Free Shipping To Australia & NZ For Orders Over $99
WOOCS 2.2.5

Nicole Bijlsma – How To Create A Healthy Home

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week we welcome Nicole Bijlsma to the show. Nicole is a woman of passion, and her passion lies in environmental medicine. She is an accomplished naturopath, acupuncturist, IICRC accredited mould remediation technician and building biologist who began clinical practice in 1989. Nicole is the author of the best seller Healthy Home, Healthy Family, was a columnist for Body+Soul and is frequently consulted by the media to comment on health hazards in the built environment.

Nicole has thirty years experience lecturing at tertiary institutions, and has published in peer-reviewed journals. Her extensive knowledge in environmental medicine has seen her speak at various conferences both in Australia and abroad. In this interview we discuss the areas of our home that could be affecting our health and strategies to overcome this.

Audio Version

downloaditunesListen to Stitcher Questions we ask in this episode:

  • What are the top 3 culprits that create an unhealthy home?
  • What health symptoms might we experience from an unhealthy home?
  • What simple steps can we take to test our home health?

Get More of Nicole Bijlsma

If you enjoyed this, then we think you’ll enjoy this interview:

Leave a Comment

Full Transcript

 Stu

00:03 Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion on what it actually takes to achieve long lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do.

00:23 Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products, too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, or to find out more, just jump over to our website. That is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look. Okay, back to the show.

00:44 This week, I’m excited to welcome Nicole Bijlsma. Nicole is an accomplished nutripath, acupuncturist, mold remediation technician, building biologist and author. She explains how our home health affects our own health, and outlines the simple steps we can take to create a healthy, low-allergy home. In this episode, we discuss the fundamentals of creating and maintaining a healthy home. We cover tap water, wireless devices, personal care and how selecting the right cleaning products can significantly impact our health.

01:15 Now, I personally got a huge amount out of this episode and had a great time, too. She is a great character, so listen, enough from me. Let’s get over to Nicole.

01:27 Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome Nicole Bijlsma to the show. Good morning, Nicole, how are you?

Nicole

01:34 Morning, Stuart. Good thanks.

Stu

01:36 Thank you so much for joining us this morning, Nicole. And I know we’re gonna get into some real gems today about healthy home living and everything as well that that means, but just for our audience that may not be familiar with you or your work, I just wondered if you could tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do and perhaps why you do it.

Nicole

01:57 Sure. Well, I’m a building biologist, which essentially means I go into people’s homes to determine if their house is making them sick.

Stu

02:05 Alright.

Nicole

02:06 Our journey began as a result of moving into our own home in Warrendyte many years ago, and subsequently having sleep related problems and then ten miscarriages, only to realize we were sleeping in the meter panel, that the indoor air quality, exhaust fumes from the nearby traffic intersection were triple in our bedrooms, [inaudible 00:02:28] stress, lots and lots of issues. So, we just changed bedrooms and then had three kids under three. So that was a big part of our journey, and also noticing a really strong correlation between many of my patients’ illnesses and their home.

02:40 I was working as a nutripath and acupuncturist for 15 years, and I noticed many of my patients would talk about the visible mold in their house and that have asthma or allergies or chronic fatigue syndrome. Some would mention the electromagnetic fields and it wasn’t something that I, of course, was trained in, even though I had done a double degree and also trained in China in Chinese medicine, and none of this was covered in my training.

Stu

03:04 Fantastic. Wow, and three kids under three as well. My heart goes out to you. I’ve got three girls, myself, and I actually had exactly the same thing, and two of them are twins, so it was even more hectic.

Nicole

03:19 Oh, yes. How old are the twins now?

Stu

03:21 The twins are nine years old, the eldest is 13. So, very hormonal household. Perhaps you’ve got a few tactics, as well, to help me out. Maybe it’s like a man-shed out in the back yard.

Nicole

03:32 I think that’s the way. I’m sorry, no tips. My twins are 11, they’re fraternal, so male and female and my youngest is my daughter, so you know. No tips, I’m sorry, I’m really struggling myself.

Stu

03:45 Yeah, well, we’ve got this bond already, that’s excellent. So, healthy home expert. So run me through the typical areas then that you would look at in order to assess the health of a home.

Nicole

04:03 Most of our work comes from mold testing and electromagnetic field testing, and a small proportion is looking at chemicals in the building environment in products; personal care products, cleaning products, pesticide management that doesn’t involve the use of chemicals, etc. So, we deal with people with asthma, allergies, chronic fatigue, illnesses, people who just want a healthy home because they’re expecting a child, etc. But mold would be a really big part, at least 40 or 50% of the work we do depending on where the building biologist is located in Australia, of course, because far north Queensland has more humidity related issues, whereas Perth tends to have a different spate of issues in their home.

Stu

04:48 Got it. Got it. So, mold, sounds like you’re talking about mold and EMF and EMR perhaps as well. Would they be the top three culprits?

