COVID-19 Outbreak: Quick Tips For A Cleaner Household Today, with Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In the fourth and final episode of a series with Earth Friendly Products CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss some of the quick and easy ways you can clean your home and body for a healthier environment and a healthier life. Learn what types of products and techniques you should use, and which you should avoid at all costs.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we have been transforming lives for 30 years. Using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Tana Amen: Welcome back. We are still with Kelly Vlahakis. And Kelly, I just have to tell you how important this discussion has been. Her company, ECOS: Earth Friendly Products, I'm just so happy that we have you on because this has just been such a stressful time for all of us, me included. And these times bring out different parts of our personalities. I mean, I've seen some people curl up and just get really scared, even my kids. The kids in our house are just all behaving differently than they normally would.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yes.
Tana Amen: And because different parts of our personalities emerge. For me, I become like this insane cop, right? I'm super intense. I'm like, here's the orders, here's the rules. This is what you're doing. And it's not making people very happy around me, but it is how I keep my family safe.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yes. Yes.
Tana Amen: And this is part of why, this discussion we're having, right? It's because I don't really know. I can't get the products I need. I'm a little out of my depth. I know about soap, I know about sanitizers, but they're toxic. And this is all on my mind. I mean, I'm bleaching the heck out of everything. I don't feel well later. And these conversations are so important.
Kelly Vlahakis: They sure are. One of the things that we've tried to really do as a company is really empower people. We want to give them the knowledge. We want to give them the tools. While everybody is home right now, we want to give them the tools for the fight and the safer ones for that fight. We actually launched a series on our sites called Clean With ECOS and Healthy Homebody because we want to encourage people to be healthy homebodies and to really spend their time utilizing cleaning products.
Tana Amen: I want to say that again, Healthy Homebody. It's a website? I want to make sure-
Kelly Vlahakis: So, it's actually on our ECOS Cleans platform. So, if you went to our ECOS Cleans Instagram or you went to our ECOS Cleans Facebook page, you'll see we have a Clean With ECOS Healthy Homebody series.
Tana Amen: I should send that to the kids.
Kelly Vlahakis: And every day we're trying to post different tips so that we can really empower people with, hey listen, there is something you can do to protect the health of your family. I mean, our mission for 53 years has always been about protecting the health of your family. And I think that it's more important now than ever, but it's always been what done. And so, our first post was about hand soap. The second one was about all purposely cleaners. And we're just moving through. The one that's coming out today is actually about fruit and veggie wash that you and I just spoke about.
Kelly Vlahakis: So, every single day we want to give consumers something they can be doing in their homes to protect their health and to be cleaning. For us we use Safer Choice Certified products. So, if you look at the front of the pack, I also want to give consumers, how do I know if a product is green? And there's so much greenwashing going on. How do I know if they're using green ingredients? We use a third party that audits all of our products and looks at all of our ingredients.
Kelly Vlahakis: The USEPA Safer Choice Program looks at number one, do you have the greenest ingredients? Number two, is it efficacious? Does it work? Because if a cleaning product doesn't work, it's truly not a sustainable good product. So, they certify that it works. And number three, they look at companies that are really innovating in terms of green science.
Kelly Vlahakis: And then, on the fruit and veggie wash we discussed, we have the USDA Organic Certification. And Quality Assurance International comes in and audits all of our facilities and makes sure that we're utilizing only organic ingredients in the production of the fruit and veggie watch, that organic ingredients are never compromised by being mixed with anything that's not organic. So, there's a lot of things that consumers should be looking for on front of pack to make sure that they're buying the products they want to bring in their homes.
Kelly Vlahakis: And then, really just focus on that cleaning component. If you're cleaning on a regular basis, and cleaning, do your laundry more frequently. When you think of doing laundry, a lot of people just let it build up, right? You have piles and piles of laundry. And, if you're home right now, keep your laundry clean. Don't allow germs, and bacteria, and other things to really build up there. Wash your laundry frequently.
