The time has come to start ridding our lives of unnecessary, strong toxic chemicals, which pollute the environment and wear down on our immune and digestive systems. We get sick, we get allergies, and sometimes we don't know exactly why or how.

Think of it this way: Stress doesn't directly cause our sickness, but it does help to weaken our immune system defenses, opening the gates for pathogens to take root and make us sick. The chemicals we allow in our environment work the same way; while they are probably not the direct cause, they likely play some part in it.

There are always multiple factors to sickness, which makes tracing it to any ingredient or product challenging, yet somehow we innately know they aren't good for us. Sniff any industrial grade cleaner and you just know not to put that stuff on your skin.

I made the decision to eliminate toxic chemicals a few years ago and it was a pretty easy transition to mostly organic and toxic-free products. Luckily, there is a thriving market for non-toxic products that are effective, natural and easily found in grocers like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, or even online. That change along with my meditation practice and study has kept me from being out sick even one day in the past three years. Prior to this, I got sick at least 1-2 times per year and for a week at a time.

There are several chemicals that have been studied and proven to alter the hormones in your body and disrupt the proper functioning of our chemistry. Some have been linked to cancers, lowered immunity and reproductive disorders. Below is a list of the top toxic chemicals to avoid:

  • Parabens (Found in most personal care products, baby lotions and cosmetics.) These are endocrine system and hormonal balance disrupters, which may lead to infertility and other hormone problems.
  • Phthalates (Found in plastic containers, and products containing synthetic "fragrance.") They have been linked to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (Found in perfumes, shampoo, household cleaners, furniture polishes, air freshener, nail polish remover, hair relaxers, aftershave lotions.) Longer-term effects from VOCs include liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage, and cancer.
  • Chlorine (Found in tap water, household cleaners.) This could put pregnant women at higher risk for miscarriage and birth defects.
  • Toluene (Found in cosmetics and nail polish.) Long term exposure may cause serious nervous system disorders and/or damage to the liver and kidneys.
  • Insecticides and Pesticides (Present in non-organic ingredients.) These have proven effects on brain development, behavior and fertility.

To learn more about what to avoid and how to avoid it go to

Here are some suggested brands to check out instead:

Home Products:

We don't often think about our home cleaning products like laundry/dish detergents or surface cleaners, but lets take a minute. Just think how many times our hands touch our sinks, clothes, dishes, windows, etc. and every time some trace amount is then transferred on to you.

For DIY'ers there are some key natural, effective cleansing agents you can make yourself. You can dilute grapefruit seed extract or Borax for just about anything! Try swapping for non-toxic products in these categories:

  • Laundry Detergent / Dryer Sheets
  • Dishwashing Detergent / Soap
  • Produce Pesticide Wash
  • Mulit-Surface Cleaner/ Window Cleaner
  • Toilet / Bathtub Cleaner
  • Air freshner

Unite-approved brands:

Personal Care Products:

If extensive testing on animals was needed to make the product than chances are you shouldn't put it on or in your body. Our skin absorbs 60 percent of any topical product we use. There seem to be a lot of non-toxic products for babies but not nearly as many for adults. Why would you put something on your skin that you wouldn't put on your baby? Have high standards and buy from responsible companies that care about you and your world.

Try swapping for non-toxic products in these categories:

  • Body / Face Soap
  • Shampoo/ Conditioner
  • Moisturizer
  • Diapers/ Baby Wipes
  • Makeup / Lipstick
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreeen

Unite-approved brands:

Gavin McKay is the Creator and President of Unite Fitness, a Philadelphia-based fitness studio franchise offering its trademark group training, The UNITE Workout, as well as personal coaching and nutrition programs. Studios are located in Philadelphia and Mt. Laurel, NJ with new studios in the works and regional franchise territories available.