A Low Tox Life with Alexx Stuart
A Low Tox Life with Alexx Stuart
[00:00:00] Felicity Cohen: Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen. I’m so excited to introduce you to my Wellness Warriors podcast. For over 20 years, I’ve been a passionate advocate for helping thousands of Australians. Find solutions to treating obesity and health-related complications through surgical intervention and holistic managed care.
My podcast is dedicated to all the people past, present, and future who have helped shape my journey and continue to inspire me to work consistently to achieve a healthier Australia for both adults and future generations. I hope you enjoy it.
Welcome to the Wellness Warriors podcast. Today it’s my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Alexx Stuart. Alex, welcome, thank you so much for taking the time to join me today.
[00:00:52] Alexx Stuart: Thank you so much for having me, I’m really looking forward to it.
[00:00:56] Felicity Cohen: So you’ve had an incredible story and I’m really fascinated to hear what led you to Low Tox Lifestyle. So today we’re gonna be talking about everything to do with Low Tox and the work that you’ve done. In 2010, that was kind of, I guess, a pivotal moment for you in your career that, you know, following your blog and writing about low talk that you started to evolve, and you had a book that was launched following that, where did this all start, and how did you get to be such an advocate for a Low Tox lifestyle?
[00:01:30] Alexx Stuart: Yeah, well, probably came in waves in my personal life. I had chronic tonsillitis and it got to a point of antibiotic resistance and that’s quite a scary place to be when the only way of treating a disease that you know is the conventional route, which once you’ve exhausted all options there doesn’t seem to be anything else you could do. And it was actually a girlfriend who was dropping me off some soup one night, just checking in on me because I was so unwell. I’d been through three rounds of the strongest antibiotics and it barely touched the sides, and she said, “have you ever thought about seeing a naturopath?” like, and you know, this is almost 20 years ago, so hilariously that health profession was quite a taboo, you know, it was quite odd to have a naturopath in the mix of your health, and I was living in Bondi at the time, so for anyone, for it to be normal back then it would’ve been me, but I had never, ever heard of one. And so I found one and she put me on a really simple diet for three days of broth, well-cooked carrots, some well-cooked chicken and a little bit of rice if I needed extra filling up and, some herbs, vitamin D, C, and zinc, and sent me on my way. And I was better in three days and I was like, what? I haven’t even taken any medicine, this is crazy. But of course, I had taken medicine, the kind that my body needed for me to actually take care of this myself, and it set off a repeat visit to her once tonsillitis, obviously kept coming back.
She had done some interesting research on the link between non-celiac, gluten sensitivity, and tonsillitis. So a relationship between that and the strep bug overgrowth, and she said, “look, it might be worth trialling a time where you don’t eat gluten. Let’s do three months”, and, I don’t know if you remember what the average shop looked like nearly 20 years ago, but it certainly didn’t look like what it does today with a million gluten-free resources and blogs and ways to inspire yourself to create change if you have to. I don’t think of gluten as being evil for everyone, that’s absolutely not my vibe, but, there’s certainly some research that for some people it really does help to reduce or eliminate.
And so it forced me to look at labels for the very first time in my life, and, you know, I would very easily have the standard 60% of ultra-processed food in my shopping trolley that we see in the statistics is the average Australian shopping trolley back then. And so Up & Go poppers, for example, that was, you know, that was a pretty common breakfast for me on the go, busy, young hospo professional. And I started looking, and I was like, “okay, there’s oats and that’s okay gluten, right. Well, I’m sure I can find something else”, and then I couldn’t, and then I couldn’t find a cereal, and then I couldn’t find all the things that I thought were breakfast foods. And so I had to eat like eggs and spinach, because there were no toasts and on and on I went, looked through everything, no biscuits, no nothing, and I was actually quite sad. I got really, really, upset, I was in my late twenties, and I didn’t know how to cook properly other than a couple of basics. And it was really socially ostracising as well because it was so weird and so new to do that, so all of a sudden you were a problem socially in restaurants, I felt like a leper and it was awful, And I almost gave up, but I thought, “okay, I know confidently that if I stuck to meat, veggies, nuts, fish, egg, seeds, there, I at least don’t have to worry if there’s gluten in it and then I’ll figure out how to cook stuff. And then of course, after two weeks of that, I was dead bored and, I had to teach myself how to cook. So started researching flowers, putting things together, creating gluten-free things, creating even quiche bases and things so that I could bring something to a picnic or a dinner party and start being the person who brought desserts so that I could also enjoy it. And it was a really interesting, creative time for me in the end. So I always credit having to go gluten-free with being the reason I birthed the Low Tox movement because I went through that. I had to figure out how to not make this about a deprivation mindset and make it about a discovery journey, something curious, something like, what could I create instead of “I can’t have anything”, and, you know, it’s like the psychological journey for me was actually, it really helped me grow up at the end of my twenties as well as turned me into a really creative, good cook.
