Health is so much more than what we eat. It’s a series of conscious decisions about what we put in— and on our bodies — every single day. YA•YE founder, Krissy Ostermiller, shares 5 tips for living clean that transcend the plate.
1 | STRETCH FOR 5 MINS EVERY DAY
It requires zero equipment. It’s free. It’s something you can do while you brush your teeth. A juicy stretch routine can guarantee great results for a minimal amount of effort.
By incorporating stretching into your morning routine, you can increase your flexibility, improve performance in physical activities and help prevent injury associated with muscle tightness. Yes, yes and yes.
While a stretch routine can be personal to you, here’s a session accessible on Youtube that I recommend. Try to memorize the stretches, so you aren’t staring at a screen during this exercise. To get the most out of your routine, I recommend making it a ritual with products like essential oils, a soothing playlist and even a cracked window to catch a breeze.
2 | SAY NO TO THE TOXIC TEN
A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your face. Your skin is your body’s largest organ—and it absorbs everything you put on it. That lotion, deodorant and concealer all enter the bloodstream. Although our bodies are designed to naturally filter out toxins, current cosmetics can overwhelm our systems—and even throw them off. This is because most chemical products contain endocrine disruptors which mimic our hormones and wreak havoc on our internal rhythms. EDCs largely drive reproductive health effects — in both women and men.
You may not be super eager to ditch your favorite drugstore mascara or your signature scent, and that’s okay. Although, I recommend avoiding the top 10 toxic beauty ingredients aka “The Toxic Ten:”
- Mineral Oil
- Sodium Lauryl (Ether) Sulfate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
It’s not so easy to remember this list, so I recommend saving it in the notes section of your phone to have handy when you’re shopping. Another quick tip? Go unscented. Fragrance is one of the most toxic ingredients in your cosmetic drawer. If you’re feeling overly ambitious, ditch your deodorant for a natural version free from parabens. Those substances have been linked to breast cancer in the Journal of Applied Toxicology.
There’s some good news: after just three days of using products free of hormone-disrupting chemicals, The UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health found that levels dropped by as much as 45 percent. That’s a crazy reduction for something as simple as swapping your deoardent.
3 | WASH NEW CLOTHES BEFORE WEARING THEM
We’ve all tossed on an item of clothing straight from the store. Ahhhh… that brand-new clothes feeling. It’s too good to resist. What isn’t too good? The chemicals covering the fabrics that can cause potential skin reactions and health issues. Typically, new clothing contains a substance called disperse dyes which can leach onto your skin when exposed to body heat. It’s not uncommon to experience irritation around your collar or armpits, particularly in workout gear.
A rash? Not so bad. Just wait. It gets worse with potential carcinogens lurking in new clothing garments. In a 2014 study, a group of researchers tested 31 new clothing samples to reveal that 29 items contained the substance quinoline. Quinoline is classified as a “possible human carcinogen” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Apparently, the stuff is linked to “tumor-initiating” activity in mice. Yikes.
Scary studies aside, a simple rinse in the washing machine can drastically eliminate the amount of toxins on new clothing. Another tip? Try to buy natural fibers like linen and cotton where the incidence of these chemicals is the lowest.
4 | FLOSS FOR FUTURE FERTILITY
No one likes it, but studies continue to put power behind flossing. It’s linked to a brighter smile, better breath and reducing your risk of heart disease. That’s not all. Recently, researchers in Australia revealed that flossing is also tied to fertility. In fact, poor oral health is as detrimental to fertility as obesity.
In a study with over 3,500 women, those with gum disease (a byproduct of lackluster dental hygiene) took on average 2 more months to conceive than their counterparts. Researchers believe that the underlying cause is inflammation. It can set off a chain of reactions capable of damaging the body’s internal rhythms. Over 10% of the population experiences gum disease. So, get on that floss.
Before you get started, keep in mind that not all floss is created equal. Certain brands are coated in a waxy substance choke full of chemicals. The chemicals are PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances, which give items a nonstick property. They can be found in floss as well as microwave popcorn, fast-food containers, nonstick cookware and more. According to a Harvard Research Study, these chemicals have been linked to numerous adverse health outcomes including kidney and testicular cancer, decreased semen quality and ulcerative colitis. Basically, you want to make sure your floss isn’t coated in teflon. There’s an easy way to do this: avoid any products with the term “glide.”
5 | TRADE IN TOXIC TAMPONS
Most of us haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about what’s in our tampons—but we should. Turns out, chemicals in tampons make their way into our bloodstream. Not the greatest news, considering the average woman goes through 11,000 to 16,000 tampons in her lifetime.
So what exactly is lurking in tampons? Most tampons are made from cotton, which has been genetically modified to be resistant to weed killer, allowing farmers to spray the crops and kill any competing weeds inhibiting cotton growth. Unfortunately, the weed killer, most commonly known as Round-up (i.e. glyphosate), makes its way into our tampons and our bodies. Glyphosate has been declared a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Then there’s the bleach on tampons. As a by-product of bleaching, tampons contain a very dangerous chemical known as dioxin. Tampon manufacturers and the FDA comment that the levels are so low, often undetectable, that tampons are safe. But they’re talking about a single tampon. Chronic exposure to dioxin and glyphosate over the course of a lifetime may be cumulative.
The good news? There’s plenty you can do to avoid toxicity every month. Start by buying organic cotton tampons without plastic applicators. Bonus points for finding chlorine-free products. There are also organic cloth pads made from organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. The best switch would be avoiding cotton altogether by trying a silicone menstrual cup (my personal fave) or a sea sponge. Bonus points: both are reusable, making them better for you and the environment. Try a few of these methods to see what works for you.
It never ceases to amaze me how many chemicals we come into contact with every single day. Many of us pay so much attention to the food we eat, but forget to think holistically. If you felt like pandora’s box was flung wide open while reading this, remember that wellness is a journey, not a destination. Start by implementing one or two of these tips — and before you know it, your routine and your health will slowly transform.