Thursday, June 13, 2024
How to...

How do you wash your dishes?

Photograph by Hans Braxmeier

Ignorance is not Bliss…

Since I can remember whenever I was buying products either food or health items or house cleaning materials I never gave much thought of what these products contained. I mean if you compare this attitude with the fact that I was a chain smoker of tobacco cigs for 16 years then you can understand why I was behaving the way I was. The answer is pretty simple I was an ignorant little man with no regards for my health and the health of the people around me.

Back then I didn’t even know that there is a strong direct connection between what you eat and your health! The sad thing is that a lot of people around the globe are suffering the same ignorance I was suffering from not so many years ago. Maybe one of the reasons I wrote my book: My Weight Loss Journey: How I lost 44 pounds and never gained them back using a plant based diet. is to help as many people to learn what I now know about nutrition and assist them to change their lifestyle to a healthier better version, like the one I enjoy myself since the year 2013.

Lack of nutritional knowledge is why you see people suffering from the so-called “chronic” diseases and is mostly in the so-called “modern” western societies where Junk food, fast food, highly processed food (animal products and refined carbohydrates) made up the bulk of their everyday diet.

Fifty years ago illnesses and maladies.

Fifty years ago illnesses and maladies, like heart diseases, stroke, arthritis, lung cancer and large intestine cancer, diabetes II where unheard off and very rare. The reason that these “sicknesses” appear all of the sudden is because we shifted very fast from the unprocessed, unrefined without pesticides plant-based diet of our grandfathers to a highly and over-processed refined and full of too much fat, salt and sugar fast and junk food diet.

We shifted from having fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc. ), starch (brown rice, corn, potatoes), cereals (wheat and rye, etc.), nuts as the bulk of our diet and replaced it with animal products.

I remember a story my grandfather told me once when I was a kid which was that in their days to eat a chicken either the people had to be sick (chicken soup), or the chicken had to be sick! With this phrase, my grandfather told me that meat consumption back then was very rare. One of the reasons was that people were poor and couldn’t afford eating meat every day.

If you read epidemiological studies like The China Study done by T. Colin Campbell, you can see that people with better economic means eat more meat because they can afford it but at the same time, you observe them suffering from more chronic diseases that the less financially fortunate people.

Who said being poor has its drawbacks? don’t get me wrong I don’t wish for anyone to be poor I know, I grew up poor, but I always have the mentality to see good even in a bad situation. It is called being an optimist.

I know that the main culprit is animal consumption which gradually kills us from inside out and animal agriculture kills our beautiful green-blue planet and is one of the leading causes and  contributor to the greenhouse effect! Yes, you read right, raising animals for meat contributes more to the negative greenhouse effect of our planet that all the cars are circulating the globe right now!

When I was a kid I had a lot of fears.

When I was a kid I had a lot of fears, as I said in an interview with Billy J Atwell’s Podcast, one of my fears growing up was the fear that at some point in my life I would get hit and inflict by one of the “chronic” diseases, I had that fear,  because back then I was ignorant nutritionally wise and I believed that our genetic makeup (DNA) dictates our life’s. It was a source of stress for me, and it was not healthy for me at all. I had this image that when I hit 40, I will have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other maladies because in my uneducated and uninformed mind DNA was king and chronic illnesses are results of a combination of bad DNA and old age!

The truth couldn’t be further from the truth and now I know it because since 2013 I stop having these baseless fears because simply the reality is much much more hopeful than the misinformation and ignorance that so many people are under right now. This is the condition that  people that hold power want them to be in because they can continue selling their poisons to us and continue to make money undisturbed!

The reasons I stopped having these fears is because I started reading about nutrition written by doctors and researchers, I started reading scientific papers, and the ultimate task was that I began experimenting with my own food and I saw with my own eyes that DNA only roughly controls 25% of your life and the rest 75% it’s in your own hands and more especially its what you eat every day. Exercise has little effect on your overall health comparing it with food; it’s 99% nutrition and 1% exercise.

