From eliminating chemicals in your food and water to choosing clean beauty products, let the Super Natural Mom teach you everything you need to know to “live clean” in a toxic world!
Beth Greer had been living what she considered a healthy lifestyle when a medical crisis prompted her to reevaluate everything—from the food she ate to the personal-care products she used and the environment she lived in. Now, in Super Natural Home, she shows the alarming extent of the dangerous chemicals we unwittingly expose ourselves to every day.
As she did in her own life, she invites readers to put their lives under a microscope. The straightforward, solutions-based approach of Super Natural Home—complete with quizzes to help identify and correct potential toxic hot zones—speaks directly to what environment-conscious consumers really need: ultra-practical advice on what they can do right now to limit exposure to the poisons that are endangering them and their children.
At a time when impeccable scientific research points to an alarming correlation between common chemical compounds and cancers, allergies, psychiatric disorders, and birth defects, among other serious health concerns, Super Natural Home gives consumers the tools to start protecting themselves and their families.
Praise for Super Natural Home
“Beth Greer’s clear, comprehensive, and practical book is a godsend for anyone living in America who wants to make a real impact on reducing the pollutions and poisons that are ubiquitous in our surroundings. She’s full of good humor, yet will help you live a far cleaner and more wholesome life than you might have thought possible. Hats off to her. Read this book.”—Peter Coyote, actor and author
“Making simple changes can often have a profound impact not only on you and your family’s health but also on the planet. Beth Greer has done a fabulous job of creating a practical resource that will let you know what these changes are and how to easily implement them.”—Joseph Mercola, DO, founder of Mercola
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
What Goes in You
How to Eliminate Exposure to Toxic Chemicals in Your Food and Drinking Water
"I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself."
When my friend Rachel turned 50, she had plastic surgery on her eyes to remove some of the droopiness and wrinkles that had accumulated over the years. Six weeks after her procedure, there was still lots of bruising, puffiness, and redness around her eyes. "I look like a monster," she said on the phone. She was crying. "I'm not ready to see people until I look better. I'm doing everything my doctor told me to do--I use ice packs and take anti-inflammatory medication, but nothing is helping."
Two weeks later we met for lunch. Rachel wore sunglasses to conceal her eyes. The skin on her face looked pale and puffy. She removed her glasses and I saw dark red lines where the incisions had been made on her lids. The skin on the sides of her eyes was purple and puckered. "I'm back at work now, but I wear tons of makeup," she said, biting into a sugary pastry. "I think my doctor botched the surgery," she added, as she tore open a packet of Equal and started pouring it into her iced tea.
"Wait, don't eat that!" I said, instinctively grabbing her hand to stop the flow of white powder into her glass. "It has bad chemicals in it." I had recently read that Equal contains aspartame, which was shown to cause cancer in animals. "Why do they sell it if it's not safe?" asked Rachel. "They sell cigarettes, don't they?" I countered.
Then it dawned on me: Rachel's skin may not have been healing from the trauma of surgery as quickly as she'd hoped because her body was working overtime to deal with what she'd been eating and drinking. "Do you eat processed food?" I asked. "No," she said, "I don't think so. Let's see, for breakfast I usually have dried cereal or white toast with margarine; this morning I had a toaster waffle with lite syrup." "Stop right there!" I shouted. "All those are processed! And I'm sure the syrup wasn't pure maple syrup, was it?" "No," she said. "Then for lunch I usually have a sandwich of some type of lunch meat, and for dessert I have things like diet pudding. Isn't that OK? I'm trying to lose 10 £ds." Rachel continued to tell me what she ate and drank on a regular basis, much of which came out of a box or had added chemicals such as preservatives, artificial colors, and flavor enhancers. I suggested she try something revolutionary: to eat foods that had no label! Or if there was a label--on a yogurt container, for example--it could have no more than five ingredients (a label with a short list is a good thing except when two of five ingredients happen to be sugar!) and she could pronounce every one of them. "I could do that!" she exclaimed with a big smile. She promised she would try this for the next 10 days if I really thought it would help her eyes look better.
Two weeks later she called me. "I'm doing what you told me and my eyes look fantastic!" she squealed. "The redness and puffiness are gone and so is the puckered skin! I guess my plastic surgeon wasn't to blame after all. My body just wasn't healing very quickly." Rachel told me that the "diet" was easier that she thought, even when she was on the road for business. She ate nothing processed, shopped at her local farmer's market, and bought only fresh, whole foods. She ate lots of fresh fruit as well as some squares of organic pure dark chocolate for a treat to substitute for the sweet snacks she was so used to eating.