Nicole

05:02 Absolutely. Definitely. I think what’s happened in the last 10 years especially is that there’s been an explosion of information in the scientific literature correlating water damaged buildings with significant health issues from asthma and allergies, skin related problems to chronic fatigue and illnesses, and it’s because we’ve started, because we’ve got DNA and PCR testing, which means we can take a sample of the household dusts, send it off to the lab for DNA testing and understand the bacteria and the fungi and all their bi-products in the household dust to give us an idea of what’s been going on in their home. We also have things like thermal cameras. The prices have come down significantly. Moisture meters and different air sampling techniques that have been perfected over quite a bit of time that have enabled us to really quantify what happens in a water damaged building and it’s impact on certain people based on their genetic susceptibility. So, that’s been really amazing is correlating gene testing with what’s happening in the home and people’s adverse health effects.

Stu

06:07 Fantastic. Wow. It’s tricky isn’t it? Because you move into a new place, whether you’re renting or whether you’re buying and without … I guess most people wouldn’t consider any of this, me included. And to give you a little bit of an example, when we were in Sidney, and this was years ago. We moved into an apartment and my sleep went down hill rapidly, and for some unknown reason I had the most unbroken sleep. I was waking up every hour on the hour, I just didn’t know what happened. And at the time, we connected with a lady who was a specialist in EMF and she came round and really opened my eyes to electromagnetic fields. And so I bought a Gauss meter, myself. And then went round the home testing for electromagnetic fields. And everything seemed fine, and then I went back into my bedroom at 8:00 at night and put the Gauss meter over my bed. In the daytime, it was showing a reading of like, not point one, which was fine in my eyes, but then at nighttime, it was going up to like 150 and I realized my bed was directly on top of the electrical fusion that was the ceiling lighting system for the foyer downstairs, and at 8:00 it got switched on automatically throughout the night. And I moved my bed to another spot in the room, and I slept so much better.

07:47 And I guess it’s … so is that the kind of stuff that you would consider and take into consideration when you’re going through people’s homes?

Nicole

07:58 Absolutely. One thing we know about AC magnetic fields, which is what you’re describing because that’s what a Gauss meter will pick up, is that it affects melatonin. And Melatonin’s your most important sleep neurotransmitter. It’s your circadian rhythm, it’s your hormonal cycle, it’s your anti-cancer hormone, it makes turmeric and all those green smoothies look like they’re doing nothing because this is our most important anti-oxidant, free radical scavenging neurotransmitter in the body. And the quickest way to suppress it is to use digital devices, and to be exposed to electromagnetic fields.

08:35 So, there’s two fields in the building environment that are a problem. You’ve mentioned one of them, AC magnetic fields and that’s created from the movement of current. So, that’s in the building wiring and the appliances. However, it drops off quickly with distance, so most of the time, they’re not a problem unless you’re sleeping near something in close proximity that’s drawing a lot of current. The big one will be the smart meter and the inverter if you’ve got solar panels, the fridge if it’s on the other side of your bed head, or, of course, anything that’s drawing current. So some of those fluorescent lights have transformers that use a lot of current, and that’s why you’re picking up a high magnetic field in your house or apartment that you were in. That’s probably what happened.

09:20 Now in 1979 was the first time that Wertheimer and Leeper were able to demonstrate a correlation between exposures to magnetic fields from high voltage transmission lines and doubling in the instance of childhood leukemia if children were brought up within exposed 4 milligauss or higher within the first 15 years. A lot of research before that on military uses with radio frequencies.

09:47 The other field that’s in the house is from wireless technologies, and that uses radio frequencies, and you need a completely different meter for that, so you wouldn’t have been able to pick that up from your Gauss meter alone. And look, we’re just bathing our homes and apartments with radio frequencies from our neighbor’s router, from our cordless phones and all of our wireless devices when they’ve got internet connectivity. If it’s not hard wired cable, then it will be beaming radio frequencies, and again, what we know about this is it suppresses melatonin. So if you don’t sleep, your health suffers enormously down the track. Your risk for cancer increases significantly, the permeability of the blood/brain barrier is increased, so whatever chemicals or biotoxins you have in your body, because you live, say, in a water damaged home, most homes have water damage to some degree, they’re gonna get free access into the central nervous system, into your brain and voila, this is why many of us are actually not well.

10:41 I would argue that most chronic illnesses are associated or caused or affected to some degree by things that are in your house because you spend so much time in your home.

Stu

10:53 Yeah, no. Absolutely. And I have … I’m intrigued to see where we’re gonna be in 10 years’ time. Especially with the advent of wireless technology, whether it be wifi from the internet or the Bluetooth in wireless devices that we’ve got as well, that we are glued to. In 10 years’ time, I do wonder whether we’re gonna say to ourselves, what on earth were we thinking. Because nowadays these devices are being brought not only in the home but into the school, and for early learning as well, and children are sitting there with iPads on their laps, and for the most part of the day swiping away. Who knows what that’s doing.

11:32 So, from your perspective, you’ve got EMF, which is electromagnetic fields, right? And then EMR, which is electromagnetic radiation. And the difference between the two is it that EMF is almost like a fire, you can walk away and it becomes less of an issue, whereas with EMR, is that more of like a shielding approach that we take, so we can do things to shield ourselves from EMR. Am I correct in thinking that?