And so there was that piece, and then a few years later, when my son was almost born and getting ready for the baby shower, you get all the gifts, and I thought, “oh, I’m really good at looking at food labels, I’ll have a look at all this skincare that I’ve been given to set up the nursery” and I looked at the bath gel, the shampoo, the body oil, and I was horrified, Felicity! There was, I mean, 90% of everything was petroleum-based, and then I started to research some of the chemicals, old school at the library because there really wasn’t much online yet, certainly not easy for a lay person to find that didn’t have access to medical journals back then, and, there were two groups that concerned me as an individual, as a human, but also as a parent, just about to bring a child into the world, and that was the emergence of these endocrine disruptive chemicals and potential carcinogens right there on the labels of baby products. And so it really started a journey of discovery again, like this whole second wave where I had to learn about cleaning products, personal care, and find brands that were doing the right thing that was doing Low Tox options, and that was really when I decided to educate because I thought parents out there are going to want to know. I come from an education and training background, I want to try my hand at doing it in this space. And so thinking of what I wanted to call it, and being a child of the nineties where, you know, we get to put on these Oprah diets with the latest guest and the latest protocol and you try and do it, then you fail, then you’re ashamed and everything’s so black and white and I thought in naming this, I don’t want it to feel like you have to do it perfectly or otherwise you can’t do it. I really wanted to create a lifestyle for people to feel like they, wherever they were with whatever time and money they had, there were free options, there were recycled options, there were DIY options, there were brand options, something that everyone could go, “you know what, that topic’s really interesting to me. I’m gonna start there”, instead of everybody being on this formulate journey of towards perfection, which doesn’t exist, right? Very bad for our mental health. So Low Tox was something I just came up with when I was wading through, I don’t want no, I don’t want free, I don’t want to quit, I don’t want zero. All those words are black and white and then boom, and so I looked for it on the internet, I’m Gen X, the generation of original ideas, and that’s what I thought I had to do to start a business, and so I started it and Low Tox Life was born, and now it’s a term that everybody uses which is just amazing to me and a testament to the idea that we are all just seeking to do a bit better than yesterday, and that is actually a productive way to create change rather than feeling like we have to join a program, fail, be ashamed, fall off wagons, get back on, you know, I just think that hasn’t helped any of us. So this is something that I thought was gonna work differently.
[00:09:57] Felicity Cohen: I think it’s just incredible to note what your personal trigger moment was and what has led you on this discovery journey. It’s fascinating to note that, you know, we feel marginalised by being pigeonholed as being, oh no, I’m gluten-free or I’m dairy-free for whatever reason, but obviously now, you know, we’re, we are so much more accepting of all of these, I guess environmental and health-related consequences. And, you know, when it comes to gluten, definitely we’ve seen, we’re exposed to so much more information now about the treatment of our wheat before it ends up as the processing and over-processing and everything else that comes with that, you know, we see a lot of it. We see the celiac, we see gluten-free dairy-free and adapt to those different dietary requirements to support people on a better health journey.
Alexx, you’ve really created the Low Tox movement and established this as a term that many more people are familiar with. Do you feel that there’s a stigma that’s still associated with the term Low Tox? Do people understand it? What do they interpret it as? And do you see any kind of resistance to that term overall?
[00:11:17] Alexx Stuart: Well, it’s hard to know because it’s so widely used that I don’t know everybody who’s coming into contact with it. So I don’t know the challenges around it or opposing it. I haven’t witnessed any opposition myself, it seems like a pretty good idea to do things better for our health and the planet, so that’s probably why most people aren’t in opposition. And I think because I’m a grey area thinker myself and a grey area communicator, and by that I mean, no black and white absolutes. There’s room for everyone to be themselves and I think that’s really important in a world that constantly tries to polarise us for shock factor and outrage, that really it’s just like, well, if this one doesn’t break down in the environment and this one does, and they both do a great job, like no brainer, why don’t we choose this one, you know? And I think that’s perhaps why it’s been so well received and that’s perhaps why so many people have found comfort and productivity in that term, like they feel like, oh, actually this finally represents me just wanting to do better instead of being a formulate thing. But I will say, something that’s often a shame with movements and I actually saw this with, Well, I’ve seen this with several movements where people then take it on and make it their own blog, or then go on to, teach it themselves, sometimes you get a case of Chinese whispers where the message changes, or it becomes about having to buy this one brand to go Low Tox, and I’m not about that at all. So if you search Low Tox Life, that is a trademarked term, and that’s the one that you can always trust is not trying to funnel you into anything else, it’s about that whole category of ideas that improve human health and the planet.
