Calm Your Nervous System

The modern era is beautiful, full of technology, plenty of food and some of us may be able to afford luxuries that were only accessible to maybe 0.5% of the population. This is because most of us now have a stable income to support the family. However, due to this stable income, we always have deadlines and criteria to meet. This may put our brain and nervous system in overdrive due to the constant stress. This state of mind means our nervous system is in a sympathetic state. Constantly being in a sympathetic state can lead to high blood pressure, being extremely fidgety and being in constant stress. So today we’ll go over a couple of ways to calm your nervous system down so you can be less stressed and enjoy your life more:

 

  1. Something we can do straight away is to take a deep breath in. Deep breathing is a great way to get your body to relax and calm down. However, most of breath with our accessory muscles (your shoulder, sternoclavicular mastoids and scales) when we are stressed. The correct way to breath in instances like this is to breathe with your diaphragm. To breathe with your diaphragm is actually easier than you think. Instead of raising your shoulders and sucking in your belly, do the opposite. Drop your shoulders and push your belly out when you are breathing in! This is something simple but very effective, so give it a go next time you need a second or two to calm down.
  2. Spend some time in nature. There is just something very relaxing about nature, it reduces fear, stress and anger. One reason being there is a fresh supply of oxygen when you are in nature. You will literally be surrounded by trees and other plants and they produce fresh negative-ion oxygen which is scientifically shown to calm you down. Another reason is due to increased exposure to natural light. Natural light is shown to improve your and regulate your sleep pattern. We know that better sleep more relaxed and balanced nervous system.
  3. Put down your device. In this modern age, we are often multitasking. From reading emails, typing up document, making an Excel spread sheet to scrolling through social media. Our minds are always occupied on what is in front of us. So drop your device, focus on one thing, and practice being mindful. It can be anything from reading a book, playing music, drawing or anything that does not require an electronic device.
  4. Finally, practicing meditation is a great way to calm your nervous system down. A lot of the time we are anxious as we are trying to think about the future and we don’t enjoy the present. Mediation is a great way to bring you back to the present. This helps quieten your brain. This does not mean we are shutting problems down and pushing them away, it just means we learn to accept them. By doing this your brain will be less stressed thus allowing you to come up with better thoughts and outcomes.

 

Due to busy schedule we are all in now, we are always anxious and stressed. This means our nervous system will constantly be in a sympathetic state and in overdrive. Those are just 4 easy things to do when we are in overdrive, there are many more. Try different techniques and see what works for you!

 

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How To Avoid Burnout (Stay Sane!)

You have experienced a decrease in focus, memory, and clear thoughts. This is a sign of what’s known as mental fatigue or burnout. It can be linked to many things in your life including sleep, stress, and even diet!

The biggest contributor to all this is really at the core of how society runs today with non-stop activities and connectivity. It’s hard to catch a break! And rather than just eliminate everything that you know, why not try to increase your resilience and build some coping strategies to ensure that you can get the most out of what you do.

Structural chiropractors are known for improving the function of the spinal joints and other joints in the body to help your nervous system thrive, but what good is that if your life is under an emotional thunderstorm and mental breakdown? Structural chiropractors look at the whole person and offer lifestyle advice, as well as recognize who requires further investigation by another health care provider.

Here are four burnout resiliency strategies that you can include into your life:

  1. Sleep: aim for 7-9 hours as it seems to be the optimal range for proper recovery of the brain and body. Be sure to check out our blog on how to sleep properly to support the structure of your spine.
  2. Exercise: increasing exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of depression and anxiety. It does this by getting you out of the house and releasing endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that help you feel good and confident. If you’re hesitant about doing exercise on your own – join a class!
  3. Nutrition: reducing the amount of inflammation in your diet can help your reap huge health benefits. Inflammation-inducing foods are unique for each individual and may require form trial and error, but can often be found in processed meats, juice or pop and even gluten. If you really don’t know where to start, speak to a nutritionist.
  4. Meditate: If you flick through some past blogs you’ll see that we’ve started to mention meditation as a positive health strategy quite a bit. And this is with good reason. Meditation is up and coming and many people are now experiencing the benefits of taking the time to step back and relax their mind for a bit as it can produce greater productivity and efficiency later. Even 10 minutes a day can do wonders for your health. It can be in any way you’d like; focusing on the breath, breathing techniques, a stroll outside. Find what works for you and schedule it in!

