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Dr. Elana interviews Alexx Stuart, founder and creator of Low Tox Life. The Low Tox Life provides resources to support people looking to reduce their environmental impact and exposure to toxins. She started with a few recipes and articles and now has created 6 e-Courses, a podcast, a thriving online community and a new book! Today Dr. Elana and Alexx discuss steps to take for mamas who wish to live a Low Tox life as it relates to body, home, food, mind and planet.
Today’s podcast is sponsored by ButcherBox. Right now ButcherBox is offering our favorite promo: Ground Beef for Life. If you sign up as a new member, you’ll get 2 lbs of grassfed, grass-finished ground beef in every box for the lifetime of your subscription. Click to sign up today!
Alexx Stuart 0:03
Getting outside and being in nature. It not only grounds and calms you in the silence, but it also encourages a beautiful diverse microbiome, which is something that so many people struggle with.
Elana Roumell 0:17
Welcome back to Whole Mamas Podcast. We’re here to give you tools, resources and evidence-based information so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Whether you’re trying to conceive or navigating life with a toddler or a teenager, we’ve got you covered. I’m Dr. Elana Roumell, pediatric naturopathic doctor, and creator of Med School for Moms, an online resource where I teach moms how to safely be a doctor mom. My co-host is Stephanie Greunke, Whole30’s registered dietitian and Whole Mamas Program Manager. She’s also the co-creator of Whole Mamas’ pregnancy program, where she teaches moms how to navigate the endless decisions around pregnancy. Today we have guest Alexx Stuart, founder and creator of Low Tox Life. The Low Tox Life provides resources to support people looking for a low toxic lifestyle. She started with a few recipes and articles and now has created six e-courses, a podcast, a thriving social community on Facebook and Instagram, and now a book. Today, we talk to Alexx about how to support moms who are interested in raising children in a low toxic lifestyle, covering body, home, food, mind, and planet.
Now before we start today’s episode, I’d like to thank our partner Butcherbox. Now you’ve heard Steph and I talk plenty of why we love Butcherbox so for today I wanted to share with you some ideas and ways I use their grass fed and grass finished ground beef. Right now they’re having their biggest promotion of the year which is two pounds of ground beef for free in every box for the life of your membership. So what are the ways you can use your ground beef? Well, my favorite three ways are the first one is a stir fry with caramelized onions, I throw in the ground beef, I cook in it until brown and then I throw in a ton of broccoli and drizzle some of The New Primal spicy marinate on top. It’s such a tasty meal and it’s so easy. It’s not too spicy and my husband and I love it. I also love using ground beef in soups. I saute onion, celery and carrots as my base. I add the ground beef until brown. Then I add some potatoes and a homemade bone broth. I cook until the potatoes are done and then at the way end, I love throwing in some greens, either kale or chard, and then I spice it up at the end just to my liking. I always love nourishing soups with greens, potatoes and that ground beef is delicious and nourishing. Lastly, who doesn’t love burgers? So easy to put patties together and satisfying for the entire family. I prefer my burgers with either shredded or finely diced up onions, an egg and seasoning. Then I serve with salad and some sweet potato fries I’ve been experimenting with making in my new airfryer. Now some new ways I hope to use my ground beef is actually for breakfast. I feel really good when I start my day with protein. I feel satisfied more energized until lunchtime. And I used to eat a lot of eggs or even fish for breakfast. But lately I’m experimenting with avoiding eggs to see if it helps reduce my son’s spit-up. So I want to start using my ground beef in the mornings and it doesn’t take that much time to cook and with its high protein profile I know will help me start my day out right. Now if you’re new to Butcherbox and ready to try a subscription, head over to Butcherbox.com/wholemamas and sign up to get two pounds of free ground beef for life plus an additional $20 off your first box. Remember you can cancel or postpone your subscription at any time and also customize each box to your liking. It doesn’t get easier than that. All right.
Let’s welcome our guest Alexx to today’s show and start with our nourish yourself segment. Hi, Alexx. Welcome to our show. I’m so excited. I think you are my first Australian guest so I’m so excited to share your accent with the world.
Alexx Stuart 3:56
You just said that Elena because I said awesome just before we hit record. I was like, Oh, that is so different to ‘awesome’. What you guys would say. I’m thrilled to be here.
Elana Roumell 4:10
Oh, good. I just love your accent. I think ours is just a little bit less exciting, but maybe because I hear it all the time. So it’s so fun and really, you are doing work now around the world, offering courses and books and podcasts. And I mean, you’re just so rich in information so I can’t wait to get into all the good stuff. But before we do, as you know, we always start all of our episodes with our nourish yourself segment. So Alexx, what did you do today, or what do you think you’re going to do later today to nourish yourself?
Alexx Stuart 4:39
So it is quarter to nine in the morning here and it was a busy early morning getting my son ready for school and all those things that happen in parents’ morning. And I had a big weight lifted off me yesterday in terms of workload, and the first thing I thought of doing this morning when my husband and my son drove off was something really just simple and lovely and light, which was to watch Grace and Frankie.
Elana Roumell 5:10
I love that show!
Alexx Stuart 5:13
They’re just the most awesome women and I just sat there with a cup of tea and for half an hour, just watched the show, laughed a bit, and it was just so beautiful. And I think so often in the wellness conversations, we’re like, hey, make sure you meditate. Make sure you get your grated carrot for detox and make sure you know– it can actually end up being quite stressful. And I think we need to sometimes just revert to those super simple things that bring us a little joy and relaxation. And it doesn’t have to be what the doctor of the day is telling us to do. It can just be for pure enjoyment sake with no benefit necessarily attached, other than to detach from your day. So I just did that and it was so gorgeous. And this afternoon I’m planning on taking my son to the beach after school so that’ll be extremely nourishing, too.
