Nourish and Protect Your Biggest Organ: Your Skin

On August 15, 2012, Johnson & Johnson, makers of Aveeno, Neutrogena, and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, announced that it will be removing carcinogens and other toxic chemicals from its baby and adult products globally.

According to Women’s Voices for the Earth, J&J told the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics it will reformulate its hundreds of cosmetics and personal care products in all the markets it serves in 57 countries around the world by the end of 2015.

•    Reduce 1,4 dioxane to a maximum of 10 parts per million in adult products;

•    Phase out formaldehyde-releasers in adult products;
•    Limit parabens in adult products to methyl-, ethyl- and propyl-;
•    Complete phase-out of triclosan from all products;
•    Phase out Diethyl Phthalate (DEP) from all products (no other phthalates are currently used);
•    Phase out polycyclic musks, animal derived ingredients, tagates, rose crystal and diacetyl from fragrances.

This is all great news, but as with their announcement in November 2011 agreeing to reformulate baby products to remove carcinogens 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde by the end of 2013, it seems to be a little late for my comfort level.  Particularly when the harmful effects of these chemicals have been known for a long time.  Even more frustrating is that many of these chemicals have been banned in Europe for years and J&J has formulated products for Europe without the banned chemicals.

But you don’t have to wait for J&J or any other large company to shape up to start limiting your exposure to these toxins and carcinogens.

Your Skin and Your Immune System

Your skin is an organ.  It is an organ like your brain or your liver or your heart.  And your skin has an important job to do just like these other organs.  But it’s job is not simply to hold your body and your guts and your other organs in place, your skin’s biggest job is to serve as your first level of protection against germs and bacteria and viruses.   It is part of your immune system.  In a sense it is one of the most important parts of the immune system because if it is in tact and doing its job well, it keeps out the bad stuff. Like a soccer goalie.  It doesn’t matter how fast a runner your front line is if there is no one keeping the ball out of the goal. Your skin protects the goal.

“One day walking around a city could expose your skin to more pollutants than those your grandmother was exposed to in her whole lifetime.”

If you want a healthy liver, you stop drinking alcohol and eating artificial sweeteners and you increase your intake of green leafy vegetables, beans and purified water.  If you want healthy skin, you stop using chemical skin care, you stay out of the harsh sun, you avoid smog filled pollution and you increase your intake of healthy nutrients.  With your skin, you can realize fast and dramatic changes; faster than you can with any other organ, because you can have direct access to the organ.  In addition to eating the right foods, you can apply nutrient based skin care products directly to your skin.

“Air pollution, fluorescent lights, some computer screens, even tap water with iron in it — all of these expose skin to more free radicals than any generation before us. And since skin can no longer keep up with these assaults, a chain reaction of oxidation is happening right on it.  It’s like your skin rusting.”

The damage isn’t just on the skin you see today, but also to the to skin that will emerge as you age as most damage is on a cellular level. The key to improving your skin is to protect it from toxins and to nourish it properly.

According to Organic Authority, Beautiful skin starts from the inside out, and eating these six foods could help your body’s largest organ avoid sun damage, stay moisturized, fight wrinkles, and even prevent cancer.

Best nutrients for your skin:

Vitamin E – Almonds

Vitamin C – Papaya, Sweet Potato

Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Flax Seeds

Vitamin A – Carrots

Omega 6 – Safflower Oil

Folate – Spinach, leafy greens

Worst toxins to avoid:

  • Free-Radicals – Are unstable and try to break down cell structure.  Vitamin E and anti-oxidents help protect against free- radicals
  • Parabens -Chemical preservatives. Mimic estrogen. Found in breast cancer tumors.
  • Iron – in water
  • Phthalates – Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in personal care products such as moisturizers, nail polishes, soaps, hair sprays and perfumes.
  • Propylene Glycol – preservative used in cosmetics, personal products and food. Propylene glycol has physical properties similar to those of ethylene glycol (also referred to as monoethylene glycol). However, ethylene glycol is classified as toxic.
  • FD&C and D&C dyes – controversial red and green food dyes.
  • Formaldehyde (preservative) and 1,4-dioxane  (stabilizer) cause cancer in animals, and formaldehyde was recently classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program. Phthalates, parabens, triclosan and polycyclic musks are all considered to be likely hormone disruptors and have been linked to a variety of health problems ranging from birth defects to diabetes, obesity and breast cancer.

Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors have been in the news a lot lately.

Your endocrine system includes:

  • Hypothalamus
  • Pituitary Gland
  • Thyroid
  • Adrenal Gland
  • Pancreas
  • Ovaries
  • Testicals

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine (or hormone system) in animals, including humans. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Specifically, they are known to cause learning disabilities, severeattention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems, deformations of the body (including limbs); sexual development problems,feminizing of males or masculine effects on females, etc. Any system in the body controlled by hormones, can be derailed by hormone disruptors. Many endocrine disruptors mimic estrogen, which is also listed as a known carcinogen.

Non-toxic skincare

Enfuselle by Shaklee

Ava Anderson Non-Toxic

Non-toxic Make-up

Tarte Cosmetics (available at Ulta)

Research your brand on the Environmental Working Group’s Skincare Database, Skin Deep

Almost back to school

School starts in two weeks, so technically, there’s two weeks left of summer, but, if last year (and the year before) are any indication, the freewheeling, unscheduled, seat of the pants vibe of summer is about to disappear.  We’ve got youth group starting in a week, softball and dance soon, soccer  and baseball.  I’ve shopped for back to school supplies, but not for clothes.  If I wait two weeks before I start setting the alarm clock back to 5 AM, I will have a rude, rude awakening.  

So, I’ve started planning for back to school.  What kinds of lunches to I want to prepare?  The kids are getting older and can handle more variety. But, I still need to be realistic.  They are kids. (Picky ones)

What do I want to start cooking for dinner?  We will be eating less on the run and at the beach and on blankets and more at the table, in a crunch and after a long day.  

How will I get us back on schedule?  

The best thing to do, of course, is make a plan.  So, I’m writing down some of my favorite meals and some of the kids favorite meals and making sure I’ve got a plan.  And as the kids have been away for a while, I’d like to make something special for their first night home tomorrow.  I’ve decided to make a more elaborate dinner that is difficult to make during the year (at least on weeknights): Vegetarian Lasagna.  I’ve made my list and I’m headed out to the store.  I hope to post pictures later!

Have a great day!