Are you like me? You ignored healthy habits when younger because you’re busy with life, kids, husband, and maybe a job. Who has the energy to shop for organic ingredients, plan and cook healthy meals, and search for keto recipes? Or be concerned about forever chemicals in sparkling water? Ha, no way! But as life happened (hint-I got older and gained weight), I had to consider my better aging journey. So, although I missed many opportunities in my younger years, I’ve adopted a “better late than never” philosophy in all areas of my health.
Today’s article and the next few will address the newest and largest category I’m attempting to change – using products with forever chemicals. And it’s hard because forever chemicals are everywhere – in your water bottles, health and beauty products, clothing, cookware, cleaning products, household products, ugh, EVERYWHERE!
So, now I’m striving to be Stronger Down the Stretch– as the author, my husband, would say. By the way, if you or your husband haven’t read Dennis’ book yet, you should. Get it for your husband, adult sons, or grandsons, and encourage them to do the stuff in the book. It’s my husband’s journey into midlife and how he flourished instead of falling into a severe midlife crisis, a predicament that affects many men today. He also covers helpful habits men of all ages should adopt. Dennis puts forth challenges- and men need to accept those challenges. Iron sharpens iron, so accountability is a must and a fantastic motivator. I pray all those who read it will be encouraged to share it with their friends and start the challenges together!
But back to aging better. If you are in the same boat as me, read on because now that we’re aging, we can improve in so many ways.
Examples of Forever Chemicals
Over-the-counter products are full of forever chemicals- PFAS aka perfluoroalkyl, polyfluoroalkyl substances, or the larger term “PFCs,” or perfluorochemicals. PFAS have been in use since the 1940s, and they can (along with all the other chemicals we breathe or use in cleaning, cooking, and eating) add up to be quite a toxic overload. You’ve probably heard of the most commonly studied PFAS: PFOA and PFOS. Thankfully US manufacturers are no longer using or making PFOA (as of 2015) except in a few industries where they are allowed, but other PFCs have arrived on the scene, and we don’t know the long-term effect of these newer versions.
The PFAS WebMD article above says that PFAS may be listed on the ingredient list as PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), perfluorooctyl triethoxysilane, perfluorononyl dimethicone, perfluorodecalin, and perfluorohexane. Check labels and avoid products with “PTFE” or “fluoro” on the ingredients list.
PFAS are synthetic chemicals used in cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant carpet, cosmetics, grease, water, and oil. The list includes anything that’s water, heat, stick, stain, and grease-resistant. That’s a lot of the products we have come to appreciate. If you’re like me, you didn’t even know these conveniences came with a “forever-leaching” “chemical” price tag. PFAS are toxic even at extremely low levels. They are practically indestructible and accumulate in our bodies and the environment over time.
PFAS and similar man-made chemicals enter the food supply through plants and animals grown or raised (or processed) in contaminated areas. There are forever chemicals in fish, forever chemicals in bottled water, forever chemicals in meat, dairy, grains, and even low levels are found in foods like honey, eggs, and vegetables. A small portion enters through food packing, processing, and our cookware. It is allowed in take-out containers, food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, and dog food bags and isn’t just in plastic or foam products but is even found in plant fiber-based food packaging and takeout containers!
Unfortunately, tests have found forever chemicals in our public drinking water. According to Consumer Reports, tests have found PFAS in more than 1,400 municipal water supplies in 49 states.
Because forever chemicals don’t dissolve in water or on the ground, sadly, we all have some PFAS in our blood from using these chemicals and the by-products of manufacturing processes. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has a lot of information on toxins and fights big business practices for our environmental health. This short video explains how bad the chemicals have gotten. The video is only a few minutes long and is definitely worth watching. I read on EWG’s website that they are working against old legislation and industry loopholes that allow harmful chemicals to be used. There you can see healthy recommendations or health concerns and do your own further research.
Why Is It Important To Learn About Forever Chemicals?
Learning about the impact of forever chemicals is essential for many reasons, as you have read. These chemicals affect our delicate endocrine systems, mimicking our hormones and causing interferences, even blocking the release of our hormones. Studies show that high levels of exposure may cause all kinds of diseases, damage to organs, cancers, cholesterol changes, and blood pressure changes. They can even accelerate puberty, and y’all- they are even found in newborn babies!
If you’re curious, here’s a link to a tap water database for forever chemicals; just type in your zip code and click on the area closest to you.
The load of all these chemicals affects us significantly. Studies estimate medical care costs and lost productivity from exposure to forever chemicals add up to $5.5 billion annually.