Elana Roumell 6:02
Oh, how wonderful and I love how you say that is what’s really nourishing to you is oftentimes not being attached to the outcome but just being detached.
Alexx Stuart 6:11
Elana Roumell 6:12
Beautifully said. I love that and and what a fun, unique thing to do first thing in the morning is to turn on the TV. I don’t think to do that.
Alexx Stuart 6:19
Exactly. It was so not what you would normally do in the morning. And I think that’s what made it super precious.
Elana Roumell 6:26
That’s great. And Alex, may I ask how old is your son?
He’s 10. Okay, great. We always love to know if our guests have kids, because so many of us obviously, as moms, we have kids, so it’s just nice to be able to relate. So thank you for that. So what I did today to nourish myself, it’s actually a quick update for our listeners is that I’ve actually put my toddler– I have a three year old daughter– in school. And this is very new for me. We have always done just at home cares for her three years of life. And right when she turned three, I just felt like it was time like she really was–she’s so busy and active and she just she needs more type of structured day. And I’m so happy to provide that. And also, Alex, I just had a baby. So I have a three month old. So it’s also just like a really good time for her to, you know, have some more independence and I bring this up because it really actually feels nourishing to me to drop her off and see how happy she is. I guess I had this expectation that it was going to be this horribly destraughting idea of just dropping her off. She’s gonna cry, she’s gonna want me and she just says bye bye and leaves and just goes plays and I’m like, Oh my god, she’s really growing up. And it’s so nice for me to see that.
Alexx Stuart 6:29
Yeah, they need that socialization eventually.
Elana Roumell 7:39
I wanted to share that. Yes, but it really feels good to me. It feels like I listened to my gut. I didn’t feel right before for some reason, maybe with my son he’ll go sooner. I don’t know. But I’m really happy with how things are going. Although she’s definitely getting sick more often. She never used to get sick. So now we’re going through that. That’s common. She just had some, like a stomach bug and had a vomiting episode. And unfortunately, my husband just came home today with the same symptoms. So he’s in bed resting and he just threw up and I’m like, Oh my god, I’m so sorry. So there are definitely pros and cons. But I do feel like overall it’s more nourishing than it is challenging so we’re kind of in the middle of getting used to that new plan.
Alexx Stuart 8:26
Yeah, I remember I did the same. My son was about just under three when he went to… started him off in a family day care, which is something we have where house moms can have up to five kids and be registered to have small playgroup day care, which was a really nice transition before full-on preschool and I remember that you would come home with random things and like Okay, everybody sacrifices.
Elana Roumell 8:52
The great thing is that we have so many great natural therapies to help so I feel so lucky to be well equipped and I teach moms. It’s actually secretly kind of fun for me when they get sick because I get to take out my remedies and help the family.
We’ve got so much to talk about, I could chat with you all day, I want to share your work with our guests, because I find it to be just incredibly, incredibly important. So your business is called Low Tox Life. And I love it, you’ve really done a lot with it. Essentially, it’s to create a lot more awareness around toxicity in the world and in all different areas of our life. And we’re going to break it down into the different categories that you teach on but before we go into really talking about the different toxins and what we could do to create solutions around it, I just love for you to share why you got so interested in this and how Low Tox Life even came about.
Alexx Stuart 9:46
Yeah, so thank you for the question. And it started probably about 15 years ago when I started to have digestive issues and started to become antibiotic resistant. I was someone who got tonsillitis every three or four months, I would get a bout of tonsillitis and be put on antibiotics. And I got to the strongest antibiotics and they weren’t working. So sort of add that to digestive problems, and then starting to think I gotta do something because the regular stuff’s not working. And a girlfriend of mine just suggested going to see a naturopath and at 27 I had no idea what that was. I didn’t even know where you would find one. It just wasn’t a form of medicine that was well known–naturopathy– back in the early 2000s, which is crazy to think how far we’ve come in such a short time. But I attribute that to so many people being unwell in the way that convention doesn’t help, that with so many people have therefore needed to find alternatives and I was definitely one of those people, so I found a great naturopath. She put me on, because it was a very acute case of tonsillitis where I’d been on three of the strongest rounds and nothing had worked. She put me on a fasting diet of brown rice, cooked carrots and chicken broth, and nothing else for three days and take these herbs and take these two vitamin supplements and give me a buzz in three days and see how you go. And I basically sweated for three days straight and was fine after three days. And I was just like, What on earth? What is this thing that you’ve done? You know, because it wasn’t a medication from a pharmacy. It was a completely foreign concept to me that you could ‘heal’ any other way, right? Which is true for so many people who live in conventional society. And so I went back to her I remember as a bit of a follow up and she suggested removing gluten from the diet. This was way before anyone was talking about it, as something to try. She was very pioneering, certainly here in Australia. But she had found some German research that linked gluten to non-celiac sensitivity and all sorts of digestive problems, but also to strip the bug. And so I thought even though I was French and half French and getting the news that you can’t eat bread and quiche, and all those things was like the worst years of my life I thought I’m going to give this a go and I cried, I found it really hard to be socially different eating. So that has always given me a huge amount of empathy for anyone who has to change their diet for health reasons. Because it can be hard. It’s certainly easier now because the options are endless. But back then when you really didn’t have an option, and no one socially knew what you needed. If you were invited to their place and you had to eat gluten free. It was like oh gosh, that was so stressful for people. But the thing was I didn’t get tonsillitis. I’ve literally had one case in 15 years. And it was very mild. And it was because I got