The typical Western diet is packed with dangerous chemicals—everything from artificial preservatives to pesticides and genetically modified “food products.”
Following a Paleo diet will take you a long way when it comes to avoiding that stuff and improving your health…
But changing your diet is just step one. Staying away from food chemicals is great, but most of us are still encountering way too many toxic chemicals from other sources.
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The modern lifestyle (and all the products that come with it) is largely to blame. You probably don’t even realize how many chemicals you’re coming into contact with on a daily basis.
Good news: you can tweak your lifestyle to keep nasty chemicals away and look (and feel) healthier than ever before.
It’s simpler than you might think…
The Pros and Cons of Using Modern Products
A lot of modern products—like shampoos, toothpastes, and deodorants—keep us feeling clean and fresh. But the vast majority of them are loaded with dangerous chemicals. So there are pros and cons every time you use them. Unfortunately, the bad often outweighs the good.
The ideal solution: figuring out Paleo-friendly ways to enjoy the benefits of these modern products without exposing yourself to the chemicals (and their nasty side effects).
Fortunately, you have options here:
Swapping dangerous products for Paleo-friendly (but still effective) alternatives is straightforward. Making these changes will leave you healthier and have a better impact on the environment. It’s green living at its finest.
Here are five simple hacks to help you be more Paleo at home:
1. Make Your Own Shampoo and Conditioner (or Skip Them Completely!)
Commercial shampoos and conditioners are full of dangerous chemicals that can damage your hair and your health.
Some of the worst offenders: allergens like artificial fragrances and preservatives, and other additives that mimic the effect of estrogen in your body.
There’s also a link between cocamide DEA (a chemically-modified version of coconut oil commonly found in shampoos) and cancer. A California nonprofit found this compound in dozens of personal care products — without warning labels.
Commercial shampoos and conditioners actually leave your hair worse off than before. Their chemicals strip your hair of its natural oil, so your body adapts by producing even more. That forces you to wash your hair more often. It creates a vicious cycle.
But you don’t have to keep using these products! You have other options. In just a few simple steps, you can make your own shampoo and conditioner using safe, 100% natural ingredients:
Paleo Shampoo. Combine 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda with 2-4 tablespoons of cold water. Massage it into your scalp (all the way down to the roots) like you would with any other shampoo. Then just wash it out with water. You’re done!
Paleo Conditioner. Take around 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and add it to a cup of cold water. Pour it over your hair, massage it in, and rinse well. If you can’t stand the smell of ACV, you can add a few drops of essential oil to the mixture.
Another option—this might sound crazy because we’ve grown up believing commercial products are the only option—is to stop using shampoo and conditioner completely. Many people in the Paleo community report shiny, healthy, and smell-free hair… just by washing with water (and maybe a few drops of essential oils every now and then).
So give it a try if you’re curious; the results might surprise you. Fair warning: there’s usually an adjustment period of 2-3 weeks where your hair will be greasier than normal. Your hair is used to harsh chemicals, so it takes a few weeks to adapt.
2. Use Homemade Toothpaste and Oil Pulling to Upgrade Your Dental Health
A Paleo diet will improve your dental health because it cuts sugars and phytic acid (from grains and beans). Those ingredients feed bacteria growth on your teeth and strip them of vital minerals. They lead to cavities and tooth decay.
Hopefully you’re already avoiding those things. And you can boost your dental health to the next level by taking another step: avoiding commercial toothpaste.
Just like most shampoos and conditioners, commercial toothpaste is loaded with dangerous chemicals like:
- Propylene glycol
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
There’s a reason why you’ll find warning labels on tubes of toothpaste; this stuff can be downright toxic. Most people don’t have any idea what they’re getting into.
Good news, though. Teeth can repair themselves… as long as they have enough minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and copper. You get lots of these from Paleo foods, but you can speed up tooth repair by making your own re-mineralizing toothpaste.
Here’s a basic recipe to try:
Mix ¼ cup of raw coconut oil with 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda. The coconut oil takes care of harmful bacteria, and the baking soda whitens, deodorizes, and scrapes off food.
You can play around with the ratio to find the perfect consistency. And you can even get fancy by adding peppermint or clove oil to change the taste. But the coconut oil and baking soda combo is a great starting point—and all you need for healthier teeth.
You can also try oil pulling. This technique has been around in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine for centuries. Research published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine found it whitens teeth, stops tooth decay, and heals cracked lips.
Oil pulling is simple. When you wake up, take 1-2 tablespoons of coconut or MCT oil and swish it around your mouth gently. Twenty minutes later, spit out the oil and wash your mouth with warm water. It’s a great way to detoxify your mouth and keep your breath fresh.