Nicole

12:03 No. So, Electromagnetic Radiation relates to that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that relates to ionizing radiation like x-rays, gamma rays, cosmic radiation.

Stu

12:13 Right.

Nicole

12:14 Electromagnetic fields relates to the non-ionizing radiation portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that cannot dislodge electrons from the DNA and therefore or split the DNA and increase risks for cancer. So, that’s the official definition between radiation and fields.

12:33 So, when we refer to wireless technologies we’re actually meant to say that’s an electromagnetic field because it’s a non-ionizing radiation. So, we say radio frequency electromagnetic energy, or EME as opposed to radiation like x-rays and nuclear radiation, etc.

12:55 Whether it’s ionizing or non-ionizing, what we know about the science of reduction is that the inverse square law in physics says that as you double the distance away from the source of exposure, you reduce your exposure by 75%. So, that’s the most important thing we know. There’s a lot of devices out there to … you know, that are sold to reduce your exposure, but the reality is as long as you keep that phone next to your head, it doesn’t matter what you put on that phone, whatever disk, it’s not going to reduce the exposure, so spending money on that is ridiculous. What you have to do is create a distance between the antenna in the phone and your head and that’s going to be an earpiece or texting or using the loud speaker are the best options.

13:42 So, when it comes to the home, you’re looking at especially starting with the bedroom, is the most important room of the house according to building biologists because you spend so much time there. So you want to make sure you don’t have anything within 5 meters of your bed. You know, things like your meter panel, which we mentioned, anything that draws current like your fridge on the other side of the wall, any appliance that draws current within five meters. You want to keep your digital clock at least 30 centimeters or more away from your head because the magnetic field from the digital display will be high but drop off quickly with distance. You don’t want electric blankets, you don’t want fluorescent light bulbs beneath you. That’s why apartment living is … when people do the advanced deployment building biology, they move away from living in multi-story apartments because you can’t control your environment. It’s become really a big problem, and I think a big reason why people’s health is declining quite rapidly.

Stu

14:39 Boy oh boy. Let’s talk about some of the health symptoms. So, typical health symptoms then that might be a tell tale sign that you’ve got a problem with your home.

Nicole

14:49 With electromagnetic fields, headaches is one of the first things that I would look for. So, that would be an important marker for electromagnetic fields, any insomnia or sleep disturbances are very classic with a lot of the problems we’re finding in a home, whether it’s water damage and mold or whether it’s electromagnetic fields. Because remember, electromagnetic fields enhance the permeability of the blood/brain barrier to mold and to chemicals, so you can’t isolate those hazards. As a building biologist, when we look at doing an order of a home, even though there’s visible mold and water damage, we also have to look at electromagnetic fields and chemicals because the EMFs are enhancing the ability of those things to get into the brain. So, all of that needs to be addressed.

15:34 But symptoms would be asthma and allergy is a classic. What you’re breathing in is often an issue, and those allergens are sitting in the household dust. That’s where the archeological dig sight of the house is happening. It’s all happening in the dust because it’s loaded with your flame retardants and your pesticides, solvents from cleaning products, [inaudible 00:15:53] from your fabric treatment surfaces and also your perfumes and air fresheners, etc. You’ve got your dust mite, your bacteria, your fungi and all their byproducts, your pests, like your cockroach antigens and your pet dander and skin dander, and I mean every hour every human emits between 14 and 37 bacterial gnome copies in the air every single hour, so the bacteria in your house will often be a reflection of the occupants and the pets in it as well as all, anyone that’s ever walked through your home.

16:24 Now, what we know of a healthy home is the more diverse the bacteria is in the household dust, the lower the risk for asthma and allergies in children, so it’s really important you don’t use anti-bacterial chemicals because you are bacteria. You’ve got microbiome, your microbiome on your skin and in your lungs and in your gut; the key to human health. To good vitality. So, it’s really important that you don’t use antibacterials or chemicals to reduce the bacterial load because you are effectively effecting killing yourself because you are primarily bacteria. You’re mitochondria were originally developed or came from bacteria, so once we understand that we are mainly bacteria and there are more bacteria in our bodies than there are human cells, then you can understand the devastating impact that pesticides have had on our food, on our gut microbiome, and in our homes where we’re using any form of pesticides within our home.

Stu

17:20 So, that leads me to my next question, and it’s germaphobia. So, we’re living in a society now where we’re so sterile and we like everything to be so clean and we’ve got wipes for this and wipes for that and every establishment I wonder into from a business perspective has a little hand sanitizer to rub on there as well. So, you’re saying that that’s really not a great thing at the end of the day, is it? Because we … are we suppressing our own diversity that will then enable us to be more immune to this type of stuff?

Nicole

17:56 Absolutely. I mean, this was propaganda after World War Two and the establishment of the pharmaceutical and chemical industry. They, you know …

18:00 … establishment of the pharmaceutical and chemical industry. There was all this marketing as to what constituted a healthy heart with no evidence to support it. It was really selling products to consumers they don’t need in order to create dividends or profits for shareholders. And it’s come at a huge cost to human health. Massive cost to human health.