Now, before you slam this book shut and say "I can't do this! It's not realistic for me to live without foods that have labels!" please consider this: Your kitchen is one of the most important places in your home to control your exposure to toxic chemicals. (The other is your bedroom.) Start by making better decisions at the grocery store. But, you may be thinking, there's so much I have to think about when I shop for food! Which fish is OK to eat? Should I check every label for GMO or hidden MSG? Should I not buy an organic avocado if it was flown in from another country? Do I really have to get eggs that were laid by free and happy hens and eat meat from cows that grazed only on grass?
The answer to these questions is no ... not all the time! Don't worry and get stressed out about all the decisions you have to make. You'll then get anxious and fearful or sad and depressed--or worse, angry. I know ... I've been there. I would avoid going to cocktail parties, or I'd eat at home first, just to avoid the bad food I knew would be served. I would get mad every time I saw a chef on the Food Network cooking with highly processed food, or get stressed when a talk show host oohed and aahed over a dessert made with unnatural ingredients. Then I noticed I was starting to feel self- righteous and smug about the wholesome choices I was making. You don't want to alienate those around you by criticizing their eating habits (even if it is behind their backs!). Friends will be afraid to invite you to their homes for dinner. Or they'll ask you, "What are you not eating now?"
What I've found works for me is following the 80-20 rule. I try to eat well about 80 percent of the time; the rest of the time I give myself permission to indulge. Recently, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by traveling to Napa Valley in northern California and having dinner at Ad Hoc restaurant. Its owner, Thomas Keller, is chef of the world-renowned French Laundry. We knew little about the place other than it served organic, local food and was one of the top 100 restaurants in the Bay Area.
The menu arrived--a sheet of paper with only one option: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, salad with bacon, cheese; and, for dessert, chocolate cake with whipped cream. We looked at each other for a moment and then in unison nodded our heads: Yes, let's do it! I haven't indulged like that in over 5 years, and I will admit that it was one of the most delicious meals I've ever had. I enjoyed every bite, and still think about how delicious and decadent that meal was. Will I eat that way every day? No way.
I do, however, always make an effort to eat real food, not "food like products" as Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food, calls food that has been highly processed. Pollan recommends that we "simply avoid any food that has been processed to such an extent that it is more a product of industry than of nature." Margarine is a good example of a food like product. Remember, processed food is food processed with chemicals!
To give me peace of mind, I buy the best-quality food I can, even if that means spending $13 a £d for raw, organic almonds. If your concern is that eating healthy is too expensive, consider the words of Alice Waters, natural food pioneer and chef/owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California: "Why wouldn't you want to spend most of your money on food? Food is nourishment and good health. It is the most important thing in life, really."
I agree. Besides, you will be surprised by what you can find at places like Costco, Walmart, and your everyday grocery store that's economical and incredibly good for you. Major chain stores are offering 100 percent organic and natural products to meet the growing demand.
Making slight shifts in what you choose to buy, eat, and drink won't be that difficult. In fact, I'm confident that you'll grow to love the healthy alternatives to processed, manufactured foods. And some of these shifts, if you are diligent with them, can be life-changing beyond the toxin factor. I know one woman who called herself the "Blue Packet Junkie" because she admittedly was addicted to Equal and diet soda for years. She bought Equal packets by the box and diet soda by the case. One day, she decided to eliminate artificial sugar from her diet completely and see what happened. The results were unexpected. Unwanted weight she'd been struggling to lose-- those "last 10 £ds"--melted off, and her chronic craving for super- sweet, fatty foods vanished. That was nearly 10 years ago and she's never looked back.
Ready to get started? Here's something you can easily do that won't be radically different from the way you're eating and drinking now. It's avoiding what I call "The Fearsome 5," (which I cover in Chapters 1-4). These are five substances that will zap your energy and vitality, make you look old before your time, and could even make you sick. If you stop consuming these five things, you and your family will be well on your way to better health.
The "Fearsome 5" Things to Avoid
2. Food additives: MSG, trans fats (hydrogenated oils), artificial sweeteners
3. Factory-farmed foods
4. Genetically modified foods
5. Unfiltered tap water
For some of these, knowing what to avoid is as simple as reading the ingredient label. Others may require steering clear of an entire category-- like diet soda, which contains artificial sweeteners.
Now, turn to chapter 1 to learn about how pesticides affect your health and three ways to make a shift to eating a more healthful diet.
"What we humans consume for food has undergone more profound change in the past century than in the previous one hundred thousand years, yet genetically we have the same bodies and nutritional needs as our hunter- gatherer ancestors. That discrepancy between who we are and what we put into our bodies has sown the seeds for our current epidemics of illness and disease."
--Randall Fitzgerald, author of The Hundred Year Lie