All my infliction were gone after I adopted a plant-based diet, and I am not overstating this. My stomach and duodenum ulcer was cured, my hemorrhoids are gone, constipation (chronic) gone, my skin got clearer, my energy levels went up, my sex drive is through the roof! All these of course took time as it took time for me to bring these illness upon me through bad nutrition. 

I need less sleep, and I can do more.

I need less sleep, and I can do more, my thinking patterns are clearer and so many other positive and beneficial effects, that I discover every single day since I adopted a plant based lifestyle.

I will keep learning about nutrition because of its a way of life for me now, like my other lifestyle choice being a runner of 5k to 50k races. It’s something that I enjoy doing, and I make sure to get my information from unbiased sources like Dr. Michael Greger’s site which I highly recommend to go and register. His daily video’s or articles was and still are a  life saver for me as I am sure it will be for you. Also if you are a bookworm like me and share my love for books then don’t hesitate to buy his latest book entitled: How Not to Die it will open your eyes and blow your mind off by the endless possibilities and cures plant-based lifestyle offers. The most important thing about adopting a plant-based diet is that you will stop being afraid anymore. Start educating yourself and you will set yourself free. The truth will set you free like FoxMulder used to say in the popular science fiction series X-Files played by actor David Duchovny who latest book  Holy Cow: A Novel is an excellent read.

Now a  lot of you will say what on earth all the things you just said have to do with how we wash our dishes? Well, it’s the principal of the matter. The way your mind works, the way you change your mindset to see objects and situations from a different point of view, in a nutshell, its the philosophy of the matter.

Me being ignorance about nutrition.

Me being ignorance about nutrition had as a direct result getting sick; we have a more immediate communication with the outside environment through the sensitive walls of our small intestine than we do with our own skin, which is the biggest organ of your body by the way! And not the liver as so many people falsely assume!

So I was thinking that if food has a direct effect on your health status then what about the rest of the products that we use on a daily basis like, toothpaste, soap, perfumes, hair dye, washing machine items like cleaning  powder and Softener and of course liquids that we use to clean our dishes with.

I am in a position to say that I am very careful of what I eat now and I want to apply the same philosophy to other aspects of my life and yesterday while I was washing my dishes I looked at the cleaning liquid I was using and it just hit me that I don’t really know what I am using to wash the dishes, where I put my food I eat every day!

This article is the result of what I did thus far, the steps I took to find out how good are my washing dishes liquid cleaner and the actions I took once  I realized that I could wash my dishes with a healthier way.

Are you ready? Let’s go…

I started by reading the ingredients of the washing liquid that I use to clean my dishes. The label send me to a link online for the parts. I visited the individual page, but except the online parts, it also said something about anionic and non-ionic surfactants!  On the product label which I had no idea what they mean. After researching online for a bit, I found this very critical article written by Timothy J. Roach entitled: Anionic, Nonionic, Cationic What do these surfactant names mean?  It turns out that these substances weaken the ability of the water to retain it’s shape making the water more watery when it hits surfaces. If you want to learn more the article I just mentioned is a good read and shed light on what are these substances.

Then I visited the web page that was in the cleaning liquid bottle and found my liquid washing dishes brand and voila a list, a long list I might I add of ingredients that some of them couldn’t even pronounce!

The following list presents the ingredients that are in my old washing dishes liquid:

  1. Aqua
  2. Sodium Hydroxide
  3. Phenoxyethanol
  4. Sodium bicarbonate
  5. Methylisothiazolinone
  6. Diethylenetriamine pen(methylene phosphonic acid) kept sodium salt
  7. Sodium C12-14 Alkyl Sulfate
  8. Lauramine Oxide
  9. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  10. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
  11. Alcohol
  12. Sodium C12-14 Pareth-3 Sulfate
  13. Sodium Chloride
  14. PPG-34
  15. 2-Propylheptanol ethoxylated
  16. PARFUM
  17. Colorant

Yep, exactly! I don’t have a chemistry diploma to be able to know what all these means,  even though in high school one of my favorite lessons was chemistry. So I started researching each and every one of these ingredients, yep I don’t have better things to do on my free time (smile)

From the little Latin I know, Aqua is the only part I knew because it means water.

