals being leached from containers and bottles, so holding on to old containers is not a good idea.
While I used to support switching to BPA-free containers, it’s now been revealed that even “BPA-free” plastics can leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad as BPA.
Your best bet is to avoid plastic containers altogether, and replace them with glass bottles and containers. Also opt for glass baby bottles if you have young children. Make the switch to glass, and you won’t have to struggle figuring out which plastic might be safer than another, only to later find out it wasn’t such a great trade after all…
#3: Non-Stick Cookware
To further clean up your kitchen act, toss non-stick pots and pans and replace them with ceramic or glass cookware. The non-stick coating is made with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been labeled a “likely” carcinogen by an independent scientific review panel that advises the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Although PFOA is a long complex name, it is essentially a complex chemical and relies on fluoride for its non-stick properties. The problem is that once you heat the pot or pan, the fluoride vaporizes into the air where it can kill small birds and harm you and your family. You can easily bypass this unnecessary health risk by switching to ceramic or glass cookware that do not emit toxic fluoride.
#4: Air Fresheners
Room deodorizers frequently contain 2, 5-dichlorophenol (2, 5-DCP), a metabolite of 1,4-dichlorobenzene, which has been linked to precocious puberty and other health problems, including cancer. Endocrine-disrupting phthalates are also commonly found in air fresheners and room deodorizers.
If you’re having issues with unpleasant smells, you’d be wise to address the root causes rather than masking them with chemical sprays.
Opening your windows and doors from time to time can help, and will also improve the general air quality in your home or office. If you want a scent, opt for high-quality pure essential oils, which can actually support your health and wellbeing.
#5: Antibacterial Soaps and Detergents
Routinely disinfecting your body and surroundings may actually cause far more harm than good in the long run. Not only does it promote the development of drug-resistant bacteria, but antibacterial compounds such as triclosan have also been linked to a number or harmful health effects, especially in young children.
For example, research has shown that triclosan can alter hormone regulation and may interfere with fetal development in pregnant women. This antibacterial ingredient has also been linked to:
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Endocrine disruption
- Weight gain
- Inflammatory responses
Warm water and a mild soap is really all you need to safely eliminate disease-causing microbes Even the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that “there is currently no evidence that [antibacterial soaps] are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water.”
Besides hand soaps and products specifically marketed as antibacterial, triclosan can also be found in a number of other household and personal care products, including cutting boards, toys, acne cream, and Colgate Total toothpaste—all of which are also best avoided.
One all-purpose disinfectant that works great for kitchen counters, cutting boards, and bathrooms—all places where germs like to grow—is 3% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Simply put each liquid into a separate spray bottle, then spray the surface with one, followed by the other. In tests run at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, pairing the two mists killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces when used in this fashion, making this spray combination more effective at killing these potentially lethal bacteria than chlorine bleach or any commercially available kitchen cleaner.
#6: Commercial Cleaning Products
You can avoid quite a few hazardous chemicals simply by tossing those commercial cleaning products in the dustbin. Every single one of them can be replaced with a short list of basic ingredients. Here’s a simple starter list of what you need to make your own natural cleaning products: