Kitchen Wellness

Taking A Look At Your Kitchen

by Dr. Trevor Cates

We spend a great deal of time in our kitchens; cooking, cleaning, eating and sometimes socializing. During that time, we may be exposed to a number of toxins. Do you know what is in your home that could be negatively impacting your health? Let us take a look at what may be lurking in your kitchen and what simple solutions will help shift your kitchen to a healthier shade of green.

Cleaning products stored under the kitchen sink can contribute to poor indoor air quality. The chemicals in cleaning supplies vary in toxicity levels. The warning labels refer to acute exposures only and often provide inadequate information. Exposure to some of the ingredients can cause eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment. The long-term effects are not known for many of the compounds, but some are known to cause cancer in animals; others are known to cause cancer in humans. Switching to eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products is a great place to start making your home greener. You can buy some in the store or try making your own. Vinegar and baking soda will clean just about everything in your home.

Gas stoves produce carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. Both gases are odorless and colorless, making them difficult to detect. Nitrogen oxide is a respiratory irritant, and exposure can lead to respiratory infection and emphysema. Carbon monoxide exposure at high concentrations can cause unconsciousness and death and, at lower concentrations, can cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, disorientation, and fatigue. If you have a gas stove in your home, be sure to use the overhead hood vent. Have it checked to make sure it vents properly to the outdoors. Also, you may want to open a window while you are cooking. A carbon monoxide should be in every home with gas appliances.

Kitchen cabinets are often made of particle board and plywood. These and other pressed wood products contain formaldehyde which off-gas into the home. Formaldehyde exposure can cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Studies have shown it causes cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. Make sure the ventilation in your home is good, and keep windows open when the weather permits. If circulation in your home is poor or you have a newly remodeled kitchen, you may want to place an air filter in the room. If you are planning a remodel, choose sustainable wood and other eco-friendly building supplies.

Plastic containers can leach dioxins and phthalates into the food. Dioxins are carcinogenic and phthalates interfere with hormone function in the body. Heating and freezing plastics increases the release of these toxins into food. To avoid these toxins, store your food in glass, stainless steel or lead-free ceramic ware.

While this information may be alarming to you, try not to be too overwhelmed to make changes in your home. You can start by choosing one or two of the suggestions above, and make a shift towards a greener, healthier home.

Dr. Trevor Holly Cates received her medical degree from the National College of Natural Medicine. The first woman licensed as a naturopathic doctor in California, Dr. Cates now lives and practices in Park City, Utah where she sees patients from around the world as the Naturopathic Physician and Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator at the Golden Door Spa at the Waldorf Astoria Park City.  Dr. Cates is a primary care doctor with a holistic approach to medicine, using nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, environmental medicine, and other natural therapies.  In addition to private practice, Dr. Cates was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council.
You can also follow Dr. Cates on Facebook (Dr. Trevor Cates) and Twitter @drtcates for health tips, news and info and on her website at