3. Stay Fresh with Deodorant Made from Scratch
Practically every commercial deodorant is full of dangerous chemicals like:
- Propylene glycol
Many health-conscious people are aware of these chemicals (especially aluminum), but avoiding them—and still smelling fresh—can seem next to impossible.
Most “healthy” deodorant alternatives, while they have fewer chemicals, just don’t work well. And what’s the point of wearing deodorant if you’re still going to smell all day? Going without isn’t an option for most people… especially if they’re physically active.
Fortunately, there’s another way. You can make your own Paleo-friendly deodorant using household ingredients! This deodorant gives you the best of both worlds; it’s free of toxic chemicals, and it keeps you smelling great.
Here’s a simple homemade deodorant recipe courtesy of Robin at Thank Your Body:
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1/3 cup arrowroot powder
- 10-15 drops of your essential oil of choice (optional)
Use a spoon to mix the coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder in a small mixing bowl. You can use the back of the spoon the make the mixture more creamy. Keep going until you have a consistency similar to deodorant. Then, if you’re using essential oils, mix those in too.
Save your mixture in a small container. To apply the deodorant: swipe a finger or two into the mixture and rub it onto your underarms. Robin recommends waiting a few minutes before getting dressed so your clothes don’t get smeared.
4. Take Charge of Your Skin with Coconut Oil
If you’re using commercial skin care products, you’re putting more toxic chemicals on your body than you probably realize.
These products are loaded with dangerous chemicals like:
- Benzoyl peroxide (used in acne products)
- DEA, MEA, and TEA (foam booster)
- DMDM hydantoin and urea (used as preservatives)
- FD&C colors and pigments (made from coal tar)
- Parabens (may be methyl, butyl, ethyl, or propyl; used as preservatives)
- PEG or polyethylene glycol (are in most products)
- Phthalates (found in many products, not usually labeled)
- Propylene glycol (PG) and butylene glycol (in many products)
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) (used as a foaming agent)
- Sunscreen chemicals
- Triclosan (an antibacterial agent)
Avoiding this long list might seem overwhelming. But it isn’t as tough as it sounds. You can ditch toxic, expensive products… and still get the clear, healthy skin you want!
So meet your new best friend in skin care: coconut oil. One jar of this stuff can singlehandedly replace an entire bathroom cabinet of skin care products.
You can use coconut oil to:
- Shave your face and body
- Moisturize your hands, skin, and face
- Remove makeup
- Heal dry or chapped lips
- Treat dermatitis (a 2013 study in the Journal of International Dermatology found that virgin coconut oil improved skin barrier function)
Coconut oil’s full of lauric acid, which supports collagen production and makes it a great moisturizer choice. And it’s also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. So it removes toxins while it cleans your skin. Did I mention it smells great too?
If you’re interested in whipping up some great facial scrubs, toners, and masks using household ingredients, check out our Ultimate Guide to Paleo Skin Care.
5. Throw Away Commercial Air Fresheners (Use Houseplants Instead)
It’s nice to have the comforts of home, but indoor air isn’t always the freshest (or safest) environment.
Household toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene are common. They can be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in high enough amounts.
Different household products and furniture — everything from carpet and flooring glues, to caulks, sealants, paints, and upholstery — emit formaldehyde at low levels.
Government regulations limit the amount of formaldehyde that can be used in insulation and particleboard furniture. But most of us have so much stuff in our homes that even small amounts add up.
If you’re using electrical air fresheners to keep your home fresh, now’s the time to stop!
Many of those contain artificial fragrances that can irritate your lungs and trigger chemical reactions. They don’t attack smells at their source; they just cover up the odor.
You have a better (and greener) way to get rid of toxic chemicals and freshen up your living space at the same time. A few household plants are all it takes to enjoy a healthier (and more Paleo-friendly) lifestyle.
In 1989, NASA scientists tested different houseplants to see how well they could purify air of toxins. They found that, while all indoor plants can purify air to some degree (thanks to photosynthesis), some types of plants were much better at doing it than others.
Picking up a few of these plants will make your home smell better and remove environmental toxins. It’s an easy way to “bring nature to you.”
NASA recommends one 6-inch plant for every 100 square feet of living space. Here are the top toxin-removing plants:
- Boston fern
- Palm trees
- Rubber plants and Janet Craigs
- English Ivy
- Peace Lily
- Golden Pothos
As you navigate modern life, toxic chemicals are everywhere you look…
But they don’t have to be in your food or on your body.
With just a few safe, 100% natural ingredients, you can ditch many modern products whose labels read like science exams.
You can look great, stay fresh, and upgrade your lifestyle. It all starts by getting back to the basics.
What’s your favorite way to “hack” your Paleo lifestyle and avoid toxic chemicals? Leave a comment below and let us know!