[00:13:17] Felicity Cohen: Beautiful. You describe yourself Alexx, as a change agent, what does that actually mean to you?
[00:13:22] Alexx Stuart: Being a change agent is just someone who plants seeds, and plants ideas for people to then create change in their own lives. So instead of being a change maker where you are like, it’s that guru mentality where you are the person to be followed, I like being a change agent that just creates good ideas for everybody else to create their own change agents in their own lives.
[00:13:52] Felicity Cohen: So to embrace and live a Low Tox lifestyle, tell me a little bit about a day for you in your life where your decisions are actually made around consciously looking for Low Tox options, a day from start to finish, what does that look like?
[00:14:07] Alexx Stuart: Okay, so, I wake up and then it’s a very normal, very hectic morning of trying to get a child out to school, so there’s not an awful lot that’s Low Tox about that, but I will say I’m very mindful of starting the day from a place of calm, rather than stress. Because Tox is also the mind, food, body, home, mind, it’s the whole shebang and then our beautiful planet on top of that. So, a calm, organised early morning is essential to me for everybody to feel like their cups filled up, there are lots of hugs, and there’s a cup of tea, you know, really sort of slow pockets in a busy morning. And then, breakfast always looks like something savoury so that the blood sugar stays nice and even in the morning, and that could be a whole host of different things, for us, it’s often a couple of soft-boiled eggs with a protein-based, toast, and then, what happens after that, yep, everyone’s out the door and I’m doing my stretching, mobility, and a few weights because I’m middle-aged and that’s probably the most important age group to really make sure we’re protecting our muscle, and feeling strong and healthy. And then I, if it’s raining outside, I put the dehumidifier on so that the humidity stays low in the house and mould can’t grow, that’s definitely an important Low Tox appliance if people out there live in rainy environments and don’t have one.
And then I guess through my work day, it probably looks like lunch would be the next Low Tox choice that I would make, and that would always be some leftovers because, if you made food waste in a country, it would be behind China and the US in terms of emissions for the planet. So we have all of these people polarised by the food corporations, trying to make us all blame cows, which of course, you know, we do have to look at our agriculture. Absolutely factory farming is awful and terrible for the land, there are so many incredible farmers reversing desertification through animal and plant farming in combination. So I much prefer to focus on what really makes a difference, which is food waste and so my lunch is basically a hoover meal of leftovers. So I always make sure that we’ve got some things in the fridge that I can just quickly pop on a huge bed of leaves, with a good dressing, and that way it’s Low Tox, low stress, low waste, ticks all my boxes and of course, super healthy. And then, I always go for a walk after lunch if I can, every now and then there’s an interview or a scheduled time. But if you can go for that walk and just connect with nature, get barefoot in the grass, and get your blood sugar down after a meal, I think it’s a really nice way to start your afternoon. And then if I have to clean something, it’ll be simple, DIY preparation, like, half vinegar, half water, a little bit of essential oil kind of spray to just clean down the bench tops or what else?
What are some of my Low Tox choices during the day? I’m just trying to think. I guess if I was to go shopping, then that would be a look at making sure I’m not shopping with artificial fragrances in my personal care or cleaning products. I’m shopping, produce – not products – when it comes to food, and I’m not shopping for more than I need because we are wasting one-fifth of our groceries. And so many families say I can’t afford to switch anything to organic, but then we’re putting a fifth of what we put down the drain and not even using it. So imagine if we had that 20% to reinvest into whole food meals, imagine if we stopped buying the Pringles and the Grain Waves and all of those things, and actually reinvested that into good solid meals that actually lasted until the next meal. So those are some of the Low Tox kind of basics that would happen during my day.
And then in the evening, essential to me is not having any blue light on if I can possibly help it. So we have these fabulous sweet dreams, light bulbs from a company here in Australia called Block Blue Light, I’m not plugging them, I’m not sponsored to say this or anything, but it really is just an incredible light bulb, because it means you can have your lights on in the living room or at the bedside table and there is no blue lights, a beautiful amber kind of honey, and just naturally calms you, you bring up that melatonin and lets you go off to LA LA land much more successfully as well.
[00:19:15] Felicity Cohen: Amazing and you make it sound really approachable and I think for someone who’s never been exposed to the concept of the Low Tox lifestyle, it’s really good to hear from you, how you approach a normal day. And it does sound like something that we can all implement without.
[00:19:30] Alexx Stuart: Oh, totally. And even if it’s just one of those things, you think, “oh, a dehumidifier, that’s actually a good idea. I get condensation on the windows or I’ve noticed mould in my bathroom”, it’s like, boom, well, that’s where you can start.
[00:19:42] Felicity Cohen: I’ve written it down already.
[00:19:45] Alexx Stuart: There you go!