Kelly Vlahakis: After you finish washing it, don't let it just sit wet in the washing machine, because you can have mold and other products. Quickly put it into your dryer so that you dry your laundry and put it away.
Tana Amen: I didn't think about that.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yeah. Make sure you're cleaning your surfaces frequently with a product that's Safer Choice Certified. Make sure you're cleaning your fruits and vegetables with something that's organic or something that you make at home that's safe. Washing your hands, all of these things really are good for us if we utilize good ingredients in the things that we're using.
Tana Amen: So interesting.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, the team put together some really great information. Conventional cleaning products emit fumes that are toxic to brain cells. And recently, scientists reported that exposures to high levels of fine, particular air pollution, the kind you might breath if you lived near a freeway, may contribute to accelerated brain aging and cognitive problems in older women, especially if they have the APOE E4 gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer's. These and other environmental toxins may be inadvertently consumed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.
Dr Daniel Amen: Widespread in our high tech world, they include the chemical BPA, in food and drink containers, and on cash register receipts. I just go, you can keep it.
Tana Amen: Yeah, keep it. Turn it down.
Dr Daniel Amen: Heavy metals like mercury in fish, and pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, we just were talking about. There are lots of ways to address the toxins in your life from eliminating them to helping your body's natural detoxification. And so, limit exposure, which means buy organic, limit gasoline fumes or second hand or even third hand smoke.
Tana Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dr Daniel Amen: Avoid handling cash register receipts.
Tana Amen: All this.
Dr Daniel Amen: Don't eat or drink out of plastic containers. Use apps like Think Dirty to scan your personal products, and eliminate many toxins. They're hormone disruptors like parabens, phthalates, led, aluminum, and PEGs. Support your four organs of detoxification, your liver. Although Kelly, I have to tell you this, the alcohol companies are retooling their plants and their creating hand sanitizers.
Kelly Vlahakis: So, good.
Dr Daniel Amen: Now, this is a good use of alcohol. Stop drinking it because it damages your microbiome. But maybe they'd be useful in hand sanitizers.
Tana Amen: One thing that's so interesting to me-
Dr Daniel Amen: Jim Beam disinfectant. Seagram's 7.
Tana Amen: But this conversation is really important because, every day you turn the news on or you look at your phone and they're like, oh, there's this new thing about it. People who have really strong immune systems, vitamin D, vitamin C. Every time I'm seeing that may be the thing that's keeping people from getting sick. It's your immune system. Keep boosting your immune system. And they have all these things that they're using, right, vitamin D, vitamin C, things we've known about keeping your immune system strong. But what we haven't talked about is that, when you use toxic products, that decreases your immunity.
Kelly Vlahakis: That's right. That's right.
Tana Amen: So-
Dr Daniel Amen: This is a-
Kelly Vlahakis: And so many-
Dr Daniel Amen: It's a must thing to do.
Tana Amen: It's an important thing to do. Right.
Kelly Vlahakis: Very important. I mean, so many of the ingredients that you just talked about, PEGs, phthalates, parabens formaldehyde, I mean, so many of these things are in cleaning products.
Tana Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kelly Vlahakis: Volatile organic compounds, VOCs, I think a lot of people are really aware, hey, when I buy a paint, I should really start thinking about paints with no VOCs or low VOCs. Yet, they're bringing cleaning products into their home that are high in volatile organic compounds.
Tana Amen: Right.
Kelly Vlahakis: And they become volatile organic compounds because they're so small, right? Oftentimes in fragrances, that's a big carrier of a lot of the VOCs. And then, you're inhaling these things. And they're so detrimental to lung health and they leave you then more susceptible to all sorts of illnesses.
Kelly Vlahakis: And so, really making sure that cleaning products that have no or low VOCs are also very important. Making sure that cleaning products aren't using things like formaldehyde as preservatives, don't have things that are caustic. I mean, when you think of cleaning products and you read... sometimes I see people say, oh, I want something that eats through the grease, that eats through the baked on things, that's really aggressive, and really corrosive. Yet, that residue is on your plate. And you smell the lemon and you go, oh, it smells clean. Then you eat it. So, it really is something, when we talk about reducing our toxic load, that it's really a lot about our cleaning products. The EPA estimates that indoor air pollution can be five to 70 times higher than outdoor air pollution.
