Air, water, food—all essentials. Though with that said, they are all potential sources of toxins that can wreak havoc on your wellbeing too! Well, fear not. As Hong Kong’s largest natural and integrated medicine clinic for 25 years, IMI, is here to give us ten easy tips on how to protect you and your family at home and the office.
1. Minimise indoor air pollution
That cute dollhouse and toy train set are harmless, right? Wrong. They could be exposing your family to toxins. Certain materials found in the home emit synthetic and natural substances called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Formaldehyde, a harmful VOC and listed carcinogen, is found in almost every furnishing at home, causing respiratory and gastrointestinal allergies as well as irritation to the eyes. That’s why it’s so important to choose and clean furnishings wisely.
- Avoid plastic-coated and strong-smelling furnishings. Select furniture with low VOC emissions or buy second-hand furniture as they would have already been “off-gassed”. Air out carpets regularly as these can emit VOCs and conceal bacteria and mould too.
- As well as drinking green tea, place unused tea bags in furnishings which emit formaldehyde. Change them every two months.
- For a breath of fresh air, invest in Highly Efficient Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration systems with carbon filters, like Amaicare or AlenBreathSmart. HEPA systems remove harmful particulates while the carbon filters remove airborne VOCs, protecting your family from asthma, allergies and lung disease.
- Bring the beauty of nature indoors. There are plenty of easy-to-grow plants that serve as an excellent way to bring fresh air to your home.
2. Eliminate mould
In Hong Kong, where 80% humidity is normal, our homes become breeding grounds for fungi and moulds. By the time we’re made aware by musty smells and dark spots on the wall, millions of toxic spores have been released. These sneaky toxins decrease immunity and increase the likelihood of health challenges.
- Regularly bust them with bleach. Vegetable containers, refrigerator trays and damp bathrooms are all culprits for hosting mould parties.
- Leave windows open during lower humidity periods, allowing damp spaces to breathe. In higher humidity, close your windows, open cupboard doors and leave the dehumidifier running for several hours, twice weekly.
- Regularly wipe well-used dehumidifiers and air conditioners with a bleached cloth.
- Bathrooms are a haven for mould. Bleach tiles and grout regularly as well as damp corners. If there is a false ceiling in the bathroom, remember to check above the ceiling tiles.
- For a sweet-smelling spore-less sanctuary, we recommend clove oil, lemongrass or cinnamon oils in aromatherapy burners. Thieves Household Cleaner is a firm favourite at IMI.
3. Filter your water
Lead piping and paint dust are major culprits for lead exposure. Lead easily accumulates in the liver and brain, making it particularly damaging to children.
- Use a high-quality water filtration system like Doulton and Jupiter Orion Ionizer, proven to remove up to 99% of chlorine, fluoride, arsenic and lead—a must for families in Hong Kong.
- If children are showing developmental delays, without obvious reason, parents should consider screening for heavy metal toxicity.
4. Eat well
Processed, pre-prepared foods are potential toxin troves. Fill your diet with real whole foods like fruits, vegetables, fish and unprocessed meats.
- Broccoli, garlic, green tea, berries, kiwi, sweet potatoes and papaya are all brimming with essential vitamins minerals and antioxidants.
- Buying organic means you will consume 80% more antioxidants and avoid consuming pesticides.
- If the price of organic means it’s not an option, check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EMW) useful guide to natural produce with the lowest pesticide levels.
5. Avoid toxic food
According to EMW, you can reduce pesticide exposure by almost 90% by avoiding the most contaminated produce.
- Apples, strawberries, spinach and more. All seemingly healthy, but not according to EMW’s guide on the Dirty Dozen.
- Avoid this toxic trio of mercury-contaminated fish: tuna, shark and swordfish. Smaller fish don’t contain this neuro-toxin which can damage nerve tissue.
- Processed meats, such as sausages, salami or preserves meats are more toxin-filled products to evade.
6. Wash away pesticides
Though powerful, water can only do so much to remove pesticides, and peeling means that valuable nutrients end up going down the drain.
- Wash fresh produce with “veggie washes”, which contain mild detergents that lift oil-based pesticides sprayed on plants.
7. Boycott soft plastics
Soft plastic contains hormone-disrupting toxins like phthalates which leak into foods. These toxins have been linked to breast cancer and hormonal imbalances in children.
- Harder, more recyclable plastics are safer. For food storage use glass, ceramic or stainless steel.
8. Read the label
Parabens and other chemicals are found in anything scented, from cleaning products to soap. The consequences of these chemical preservatives can be as minor as skin irritation, but they have also been linked to breast cancer.
- Look for paraben-free products with natural ingredients. Opt for higher quality products when possible.
- Do it yourself—clean your home with a blend of hot water, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar.
- Swap dry-cleaning for hand-washing. Dry-cleaners use perchloroethylene, a chemical which has been found to cause cancer in animals. Inhaling this can be dangerous and cause skin irritation.
9. Boosting immunity
Weak immune systems are vulnerable to pollutants. Maintaining a diet plentiful with essential vitamins and minerals such as A, C, E, zinc and iron will bolster your immunity.
- An excellent diet still may not offer enough key vitamins and minerals. IMI stock high quality, easy absorption supplements to boost these essential nutrients.
- Vitamin D deficiencies in children may also lead to a weakened immune system. Sun exposure is the natural remedy, but in winter months, reach for Vitamin D3 Forte Drops. These are ideal for children as they taste delicious and are easily added to food and drink.
10. Do a detox—but do it right
Our bodies are working hard to detoxify us every day, but prolonged exposure to pollutants can ultimately burden our bodies, compromising this detoxification process.
- Off-the-shelf juices or store-bought detox programmes are proven to do more harm than good. Many think the side effects: nausea, rashes and headaches are just part of the process, but it’s a sign of toxins moving trying to escape your body with no real means to do so. This damages DNA while depleting your body of essential nutrients and enzymes.
- By opting for a personalised detox programme led by experienced naturopaths at IMI, you’ll be relieved of these side effects. These programmes are recognised for stimulating detoxification, but also for helping toxins leave your body safely without making a fuss. Tailored to support your needs, IMI detox programmes will support your body with essential nutrients, potent herbal medicines, high-quality supplements and homoeopathic remedies to protect you from illness.