Summary

At the end of the day, the only person that can help yourself is you. And when you’re feeling foggy, unmotivated, and burnout it can be hard sometimes and it can be a downward spiral. The best way to address that is to make a decision to do something about (these strategies) and the rest will figure itself out as you start to take time and take care of yourself and your mental health. Contact one of our structural chiropractors if you have any questions.

 

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Taking Control of Stress

Control? Why?

 

Work, kids, school, money, exercise, eating… What do these all have in common? Well, they can stress you out to the point of ripping your hair out OR inspire and motivate you to get out of bed and do what you do every single day. The KEY is to find your stress sweet spot and use it to fast track your goals, and potential.

Too much stress can get in the way of you and your goals… Maybe even lead to you crashing and burning. However, too little stress can slow down your progress because you’ll get bored. Let’s find out how to hit that optimal point of stress to keep you at the top of your game.

First, let’s go through the difference between a positive and negative stress response. Stressors aren’t necessarily good OR bad, it depends on your response. A positive response means you’re feeling energized, focused, pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, balancing stress and rest, and learning and growing through the process. A negative response leads to you feeling weak, distracted, in need of rest, not challenging yourself, and can even lead to weight gain and metabolic, hormonal, and immunity disruptions.

 

How do I deal with this?

 

How? Well first you’ve got to recognize what factors are out of your control and more importantly, which factors are IN your control. Also, if you’re stress resistant by nature and have had lots of practice at handling stress growing up, your view on stress may be that it is a challenge to tackle. But if you’re stress prone and have had little practice dealing with stress, you may find yourself looking at stress as a problem to avoid. If you’re having a hard time changing your attitude and view on stress, look at building a strong support network and changing your environment to have more time outdoors in nature or with loved ones.

It’s important that you look at your current stress load and ask yourself “does it have to be that high or that low?” Think about your goals and how your actions align. Find out what’s worth taking out or adding in.

 

What does it feel like?

  • Too low: bored, unfocused, purposeless
  • Too high: anxious or obsessive, panicked, stuck
  • Just enough: energized, engaged, actively moving towards goals

 

A great way to address inspiration and energy is to learn how to set effective goals. We’ll be releasing a blog post diving into this topic further in the near future. But until then, go read up on the last blog titled “How NOT to set goals”. Do this too get started on the perspective you should be taking when approaching goals.

For rest and recovery, there are many things that you can do! A lot of it depends on personal preference, but here are 4 examples to get you started.

  1. Practice relaxing activities: Walking, massage, deep breathing, laughing, yoga, meditation, and even (especially) sex, which is not always relaxing.
  2. Get outside: take your walk outside for improved mood and lower stress hormones and heart rate. Getting moderate sun exposure is ideal and helps increase mood and vitamin D levels.
  3. Adjust your exercise routine: the most effective way to approach this is with a mix of strength training (weights), conditioning (cardio, intervals) and low-intensity recovery (walk)
  4. Practice self-compassion: ask for help when you need it. Get counseling if you’re feeling helpless, know your limits and unplug regularly.

If you follow and apply these recommendations you’ll be well on your way to taking control of your stress. Stay tuned for more valuable blog posts!

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Breathe Deep

In a given day how often do you breathe deeply? In a stressed out world you can unconsciously end up breathing short and shallow breaths, this can reduce oxygen intake and further drive the stress response.

Breathing is an interesting function of the body and arguably the only one that is both unconscious and consciously controlled. Think about it, until you start dreading this you were breathing without paying attention to it. It happens automatically. But you can also slow down or speed up your breathing pattern at your own will.

Rapid, shallow breathing is a natural response to a stressful situation. Deeper, slower breathing is a natural response when you are relaxed. Taking conscious control of your breathing during the day, especially when you are stressed, can help calm your nervous system so it can focus on healing, digesting and creativity.

Try this simple breathing exercise each day to calm you mind and body.

4-7-8 Breathing

This technique was developed by Dr Andrew Weil as a great technique to calm your body when lying in bed at night to assist you falling asleep or to calm your mind and body during the day.

  • Exhale forcefully through the mouth
  • Close your mouth and silently breathe in through the nose as you mentally count to 4
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7
  • Exhale forcefully through the mouth for a count of 8

Do this a total of four times and repeat twice daily to maximise the benefits of the technique. The ratio of the inhalation to exhalation is more important than the overall length of time. At first you may not be able to hold your breath very long so count faster but as your body becomes more efficient over time you will find that you can really slow the process down.