18:21 There’s no place for antibacterials or pesticides in a healthy home. In fact, it’s contrary to what health is based on the scientific research. So the more diverse the bacteria is in your food, in your fruit, in your vegetables-that’s why microwaving is devastating for human health, because you pop things in the microwave oven, you kill off the natural bacteria on that fruit and vegetable, and therefore, you affect your body’s ability to digest that food because that bacteria in the fruits and vegetables is conferring its DNA to your gut microbiome to program it to digest and release enzymes to digest it and release the nutrients. ‘Cause the bacteria want the nutrients and they live in symbiotic with us because we need the nutrients, too. It’s really important. There is no place for antibacterial chemicals or pesticides in a home; and in fact, the first publication I did for my Ph.D. was correlating which chemicals are associated with which chronic illnesses. And pesticides came up with every single one of them. Autism, learning and behavioral disorders, dementia, Parkinson’s, many of your chronic autoimmune disorders-pesticides, pesticides, pesticides.

19:30 And what are pesticides? They’re antibacterial, and humans have bacteria, so it’s not a surprise that this comes up all the time and it’s correlated with almost every chronic illness. So it’s certainly my number one toxic chemical in the home and in our food, and that’s why going organic is important and eating on the Slow principles-seasonal, local, organic, and whole-is so important.

Stu

19:53 Well, I have a bit of an issue with-well, I won’t say I have an issue with going organic because of course, it’s the best route forward for better health. But what if, what if you can’t afford to go organic? What if you got a large family, like me and like you? You try to eat more vegetables. You can’t afford organic because it’s just way too expensive, and then you have the conundrum you’ve got a frig full of veggies now. They’re non-organic; you know that they’ve covered in pesticides.

Nicole

20:25 Yeah.

Stu

20:26 Running them under the tap probably isn’t gonna do a great deal for your broccoli floret, that’s for sure. What do we do?

Nicole

20:32 Good question, and I understand and I’m the same. I can’t afford organic all the time either. However, looking at the Friends of the Earth report on the highest load of pesticides in food like apples, for example, pears, many of your berries. When it comes to berries, when I buy them, they’re the only things that I buy frozen, my berries. I make sure they’re organic. And I’ll spend the $10 for frozen berries that I use in my smoothies ’cause they’ll have the highest pesticide load. Whereas your root vegetables, like your potatoes, etc., have very low levels of pesticide, so I’ll buy normal, potatoes and sweet potatoes, and things in the ground, your carrots, etc. because the load is likely to be very low. But I buy it from farmers from local farming markets that I know who the farmer is. I know it’s seasonal. I know it’s local. It’s adapted to the local microclimate, so it will help my body adapt to that. Not from supermarkets. You’re best to avoid buying from supermarkets unless they can provide who the farmer is and that it’s not in cold storage for long periods of time.

21:40 So yes, I hear what you’re saying, but when it comes to some things, like my son loves to eat apples. Like lots of apples. I have to hide apples from him; otherwise, he’d eat eight a day. You know, going organic for those things and those fruits, and then for root vegetables, I normally just buy conventional from the local farmers, from local green grocer who I know.

Stu

22:01 Boy, interesting times we live in, that’s for sure. It’s hit and miss as to what we do, I think. So, let’s get back to the healthy home, and then all of the things that might impact the health of our home. What simple steps could we take right now to test the health of our home?

Nicole

22:27 Well, to create a healthy home, one of the most important is to not wear shoes inside the house ’cause that’s where you’re tracking in your pesticides. Remember the Council used tons and tons of pesticides to keep nature at bay, and it’s found from the Arctic to Antarctica and in polar bear livers even though pesticides were sprayed 15,000 kilometers away.

Stu

22:46 Oh boy.

Nicole

22:47 It’s on every inch of our planet. Very important that you take your shoes off before you come in, or have slippers dedicated to the house, is important.

22:55 The next one is opening windows providing you’re not near vehicle traffic or industry. Opening windows to get cross-ventilation is important, especially in drier climates like Melbourne [inaudible 00:23:05] you can get humidity levels below 50%. That’s important.

23:10 A good vacuum cleaner. Absolutely very important because most of the contaminants exist in the household. Dust-how you deal with the dust-will be key to how healthy your home is. Using a vacuum cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter-that’s a high efficiency particulate air filter-and a motorized head if you have rugs or carpets is very, very important because what you’re actually doing is sucking most of the allergens into the bag and then trapping them. And of course, the HEPA filter will filter the air coming out of the exhaust air from the vacuum cleaner. So it’s actually air filtering your home by using a vacuum cleaner. It’s creating like an air filter while it’s on.

23:51 The other one is a water filter. If you don’t get a filter, your body will be the filter, and that’s my motto with my Building Biology students. Get a filter or you will be the filter. Now in Melbourne, which is considered to be one of the cleanest water supplies in the world because our water comes from forested catchment areas where humans can’t go, etc., some sealed off. We have two filters, industrial filters, in our home. They’re about so big. And every six weeks, there’s virtually no water coming out of our tap because they’re clogged. So we have to replace the [inaudible 00:24:25] filter at least every six weeks or so, otherwise there’s no water that comes out of our tap. And this is the cleanest water supply in the world. This is clearing out what’s coming through the main distribution system before it even goes through our taps and through our house.