glutened after my son was born. So it’s definitely a link for me. And I’m not saying gluten is evil. I think we’re in a time where we should be at least able to admit that there’s different strokes for different folks, different genetics, different gut bugs, susceptibilities, all the things that make medicine so bioindividual, but it certainly was a bit of an enemy for me, that’s for sure. So I am gluten free. And I went back to her because she was so successful in this one problem I had, I had another major problem, which was not having a period after quitting the contraceptive pill. I was on it for about five years, decided to come off it, felt that it was just not right and didn’t get a period and I then went again did a whole bunch of conventional tests and none of them were able to find anything other than PCOS and to tell me that I might have early onset menopause. So when I went back to Christie and she was furious that I’ve been told I had early onset menopause at 28. I haven’t even thought about having a baby yet, and she put me again on some herbs, and six weeks later, my period came back. And I was like, Whoa, you are like, totally a magic woman. This is incredible. The whole world needs to hear about you people. Are there more of you? I was so excited, because I had come from a place that was just so liberally giving you dead ends. And I think that’s really scary when someone thinks that that’s their lot in life, when it doesn’t need to be there other options you can explore. So I became very passionate about the fact that this was such a little known medicine and such an under-resourced profession. And once I had cleaned up my food and became really good at cooking, and creating my own gluten free recipes. When you’re French, you’re not going to get rid of delicious like that’s not an option. So it actually was a blessing because I had to learn how to cook and make things beautiful. But I also had to learn how to read ingredient lists to find gluten and by consequence found out how much crap there was in food products. And so that sort of sent me down the rabbit hole of looking into our food system. And then, cut to a couple of years later, when I was pregnant with my son, I remember thinking, I’ll just check out all these products I got given on the baby shower. I’m good at reading labels now. So I’ll see what’s in there. And I was just horrified to see there was 90% petroleum based ingredients. So I researched them. And I started to find two main groups of this, of the ones that were nasty because of course not all chemicals are nasty. There are some that are perfectly safe. But there were two groups: one that centered around potential carcinogenic activity and the other that centered around endocrine disruption and hormone disruption, for people that might not be aware of that term. And I thought it was absolutely crazy, not just that you could have these ingredients in an everyday personal care product, not just for adults, but for babies who are building everything for the first sort of 25 years of life. It felt so unjust to expose them to things that could alter their biochemistry, and so that was really when I decided to start a blog. I had a little bubba you know, we had the one or two hours in the day or evening that I could write while he napped, and I just started sharing recipes, started sharing sort of exposés on basic home products like your tooth floss for example, and I did an exposé on how most of the mainstream tooth flosses is covered in PFAS and Teflon technology, you know how horrifying it is but that’s getting rubbed into our gums. And the little particles of Teflon technology never break down in us or the environment. So we can develop a lot of body toxicity even just from flossing our teeth, which was crazy to me, but I felt that people needed to know so one thing kind of turned into another, turned into a Facebook community, turned into a big Facebook community where I would be like literally answering people’s questions about kettles and shampoos and carpets and whatever until all hours of the morning I thought there’s got to be a better way to do this, which in 2014 is when I developed the Go Low Tox e-course to help people in groups at a time coached by me personally go through every aspect of your daily life and just lower your environmental toxin impact. And that’s been amazing. We’ve written nine courses since we have a course that coaches people in starting conscious businesses now and so it’s just this amazing, beautiful big community of people who want to do better by people and planet because I think when we create the win-win, not just for our health, but for the health of the planet that we leave to our children, that becomes a really powerful legacy.
Elana Roumell 18:25
Well, I love this and I love your story. Thank you so much for going into depth and sharing. I think I can resonate so much in that. So much of our calling and our mission in life really stems from a personal experience. And I think thatsometimes it’s like the greatest type of struggle that we have to face is just that you see that it comes out in gifts at the end and for you even just finding out you’re gluten sensitive and finding out that you didn’t get your period. So now what’s next and then figuring out through your baby shower and toxic products. I mean, all these little things are really instrumental pieces of the puzzle that have gotten us so passionate about helping others and educate others, and I find that to be actually a really beautiful journey. So thanks for giving us so much information in such great detail.
Now, you mentioned, especially helping the planet and it’s funny that you mentioned because that’s literally my next question that I wanted to talk to you about. Yeah, it’s a perfect segue. Because when I look over your website, and I follow you on Instagram, and I see all your courses, you really categorize your teachings into four categories and you say body, home, food, and mind. And we’re going to go into detail into each of those, but I wanted to actually add a fifth category and that was planet because I know how passionate you are about that, and I have gotten many messages from moms in particular, and some of my patients asking me, you know, I feel like as a mom, I’m just finding so much extra waste like our trash has been piling up the diaper pail piles up, you know, between wipes, or new toys and new clothes or even the laundry, you know, I’m doing so much more laundry now with kids. And I’m so impressed with them that they say, I don’t I don’t want my footprint to be so large, but like what can I do to be less impactful on the environment? I feel like this waste is so toxic. And so I would love to, bring this concept up and see with your research and your experience, what kind of insights you give to moms as far as finding solutions to this since we’re all dealing with it.