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Cold Showers & Mental Health

In the first part of this series I talked about some physical benefits of cold showers; better immunity, increased testosterone and reducing inflammation. Well the list doesn’t stop there. You can check out that blog by clicking here. 

 

Mental benefits

 

 There may also be some mental benefits to the cold shower too. Depression can be very restrictive on a person’s life and if you have struggled with, or are battling depression you are probably trying to find ways to mitigate the severity of it. A study at The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine indicated that cold showers may positively affect your body’s production of noradrenaline, a chemical that can help with depression, by firing up the ‘blue spot’ in the brain. Obviously depression is more complex than a cold shower being the solution. But, implementing as many strategies as possible is only going to help.

Poor sleep can make depressive symptoms worse, and depression can affect your sleep quality, which can be a vicious cycle leading to lower energy and lower mood. A cold shower in the morning can give you a boost of energy to get kick started, but a cold shower about an hour before bed can actually do the opposite and help you sleep! That’s because your body needs a cooler temperature to fall asleep, which is why sleep in the summer can be much more restless.

I find that conquering the cold first thing in the morning it is a great mental exercise. It assists in overcoming the feeling of discomfort that the water bestows. Although seemingly insignificant it somehow empowers you to face the day ahead

You will almost certainly find it hard to breathe in the colder water so focus on deep controlled breaths. This controls your heart rate and take your mind off of the discomfort. Life is full of difficulty and uncomfortable situations. Something as simple as starting your day with a cold shower can help fortify your mind and body to take life head on.

 

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The Importance Of Sleep

It seems like everyone is so focused on their intense exercise regimens and nutritional plans to realize that they’ve forgotten about getting quality sleep!

Sleep is absolutely crucial to health and survival and the hard truth is that you’re not likely getting enough of it. Although most of us may feel like this is due to high work demands and our brains not being able to shut off, the real reason for lack of sleep is actually due to our own decision to delay our sleep over some other thing that we’re prioritizing. We go out with friends, we watch TV, we scroll through social media. This behavior is unique to modern society. The average duration of sleep 100 years ago was 9 hours.

Studies have shown that later bedtimes and shorter sleeping hours result in hormone release that triggers hunger and greater levels of body fat accumulation. This was even demonstrated in children as a study followed 9000 of them from birth and showed that those that slept the least at a younger age were more likely to be obese at a later age than the children who slept more. It’s not clear whether lack of sleep leads to obesity or vice versa, but one thing is for sure, staying up later means more opportunity for late night snacks and when you mix that with increased hunger hormones your caloric intake skyrockets.

It doesn’t just stop there. With that extra weight gain, you’re more susceptible to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes. One study even showed that young healthy men who slept 4 hours each night for 6 nights straight had the insulin sensitivity of a 70 year old pre-diabetic! On top of that, getting less than 7.5 hours of sleep each night means that your risk of heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac death is higher than those who get adequate amounts of sleep. Drowsiness can also interfere with your daily functions including your mood, cognition, and memory.

If that doesn’t make you want to get your sleep together, then I don’t know what will! But there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that sleep debt is cumulative. Meaning, the more nights you have with less sleep, the greater your risk of negative effects. The good news is that you can catch up with just a few consistent nights of adequate sleep.

Optimal sleeping pattern factors:

  • Consistency: keep a similar bedtime and wake up time every day
  • Light: keep the bedroom extremely dark when it’s bedtime
  • Noise: keep it very quiet or use something for white noise, like a fan
  • Routine: develop a routine before bed that helps you wind down. This can include meditation, stretching, camomile tea or whatever helps you! Check out our bedtime stretches on YouTube by clicking here.
  • Temperature:Keep the room slightly cool, between 18-22 degrees.

For more tips on sleeping better or getting a more restfully, check out our blog on the first pillar of health: “Napping Well” by clicking here.

You can also check out our “7 Tips To Improve Your Sleep” YouTube video by clicking here.  

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Does sleep really keep you healthy? > Air Education and Training Command > News

How Poor Posture Is Destroying Your Health & 2 Posture Tests To Try At Home

Why is proper posture so important? Is it for the way you look? Sure, people definitely look better when they fix their posture. But regardless of esthetics, your posture is actually key to how your body functions in more ways than one.

Take muscles for example: when you’re sitting with your head forward, your posterior (back) neck muscle are working way too hard to support your head, while your anterior (front) neck muscles switch off. This leads to muscle imbalances and over time may very well develop into neck pain which can be stemming from degeneration, disc disease, muscle strains and so on.