Tana Amen: Oh, geeze.
Kelly Vlahakis: Because of toxic cleaning products. And we're spending all day long inside our homes, inside of our workplaces. I went to this one presentation where they were saying that children, well, of course this isn't true for right in this moment in history, but typically children are spending less time outside than prisoners are. They're not even getting there one hour outside a day. And so, they're inside homes, schools, and workplaces. And they're breathing all day long these toxic fumes. We have to change that. It really is so detrimental to human health. And it's amazing, in 2020, this is still the case.
Kelly Vlahakis: When the EPA was started in 1970, actually this year is the 50th anniversary of the EPA and of Earth Day. When it was created, they grandfathered in 83,000 chemicals that were never checked for human health and safeties.
Tana Amen: This has happened before?
Kelly Vlahakis: Yeah. And more than 40,000 of those are still in commerce today. And, when we were fighting for the Toxic Substances Control Act back in 2016, they actually passed a law with TSCA that said every year the government will check ten chemicals a year. Ten chemicals? I mean, what is ten? We have thousands, tens of thousands.
Dr Daniel Amen: And this is the evil ruler I talk about.
Kelly Vlahakis: Unbelievable.
Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah.
Kelly Vlahakis: And the list of the first ten chemicals, number one was asbestos. Who needs to spend a year thinking about asbestos? We know how dangerous it is.
Tana Amen: We already know. Right.
Kelly Vlahakis: For human health, you know? The second one on the list though is something I'd like to bring up, which is 1,4-dioxane. So, when they passed this law in 2016 and said, let's look at the top ten chemicals, one of those top ten was 1,4-dioxane. 1,4-dioxane is in almost all cleaning products. It's unbelievable because, although 1,4-dioxane is not an ingredient, it's a byproduct of the manufacturing process when you have oxalated surfactants. So, when they test cleaning products for 1,4-dioxane, the levels are super high and we know this is linked to cancer. So, it's really important when you're getting a cleaning product to ensure that it's free of 1,4-dioxane.
Tana Amen: Wow.
Dr Daniel Amen: Kelly, we're out of time, but how can people learn more about ECOS, and earth friendly products, and how they can keep themselves safe? Where can they get more education that you guys are producing?
Kelly Vlahakis: Thank you. Well, I would welcome everyone to really visit us on our website, which is that's ECOS is the Greek word for home. And so, that's our website. And they could certainly follow us on Instagram, on Facebook, @ECOScleans, for all of our healthy home tips for being a healthy home body and feeling your best.
Dr Daniel Amen: Great. Thank you, my friend.
Tana Amen: Thank you so much.
Dr Daniel Amen: So helpful.
Kelly Vlahakis: Thank you.
Tana Amen: So helpful.
Kelly Vlahakis: Thank you so much for sharing our message. I appreciate it. And I must say, I loved implementing the Bright Minds Program here at Earth Friendly Products.
Tana Amen: Oh.
Kelly Vlahakis: Our entire team benefited so much from it. And we'll continue to be bring more ears to it every day.
Tana Amen: That's so wonderful. And Kelly, please give a heartfelt thanks to your team for continuing to work at this time when it's so scary for people to be out.
Kelly Vlahakis: Thank you.
Tana Amen: What they're doing is critical. I think of our first responders, our police officers, our firemen, nurses, physicians, what they're doing is critical and they're putting their lives on the line every day. But we don't often think about the people who are getting these products out. We're just at home trying to order them and we're mad because we can't order them. So, thank you. Thank them for being there and doing this, as we're not really thinking about the people who are actually out there making them.
Kelly Vlahakis: That means so much to me, Tana. Thank you for that. I will certainly relay the message to the entire team here at ECOS. We really want to do everything we can to support everyone during this critical time. Yeah.
Dr Daniel Amen: Great. Thanks so much.
Kelly Vlahakis: Thank you.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And, while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
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