[00:19:47] Felicity Cohen: So you’ve got a child, you’re in that whole big environment of, you know, getting your child to school every. How do you go about ensuring, ,, lunchtime is well managed when you are getting ready for school. What does the Low Tox lunch look like? So that obviously from a socialisation point of view, you know, that children feel as though they’re part of a community and that they’re not segregated as well. What does the packed lunch look like to take to school?
[00:20:15] Alexx Stuart: It’s so important to address that because you have the social pressures, you have teasing, but I also think you have to change the culture. Like you can’t just go, “oh, okay, he’s a teenager now. So all of it has to be junk so that he doesn’t get teased”. You also have to equip your kids with language and vocab to fight right back. There was, there was this one point when he was in about year three or four, my son loves blended soups like he loves a good thick veggie lentil kind of soup, and it’s so easy to chug down and then get back to playing sport or whatever else you want to do. So, he had one this one time and it was brown lentil, so it did look like a poo colour, I will say, but this kid came up to him and said, “your lunch looks like poo” and he came home and he told me about it and I was like, “okay, what do you think, now that you’ve had some time away from that situation, what do you wish you would’ve said at that moment? Do you have any ideas of what would’ve been a good thing to say?” and he is like, “if that’s what your poo looks like, you should go to a doctor” and I was like, “good one, buddy” and I think just helping your kids realise that they actually can empower themselves to say, “mate, this is a lentil soup and my mom made it and it’s delicious, just focus on whatever you are having for lunch” like, you know, maybe your mom can’t cook, like a little tease right back usually puts a bully in their place without having, you know, I don’t want my child to have to get physical, absolutely not, and that’s not something I condone. But I think those innocent little retorts just go, “oh, okay, yeah, that’s someone who’s gonna say something back so I’m not gonna say anything to them again” and we’ve got to actually start equipping our kids with some language around what to say if they get teased. I will say though, that autonomy is important and not making them feel like they have to be ashamed. If they want to have something in their lunch that looks like everybody else’s lunch. So for us, that looks like some freshly made popcorn at home that’s cooled and put in the container or plain corn chips, so really important to not go with the flavoured ones that have additional glutamates, synthetic flavours, colours, all sorts of dodgy stuff in there, but some plain corn chips, like that’s a good little go-between. And then I always like to say “it’s something familiar, something new” so if something looks like everybody else’s and they’re seeing you eat that everybody else food, then they’re less likely to pay attention to anything else you’ve got in your lunch box, and for us, there’s usually some sort of leftovers. So if I’ve done chicken tenderloins in a pasta sauce the night before, I’ll usually do a couple on the side that can then get shredded into a wrap. I think a wrap is great because there’s less bread, more filling, so more variety of nutrition, but it still kind of looks like an acceptable social food, and then there’s always crudités, there’s always fresh fruit, and there’s usually something like beef jerky, or he loves those sorts of things, even just a few pieces of ham or cheese in there, and then, like I said, the popcorn or corn chips that look like everybody else’s lunch. So I think, you know that for me, you strike any parents who really struggle with the fact that maybe their child’s not eating their lunch because they’re ashamed or because they really are anxious around what other kids might say. You can adjust it to whatever it requires, just focus on your book ends, that brekky and that dinner, they’re really, really the most important, and that’s when we’re all connecting as families, getting started for the day, winding the day down, having chats.
[00:24:22] Felicity Cohen: I love that! What do you think or what would be five things that we could each do tomorrow to start us off on implementing a Low Tox lifestyle? So for anyone who hasn’t embraced this previously, and this is a new concept, just five changes that we could implement. What do you recommend?
[00:24:45] Alexx Stuart: So my number one is get the vacuum out and give your place a really good vacuum up. If you’ve got floors and tiles, dust is a shocker and anyone living on the east coast will know dust and rain usually equals the growth of mould when we don’t have dehumidifiers. So if you can keep your house low in dust, it’s free, you’ve probably already got a vacuum cleaner or a mop. So that is something you can start doing tomorrow by actually saying, “you know what, from now on, I pop some really good tunes on and have a vacuum”, I hate vacuuming by the way, but I put a couple of really good songs on that I love, put them in the headphones so it’s blaring, and then I’m dancing and vacuuming, and I do that a good two or three times a week. A lot of people vacuum-like once a fortnight, but it’s just not enough. Dust builds up, especially if you’re in a city environment if there’s construction nearby, but then there’s agricultural chemical dust as well in the country. So I think everybody can get dusting! And that is a fantastic Low Tox thing to do to reduce the chance of mould growing in your home environment.