24:40 So this is what’s happening. If you don’t get a filter, your body will be the filter and that’s where a lot of your toxic metals are coming from. Even asbestos cement fibers often was used regularly for mains distribution system, and of course, your sludge, your sediment, and everything like that as well is a problem. And of course, there’s fluoride and there’s aluminum is often used as a [inaudible 00:25:03] agent in that water disinfection process. And of course, chlorine which is just an antibacterial, and that’s a big no.

Stu

25:09 Yeah.

Nicole

25:11 So, I would argue with people, if you don’t get a filter, your body will be a filter. The thing for me, looking back in my naturopathic and acupuncture degree, we spent one lecture, one hour on water, which was ridiculous. We need a whole entire subject on this. We spend 120 hours on drinking water alone in the Building Biology course, looking at what the contaminants and disinfection byproducts are, mains distribution system, different types of domestic pipes and their impact on human health. Copper exposure, for example, very common if you’ve got copper pipes under there in your domestic pipes. And its impact, so why a filter’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. And I think before naturopaths even look at food, they need to recommend water filters for their patients because we drink more water than we eat food. Without water, we’re dead in days; without food, we’re dead in weeks; without good quality air, we’re dead in hours.

Stu

26:03 Yeah.

Nicole

26:03 So, I think we’re completely got it mixed up. That we need to focus on what patients are breathing and what they’re drinking well before we even look at what food they’re eating. And yet, those two have always been ignored, even now.

Stu

26:16 Yeah, absolutely. Wow, crikey! I don’t think I’ve ever considered the whole filter debate until you said your body becomes the filter. There are a number of different filters out there on the market. Obviously, you’ve got your little Brita plastic jug that you buy from K-Mart, all the way through to reverse osmosis, you know, ceramic cylinders. What should we be looking for?

Nicole

26:43 It depends what you want to get rid of-

Stu

26:45 Right.

Nicole

26:45 So, the minimum you should be getting rid of is pesticides and chlorine. You don’t want to be drinking, ingesting chlorinated water because chlorine is the strongest antibacterial, and of course, if you kill off the bacteria naturally in water, then that’s a problem because of the fact that it’s gonna hit your gut microbiome. So that’s the first thing that really annoyed me when I started to look at the research. Why have I spent $30,000 thirty years ago on a naturopathic degree only to give someone a $40 probiotic that they’re drinking with chlorinated water? I mean, that doesn’t make sense.

Stu

26:45 No it doesn’t.

Nicole

27:22 Like why are we doing that? No. So we need to really re-think about what we’re training our naturopaths to do and get back to what are they breathing first, what are they drinking next? But water filters is tricky because it depends on your water pressure, it depends on your bench space, it depends if you’re renting or if you own your home. It depends on how much you’re willing to spend. In the end, it’s gonna be cost.

Stu

27:44 Yeah.

Nicole

27:45 Really important. So reverse osmosis is the best. There’s no doubt about that. This argument that it leaves acidic water is ridiculous because all water in nature is slightly acidic because it’s absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and forming carboxylic acid and hydrogen ions. So, therefore, all your natural rivers, oceans, are slightly acidic. And of course, your stomach acid’s acidic. Alkaline water I’m strongly against because alkaline water, when it hits the stomach at a pH of 3, it gets buffered. So it has no alkaline effect in the blood because of course, it’s getting buffered as it’s going through the gut, and that’s just basic biochemistry.

Nicole

28:23 There’s a lot of misinformation I think we get as naturopaths that we really need to think through that is affecting our clients’ health, and we focused a lot on herbs and vitamins to give patients when, in fact, we should be going back to basics: clean air, clean water, good food.

Stu

28:39 Bingo. Bingo. I had never considered the water and the impact that it has on your microbiome. Interesting that we have spent hundreds of hours speaking to many, many people, and they haven’t even considered that either, or mentioned that, I should say. But of course, it makes perfect sense. Yeah, that’s just ludicrous, isn’t it? It really is.

Nicole

29:02 Yeah.

Stu

29:03 Boy oh boy.

Nicole

29:04 I think when the light bulb goes on-you know, I thought about it five years into it. I had a bit of a meltdown five years into practice as a naturopath going, “What am I really doing? I’ve been trained to give a bag full of stuff to patients to treat symptoms because that’s what we’ve been trained to do.” And a lot of the companies are recommending this is how you treat MS, this is how you treat irritable bowel, this is how you treat … You know what, guys, diagnostic boxes are irrelevant.

29:29 What we should be focusing on is, who is this patient in front of us? What is their-take a thorough exposure history, identify the degree of inflammation in their body. ‘Cause let’s face it, that’s all chronic illness is, is varying rates of oxidated stress and inflammation. Get rid of all those boxes that put people in labels which is irrelevant; identify the inflammation, and look at what’s causing that inflammation. Is it stress? Is it their drinking water? Is it their exposure to chemicals in everyday products? Is it their diet? Is it an infection, etc.? And it really goes back to basic. I would re-write the whole course, and it’d be half the time and I think we’d get far more effective practitioners because, you know, we’re using a lot of supplements that patients may or may not need when, in fact, we should be focusing on air, food, and water, which is what naturopathic practice and Hippocrates had stated many centuries ago.