Alexx Stuart 20:29
Yeah, it’s huge, isn’t it? And I think we can be so… as mums as well, you know, women are already made to feel like we’re not enough culturally. And that’s what keeps us buying all the things to be enough, hopefully, one day. So we have that that we carry into motherhood. And then we have the moms are not enough and you’re never doing enough for your child. You got to do this. You got to buy this extra thing and they’re going to need this for stimulation. They’re going to need that for antibacterial, whatever, and you just keep buying all the things. And I think the best thing we can do is to just find, however we can, a way to turn down that volume on needing more and more stuff. Because, you know, like any mom will tell you, they just want to play with your key. They don’t need 5 billion different stimulator experiences. They literally just need a ton of love, and a few basic stimulating things that get their brains going, which tends to usually be time spent with you doing stuff. So I think that a lot of the waste comes from plastic toys. And I don’t know what you guys have in the States, but I’m sure it’s the same as here where there is some really exciting community spirit all over the place popping up with toy library. So you can actually go and just borrow some toys that are useful to that age group of baby and child and then give them back. They play with something five times, then they master it, then they’re done. That is a crazy life cycle for a toy if you want to buy it and just use it once, and then put it into like the next trash pick up, trash day. So it’s amazing to see that kind of stuff happening. But innthe personal care space, there’s heaps you can do so I think we underestimate the power of putting really good hot wash and what you can clean in a good hot wash. Here in Australia, I will use what I know to be true, but you’ve probably also got the same energy providers in the States that allow you to use pure carbon offset or green energy for your household energy needs. I don’t know whether you guys have an option where you can choose a service like that. It means doing things like a hot wash laundry is not burning fossil fuel and contributing to more carbon in the atmosphere. And I think that’s a really cool thing to do to change your home energy provider, to not feel guilty putting on a hot wash or using the dryer because as a parent, if I didn’t have my dryer, I actually don’t know how I would…
Elana Roumell 20:31
I know! I’m so grateful for my appliances.
Alexx Stuart 23:27
These are things that I would… there are so many people who love just hanging up every laundry load or who love washing by hand. They love the meditative experience with that. I like sitting still in my meditation personally so each to their own, and I don’t think we need to feel guilty about convenience. But I think we need to feel smart about convenience and thinking about the true cost of that convenience.
Elana Roumell 23:52
Yes, I agree. On the topic of just the laundry, I find that the diaper pails, they over flow. It’s like every week we’re taking out this big load of diapers for now my three month old and it just makes me cringe. And I always think it’s time for us to go to cloth diapers, yet at the same time, I’m like, I’m overwhelmed by it simply because then it’s more laundry to do, or what do I do with the poop? I’ve even taken a class because I really wanted to be into it. And I was just almost overwhelmed with all the different options of cloth diapers and the different type of absorbent factors and all of this and so, I wanted maybe to just speak on how it can be easy and it can be simple for someone like me and or listener a who says, I really want to try to avoid some of the waste and what can we do as solutions?
Alexx Stuart 24:43
Definitely looking into cloth diapers. I mean, that is huge. Like, let’s just face it. If If you can get your head around it, give it a month. I think often we think, okay, I’m going to commit to this and I’m going to go all in and you assume it’s going to be forever and then you might have a really crazy busy month and it doesn’t work or you’re traveling and you can’t figure it out. And then you make yourself feel like a massive failure. And I think that’s the wrong way to go about things. Go about it as an experiment go about it, gee, I wonder what this would look like if we really committed to it for a month and reassessed at the end of the month. You will always find a family who wants to buy these secondhand from you cheaper than the new ones. So why not give it a go for a month? The worst that can happen is you think, okay, that’s not where we’re going to make our environmental impact as a family. That’s okay, we’ll find a different thing that we can contribute to because every contribution matters, and if we set ourselves up for perfection seeking and then the shame and failure cycle, we’re not going to move forward with little things and make progress. So I’m a big fan of really trying to move to cloth nappies and I mean what we get these days compared to what our moms had to deal with in the 70s and 80s, it is a gift. It is so much easier.
Elana Roumell 26:05
So I love what you said. And if you don’t mind me repeating, because you said two things that I just think are brilliant is one: if you really want to try to make a change, you don’t have to commit for the for a lifetime. You could commit to one month and then reassess. And I think that that small step is so much more doable. And I appreciate you bringing that up. I think that’s a great bit of advice.
Alexx Stuart 26:26
It’s just more psychologically healthy.
Elana Roumell 26:29
I absolutely agree. Because then you’re not so invested that you are putting so much pressure on yourself. And so I really, really do appreciate that. And the second thing you said is that every contribution makes a difference. And so perhaps a mom listening, doing cloth diapers is not their thing. It grosses them out and it’s just disgusting, who knows, but for them, really being conscientious of recycling different toys and maybe even getting a group of friends together and every month doing a toy swap makes a difference. And that does. So I just think that’s great. I love that all these different ideas that we can do to really help just lower our toxicity to the planet because it really, at the end of the day, all of this waste is very toxic to the planet. And so I think it’s a good thing just for us to have some more mindfulness around it and have some good tips and tricks kind of up our sleeve so we can all as families just at least acknowledge that these are the things that I want to do as a family. Some of these things are good for the planet. Some of these things are not good for the planet, but at least I know I’m making conscious effort to have some things in place.
Unknown Speaker 27:39
Hey Mama, Dr. Elana here to quickly remind you that you can safely be a doctor mom. We all want the best for our children. And as a mom, you are automatically your child’s number one health advocate. I’ve created guidebooks and video courses to teach you how to feel calm when your child’s sick, how to be competent using integrative medicine tools, and how to feel confident knowing when it’s time to visit your doctor or when you can safely treat your child from home yourself. Head over to medschoolformoms.com/wholemamas and start watching my free mini course where I teach you the mindset, medicine, and mastery of being a doctor mom. While you’re there, check out my favorite pediatric and mama approved medicines I use with my patients. I’m always updating my favorite products. Staying up to date is my job, so you don’t have to do it. To join our village of supportive mamas, visit medschoolformoms.com/wholemamas so you can make confident decisions about your family’s well being. We love helping moms become doctor moms. Now let’s get back to today’s episode.