[00:25:56] Number two, I would say, consider getting a water filter if you are currently drinking tap water as your sole source of hydration. You will be removing agricultural chemical runoff residue, that’s pesticides and herbicides, you’ll be removing any harmful bacteria, you’ll be removing chlorine. And depending on where you sit, you know, the world is literally 50/50 on fluoride, in terms of in the water, my holistic dentist is great, he says, “sometimes there’s a benefit in the research for topical fluoride, but given fluoride is a neurotoxin, best remove it from the drinking water” and that’s kind of where we’ve arrived. I haven’t had a filling since I went Low Tox actually, so you know, my son hasn’t, he’s just about to be 13, my husband hasn’t, he’s notoriously in the past had to get fillings, so actually our dental health improved, you do your research, but it’s about 50% of the countries around the world that do 50% that don’t. So it’s very much undecided, and seems to be more of a political decision around waste than it is a health decision, unfortunately, in my opinion. So a water filter, but even okay, so even if you want to keep the fluoride in, a water filter is still great as I mentioned before, that’s fantastic because then the hydration gets into the cells and our cells live and breathe water, it’s essential for feeling good. So those are my top two.
[00:27:31] Number three would be, have a think about the last time you changed your pillow. So many people are like, ” what’s wrong with my pillow!” not so much the material, but what could be growing in the material? Fungi, dust might poo, it all builds up in our pillows and you wanna be replacing your pillow every two years, that face is planted inside that pillow seven or eight hours a night. And then if you use a microfiber, you know, a memory foam type of pillow, then you’ve also got to contend with plastic dust and that increases if your pillow gets older and older. So ideally wool, cotton, latex, but if you need a memory foam pillow, because of, you know, your neck and it helps you sleep, there’s always an 80/20 in life, and having you healthy and pain-free is better than in tons of pain from sleeping on a cotton pillow because you have to go Low Tox, which is why I think people resonate with the idea of going Low Tox, you still get to put in your thing that you just can’t let go of for whatever reason. so we’ve done pillow, water filter, get vacuuming or mopping.
[00:28:51] Number four, I would say, have a think about your house, what have you got by way of synthetic fragrances around the house? So do you have plugin air fresheners? Do you have scented reeds or scented candles? Are you using a synthetically fragranced fabric softener? These for me are the big four that you have to say goodbye to today. And the reason is, in a synthetic fragrance is most often packed with the type of chemical called phthalate, which makes fragrances last long and is extra stinky and strong. And these are unfortunately very well shown in the research to be endocrine disruptive.
[00:29:36] Felicity Cohen: I have to stop you there for a second because I’m absolutely a fan of having a beautifully fragrant, I love it in my office, a beautiful, you know, it’s calming, I have a beautiful candle. What do I swap it with then?
[00:29:50] Alexx Stuart: Okay, so can you tell me what, do you remember what the smell was called of that candle?
[00:29:57] Felicity Cohen: So that particular one, I think it might be like a, is it a tobacco or something like along those lines. But I love interesting ones as well, fresh scents.
[00:30:08] Alexx Stuart: You definitely, you’re close to being able to hope that it was more natural than synthetic. If you’re in the woody, citrusy families, lemon grass works quite well as a scented candle and that’s essential oil usually, but the main ones you definitely want to get rid of are the ones that you think, so like vanilla crème brûlée or burnt fig or, spring fresh, and it, you know, means nothing and it smells nothing like the thing, they’re the most important ones to remove. I am a huge fan of having a nice little diffuser going just once or twice a day, giving the room a really beautiful perfume and then you know you’re using natural essential oils. And then you know you’re not burning something that adds toxicity to your indoor air, which unfortunately soy, paraffin, and palm oil candles all do. The only type of candle that doesn’t add toxins to your indoor air is a bees wax, pure bees wax candle. I’m a huge fan of a local woman, Kate Burton, and anyone who really wants to dive into the subject of candles who’s maybe listening to us now may go, “no, not the candles, don’t make me take away my candles!” have a listen to me and Kate on my show, Low Tox Life, I hope it’s okay to plug it, but number 75, and we deep dive into the candle industry, how things are made, and even if something sounds natural, like soy candles, how that might not be a great idea and what to do instead. But I love that beautiful, soft honey firm of a bee’s wax candle. But if you want something stronger, go with the diffuser and the essential oils. So that’s four, that’s four right? And actually, to just cap off this point about the synthetic fragrances in your home, if you are really freaking out about having to let go of some of those things, because I get it, you know, sometimes, like I used to do the fabric softener and the dryer sheets, that’s how much fragrance I wanted in my laundry. So please know that no matter what your worst-case scenario is, chances are my 27-year-old self’s worst-case scenario was worse when it comes to high tox. And so the best challenge you can do is remind your body what it feels like to confront these sorts of things for the first time because often when you’ve just been living with them, you have forgotten how good you’re designed to feel, and I know you’ll know that in the work you do, Felicity. Box it all up, don’t let go of it yet, just put it in a box, chuck it in the garage, everything with a big fake smell. So get a fragrance-free deodorant, just use a bit of bicarb in your wash for the fabric softener, and then just ditch all the synthetic fragrance products that you might have around the house like your candles, air freshers, put it in the garage, forget about it for a week or a month, whatever you can manage and then bring it all back and plug it all in, light it all up, put it in the dryer, get it all happening on the same day at the same time, as your old life normally would have had, right? Like it’s very normal, you’ll be shocked by your physical response to that synthetic fragrance after having just taken it out and had a breather, literally had a breather. Most people say, “oh my God, I was winded” or “I got an instant headache” or “I started sneezing” it’s unbelievable how people respond and I’ve taken thousands through various courses over the years and, recommended this. So the proof is in the pudding.
