by Natasha Kwitkowski, R.Ph, NC

It is no secret that our bright and colorful modern world is full of toxins. They are everywhere: in the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat, drugs we take, and even in the clothes we wear. Together these toxins form “body’s toxic load”. Mother Nature has given us an excellent tool to deal with this load, a tool called detoxification system. A healthy human body is capable of filtering toxins out, keeping itself in the state of balance. But once their accumulation becomes overwhelming, the detoxification system starts to crumble and disease settles in.

In today’s world of chronic degenerative conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, the most alarming are epidemics of illnesses among the very young. These are illnesses that decades ago were considered rarity: childhood asthma, eczema, food allergies, ADHD, autism, etc.

The father of modern medicine Hippocrates said more than two thousand years ago: all diseases begin in the gut. Our kids are born into this world inheriting their mother’s state of digestive system and all the things that happened to it during and long before pregnancy. In primitive societies, for centuries, elders carefully planned woman’s and man’s diet long before conceiving.

In our modern society, there are no clear dietary recommendations for pregnant women; they are just told to eat “well”. There is no advice given to a pregnant woman against doing renovations in the house/apartment when the mother and her unborn child constantly inhale the smell of paint. Or buying new furniture and installing a new carpet when more toxic fumes are absorbed through mother’s skin and cross the placenta. Then the child is born. The offense on his/her little body starts from the very moment of birth: GMO ingredients in infant formula, plastic toys, sunscreens full of parabens and other toxic ingredients, antibacterial soaps mandatory in a nursery school, chlorine-infested swimming pools, fire-retardant chemicals in sleepwear, and finally, – the “thrill” of it all – birthday parties with overwhelming amounts of sugar and colored food. And then, there is less than perfect diet that seems to be the topic of every kids-related conversation these days.

Our children’s state of health is directly related to their “micro environment”: what they eat, what they breathe, what we put on their bodies, and what substances / toxins they are exposed to on a daily basis. Asthma, allergies, eczema, autism, dyslexia are all branches of the same tree. “Leaky gut” is a very popular term almost never used by a mainstream pediatrician, but in the world of alternative medicine today it is a staple. This term might sound fancy, but essentially means the damage to the gut lining, the result of the pathological bacteria overgrowth in the digestive tract. And what causes this damage? Sugar, processed foods, and other modern “marvels” including household cleaners and environmental toxins. As a result of the leaky gut, everything that enters your kids’ bodies, that is no longer protected, gets into their bloodstream and brain causing an immune reaction, myriads of allergies, asthma, ADD, etc.

So what do we do now? How do we protect our kids from all the “dangers” of modern world? The answer is to keep their immune system strong! There are simple steps you can take to minimize the damage by diminishing their body’s toxic load.

1. First and foremost, you have to look at your kids’ diet. Yes, it is very hard to take away their favorite processed snacks and forbid them to eat pizza and a cupcake at a birthday party. The best approach is common sense, and small steps can go a long way! There are countless choices out there, and if your child doesn’t have specific food allergies, it is very easy to find delicious alternatives to commercial “anti-foods”. For example, instead of commercial enriched wheat macaroni and cheese, why not choose quinoa/brown rice pasta with goat milk, grass fed butter and organic cheddar cheese sauce? The key is to make everything very tasty but at the same time as healthy as possible. And if kids eat well every day, then having an occasional pizza or commercial high fructose corn syrup (tongue in cheek) ice cream is not going to do much damage.

2. Your child’s diet in general must be full of good animal fats and cholesterol-rich foods like egg yokes (yes, I know, many eyebrows are going to be raised by this statement but every wall of every cell in a human body is mostly made of saturated fat, so having it in the diet is crucially important for growing), cold-pressed oils and organic green vegetables, freshly-pressed vegetable and fruit juices and fermented foods.

3. Take a walk around your house. All mainstream household cleaning products contain very harsh and harmful chemicals that you and your whole family inhale when they are used. And if you are not a person who is satisfied with just baking soda and vinegar (let’s face it, most of us are not), there are excellent alternatives out there, toxin free and environmentally safe. They do the job just as well. Seventh Generation is one example of an excellent line of products.

4. Open your bathroom cabinet and look at all the lotions and creams. Many years ago the school of thought was that the skin is a barrier protecting our bodies from external factors. These days modern science knows this is not the case. That is why there are so many pharmaceutical preparations that are patches – skin absorbs them better than any digestive system. In fact, skin is our biggest organ and since it takes in everything you put on it, it would only make sense not to use anything on your body that you can’t put in your mouth. When choosing body shampoos and soaps, know that there are conscientious companies making very gentle cleanse products. California Baby is my personal favorite. Detergent that you wash your family’s clothes with is another source of toxins if you buy a strong-smelling product with many bogus claims. Clothes that your child wears (hint: H&M is the largest buyer of organic cotton worldwide), paint in their room, plastic lunch containers, countless chemicals in processed snack foods, commercial juices full of sugar and “anti-nutrients” are all sources of potential problems.

The point here is not to be scared but to be an educated consumer and make conscious choices, because these choices will most definitely help your children grow healthy and strong.

So, good luck “cleaning”!