Now your organs: when your body gets used to a slouching position and makes it a long term problem your intestines get compressed and digestion can become difficult. Poor posture also reduces lung capacity by up to 30%. As you can imagine it can compress the heart and reduce the flow of blood to vital organs thereby making them work less efficient and create disease within them.

Not only does posture affect you physically, it can also be detrimental psychologically. Studies have linked poor posture to increased depression, stress and fatigue.

The overall effect can become global and when those issues persist long term they can take away from your quality of life and even longevity.

 

“How do I know if I have a possible posture problem?”

 

Luckily there are 2 tests that you can try at home to see if you have any possible posture problems. All you need is a wall and/or a floor!

 

The Wall Test

 

Stand with the back of your head against the wall with your heels 6 inches away from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulder blades should touch the wall.

If you can slide more than 3 fingers behind your neck or the small of your back then it indicates poor posture.

 

The Floor Angel

 

Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Lower your rib cage so it’s in contact with the floor and your arms are out and bent at the elbow by 90 degree like so:

If your hips, rib cage, head or wrists and arms can’t maintain contact with the floor then this may indicate possible postural issues.

Try these out and see what your posture is like! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask your structural chiropractor.

 

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Image from page 29 of "The posture of school children, wit… | Flickr

Pillar No. 1: Sleeping Well

Introduction

So you’ve been consistent with your eating and your workouts for quite some time now, but for some reason the results you were expecting just aren’t happening. You need answers. What could possibly be happening?!

Well, have you considered your sleep habits?

Everything is dependent on proper sleep quality. From your performance during exercise to clearness in your thinking, all your functions are influenced by your sleep in some way. So it only makes sense that you get enough of it, as well as the best possible quality.

Unfortunately, more and more people are dropping below the minimum hours of sleep required to keep health problems in check and suffering from poorer sleep quality due to lifestyle factors that they would not have expected to play a role.

 

How do you KNOW that your sleep habits aren’t working for you?

1. You can’t think clearly

Our experiences and information accumulated throughout the day gets integrated into our memory while we sleep. Disrupting this process can lead to forgetfulness, confusion and reduced concentration.

 

2. Your mood is low

Sleeping refreshes neurotransmitters and regulates hormone production. Less of it leads to increased stress, unhappiness and decreased regulation of emotions.

 

3. Your immune system seems weak

Not enough sleep can decrease immune cell count and increase inflammation, which may lead to you getting sick more often and having an increased risk of inflammation-related illnesses.

 

4. You’re not losing weight

This one is a double whammy because not only is poor sleep linked to excess body fat, but excess body fat can reduce sleep quality. Talk about a vicious cycle!

 

5. You’re struggling through your workouts

As mentioned before, sleep allows your body to refresh neurotransmitters, but it also aids in flushing our energy-draining metabolites to help with nervous system activity, reaction time and endurance capacity.

 

Now, how do you ACHIEVE a good night’s sleep?

1. Wake up at YOUR appropriate time

When woken from a light sleep stage, you feel way better and more alert. Look into purchasing a device or downloading an app that senses sleep cycles and awakens you at an optimal, personalized time

 

2. Start moving

When it’s time to wake up, don’t think, just sit up, put your feet on the floor and start moving. It seems to help speed up the waking process.

 

3. Mind your caffeine and alcohol intake

Try to avoid having daily caffeine and alcohol as these can interfere with proper deep sleep. Save them for treats or special occasions only.

 

4. “Empty your mind”

This Bruce Lee quote rings true in more ways than one, and it DEFINITELY applies to sleep. Sometimes we’re just so frazzled with thoughts in our head that it can make it hard to fall asleep. There are many tools you can use to help this, such as meditation, quiet reading or you can try this: grab a pen and paper and get whatever thoughts you have floating in your head on that paper. This is quite therapeutic and can help you achieve genuine relaxation.

 

5. Get at least the minimum hours of sleep (7 hours)

Sleep should be made a priority, but it can be tough to see its benefits compared to the immediate urge to scroll through Instagram or watch one last Youtube video. Invest in your future and plan for proper sleep. Most people NEED 7-9 hours a night. If you’re way under this now, that’s okay. Just know that you’ll have to work your way up slowly. Try adding half an hour of sleep at a time and you’ll feel the difference.