[00:33:59] Felicity Cohen: So fascinating, before you go to point number five.
[00:34:02] Alexx Stuart: Yeah?
[00:34:03] Felicity Cohen: What about hand sanitiser? Because we’ve all had to be conditioned that, you know, you don’t walk into a supermarket, you don’t go into a medical centre or even our practice without touching some form of hand sanitiser. It is everywhere! What are your thoughts on hand sanitiser and what is the safest form of hand sanitiser to use if you must?
[00:34:27] Alexx Stuart: Yeah, great point, and I like the, if you must because we really do have to be conscious of how much germ killing we do because the more germs we try to kill, the more sterile we make our environment, the more our immune system finds it hard to fight off things that we come into contact with. And, I know my own family’s seen this after two years of social distancing and lockdowns, and look, I’m very much a grey area person in this pandemic space as well. . I, I don’t like either of the black or white arguments that there’s only one way or the highway, but I do recognise that it’s almost like we’ve all been, become toddlers on our first week of daycare getting back out there, you know, everyone’s just catching everything and my family’s never been as sick as we’ve been this year, we never catch anything. So, I think there’s a healthy balance that we need to strike, and of course, there are immune-compromised individuals that really do need to protect themselves, kind of like a kid with a peanut allergy, I’m not gonna say, you know, “oh, just one or two won’t hurt, don’t worry about it” like you just don’t. There are some people that have to be strict, but most of us and the science shows that washing our hands three or four times a day with soap and water, good old-fashioned bar soap is just as effective for killing germs as using copious amounts of hand sanitiser and then we don’t end up with the contact dermatitis and all of those issues. But if you work in a hospital setting, or someone’s sick in your family, you’ve just got a heightened awareness and you do wanna use it a little bit more than usual. I love just the simple alcohol-based sanitisers, a big shout out to Dr Bronners, one of my favourites, every time I use their mint hand sanitiser and I’m in a public place, or I, I offer my sanitiser to a girlfriend if I’m with her and we’ve just been on public transport or something, she’ll be like, “oh my God, that smells amazing” because we’re so used to these awful, either clinical, chemically smelling ones in our health settings, which unfortunately have a ton of really toxic ingredients in them, as well as the alcohol, that when you actually use something nice, it’s like, oh okay, so hand sanitiser could be nice. So yes, just go for a plain alcohol-based one that uses essential oils for fragrance, and it’s going to be much kinder to your hands as well.
[00:36:55] Felicity Cohen: Fantastic. So we’re up to point number five.
[00:36:58] Alexx Stuart: All right. Point number five is for me, a food waste one, because it is such a huge issue for the planet, climate change, huge on the methane front, nobody’s talking about it because these natural foods get trapped inside landfills and give off again, far more methane than a poor cow ever could. and so for me, it’s about, and this is really important, how often in the modern-day do we say to ourselves when it comes to thinking about dinner, “what do I fancy” that for me is one of the most wasteful mindsets we can have and it speaks to this, I can have anything I want at my fingertips delivered to my door in 15 minutes, especially if you’re in a city and we need to instead ask ourselves, what do I need to use up first, what’s actually in my fridge that needs eating. And it’s not that you have to have the exact same meal as the day before, but if you’ve got like the other day, I had a ton of sweet potato, a roast sweet potato that was left over in my fridge, now, if I’d had it the exact same way and just reheated it, I might have gotten a bit bored, I get that, but I made a frittata! I just cracked a few eggs, crumbled some goat’s cheese, and parsley chucked it in the oven and had a gorgeous frittata with a salad, so it was a totally new meal. And so I think to go Low Tox, and when we think of food, when we think of waste and how massive that is just starting to work from what we’ve got that needs eating, instead of what we fancy, makes us more mindful, connects us to resourcefulness, a lot of the artful resources our granny’s used that have been lost in these modern times. And I think it’s a really nice way to slow things down a little bit as well.