Stu

30:26 Yeah, absolutely. And we’re always proponents of the phrase that we’re so radically different, so of course, what works for you may not work for me. But now, talking to you, it’s highlighted the fact that our environments are so radically different, too, because who knows what we’re living in, in terms of water quality, air quality, and home quality. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Lots of light bulbs going off today, Nicole.

Nicole

30:50 You spend 90% of your time in a building, so it goes without saying. When it comes to respiratory problems, what you’re breathing in needs to be looked at first, and that’s why I think we really haven’t got a good handle as naturopaths on asthma and allergies ’cause we didn’t look at what they’re breathing in. We didn’t look at the fact that dust mites are the most common allergy in the world, that they’re in your pillows, that they’re in your mattresses, they’re in your carpets, in your furnishings. And there are very clear and very simple things people can do to reduce their dust mite load through housekeeping, airing things in the sun, replacing pillows every 18 months, you know, using dust mite protectors, airing their mattresses, and having an understanding of why dust mites are there and how to reduce the load, and which vacuum cleaner to use.

31:35 It’s just the simple things, and this is what got me a bit annoyed about the fact that I’d spent so much on a double degree, that we hadn’t even looked at any of this and yet, listening to my patients, going, “They’re talking about visible mold. I don’t know anything about it.” And having to spend-you know, I’ve spent 20 years now investigating environmental causes of illnesses-and I’m really shocked at this is where most of the illnesses are happening and it’s ignored because there’s no money to be made. There’s no vitamins to take. It’s education, which is what the word “doctor” means. “Docere” means education, teacher. We educate our patients. That’s the precautionary principle, and yet, it’s essentially ignored in naturopathic and acupuncture and all your health disciplines, including medicine, across the board.

Stu

32:22 Absolutely.
Nicole: 32:22 And yet when you talk about it and you look at the evidence, you go, “That makes sense. Of course it’s an issue.”

32:27 Yeah, it’s a no-brainer. Interesting society. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about personal healthcare products and cleaning products as well. But before I do, I did have a question from a friend of mine yesterday, and it’s a silly question. Maybe it isn’t, but I thought you’re gonna be the absolute person that I’ll get the best answer from.
Stu: 32:50 Is it true that the kitchen sink harbors more bacteria than our toilet seat?

Nicole

32:57 Yes, and I did a blog on Channel 7 about that.

Stu

33:00 Did you?

Nicole

33:01 Yes, so you’ll see, there’s a lot of media, video footage, etc. I have on my website, buildingbiology.com, that I do. And I was asked to swab and there’s a whole segment on that. It’s quite funny, actually. On me swabbing various parts of the kitchen to determine which were the most contaminated.

Stu

33:18 Right.

Nicole

33:19 The kitchen sink-yes, it can be and maybe not other times. In fact, the most contaminated is your phone, and your mouse and keyboard ’cause no one cleans it. So that’s more likely to be high levels ’cause when you’re eating food, then you touch your keyboard, so you’ve got microbial activity. Your frig door handle is gonna be high. Your door handles in general ’cause when you’re sick, you’re touching your door handles.

Nicole

33:43 Your bathrooms and toilets you clean regularly, so they’re not going to be high load. But your sponges tend to be higher. Your sinks not so much because the water is moving, and you’re rinsing them out. But the sponges tend to be, and your door handles are high and especially your phone and your keyboard have higher levels of microbial activity.
Stu: 34:08 Excellent. How would we clean these objects? How would I clean my keyboard ’cause I’m not gonna use my kitchen sink sponge to give that a wipe over. What do I do?

34:19 You’re gonna get your keyboard, turn it upside down, and tap it to dislodge anything within it. Then you’re gonna get a slightly damp microfiber cloth and wipe it.

Stu

34:27 Okay.

Nicole

34:27 So wipe the keyboard several times and then let it air out. That’s how you’re gonna do that. Same with your mouse.

Stu

34:33 Same with the mouse? And same with your phone, no doubt, I guess. Similar stuff. Excellent. That is good advice.

34:39 So let’s move over to cleaning products, and we’ll start with personal care products ’cause obviously, you know, we’re getting up straight in the shower, we’re dousing ourselves with who knows what. Then we are scrubbing our teeth, and preening ourselves. Spray here, spray there. Before we know it, we’ve left the house with God knows what on our bodies. What are your thoughts on personal care products?

Nicole

35:09 Less is best.

Stu

35:11 Right.

Nicole

35:11 My next book is “Get That Shit Off Your Face and Your Body.”

Stu

35:19 Love it. Love it.