Alexx Stuart 28:49
There are a lot of families living in the city. And there are a lot of families living more regionally with bigger houses bigger space, and when you’ve got a lot of space or like a whole room for your laundry where you can have different buckets for soaking, that’s going to set you up for some really great success there. So, different people in different lifestyles can achieve different things. And maybe the folks who are in the city, maybe you’ve got a bit less space, maybe your laundry situation is literally just a washing machine in the kitchen. There’s a lot of people who live with that situation. So, you know, maybe you turn your attention to your food waste, all the tops and tails of all the veggies that we chop, there’s a huge amount of compostable food scraps, where if you’re living in a city and you don’t have chickens to feed it all to and that kind of thing. Then these days in the city, you’ve got tons of services that come and pick up compost, compost collectors, you can drop it off to your farmers market. Incredible and when we started composting our food scraps, we reduced ourselves down to the tiniest little bin that we fill maybe once a fortnight. Just doing that alone. This is to say my son was out of diapers at that time. But there wasn’t the wipes and all the other things that I back then hadn’t navigated into multiple use items myself. We did cloth nappies right towards the end, which is, of course, always easier when you’ve got a two year old than it is with a newborn. But I was so busy changing up the personal care changing up so many other things. You know, you have to be patient with where you’re at and realize that this is a journey. It’s not all going to happen today. I remember the first time I ran Go Low Tox, I called it 30 Days to Your Low Tox Life. And about halfway through the course I was just like, Oh my gosh, that is a psychological disaster waiting to happen, if people think they’re going to be done in 30 days. I’ve been going for nearly a decade. Back then when I first started. Now it’s 15 years, but I haven’t finished everything. We still hadn’t changed our mattress. There were some big ticket items that were still on my list. And so you can have the awareness of everything you need to change, but you will need to have the permission to do that in a time frame that’s right for you and budgetarily there’s obviously that constraint. You can’t change everything in a day most, people can’t.
Elana Roumell 31:13
Yeah, great. I love that you’re giving grace to these families. That’s very important that we do. I love that. But let’s go ahead and jump into some of the top things that you think we should at least pay some attention to, whether or not we’re ready to change it or not. I think that’s important. So, let’s go ahead and dive into the body, home, food, and mind. So, let’s start with the Low Tox body. What would you say top three things that are common toxins that our kids are really faced with so that moms can really try to be as proactive as they can with these.
Alexx Stuart 31:45
Okay, so this is for moms to change…?
Elana Roumell 31:49
Yes, more specifically for their kids, to lessen their kids’ exposure.
Alexx Stuart 31:54
So, the top three things for me would be using a body lotion on your child, something that’s going to sit on the skin for like the whole rest of the day, then that’s something you want to look at and you want to make sure that the product you are using does not have the word ‘fragrance’ on the label without a description that at least reassures you that it’s 100% natural essential oil based fragrance. And even then for really tiny baby I would choose fragrance free, personally. I think essential oils are lovely, but they are potent and can cause skin reactions in newborns. And there are some dilutions that are just too strong for the under twos. A brand, for example, like Weleda that has the beautiful white mellow range or the calendula range, where you have a little tiny bit of fragrance and Michelangelo, but that’s actually just coming from the calendula plant itself being crushed into the product. So, you have some fantastic gentle options, but when you see the word ‘fragrance’ on a label, it can be up to 150 different chemical compounds in that term. So they don’t need to list all of those things because of a ruling way back when in the 70s that allowed a fragrance company to not disclose its ingredients due to proprietary information, basically so that no one will copy their fragrance formula. So, ever since then, people have not had to list what was in a fragrance but unfortunately, there can be numerous chemical compounds in fragrance that are either potentially carcinogenic, or endocrine disruptive, and the most common endocrine disrupter in the synthetic fragrance is the phthalates. And phthalates can be extremely disruptive in developing sexual organs and especially to boys. We often think women are the ones championing these changes to more low tox products, but the phthalates hurt the men the most. And so this is one of the categories where we can really get our guys on board and say, “Did you know that since the 50s, viable sperm has decreased by 50%? And did you know that phthalates as a chemical are one of the ones in question related to this decrease in sperm viability?” So, that can be a really great way to get our men on board when often the husbands kind of roll their eyes and go, “Oh, gosh, what’s she trying to make me do now?” A lot of women have been there, but then sometimes it’s the guys championing this so there is a general trend but then there’s always the exception. We always have three or four guys in every course round who are championing for their homes. But I do mention that because it can be a great way to get guys to realize this is not just about beauty products for women. This is about any product in the home that has a synthetic fragrance that has phthalates in it.
Elana Roumell 35:04
Great. I love that you’re bringing this up because fragrance is such an easy one to look at. It doesn’t need to be a big, long chemical word that they don’t know how to pronounce but fragrance is fragrance and I couldn’t agree with you more here and I’ll tell you one of my biggest pet peeves is when I’m out and about and someone’s wearing a ton of cologne or perfume and wants to hold my baby. And I honestly feel like it rubs off on them and it carries through and now literally my baby or whatever smells for hours and this can happen with some of my family members. And it literally drives me nuts like I need to always have this conversation of like “hey, if you’re gonna if we’re gonna all hang out, I need you to honestly not wear your cologne or perfume” and it’s not a fun situation or easy to say. But at the end of the day, these are toxic chemicals, and they should know this for themselves. I mean, it’s incredible how people still don’t really understand it. So, I think this is a great first step for any product, especially for our kids to avoid
Alexx Stuart 36:06
One hundred percent. And so we have the body lotion, then we obviously have the bath products, any kind of bath gel, bath oil, anything you’re using, just check out that word fragrance. And then there can be other things in there like your paraffins, which is a petroleum-based wax. Like that’s not actually harmful to the skin, but it is harmful to ingest. We don’t break it down. And it’s also harmful to the waterways. So it goes out there, once it goes down the drain, and where is it going? What fish are then swallowing it if we’re not swallowing it. So all those paraffin, petroleum-based waxes and oils, mineral oil, they’ve really all got to not be used anymore. The beauty is that we are spoiled with choices these days. So many gorgeous brands. It’s so easy to find wonderful, wonderful options now, which is great. But we do need to be good label readers because often you’ll see things like “eco”, or the word organic insinuated somewhere on the front of a label. But actually, because of the completely relaxed labeling laws, both here and in America, you then turn around, the truth is in the ingredient list, not in what they tell you on the front, and that goes for snack foods, baby food, personal care, cleaning products. The truth is in the ingredient list, not what you see on the front of the packet.
