Are Your Cleaning Products Affecting Your Health?

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There are so many cleaning products on the market these days it is hard to know what is best for your health and what will clean your home. Although some products may clean well, they can have harmful effects on the health of you, your family and the environment. If you have a cupboard that the kids can’t go into, then you need to read this article.

Many households have a bottle of bleach in the laundry. This is the first thing that needs to leave your home. Bleach has been well known to irritate people who already have existing asthma, but in 2012, The Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics declared bleach an asthmagen. This means that bleach actually causes asthma in previously healthy individuals. Given the prevalence of asthma, and the sensitivity of respiratory tracts in young people, bleach should not be used in the home or at day care centres. Instead, most areas in the home can be cleaned with soap, a vinegar and water solution and a bit of elbow grease. For really messy areas such as the oven or the toilet, mix vinegar with baking soda.

In Australia, we can find many hand soaps that state they are antibacterial. These soaps have been found to be no better than regular soap at cleaning hands and specifically no better at decreasing the incidence of childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea. They have been found though, to increase the incidence of drug-resistant bacteria or super-bugs. If you get infected with a drug-resistant bacterium, we do not have medication that can help you. These antibacterial chemicals also negatively impact organisms, such as algae, in our waterways and may disrupt hormone signalling in mammals. In 2013, the FDA in America banned 19 antibacterial substances from over the counter soaps. These same chemicals are still allowed in Australia. Studies have found that the time spent washing your hands is the most important factor in getting them clean so just use regular soap and take your time.

Love the smell of freshly cleaned and scented laundry? This smell may be affecting your health. Your favourite scented laundry soap, dryer sheets and fabric softener might contain chemicals that disrupt hormones and cause asthma. Unfortunately these products are not required to have their entire ingredient list on the package, so it is difficult to know what you are buying. Buy unscented products and put your clothes out on the line for that fresh smell.

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Air fresheners are another way that people can unknowingly be putting chemicals into their bodies. The ingredients of these products are largely unregulated and many of them contain phthalates, which are hormone disruptors, and benzenes, which are known carcinogens. If you feel like your home needs freshening, buy some pot plants that are known to clean the air. Chrysanthemums remove ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and xylene from the air. Spider plants and Boston ferns remove formaldehyde and xylene.

Tea tree oil is another great substitute for chemical cleansers as it can disinfect without causing asthma or antibiotic resistance. You can also just squeeze a lemon. Lemon juice can kill most of the bacteria in your home, while still being safe for the family.

Natural cleaning products

Everyday, research is coming out that discovers the effects of chemicals on our bodies. Keep your household cleaning products natural and keep you and your family healthy. Talk to your local naturopath if you have any questions about natural cleaning products.

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Where’s the Milk? How to Increase Breast Milk Supply

Having a newborn baby can be the most wonderful life experience, but it can also be a very tiring and stressful time. This stress is only made worse if a mother is having trouble breastfeeding. There are many things a mother can do to help breastfeeding be an enjoyable activity for both mother and baby.

The first thing to do if you are having any trouble with breastfeeding such as pain, mastitis, Candida or milk supply, is to check that your baby has a good latch. Ideally have a consultation with a lactation consultant who will be able to give you personalized suggestions and support.

Good and Bad Latch

Make sure you are drinking enough water. Every new mum that I’ve spoken to with a genuine supply issue also comments on how they struggle to drink water in their day.   Breast milk is mostly water and is required to not only feed but also hydrate your baby.   If you were struggling to drink enough water before having a baby, it will be even more important to drink more water once you are breastfeeding. Especially in the early days, water intake should be at least doubled. Have a glass of water next to where you usually feed baby to remind you to drink every time you breastfeed.

Eat healthy, nutritious foods. In order to make all the components of breast milk you need to eat a healthy diet giving your body all the nourishment and energy to do so. Ideally get someone else to make meals for you in the early days while you are recovering and learning to breastfeed your child. Have plenty of healthy snacks on hand that you can easily prepare.

Don’t worry about schedules or timing. Babies don’t work to schedules. Although there may be guidelines on how often to feed a formula fed baby, there are no such rules when it comes to a breastfed baby. Something I have learned from having 3 babies of my own is that when in doubt, put baby to the breast again. Don’t worry if it has only been half an hour. Especially in the beginning, babies may want to feed all the time and this can help with supply.

Breastfeeding

If you are still pregnant, make sure you eat healthy and exercise. Milk production is effected by insulin production during pregnancy. Women who are diabetic or pre-diabetic while pregnant have a lower milk supply. Talk to your naturopath about how you can naturally keep your sugar and insulin levels in a healthy range.

If you have done all of the above but are still having troubles, there are herbs that can help with increasing milk supply. Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle have both been found to help increase milk supply. You can often find these together in a tea or they can also be taken in capsules. Make sure you speak to a naturopath or lactation consultant for specific doses. Eating oatmeal, garlic and ginger may also help.

Remember to relax (hard when you have a newborn!) and know that you are not alone. Although you and baby may be made to breastfeed, you both still need to learn how. The International Breastfeeding Centre has lots of great information on their website (ibconline.ca) and the Australian Breastfeeding Association (breastfeeding.asn.au) even has a hotline you can call to chat with a counsellor. Give it some time, and when in doubt, get some help.

Here’s a cute photo of a baby just for fun, because what’s cuter than a baby at Christmas! Look at those little feet …

Boy in Santa hat