Nicole

35:21 I don’t use personal care. I use mascara, and that’s it. And I take it off with coconut oil with a cotton tip. That’s it. The problem with personal care is, as soon as you have water in the formulation, you have to add preservatives. And what are preservatives? They’re pesticides. They’re antibacterial. So when you put moisturizer on your skin, what you’re effectively doing is killing off the microbiome on the skin, which, of course, it’s interesting. There’s been research to show that, when cigarette smoke lands on your skins, micrococcus, staphylococcus, the bacteria naturally found on your skin-what they do is they transmute that bacteria-this smoke, cigarette smoke-into different metabolites. So they actually start detoxing …

36:00 … cigarette smoke into different metabolites. So they actually start detoxing chemicals before it even gets into your blood. Now, when you use moisturizers with preservatives in it, you’re killing off. You know, of course, preservatives are essential in those moisturizers to prevent them going off.

Stu

36:14 Yeah.

Nicole

36:14 But the reality is when you put them on your skin, you are affecting the microbiome on your skin. So it’s not a good idea. If you’re going to use anything on your skin you need to think about your diet as to why your skin is dry. Are you drinking enough water, filtered water in the first place? Is your diet adequate for what you’re doing. Do you have food allergies that you’re not aware of that’s creating skin related problems. You’ve gotta look from the inside out. Your skin is a reflection of what’s going on inside. Of course, there are times when you’ve got sunburn or you got too much sun, and you’re dry. That’s where you use your natural oils, essential fatty acids like, you know, a sweet almond oil, macadamia nut oil, Camellia nut oil, Jojoba oil. These are natural oils that have been used in southeast Asia for decades, for centuries, because they’re beautiful and they’re in their natural state. So you know, oils that have not been modified, that are cold pressed, straight on the skin are ideal if you’ve got dry skin, fantastic. And that’s it. Anything in formulation, I don’t recommend.

Stu

37:14 Fantastic.

Nicole

37:15 What about your own products. It’s your body, which is soap on tap and shampoo conditioner, and that’s about it. As I said to my husband, I can’t produce moisturizers and things that I don’t use, ’cause I strongly recommend people just go back to basics.

Stu

37:30 Excellent.

Nicole

37:31 And I think women are being hoodwinked into using products for anti-aging which is a whole lot of BS. And the reality is many of these chemicals contain hormone disrupting chemicals that are robbing women of their breasts and their fertility. So you know, this is an outrage, and that’s why I wanna talk about it in my next book on get that shit off your face.

Stu

37:51 I can’t help but bust out in laughter when I hear that. But I love it. But it’s so true, because you mentioned anti-aging products. Well surely it would be more beneficial to treat the inside of your body first before you think that you’re gonna put some kind of crazy paraffin wax on your face to try and look younger. And also, like you mentioned, microbiome on your skin. And I guess microbiome in your mouth as well, and people use these very harsh mouthwashes and solutions and everything else.

Nicole

38:20 Exactly.

Stu

38:20 Yeah. It’s so important. I can’t wait to read that book. It’s … I can’t wait to put it on my bookshelf. That’s brilliant. So cleaning products. Now, I know that this is something that is very close to you as well, ’cause you have a range of cleaning products which I’m very intrigued to talk about. And again, I would imagine linked to propaganda, because we have got so many different products out there that tell us that we’ve got so many different problems in our homes.

Nicole

38:52 Yes.

Stu

38:52 So where do we start with cleaning products and what do you offer?

Nicole

38:58 Alright, so to clean a home, less is best. So microfiber cloths are the way to go. So good quality microfiber cloths that are slightly damp. So to dust, you just get a microfiber cloth, make it damp, squeeze out all the water, and then wipe your surfaces to collect the dust, and then rinse it down the sink.

Stu

39:15 Right.

Nicole

39:16 I follow that with a clean tea towel to dry the surface.

Stu

39:19 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nicole

39:19 That will do a lot of cleaning in the home that will reduce the dust load. And that’s the most important. Airing things in the sun is really important. Again, UV will kill off your dust mites and other microbe [inaudible 00:39:30] et cetera. So that’s important. You don’t wanna reduce the diversity of bacteria in your house, but you do wanna reduce the numbers of microbes in the house. And I think that’s key for good cleaning.

39:39 In terms of products, when I was teaching … Well, because I run the Australian College of Environmental Studies, and we run the only nationally accredited course in building biology, there were no products that I could recommend my students use and their clients on the market, because everything in the health food store and supermarket was just garbage. It was loaded with chemicals that were known allergens, like sodium lauryl sulfate, and Coco Betaine, which were voted allergen of the year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. So I said to my husband, you know, there’s nothing I can recommend for them to use for laundry products, to wash their clothes, or do their dishes. And he said, “Well, I’ll have a look into that.” He was an ex copper.

Stu

40:18 Yeah.

Nicole

40:18 And multiple different businesses. But he’s a very clever man, my husband, and he’s very much has the attitude, if someone else can do it, I can do it.

Stu

40:26 Yeah.

Nicole

40:27 But he spent seven years of his life coming up with formulations, talking to industrial chemists, and doing a hell of a lot of research on preservative systems, surfactants, fragrances and things, and then realized the formulations that we wanted to use had to be food grade. And that’s the key to why our products are so successful for people with chemical or asthma or allergies is because we use food grade ingredients. And this means that all the impurities, like toxic metals that are naturally found in many products like bicarb soda are not in them, because we pay extra per kilogram to make, to ensure that they get rid of those impurities, and that’s often what’s causing a lot of the reactions with people using cleaning products.

