Cardinal Rule 5: Avoid Toxins

Toxins Are Avoidable Deadly Foes, Especially Smoking

From Opening Hearts Chapter 5 – Healing and Nurturing the Body

Some people combat stress by ingesting toxins in a variety of ways and smoking cigarettes may be one of the worst of the bunch because the well-known dangers of smoking cigarettes greatly outweigh any relaxing effects of nicotine.

Simply put, don’t smoke and spend as little time as possible around other people who do. Inhaling hot foreign substances into the mouth, throat, and lungs is such a puzzling habit to me. The CDC reports that eighteen percent of Americans smoke with many young people continuing to take up the habit despite knowing that it leads to the most preventable and disastrous kinds of diseases.

The health threat smoking presents is well-documented, widely known, and all too often ignored. Yet diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, emphysema, and cancers—especially of the throat, lungs, and breast—are all directly linked to this toxic habit. If you want to remain healthy, live long, and prevent many significant diseases give up smoking. It is a habit you can do without.

Preventable Toxin Exposures

It is also wise to avoid other kinds of preventable toxin exposures that come through chemicals and pesticides in food, or chemicals in lawn care, cleaning products, lotions, soaps, and shampoos, cosmetics, and many other products of daily life. While not all chemicals are toxic, many are. One exposure is negligible but the cumulative effect of multiple exposures because of their presence in so many products can be problematic.

Some common chemicals in everyday products include: aluminum, acetone, benzaldehye, 2-butoxyethanol, bisphenol-A, ethanol, formaldehyde, parabens, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), petrolatum,  petroleum distillates, phenolhthalates, propylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium hydroxide, and talc.

Awareness is the key to avoiding unnecessary toxin exposures. When unnecessary exposure to chemicals is avoidable, it’s advisable to do so.[43]

Read labels to see if the products you use most contain known carcinogens because the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Administration found 884 toxic or potential cancer causing ingredients in personal care products alone; and that list doesn’t even include known carcinogens in pesticides and herbicides, second hand smoke, or automobile exhausts.

[Footnote 43 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website has an extensive database of health and safety information about products we use. The database is segmented by type such as personal care, pet care, lawn and garden, home and  office products, et cetera. You may access that database at]

To live as healthily as possible, it is important to recognize that so many of the simple choices you make affect your health and the health of others. Choose carefully. Choose wisely. Choose intentionally.

How you treat your body can reveal a great deal about how well you choose to love, respect, and nurture yourself. Since it makes sense that we can’t give what we don’t have, loving yourself is an essential part of Jesus’ command to love others (love your neighbor as yourself).

And since being of service to others is one of the key ingredients in a meaningful satisfying life, achieving optimal personal health is an important first step in an effort to have a full and meaningful life.

Learning and following my Cardinal Rules is certainly not the only path that leads to optimal health but it is a well-researched and proven method of doing so. And its beauty is in its simplicity. All it really requires is an intentional commitment. However, this sort of living with conscious intention does not apply only to the body.

In Chapter 6 we’ll look at the ways to nurture our minds as we continue to walk on a healing path toward optimal health.

(Next up: the beginning of Chapter 5: Healing and Nurturing the Body)

If you’d like to read more of Opening Hearts, you can purchase the book at all online book retailers. When you purchase the paperback book, you get the eBook for free.

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