Ask an Expert

Ask Tracey Vlahos, Our President of Wellness Education and Community

Q1: What are toxins, and why should I be concerned about them?

A: Toxins are harmful substances that can negatively impact the body's health and function. They can be found in various forms, such as chemicals, pollutants, and heavy metals. Being cautious about toxins is crucial because exposure over time may contribute to health issues, affecting organs, hormones, and overall well-being.

Q2: How do toxins affect hormones, and what role do they play in overall health?

A: Toxins can disrupt the endocrine system, leading to hormonal imbalances. Certain chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, mimic or interfere with hormones, potentially causing issues like reproductive problems, thyroid dysfunction, and metabolic disruptions. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, stress management, proper sleep and eliminating toxins is essential to hormonal health.

Q3: What lifestyle factors contribute to toxin exposure?

A: Several lifestyle factors can increase toxin exposure. These include poor dietary choices, exposure to environmental pollutants, lack of sleep, and chronic stress. Adopting a mindful and health-conscious lifestyle can help minimize exposure and support the body's natural detoxification processes.

Q4: How can I reduce toxin exposure in my daily life?


  • Choose organic when possible: Opt for organic foods to reduce exposure to pesticides and herbicides.
  • Mindful product choices: Select skincare and household products with clean and natural ingredients.
  • Proper ventilation: Ensure good ventilation in living spaces to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • Filtered water: Invest in a water filter to minimize exposure to contaminants in tap water.

Q5: Are there specific toxins to watch out for in beauty and personal care products?

A: Yes, some common toxins in beauty products include parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and synthetics and fragrances. Check product labels for these ingredients and start choosing clean and non-toxic alternatives. Don’t know what any of these are? Read below! 

Identifying specific ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and synthetic fragrances on product labels requires careful examination. Here's a guide on how to spot these substances:

  • Parabens:
    • Common Parabens: Look for ingredients with names ending in "-paraben." Examples include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
    • Paraben Alternatives: Some products may use alternatives like phenoxyethanol, so it's essential to be aware of other potential preservatives.
  • Phthalates:
    • Common Phthalates: Phthalates are often hidden under terms like "fragrance" or "parfum." It's crucial to choose products that disclose the individual components of the fragrance.
    • Specific Phthalates: Some specific phthalates include diethyl phthalate (DEP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and dimethyl phthalate (DMP).
  • Formaldehyde:
    • Formaldehyde Releasers: Check for ingredients that release formaldehyde, such as DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium-15, and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.
    • Formaldehyde Donors: Be cautious of ingredients like methylene glycol or formalin.
  • Synthetic Fragrances:
    • General Terms: Synthetic fragrances are often listed simply as "fragrance" or "parfum" on ingredient labels.
    • Individual Components: Choose products that disclose the specific components of the fragrance. If the label lacks transparency, it may indicate the presence of synthetic fragrances.

Q6: How do toxins impact sleep quality?

A: Toxins can influence the body's internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to toxins can disrupt the natural circadian rhythm. This disruption can lead to difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restorative sleep cycles.

Q7: Can toxins affect weight and metabolism?

A: Yes, certain toxins, known as obesogens, may disrupt the endocrine system and contribute to weight gain and metabolic issues. Adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise, and minimizing toxins can support a healthy weight and metabolism.

Q8: What role does stress play in toxin exposure and health?

A: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and compromise the body's ability to detoxify efficiently. Incorporating stress management practices such as meditation, yoga, breath work, journaling, dancing, walking, and regular exercise can be crucial in supporting overall well-being and reducing the impact of stress-related toxin exposure.

Q9: How can I support my body's natural detoxification processes?


  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water to flush toxins from the body.
  • Nutrient-rich diet: Consume a diet rich in antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients to support detoxification.
  • Regular exercise: Physical activity promotes circulation and enhances the body's natural detox processes.
  • Sauna therapy: Saunas can help eliminate toxins through sweat.

Q10: What is the most important ingredient to avoid in self-tanner? 

A: Chemically derived DHA is the active ingredient in most self-tanning products, working by reacting with the amino acids in the outer layer of the skin to produce a temporary color change. Chemically derived DHA has been associated with respiratory issues.  Aerosolized particles containing DHA can be inhaled into the respiratory system, potentially leading to irritation and adverse reactions.

Seeking self-tanning products with naturally sourced or plant-based DHA is a better option.

Q11: Why should I care about balancing my hormones? 

A: Hormonal balance is crucial for overall well-being, influencing various bodily functions. Hormonal imbalances can manifest in a range of symptoms, and toxins are increasingly recognized as potential contributors to these disruptions. Addressing the impact of toxins on hormonal health is a key aspect of our mission to support individuals in achieving balance and vitality.

Common Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance:

  • Irregular Menstrual Cycles: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to irregular periods, heavy or painful menstruation, and disruptions in the menstrual cycle.
  • Weight Fluctuations: Hormonal imbalances, particularly those affecting thyroid hormones and insulin, can contribute to unexplained weight gain or difficulty in maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Mood Swings and Emotional Changes: Hormones play a significant role in regulating mood. Imbalances may contribute to mood swings, anxiety, depression, or irritability.
  • Skin Issues: Hormonal changes can influence skin health, contributing to acne, dry skin, or other dermatological concerns.
  • Fatigue: Hormonal disruptions, especially involving the thyroid and adrenal glands, can lead to persistent fatigue and low energy levels.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Changes in hormone levels, particularly disruptions in melatonin and cortisol, can impact sleep quality, leading to difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Loss of Libido: Hormonal imbalances may contribute to changes in sexual desire and function.
  • Digestive Issues: Hormones influence digestive processes, and imbalances can contribute to issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
  • Hair Loss: Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in thyroid hormones, can contribute to hair thinning or loss.

The Role of Toxins in Hormonal Imbalance:

  • Endocrine Disruptors: Certain toxins, known as endocrine disruptors, can interfere with the body's endocrine system, which regulates hormones. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can mimic or block hormones, leading to imbalances.
  • Estrogen Mimics: Some environmental toxins, such as xenoestrogens, can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Excessive estrogenic activity may contribute to hormonal imbalances, especially in conditions like estrogen dominance.
  • Thyroid Disruption: Toxins like perchlorates, found in some pollutants, can interfere with thyroid function. The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism and hormonal balance.
  • Insulin Resistance: Toxins, especially those found in some pesticides and industrial chemicals, may contribute to insulin resistance, impacting blood sugar levels and potentially leading to hormonal imbalances.
  • Inflammation: Chronic exposure to environmental toxins can trigger inflammation, and systemic inflammation can disrupt hormonal signaling pathways, contributing to imbalances.

Q12: How do I begin transitioning to a less toxic lifestyle if I'm new to this?

A: Welcome to the journey! Start by gradually replacing everyday products with cleaner alternatives. Begin with essentials like skincare, cleaning supplies, and personal care items. Educate yourself on harmful ingredients, read labels, and consider choosing brands committed to non-toxic formulations. Remember, it's not about being perfect; practice the 80/20 rule. Life might not always allow complete non-toxicity, and that's okay. Small changes over time can lead to a significant reduction in overall toxic exposure.

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