We can do better, though.
Half of the battle is just being aware there is one.
The other half (figuring out what to do about it) can be overwhelming if you don’t keep everything in the proper perspective. Don’t get overwhelmed with the concept of living healthier; just do one new thing at a time, like eating healthy, until it’s a habit or a way of living for you.
Sometimes we think it would be easier to detox and clear out the junk taxing our systems- to be done with it! This Healthline article does an excellent job of explaining why that line of thinking may not be good enough. Our bodies naturally detox through the liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs; it’s an amazing system that God gave us. But we need to stop overloading it so these organs and systems can have a fighting chance. The article addresses many areas I have written about in my previous posts and others, too, so give it a read for great ideas on naturally decreasing your body’s intake of toxins.
Over time you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come- just by making one change at a time. Maybe you should start a list of your changes like I did (it’s gratifying to see), and then you can write long blog posts about it, too. Lol
From my lists, there are several things I have done, but there are also PLENTY more things I want to change. In the next few articles, I hope to shed more light on these changes and plans, and hopefully, it will give you ideas to incorporate into your life, as well. I’ll start with one change I’ve made concerning forever chemicals, and that’s to improve my breathing.
Healthy Alternatives to Forever Chemicals for Better Breathing
Years ago, I bought some large-sized diffusers to use with essential oils. That was my first experience with essential oils, and I only wanted my house to smell fresh. Now, I know how many harsh chemicals are in room deodorizers, which is alarming. Remember, if you have the choice, it’s best not to purchase stain-resistant or water-resistant treatments for new carpets and furniture.
I have 2 of these diffusers from Amazon, and I love them! Diffusers use essential oils to deodorize your home. This version is extremely quiet (a must for me to sleep). It can run all night without a refill and automatically shut off when the water runs out. I add Lavender oil for relaxing, which aids in sleeping, or bergamot during the day for a pleasing lift-me-up; bergamot is one of my favorite scents. I found a website with many other easy combinations for you to try- 20 Simple Essential Oil Combinations For Diffuser – Aromatherapy Blends (lovingessentialoils.com).
I like using essential oils to make the house smell nice rather than store-bought sprays with all those chemicals. I am slowly trying different recipes and want to try these- DIY Bathroom Air Freshener – Our Oily House or All-Natural Homemade Febreze – Our Oily House. Laura provides lots of recipe variations for room and bathroom sprays (yes, the bathroom spray is a different recipe). Update- My middle child and I recently had a fun day making DIY products and making both recipes; she took one home, and I kept the other. We both love our versions!
Pay attention to what you spray and keep the air as fresh as possible. Even burning candles can be harmful if you burn lots of them like my oldest daughter does. Look at your candle’s ingredients. Even the kind of wick is important because cheap wicks emit harmful chemicals when burned. You are literally breathing all those particles into your lungs, so opt for healthier alternatives, like diffusers with essential oils and DIY room sprays. You could even try making your own candles which is fun (I’ve done it only once). It would be especially fun if you got your friends or family involved. My oldest, candle-loving daughter bought me some special wicks to try (a year or two ago); I’ve got to get on that!
Some indoor plants are known to purify the air. According to NASA, chrysanthemums or peace lilies help filter out the chemicals in your home.
The problem of forever chemicals will never entirely go away, and I’m not a fanatic by any means, but I’m really thankful for those fighting to make our lives cleaner and healthier.
While it’s impossible to avoid everything, our responsibility is to make every effort to minimize our exposure to chemicals, prioritizing our health and well-being. If we really attempt in this area, we’ll live longer and be less diseased in our later years. Despite neglecting healthy habits in the past, we can now strive for a cleaner and healthier lifestyle by making small changes like using essential oils and natural room sprays.
The next few articles will continue to address my routines (good and bad) and more on essential oils. Let’s support each other in this journey of better aging and create a positive change for ourselves and the world. It’s never too late to start living better!
My “Better Aging” Journey Series:
- My “Better Aging” Journey (Part 1) – Introduction
- How to Eat Healthy & Hydrate – My “Better Aging” Journey (Part 2)
- Healthy Cooking & Stretching – My “Better Aging” Journey (Part 3)
- Taking Good Supplements – My “Better Aging” Journey (Part 4)
- Better Gut Health – My “Better Aging” Journey (Part 5)
- Getting Better Sleep – My “Better Aging” Journey (Part 6)
Disclaimer: The information provided on the site is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider for medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.