Elana Roumell 37:38
Great, I love it. I couldn’t agree more. And just a resource I’m going to add to the show notes is a database I love through the Environmental Working Group called Skin Deep. This is a great place for moms to look at their products that they’re already using, see how they grade it and see what kind of chemical constituents may be in there that could be potentially toxic and then also to find brands that rate really well so that you know that what you’re putting on your child’s body is safe. I love it. They have sunscreens and lotions and they even have makeup for moms. They have really a lot of great products in their database. Do you use that in Australia as well?
Alexx Stuart 38:18
We do. But again, I put an exception on it unfortunately because– and it is mostly awesome, I will say. The EWG does some incredible work and I love their awareness raising on toxins. If you look at something like benzyl alcohol, and it can come from a plant, it can be an essential oil compound. And the studies show that that is not a harmful ingredient. But benzyl alcohol from petroleum can be contaminated with carcinogens and these definitely are potentially harmful toxicant. So, unfortunately, and I would say maybe it’s because one small not for profit organization can only do so much. Unfortunately, if they see benzyl alcohol on a product, it goes in the no pile. But you have a couple of brands, like Weleda or Young Living, that use that ingredients sometimes, and it is from natural essential oils, and they’re amazing companies doing great things for people and planet. But because of that ingredient also sometimes being not so good, depending on how it’s manufactured and what the raw material is that it comes from, it then gets confusing on the ratings if that makes sense.
Elana Roumell 39:36
Yes, it does make sense and I appreciate you giving that kind of disclaimer. I think at the end of the day, what can feel really empowering for moms is for them to sometimes pick up the phone and call the companies. You’d be surprised, and I do this all the time as a naturopathic doctor, I want to know that my supplements and my products are really as high quality as possible and when someone is willing to talk to me, that goes a long way in my feeling as far as the reputation that this company has, and then I’ve called companies that won’t talk to me at all. And so I’m like, well, then I guess there’s something to hide. So if they can be transparent, and be willing to educate you and teach you about the ingredients, I just find that that would be great. And then you could just find companies that do this. And then you can use their products because, like you said, we really are spoiled. There are so many products these days that are really excellent products. And yes, you may be spending a little bit more, but at the end of the day, that’s an investment in in your family’s health. And so it’s a no brainer to me personally, but you know, again, we all have to choose wisely where we can make a difference. But when it comes to body care when material on the body really does get absorbed internally, so from the skin inside the body. That’s very important, especially for our young children.
Alexx Stuart 40:51
That’s right. And I think what you said there about being empowered, it’s so true what you say about if they don’t get back to you, then that’s your red flag. It is absolutely your red flag. So if you pop them a question, I did this recently with a free range pork. And I thought free range is great, at least the pigs have wide open spaces. That’s fantastic. But if you look at the free range legislation, that can still mean that they’re actually quite cramped. And it also doesn’t tell you what they’re eating. So they could be eating genetically modified soy and corn from a cut down Amazon forest, the soy would be. So, you just think hold on, I’m going to write in and just make sure and got nothing back once, got nothing back twice, did a little social media ask on their feed on Instagram got no reply. And I thought well, that’s just the answer, isn’t it?
Elana Roumell 41:47
Yep. And I think that’s great. And it just takes a little bit of time to be proactive. But the good thing is, is these days it’s so quick to shoot someone a message or an email or go on their website and take a look at it. So I think that’s great.
So, let’s go ahead and move into the home because I don’t want to run out of time and there’s so much still to talk about. I said to Alex, before we started recording I said, you know, Alex, every one of my questions could probably be a whole podcast episode in itself. So, you know, we’re going to try to get through it, but in all honesty, what I love that you have as offerings are these really easy to follow courses and books and such. So if someone really wants to dive a lot deeper into this, then they can head on over to your website at Low Tox Life or your Instagram page. So we’ll put that in the show notes. So, let’s go and talk about the home. What do you think are some really main chemicals or toxins that we should really look out for that we can really help with our kids.
