We were lucky enough to host Dr. Kelly Brogan, a holistic psychiatrist that specializes in women’s health. For the most part, women are guided during pregnancy to avoid certain foods for bacteria, potential contamination or mercury levels. Very little guidance is given to women about avoiding chemicals in daily products, food preparation, cosmetics and even the water we consume. Dr. Brogan offers some insight on some choices that pregnant women can make to avoid impacting the genes of babies in utero.
The tools we use
Almost everything we pick up on a daily basis has been manufactured with chemicals. Specifically, Dr. Brogan mentions avoiding:
Specifically, you can avoid purchasing toys made before 2009, Tupperware, water bottles, and shower curtains. These products contain pthalates, styrene, Bisphenol A (BPA) and dioxins, which have been known to affect brain tissue. What to use instead? Purchase glass storage containers like pyrex or snapware.
Avoid cooking on Teflon pans. Teflon has been implicated in endocrine and immune system health risks. If the fumes from a burning Teflon pan can kill a bird, it certainly can’t be good for you. What to use instead? Cast iron, ceramic, and glass.
The Products we consume
This is one of the hardest area to find quality natural products. Specifically you’ll want to look for:
- TEA (triethanolamine)
- propylene glycol
- PEG (polyethylene glycol)
- fragrance (pthalates)
- sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate
- triclosan (in antibacterials)
- boric acid
- sodium borate
- DMDM hydantoin
The list seems long, but the reality is that our skin is our body’s largest organ and as porous as it is, is a major entry point for toxins. What to use instead? According to Dr. Brogan, Sephora has a growing line of green cosmetics and Whole Foods also carries many different brands.
You’ll also want to avoid these ingredients in sunscreens, bug sprays, body lotions and soaps.
Ammonia is extremely toxic, yet it is found in many household cleaners. Consider purchasing brands without this harmful product or make your own cleaners by using more natural ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and borax.
Even in our everyday environment there are things that we can do to minimize our exposure.
Avoid airport body scanners, excessive wi-fi exposure, sleep with your cell phone at least 6 feet away and try to minimize (as much as possible in our hyper-connected world) any exposure to devices.
Airborne pollutants are a huge culprit for exposure to harmful chemicals. A HEPA filter can be a great way to avoid unnecessary exposure in your home.
Beyond the potential negative effects of the standard foods pregnant women are encouraged to avoid during pregnancy, you’ll want to explore eating more clean by avoiding processed foods, genetically modified foods, and those contaminated with pesticides. Check out the list of the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen” from the Environmental Working Group. According to Dr. Brogan, chemical pesticides have a potential role in depleting gut flora and increasing susceptibility to other toxins because of the effects on metabolic enzymes.
Dr. Brogan tells us, “It can feel so overwhelming for pregnant women to consider all of the different things that can be having negative effects.” However, being well researched and knowing your risks can help you make the choices that are right for your family now and in the future to hopefully impact your children’s children for generations to come.
Dr. Brogan’s tips originally appeared in an issue of Pathways to Family Wellness. Pick up the latest issue of Pathways at our office.