 

Conclusion

Now you’ve got the why, what and how about getting a good night’s sleep. None of this is useful though, unless you put it to practice. So take even just ONE of these strategies and try it out. Your body and mind will thank you for it 😉

 

Tips for a better sleep

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The Effects of Fizzy Drinks on Children

Introduction

Carbonated drinks also known as fizzy drinks are consumed by a large majority of the population in New Zealand. In 2006 New Zealand was placed 6th as the highest consumer of sugar globally. The American Heart Association has recommended that children should be consuming no more than 3 teaspoons per day. However, Kiwi children are consuming 26 – 33 teaspoons of sugar per day. A large portion of this is from drinking fizzy drinks. How is this sugar-loaded beverage affecting our community and our children? We will look into the dire effects it has on our children and other alternative drinks that are healthier for the community.

 

1) Obesity

For starters, kiwi children are battling against obesity. With 1 in 8 children being obese and a further 21% of children being overweight, New Zealand is the third most obese nation in the world. Over the years the kiwi diet has seen an increase in energy-dense, a poor nutrient diet with little change in physical activity. Fizzy drinks are high in sugar and are used for quick energy when consumed. However, when sugar isn’t used up they get stored in our body as fat. Another research has shown that carbonated drinks increased the production of ghrelin. Ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone” is a hormone that increases the urge to eat. Due to the increase in this hormone people are more likely to eat therefore, we can see an increase in weight.

Children obesity

 

2) Caffeine

Sugar in these beverages isn’t the only problem we need to look at. Sodas have a lot of chemicals that affect the physiology of a child dramatically. One common toxin in these beverages is Caffeine. For adults, the effects of caffeine can be very mild in moderate consumption. However, it is not the same for children. Some research has shown children who drink caffeine regularly had decreased attention spans. Caffeine can also affect children’s sleep drastically affecting their studies.

Adverse effects of caffeine on children

 

3) Bone density

Another reason why children should stay away from carbonated drinks is that it can weaken their bones. Phosphoric acid is a chemical used to enhance the flavor of carbonated drinks. But due to the properties of this chemical, the minerals instead of reaching your bones leave out your body. Ultimately we will have low calcium levels in our bones or weakened bones. The research shows a correlation between having weak bones as a child and bone-related problems as an adult.

Fizzy drinks can weaken bones of children

 

Conclusion

Adults have the biggest influence on children when it comes to diet and the food children consume. Adults must be aware of the consequences it has on children in the long run. Fizzy drinks may be more delicious for kids due to all the sugar. But adults must educate children about the importance of health if we want to get healthier as a nation.

Parents as role models for their kids

 

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Toxins In Your Laundry Detergent

Introduction

Worth having your clothes smell great?

Your clothes come out looking clean and fresh. Everyone at some point in time has or will have used laundry detergent. Most families will buy laundry detergent but only a few know that they’re putting on a toxic suit. Hard to believe right? Well, recent research has found that laundry detergents contain toxic chemicals that can have a negative impact on your health. Here are a few of the many reasons why you should stay away from these toxic substances.

 

1) Surfactants

This compound is an active ingredient found in laundry detergents to get your clothes clean. Surfactants work by removing oil from clothes. However, these products can also remove natural oils from your skin. Natural oils produced by your skin are important in protecting you from microbes. As your natural oils disappear and come in contact with detergents this may cause irritation of the skin. For people who have sensitive skin, this may cause severe irritation after wearing clothes washed in laundry detergents.

 

2) 1,4 – Dioxane

This chemical has been shown to be found in paints and varnishes as well. It can cause vertigo, drowsiness, headaches, and irritation of the skin by inhalation of high levels of this compound. The consequences appear just by inhaling these substances or by coming in direct contact through clothes.

 

3) Formaldehyde

Are you the type of person to buy your laundry detergent by its smell? Choosing between citric or lavender fragrance. You better watch out what you choose because the fragrance you’re smelling might be formaldehyde. Research has shown that formaldehyde can cause cancer in animals. In addition to this cancer-causing phenomenon, it may also severely irritate your respiratory system causing nausea.

 

4) Bleach

Bleach is a common household product and is used to disinfect and clean clothes. It can also be found in laundry detergent to some extent. This chlorine-based corrosive substance is another product that can cause harmful irritation of the skin. It can also react with organic materials in the environment emitting carcinogenic and toxic substances. Not only is it a harmful substance to our body but it is also harmful to the environment.

 

Conclusion

Small amounts of these toxic substances may not affect people with a strong immune system. However, people who are sensitive or have weaker immune systems may have adverse effects just by coming into contact with them. Infants should be especially careful as their skin are more sensitive and these toxic substances can easily affect it.

Some of toxic substances in laundry detergents

 

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