[00:39:07] Felicity Cohen: Okay, fantastic, so here are your five top tips. I think they’re just brilliant thank you very much for that. so Alexx, you’ve just recently launched your book, Low Tox Food.
[00:39:19] Alexx Stuart: Yes.
[00:39:20] Felicity Cohen: Tell me a little bit about Low Tox Food. What was the approach, what are we gonna get from that book?
[00:39:26] Alexx Stuart: Yeah, so my first book, Low Tox Life, was food, body, home, mind, really went across everything and having a deeper divide between people on the internet thanks to social media and people setting up camps in very tight groups. I started to become really alarmed by the corporate takeover of food which we saw with the birth of feminism. anyone who’s researched food will see that in the seventies, when women started being able to get out, get their own bank accounts, get out into the workforce and have that liberty and freedom, we saw the food companies take over and say, “we’ve got dinner for you, you don’t need to cook, that’s beneath you”, you know, here’s the ready meal, here’s the instant this, and it just exploded. And what we’re seeing explode now off the back of climate change discussion is hyper processed food, pretending to be planet friendly, pretending to speak to the people who want to tread more lightly with the food they eat, and it’s heartbreaking to see them do it all over again 50 years later. And again, unassuming good people don’t realise we’re being marketed to because it’s so normal for us to be marketed to. So we’re not thinking, and I thought I really want to expose the three things that would make the biggest impact on any individual who eats any which way. So a vegan, a vegetarian, a keto, a paleo, I don’t care what your diet label is, I was interested to see what we could all overlap with to finally actually move forward instead of fighting each other on the internet about who’s right, or who’s more right. And it was just exhausting to me to see this At each other, instead of looking forward and trying to move forward together, and I feel like it’s a bit of a lost art because we’ve had some awful political leaders that have stoked the fire of division that you see, of course, like in any business, the culture at the bottom at the front line is always a representation of who’s at the top. And so to change that we have to have conversations where we are brave enough to put aside our differences and see where we can overlap to work together.
And so for me, what I discovered in the research was that were three things. Number one is food waste. How are we going to practically waste less food? What skills do we need to be less wasteful? Ultra-processed food, so finally highlighting the big, real baddie in food. A lot of people don’t know that before the second world war, no one ate cereal, no one ate copious amounts of ground-based snacks, it wasn’t a thing. It was an emergency long-life food for soldiers on the front lines. Of course, no one who provided that service wanted to let go of their profits after the second world war. So they created this whole new market of cereals, which of course then after an hour and a half or so, you’re hungry again and you need snacks. It’s all very, very new and so when you teach people that ultra-processed food is the worst food for climate change and human health, because it goes from raw material, shipped off through petroleum-based or coal-based power into a factory, which is petroleum, more coal-based powered, a whole bunch of petroleum, and synthetic additives, plastic, soft plastic packaging that’s endocrine disruptive, cardboard packaging that then comes from trees, shipped off to a supermarket with fluorescent lights, completely void of enzymes and any living nutrients that benefit the human biology and then into our homes where we then end up wasting a fifth of it anyway. I mean, it’s the craziest most energy-intensive, most life-sucking food, and yet it takes up 60% of our trollies.
So food waste, ultra-processed food, and then of course, where do we source our food from, looking at the types of farming methods that give more back to the planet than they take, and that’s called regenerative farming. So if we all focus on that, we can all have a seat at the table doing better for people and the planet and overlap, and that was really important to me to put in a book.
[00:44:19] Felicity Cohen: I’m really excited to read it. And I think it’s, you know, something that is so stimulating to get us thinking about all of these activities that take place well before we actually end up walking down a supermarket aisle and filling our trolleys. So, congratulations on the book, I really do look forward to reading it and I hope many of our listeners will embrace the opportunity to explore some of your tips today on, you know, a Low Tox lifestyle.
Even if they just implement a couple of them, I think it’ll be worthwhile. So as you know, our podcast is called Wellness Warriors and as a tribute to our listeners who work so hard on protecting their wellness and gaining it, ,, you know, what really inspires me is learning about how others are going on their wellness journey.
And so my last question, Alexx, for you today is can you share with us a time when you were struggling with your wellness and what did you do to fight for it or to reclaim it?