Alexx Stuart 42:39
Okay, I’m going to do my top three. So number one is look at what they’re sleeping directly on. So if they don’t have a pillow yet, the pillow is always my number one because your face is literally squished against that thing for eight hours a night. So you really want to make sure that’s natural materials and that you change it over every couple of years. so that mold and bedbugs things can’t grow and dust mites etc. But if you’re sleeping directly on a mattress then that’s the thing. And please don’t panic out there if you’ve just bought some top of the line spring mattress that turns out is not organic and uses a ton of petroleum based foam and everything because so many women have been there. Please do not panic. You are not a bad person for having done that, you just did not know. And so the best thing you can do rather than change the whole mattress, because of course that’s cost and then that’s environmental landfill. We definitely don’t want to do either of those two things. Get a mattress topper either for your cot or your bed for the bubba or the child and you can get these beautiful organic wool mattress toppers, or organic cotton mattress toppers, organic latex mattress toppers, and then at least what they’re sleeping directly against is natural because then any fibers or dust particular that comes up from those fibers is natural. Rather than synthetic stuff that we’re breathing into our lungs, which becomes microplastic pollution in the body. So it’s a really important one. But as I said, you don’t have to go all out and change every piece of bedding that you have. You can get a topper as a great mid solution that doesn’t cost too much money and you can create huge change in terms of your environmental exposure today. So, that’s my number one. Number two is water. And in fact number one and number two could both be number one and two, respectively. Like neither of them is less important. But the water that you drink is going into your body and flooding your body with nutrients and hydration every day. And it is very important that that is clean. I know in the States, you guys have huge challenges on this front with contaminations of rivers from chemical industry and agriculture. This is one of the biggest challenges of our time, so please consider getting a really, really good water filter. Put it on a payment plan, if you can’t afford the whole thing today. It is worth it. You want to get rid of that pesticide, herbicide residue or any kind of chemical industry residue like PFAS in the water. And you want to also reduce your chlorine in the water, which is often used to make sure that those little bugs are killed. But of course you want to reduce those bugs as well. There is some negative pathogens in water. And of course, there can be fluoride in the water. It depends on where you live. But this is a big issue because fluoride competes with iodine, which can set off a bunch of thyroid issues and there’s more and more research coming to the forefront every day about fluoride and so it may be your personal choice to use it topically for toothpaste, that’s absolutely fine, but I would definitely consider potentially removing fluoride from your water, based on the advice I’ve been given from multiple dentists and environmental scientists in the research that I’ve done. But again, it’s a personal choice. So you might want to leave the flouride and forget the crazy lady on the internet. Let’s just actually get rid of all that other stuff she talked about, because that’s what resonates for me. And you have different filters that can filter different levels of toxins based on what your priorities are. So, water is huge. And then the number three thing is if you have dampness in your home, it needs to be addressed yesterday. So either that could be coming from a water leak in the walls, a pipe that’s broken, and creating water damage in home or gutters that’s overflowing and clogged and then you get a big rain, or it could be coming from living somewhere quite humid like if you’re in New Orleans, Florida, down in those sorts of parts, you really want to make sure that your indoor air is under 60% humidity and this is going to protect you from mold growing in your home, and creating all sorts of havoc from respiratory issues, to full body inflammation. Nobody needs it and a quarter of the population are genetically susceptible to mold in a really profound and harmful way. So, keeping your indoor air humidity down with a great dehumidifier is going to be fantastic for your children, as well as for you.
Elana Roumell 47:26
Excellent, your list is exactly what I would actually say. And in fact, as a naturopathic doctor, we’ve just seen so many more mold cases now than ever, mostly because we’re so much more educated about how to treat it. And it’s not something I would ever wish upon any family. And so the third one is so incredibly important. I think we’re going to have to do a whole episode probably on mold exposure and mold toxicity for our family. So, that’s going to be a fun episode. But very important that we’re just aware of it because like you said, if we could just be proactive and notice if there’s a water damage or water leak anywhere, you just have to really get on top of it ASAP, not immediately but yesterday. I loved how you said that. Wonderful.
So, because of time, the next category we had was low tox food. But because we talk so much about food on our podcast, I’m going to go ahead and skip it and really go into, I would say, actually, one of my favorite ones is what you call is low tox mind. And I think that this is so incredibly important, because, you know, I work with families that are so gung ho about eating really healthy and minimizing their toxins with the body care, and their water filtration system and all of these great things, yet they’re some of the most stressed out people that I’ve met. And I find that this is actually one of the biggest stressors and toxic burdens that they have. And so when I try to explain it to them, they oftentimes are surprised by it, you know, they think oh my goodness, I’ve been doing so much work trying to lessen our toxic exposure in all these areas. I didn’t realize how toxic my mindset can be. So, if you can kind of give us some ideas of how that really does harm someone. And what we could do as far as solutions to really ensure that we’re not allowing our mindset to become a toxic source for us would be great.
Alexx Stuart 49:11
So, I think this is always one for parents where we need to address our own mind, and how we might have a tendency towards the negative, or we might have a tendency to over schedule or over promise. And, that sets us up for under delivery, which leads to shame, fear, the “I’m not good enough” cycle. And so often, the work that needs doing to set our kids up right starts with us. And it’s like, “oh, bugger, gotta do some work here.” But the good news about that is this, for me is one of the most precious aspects of parenting is the personal growth. We have the opportunity to experience as people not just as a parent, by wanting to emulate some of the stuff that we want for our kids. And this is where we need to do as I do, and as I do, rather than do as I say not as I do, as the old saying goes. So, I think it’s really important to have a look at our own mindset and our own diaries and how we set up our weeks and whether we feel in flow in our lives and how we can create more joy for ourselves as people. And then we’re much better equipped to teach our kids, right? And so one of my favorite things to do with my son is to just chat while cuddling so we just hang out with absolutely no expectation of anything said. We might even turn it into a tickle fest for a couple of minutes and then get back to chatting. But we take the time almost every day to chat in a cuddle and just talk about stuff. Anything: could be his favorite game at the moment, could be kids that are upsetting him at school, it could be something he’s feeling overwhelmed about because if you build this ability to just chat and even with a tiny little bubba who’s just starting to string together their words, then they’re always going to feel safe in your arms and able to open up. And that is something we really need to foster for when the teenage years come around, right? So, that kind of relaxed conversation with no expectation. No “I’m telling you to do this quickly, get this done. Eat your vegetables, put on your shoes,” like all that boring stuff that we have to do in our day. We need to make sure we build out time for a relaxed, beautiful loving moment of communication with our children on a very regular basis.
