By Janelle Bertler, Traditional Naturopathic Practitioner, Longevity Health Center
As parents we all want what is best for our children! Whether your child is an infant, toddler, elementary school aged, or a teenager, it’s important to put some conscious thought into making a safer and healthier environment for our “little men” to thrive. (A lot of these suggestions can also apply to your Little Princesses too, so don’t shy away from the pointers below.)
As we begin re-establishing school year routines, it’s a perfect time to look at cleaning up our home environments as well as adopting some naturopathic approaches, to set our little men up for healthier adulthoods.
The biggest hidden danger for our boys these days is an ever-increasing exposure to estrogen mimickers, also called endocrine disruptors. These compounds mimic estrogen in the body, disrupting the natural balance of hormones within the system. The cumulative effect of exposure to multiple sources of endocrine disruptors can be significant. Young boys are particularly vulnerable during critical periods of development. Exposure to these substances can have a significant impact on our kids’ delicate hormonal balance and can interfere with normal growth and maturation. These chemicals are commonly found in plastics, pesticides, personal care products and even some foods.
Since our home environment is the space that our children spend most of their time in, adopting a toxin-free lifestyle has become increasingly important in promoting overall health. Let’s explore practical steps in creating a toxin-free home:
Choose Organic Whole Foods
Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables often contain pesticide residues; some act as estrogen mimickers. Choose organic produce whenever possible. Also, avoid processed food containing additives and preservatives, which are hidden sources of endocrine-disrupting compounds. Remember to avoid those harmful food dyes, too.
Food Safe Storage
Plastics, BPA’s, and Phthalates are sources of estrogen mimickers. Not all plastics are created equal. Some contain more hormone disruptors than others, yet when storing or heating food, avoid using plastic containers of any kind. Glass or stainless steel will always be the healthier options. Also be mindful of using plastic wraps. There are eco-friendly alternatives like beeswax wraps.
Personal Care Products
Many personal care products like shampoos, soaps, and lotions contain harmful chemicals, which can also act as estrogen mimickers. Choose natural and organic personal care products free from synthetic compounds. Since anything put on your body is absorbed through your skin, make very conscious decisions in this arena! Make sure your kids are using fluoride-free toothpaste as well.
Filter Your Water
Since public water supplies may contain trace amounts of estrogen mimickers, chemicals (such as chlorine & fluoride) and/or pharmaceutical medications, and even lead, installing a quality water filtration system can go a long way in reducing your toxin exposure. Use filtered water for your “little men” to drink as well as for any family cooking needs. If you want to take it a step further, look into shower filters too!
Avoid Synthetic Fragrances
Air fresheners, cleaning products, and personal care products with fragrances are all toxin building. Opt for naturally scented or essential oil scented products. If you want to take it one step further, entertain the idea of creating your own cleaning or personal care products with natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, and lemon juice.
Indoor air can be more toxic than outdoor air. Many indoor items, such as furniture, carpets and cleaning products release volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). VOC’s negatively impact respiratory health and contribute to indoor air pollution. To improve the air quality of the home, think about:
- Increasing ventilation by opening windows or using fans
- Using HEPA filters to remove airborne pollutants
- Incorporating indoor air purifying plants, such as peace lilies or spider plants
- Choose low-VOC paints, adhesives and building material when renovating or redecorating
Mindful Pest Control
Common pest control methods involve the use of toxic chemicals that can harm both pets and humans. Keeping a clutter-free home can reduce pest attraction and when needed opt for natural and non-toxic approaches. Natural repellents like diatomaceous earth, vinegar or essential oils are great at deterring pests. My hidden weapon of choice for the wasps that hide around entrances of buildings is WD-40. The extended nozzle lets you aim up high under building overhangs. (It’s a great solution for single mothers terrified of bugs!)
Now that we have reduced the toxic load of the home environment, let’s look at other holistic principles in regards to raising healthy men.
Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you need a little extra support in this area, take a look at a greens powder for increasing nutrient intake. Or one of my favorite nutritional supports for my boys is IntraMax or IntraKid. It has a broad range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids like Omega-3s, and even some food based toxin binders!
Water plays a crucial role in optimal health and proper cellular functionality. Have your kids focus on drinking plenty of water for their size. Typically 1/2 of their body weight in ounces of water (For example, an 80-pound boy would need 40 ounces of water per day.) Avoid sugary liquids since they play a role in high blood sugar levels, obesity, and behavioral issues.
Regular Body Movement
Physical activity is vital for boys’ health as it promotes healthy growth, improves cardiovascular health, and aids in maintaining a healthy weight. All little men need to engage in regular exercise. It supports mental well-being as it releases endorphins. Encourage them to find activities they enjoy – this can simply be outdoor play!
Mindfulness & Stress Management
Teaching boys mindfulness and stress management skills can have a profound impact on their emotional and mental health. Teaching them meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or even spending time in nature can help them better cope with stress and anxiety more effectively. Meditation apps and podcasts are an easy way for kids to learn these techniques. Some of these programs even come with tracking so you can see that they have been completing sessions.
Sleep is when the body heals, repairs, and consolidates memories. Adequate sleep is essential to support physical growth, physical health, and cognitive development! Aim for a consistent sleep schedule. Limit screen time/blue light before bed. Assist them in creating a calming bedtime routine to promote better sleep quality. Getting kids to bed a little early is really supportive on days when they are learning lots of new information. A few of our favorite kid-friendly sleep support products are Calms Forte and Melatonin.
The interconnectedness of the mind and body is recognized in Naturopathic medicine. Encourage your boys to have open communication. Validate their feelings. Teach them healthy ways to express their emotions. Help them to build resiliency by teaching them healthy mindsets and emotional intelligence, so they can develop resilience and grow up effectively navigating life’s challenges.
Herbal remedies can be an excellent part of your home’s first-aid kit. ImmunoBerry and Echinacea can support the immune system. Olive Leaf is a wonderful herbal antimicrobial. ViraKid is excellent for cold or flu symptoms. Droscera is my go-to for my kids’ cough. There are so many options, and as always consult with your child’s naturopath about herbal remedies before using.
My Challenge to You
Put some thought into these practical steps. Take this list in a slow and steady manner and begin making changes in your life to create a healthier future for our world’s children. Try to make one change every week (or even every other week) so you don’t become overwhelmed. Another method of integrating these changes is this: As each product runs out, replace it with a healthier version. You will be surprised at the compounding results these little swaps will create over time.
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s essential to prioritize the health and well-being of our boys. As they grow and face various challenges, it becomes crucial to instill healthy habits that will serve them well throughout their lives. From infancy into adolescence, adopting a whole and healthy lifestyle can provide practices that promote physical, mental, and emotional health of our little men. Reducing exposure to hormonal disruptors, lays a foundation for healthier hormonal balance supporting their growth into healthy and resilient men.
Remember that each child is unique, and it’s essential to adapt these principles to their individual needs. Let’s prioritize our young men’s health for a brighter and more vibrant future. If you desire personalized guidance and support, feel free to consult with one of our naturopathic providers. We are here to support you every step of the way!