The second ingredient SODIUM HYDROXIDE is a highly caustic substance that is used to neutralize acids and make sodium salts. (From Merck Index, 11th ed). You can find a lot more information about it here.  Sodium hydroxide is used to manufacture soaps, rayon, paper, explosives, dyestuffs, and petroleum products, all the good stuff!

The third ingredient is Phenoxyethanol otherwise know as 2-Phenoxyethanol and is a flavoring ingredient, and its natural form is found in green tea! Now about the synthetic form of it this article is very enlightening. 

The fourth ingredient SODIUM BICARBONATE it’s our well known baking soda! Is a white, crystalline powder that is commonly used as a pH buffering agent, an electrolyte replenisher, systemic alkalizer and in topical cleansing solutions. The following link gives the toxicity data of Sodium Bicarbonate for those who want to dig a little bit further.

A superb article about baking soda written by Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P) is this it might be a bit old (2010) but I don’t think baking soda changed since then!

The fifth element is Methylisothiazolinone, and a beautiful article about it written by AnnMarie  sheds a lot of light of what is this thing and what are the dangers especially to our nervous system.

The sixth ingredient Diethylenetriamine pen(methylene phosphonic acid) kept sodium salt it’s a railroad on its own (smile), and it is mainly used as Chelating (Sequestrating) agent, Peroxide Bleach Stabilization.  I had no idea what a Chelating agent was until I read this article. A chelating agent is one of the two parts that compose a  chelate the other being a  metal ion. A chelating agent can connect several times, achieve many bonds with a metal ion.

The seventh ingredient is a synthetic detergent, and from this article written by Dr. Steve Humphries I found out that they have skin irritant properties, so that’s another culprit in my dish washing liquid cleaner.

The eightieth substance is Lauramine Oxide, and  it seems to be skin irritant too .

The ninetieth and tenth substances

Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

are known to cause skin irritation and a fantastic article about them is this also this article is very informative about skin care.

The eleventh substance is Alcohol, and we all know what alcohol is.

The twelfth element Sodium C12-14 Pareth-3 Sulfate I didn’t find any info about it which was frustrating maybe I didn’t search well enough.

The thirteenth substance is Sodium chloride (NaCl) is more commonly known as salt, or table salt which we all know what it is. (Nutrition facts connection)

The fourteenth substance  PPG-34  also known as 1,2-propanediol, is a synthetic (i.e., human-made) organic alcohol that attracts/absorbs water.  PPG-34 do not pose any danger in the quantities that is used in the cosmetic area.

The fifteenth substance is 2-Propylheptanol ethoxylated, and according to with ECHA (European Chemicals Agency ) this substance is harmful if swallowed, causes severe eye damage, is detrimental to aquatic life with long lasting effects and causes skin irritation.

The sixteenth is PARFUM which means it’s a fragrance and it can contain dozens even hundreds of chemicals that I don’t know what they could do to my health. One thing I don’t like is not knowing.

The seventeenth item and last is  Colorant which again has no idea what it contains!

Now after I read all these information I can’t say I was surprised I mean from my experienced from the food industries I know that the vast majority of them  the health of the people is not their priority, their profit margins are.

It seems that in my washing dishes liquid cleaner that I use every day to wash my cooking utensils and everything I use to eat my food from has substances that cause, skin irritation, eye irritation, possible damage to my nervous system and they also pollute and poison the environment.

Of course, the reason that you don’t see any immediate effects of the culprits I just described is that the substances level’s in the products are too small of a quantity to cause the maladies that I read.

It takes time months or years for the effects to show up in the use of chemicals on our skin or internal organs.

It’s like tobacco  smoking it takes years for the chemicals of the tobacco plant to kill you!

Our body is an incredible machine, and its detoxifying abilities are marvelous, it’s these capabilities that allow ignorant people to do what they do (eat meat, junk food, drink alcohol, smoke tobacco cigs, do other recreational drugs, etc. the list is endless)

What I realized is that the products we are using for all purpose of life are killing us gradually and with a rate that enables the companies that produce these harmful products to make money and at the same time get away with it.