[00:45:16] Alexx Stuart: So a time that I really struggled was when, it was about six years ago, so I’d actually been Low Tox for a really long time by that point. And I’d been educated in that space, I was quite well known and all of a sudden I started to feel sicker than I’d ever felt, we’re talking resistant weight loss, huge amounts of inflammation, anxiety, twitching, tremors, heart palpitations, ectopic beats, electric shocks, sporadic pain, brain inflammation, hives, huge histamine issues. It was unbelievable how horrific I felt, and I went to every specialist I possibly could, based on the 30 odd symptoms that I had and no one could find any major obvious thing that either needed operating or medication, which for me was just crazy that a human could feel like honestly, Felicity, at one point, I thought I was going to die soon. It was that bad and no one could find an answer and I’d spent thousands of our savings going to, you know, cardiologists all of those sorts of people getting scans of all kinds and after finally finding a doctor who specialised in hard chronic cases to crack in the states who I had to see via Zoom for a thousand dollars an hour, I was asked a question on the patient form, I was asked actually a lot of questions about my house, and one of the questions was, have you ever seen mould in your house? And, I was like, yes, we live in a gorgeous art deco flat, but we did have huge rains when we first moved in, mould was growing on the ceiling in our bedroom, but our landlord was amazing and cleaned it all up and got it painted and put whirlybirds in the roof and fixed the roof. And we were just so excited as renters that he did that, and, from that point was when the symptoms all started. From really the year or two after we lived there, and in retrospect, I remember when I would travel for work, especially if it was a good, long chunk of time, like a week or two, if I was on the road, I would start to feel myself, I would drop a few kilos like it was nothing, then I would come home and it would all go down the toilet again. one of the symptoms I had, which was crazy was a leaky tear duct, now if you think about the tear duct, it’s very tiny, and so if you are really inflamed, then it can close up really, and so the tears are coming out instead of going down the back, which was where they should go. And when I went to my cousin’s wedding overseas, they stopped and I thought, oh, thank gosh, you know, it was really hard giving speeches and talks and wiping my eye every three seconds, but then when I came home, two days later it came back.
So just to illustrate how to tune into the home environment and see whether there might be something in your home that could be causing inflammation. So for me, it was mould and it started a journey of not only trying to heal myself with very few resources and absolutely no support from the conventional medical system or Medicare, there were no tests, I had to send tests off to America, $1,500 a pop to see, you know, inflammatory markers that we don’t even have access to here in Australia because we’re a much smaller market so I guess it’s not worth it.
I was horrified, so I had to start, I had to start interviewing experts once I knew more about this chronic inflammatory response syndrome that a lot of people get from either mould or could be a tick from Lyme disease. Also very poorly recognised and start gathering health professionals in that space, environmental scientists in that space to start helping others. Because once I started talking about it, I was shocked to learn how many people have been affected by mould. Statistically, they say it’s about a quarter of us who can’t recognise and mount a response to mycotoxins, the toxins that mould spores produce. And then if you think about Australia having around 40% of our building’s water damaged in some way, by a leak or rising damp, or a cracked tile, you know, whatever it might be, you put those two statistics together and there’s a bunch of young people walking around there, feeling very unwell when they should not be feeling very unwell. It chewed up the best part of my early forties, and I couldn’t exercise, I’m only just now starting to feel a real resilience coming back where if I have a glass of champagne because it’s a friend’s birthday, I don’t have a histamine issue for three days afterwards and palpitations, whereas five years ago I would have.
[00:50:28] So I will say to anyone who is extremely challenged in the position they’re currently in, whether it’s, obesity, whether it’s chronic inflammation, whether it’s, a mental health issue, you can get better. It is work and you have to remember, and when I interviewed Dr Terry Walz, who’s the incredible physician in the states who has reversed the majority of her MS symptoms and is doing incredible research around MS and food, she said in a podcast once, “you have to remember what you want your health for, and once you tune into that, you are prepared to do anything you need to do to get better, but you can’t wish for it. You have to accept the brutality of where you are and just take it step by step otherwise you can very quickly become in that victim mentality space. And that’s gonna take you away from your goals of feeling better rather than towards them”. So it’s been one heck of a journey this past few years, this is what I call my third wave, and I did not want to know as much as I know about mould, but I’m very grateful that I do because I’ve been able to help people again in a whole new way that I didn’t expect.
[00:51:50] Felicity Cohen: Alexx, thank you so much for all of your insights today. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I’m really excited myself personally, to dive more into everything that a Low Tox lifestyle can represent and do for all of us on so many different levels. Thank you so much for joining me on the Wellness Worries podcast.
[00:52:10] Alexx Stuart: Thank you so much for having me. And, I just want to finish off by saying if you haven’t checked out yet, the Benefit Pocket app, my latest course, actually talks in much more detail about a lot of the themes. So if someone out there is going, “oh my gosh, I need you to come back and wants to do more” that app is amazing. And we did a sustainability course together called Belo Tox, you can jump in there, Low Tox 40, you get a nice little discount, and I can help you every step of the way with a whole bunch of video-based content lessons.
[00:52:45] Felicity Cohen: thank you so much. I will make sure that we highlight that so that all of our listeners are well aware of how they can access the app. Thanks so much, Alexx.
[00:52:54] Alexx Stuart: Awesome. Thank you.