Elana Roumell 51:35
That’s so special. I’m like in awe at you. My kids are young, so I just can’t wait till I have my 10 year old to be able to do that. That’s so lovely.
Alexx Stuart 51:44
We’ve done this since he was two years old, I promise. Definitely do it. It looks different with a two-year-old. It’s a bit busier. It’s much shorter, but you know when they’re a little bit dopey, when they’re toddlers right in the morning when they’re first just woken up, before they want to start going 100 miles an hour? That is the perfect time to just have bed cuddles, little chats, and just stroke the hair and say, “What are you excited about today? And do you know mommy’s got this plan for you today? What should we do?” And just see what comes out of their heads. “What’s your favorite animal?” It could be anything, just make it age appropriate. But it’s just a beautiful thing to do.
Elana Roumell 52:30
I love that, and I love that you mentioned how it really starts with the parent awareness. I work with a lot of anxious parents, especially around their children’s health. It’s actually one of my favorite type of parents to work with because I love helping them feel calm and empowered around it so that they know what to do. And I really, really help teach them that when you’re anxious, this only makes everything worse with your children because they really feel that and they pick up on it. And so I do think it really starts with us to just become more present and aware and just to learn the tools that work for our own self, it’s very unique to us. Everyone’s tools are different, whatever we resonate with, but I do think that this is such an important aspect to overall toxic exposure on that same topic.
Alexx Stuart 53:14
Yeah, that’s right. And then my other one for mind is as much outdoor play as you can get happening with your kids. It is so grounding and so calming to get out in the natural space. And, there’s a lot of beautiful science that you would have come across in your work, Elena, around grounding and blood pressure and anxiety reduction. It is there in the science. We need nature to feel like we are centered and we have a sense of peace. Walking along the beach, it’s pretty easy to let your worries fly away when you’re just walking along a beautiful beach looking out at the horizon. Things just aren’t that bad when we do things like that, or taking a gorgeous walk through a forest or making a snowman together as a family, whatever it looks like. Getting outside and being in nature, it not only grounds and calms you in the silence, but it also encourages a beautiful diverse microbiome, which is something that so many people struggle with from birth these days, often because the children are inheriting a poor microbiome from the mother. And if we can just get out there in nature and restimulate our bones and build a healthy population through breathing in wild and natural environments, then the effect on our mental health and physical health is huge. So those would be my top two.
Elana Roumell 54:44
Great, I love it. This has been so wonderful. I can talk to you for hours. Honestly, I’m so interested in this topic. I’ve studied this also for well over a decade, and there’s still so much to learn because there are so many things that we can really do. And so again, I just want to remind our listeners that if any of this overwhelms you, please again the reminder, Alexx, you were so generous in saying, is give yourself some grace and take one thing at a time. It could even be one thing you want to change for the year and every year maybe make another goal. There’s no rush for this but just having the awareness around it is the greatest step.
So, to wrap it up, where can people find out more about you, Alexx, and all the work you do and anything that we should just know that’s up and coming for what’s going on in your life and your business?
Alexx Stuart 55:31
So, the best place to head to is lowtoxlife.com because you generally got everything there and you can see our podcast and courses, everything is there. But the beauty is everything is called Low Tox Life. So if you look up my podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, whatever you listen to podcasts on, then you have Low Tox Life. If you want to grab my book on Book Depository or Amazon, it’s called Low Tox Life. If you want to come and check out the website, that’s called Low Tox Life, too, as is Instagram. So, it’s really easy to find us. And it’s a beautiful online community on Facebook and Instagram as well as in terms of our e-course families for all the different health goals that they have and which course they might like to choose. But we actually have Go Low Tox starting right now. So people can still jump into this live round where you have me as a personal coach for five weeks and the 40 incredible experts that we have along the way. And I look forward to meeting some more American friends and family. I’m from London myself, but we lived in Chicago for the first five years of my life, and I have cousins in New York. So I always feel such an affinity with and very excited when we get American students. We had a couple from Pennsylvania and California last round, which was really fun.
Elana Roumell 56:51
That’s so nice. And you’ve been so generous. You made a code for our listeners for 20% off any of your e-courses. That code is lowtoxclub20. We’ll put that in the show notes as well. So thank you so much. That starts February 24. So I really appreciate that. Our show doesn’t air I think until March so it is live and available.
Alexx Stuart 57:13
I’ll just appease you and your listeners there. We moved it to March 2 because so many Australian families, because school started really late for us this year, everyone was still in a bit of a flurry. So we decided to just push it back a week so everyone could start nice and relaxed.
Elana Roumell 57:31
Excellent. Okay, that’s great. So, we’ve got the time. Thank you so much. So you’ve been wonderful, Alexx. Thank you so much for all your time and resources. I hope to stay in touch and maybe have you back on to keep on investigating some of these and hopefully our listeners can reach out to you for more. Thank you so very much. Have a great day.
Alexx Stuart 57:49
Thank you so much, Elana.
Elana Roumell 57:53
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode with Alexx. I know I really enjoyed chatting with her and of course go ahead and find some more resources on her website at Low Tox Life.
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This episode's guest
Alexx Stuart is the author of “Low Tox Life” and the founder of the thriving online education hub by the same name, made up of several e-courses, a podcast (one of the highest ranked in the health category in Australia), recipes, articles, and community action resources for an ever growing community of people wanting to be healthier and make our planet happier. She’s an educator, change agent, author, columnist, speaker and consultant at the forefront of a movement that’s non-judgmental and tough on the system that got us here.