You can, of course, protect yourself and your hands by wearing plastic gloves every time you wash your dishes which for me is not convenient at all. I can’t see a sink filled with plates or even with one I have this compulsive need to clean it, so putting gloves every time to wash dishes or other auxiliaries is not something that I wish to do. Some people do it, and they are happy about it, and I am sure if I apply myself I can acquire this positive habit.

Let’s say I apply myself, and every time I wash my dishes I use gloves thus protecting my hands and my skin for the potentially hazardous chemicals my liquid has, what about the plates, forks, spoons and other utensils I wash them too?  I think residue from the chemicals stay on them; it’s close to logic right, it’s logical to assume that, like Spock used to say in the successful series and also movies Star Trek, yes I am a Trekkie deal with it! (smile)

So even if I use gloves, I might not get toxins or other poisons through my hands but after when I put food on the plates that have the culprits on I am back to square one again, right?

Organic anyone?

So after I read what I read, I decided to stop buying this cleaning liquid because I don’t want to take any chances with my health even if the risk factor is minimal and second and most importantly I don’t want to use products that pollute and destroy the environment. Now  Andreas one will ask what now? How will you clean your kitchen apparatus and utensils, well I went and bought a cleaning liquid for plates from an organic shop.

Now did I read the ingredients on the product? to be honest, no I didn’t! Why? I tell you why because it’s organic thus is healthy, in my mind still I have this connection, if it’s organic then it must be healthy for me. I am not talking about processed products, I am talking about fruits or vegetables or products that the only process they go through it’s packaging them in a box.

So after I got home, my conscience started to bother me again that inner voice of richness and right and proper, and it was whispering so softly, check the ingredients, don’t be stupid, check the label…

So after resisting for a few days, I read the name which sends me to an online link, and this is what my new organic wash dishes liquid contains:

  1. Water (CAS# 7732-18-5)
  2. Sodium Coco Sulfate (coconut-derived surfactant, CAS# 97375-27-4)
  3. Cocamidopropylamine Oxide (coconut-derived surfactant, CAS# 68155-09-9)
  4. Coco Betaine (coconut derived surfactant, CAS# 68424-94-2)
  5. Lauramine Oxide (plant-derived surfactant, CAS# 1643-20-5)
  6. Phenoxyethanol (preservative, CAS# 112-99-6)
  7. Ethylhexylglycerin, (preservative, CAS# 70445-33-9)
  8. Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate (plant-derived water softener, CAS# 51981-21-6)
  9. Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, (CAS# 8000-28-0)
  10. Citric Acid (plant-derived pH adjuster, CAS# 77-92-9)
  11. Linalool (essential oil component, CAS# 78-70-6)


What I noticed is that I see a lot of common ingredients with my old hand dish washing cleaner which only adds to my frustration if I made a healthier choice overall. One thing is that it has less ingredients so I guess it’s less harmful from the previous non-organic option.

An exquisite article where explains what is Sodium Sulfates is this written by Britta Aragon and at the end she gives a wonderful advice which helped me not to get despair and that was, search until you find a brand that is conscious that takes into consideration the health of the populous and of the environment.

The new organic cleaner claims that it’s Vegan, so that means no animal suffered for its production and no animal products are used in it which I found comforting and also environmentally friendly.

An excellent article written by Dr. Edward Group and advocates for the use of organic products instead of non-organic is this, and in it, you can find useful tips on how to choose correctly your natural alternatives.

For the time being.

For the time being, I am going to use my natural hand washing cleaner until I finish it, it says it has 150 uses. This will give me adequate time to find a more suitable natural product one that is even better than the one I started using.

Plus between two evils for the time being organic is healthier than my non-organic one.

The secret is always searching and never stop questioning your current status. We must be patient and allow ourselfs to ease the stress that is generated from the application of new situations, like me switching washing dish cleaners, and always have in mind that we are going towards a better and healthier life.

The fact that I started making changes towards healthier alternatives in other areas of my life except food for me is a big positive move for my general health, and it is this mindset that will allow us to become better and always be Thirsty For Health.

Andreas Michaelides

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