41:11 Cleaning products also sensitize people to asthma and allergies, and a lot of people don’t realize that. Naturopaths don’t focus on that even though it can be a problem. And one of the worst is D-limonene. Your citrus based cleaners with the orange and the lemon on the front are often your worst because they are sensitizers for allergens and they can exacerbate asthma and they irritate children. They’re respiratory irritants and skin irritants. And yet they’re the ones mostly used by natural therapists because they think it’s got an orange and it’s D-limonene. We also know that those D-limonene products that come from products like citrus and oranges, that they actually, when they’re used in the shower, they get through the grout, and they compromise your waterproof membrane. So instead of your waterproof membrane lasting seven years, and can you believe that in a new environment, a newly renovated bathroom, those membranes are only designed to last about seven years. But if you use citrus based cleaners, you might get two years out of it.

Stu

42:05 Oh wow.

Nicole

42:05 Which means you can have a significant condensation and mold problem very shortly after your new bathroom has been renovated. So we don’t use any D-limonene for that reason. And we were the first cleaning product to come up with D=limonene free, because we realized they are a huge problem for health, and a huge problem of course for compromising waterproof membranes in bathrooms and things.

42:25 But the big one for us, was the fact that the, with our Abode range, which is what ours is, it’s really designed for people, children who are very sensitive. It’s designed for pregnant women. It’s designed for anyone who’s interested in their health, and has no phthalates or hormone disrupting chemicals. So we’re the only healing product crazy enough to use a food grade ingredients and pure essential oils, because they’re, I love, I’m addicted to my essential oils. I love them. And really good quality. And that’s often the reason why our products are being so successful.

42:58 But ironically, our laundry powers and liquids are half the cost of most supermarket brands.

Stu

43:04 Oh really?

Nicole

43:04 Yeah. The reason is because we have no salt. We’re the only company that has no table salt. Because most companies add a lot of table salt to make their packaging heavier, and to fill it up to the one kilo. All, every ingredient in our product is active. It’s doing something. So instead of a scoop, you need a tablespoon for a seven kilo load. So there’s a hell of a lot of laundry, you know, use in that one box, for our one kilo or a five kilo products. And that’s probably another reason why it’s been so successful is because it’s so cost effective. And we have it in bulk, so when you’re using, getting five kilo bucket, it’s maybe half to a third of the cost of a conventional supermarket brand without all the adverse health effects, so …

43:50 But it took years. To establish this, we ended up having to sell our house and invest the entire account to create a manufacturing facility to develop these products, because most of the ingredients we wanted weren’t available in Australia, so we had to import them from everywhere around the world. And then when we gave it to a [inaudible 00:44:08] manufacturer to make it came back contaminated, even though we gave them the ingredients. So this is the problem. Most of the products made and sold in supermarkets and health food stores are not made by the person on the label who owns the business. They’re made by TAL manufacturer, and they’re completely at the mercy of that TAL manufacturer to do the right thing, which they’re not. So that’s why we sold our house and developed a, creating a manufacturing facility, so that we would make our cleaning products from scratch, so we knew that what was on the label was actually reflected by what was in the container. ‘Cause you can’t guarantee that for most of the products, personal care products and cleaning products on the market.

Stu

44:48 My word. Well that is hugely impressive. I am sold immediately. Food grade ingredients doesn’t mean that I can eat your laundry powder does it?

Nicole

44:59 Not unless you wanna get really sick Stuart.

Stu

45:07 How would you ever, and this must be one of your biggest battles. How would you ever compete with the big guns, with the Mr. Muscles and the [inaudible 00:45:16] who are so sparkling clean and in our face with all this fantastic advertising. ‘Cause like us, we create natural products, like a range of natural superfoods, natural supplements. But of course, we’re in competition with the big guns out on the shelves that are full of crap.

Nicole

45:35 Yeah.

Stu

45:36 But they have all the marketing and they have all the budget behind them. And it’s about educating the consumer. So how are you gonna educate the consumer to say this product is so much better than the product that you have used, that your mother used, and her mother used before us, because we were subject to this barrage of advertising. How are you gonna do that?

Nicole

45:57 We don’t. We don’t compete in the supermarket. We’ve been approached by them many times to sell our product.

Stu

45:57 Yeah.

Nicole

46:01 We won’t. We’ve never done any advertising, and we can’t keep up.

Stu

46:01 Why?

Nicole

46:05 And the reason is because I established the Building Biology industry in Australia, so I have an army of building biologists out there doing audits, educating people. I’ve written a best seller, Healthy Home Healthy Family, and that has escalated the presence of our products and the need for our products. And I speak at many medical conferences about the impact of chemicals on human health. And once people try our products, how can you go back? We have, you know, some of our best testimonials have come from, one came from a sheep station in Queensland. And she wrote us, and she said the cost, she, we had a order from our distributor to send three 20 liter wool washes to a sheep station in Queensland. Why would someone need 20 liter wool wash? And the people at the sheep station, they obviously sell their wool to overseas, and they said once they dip the sheep in the pesticides, the thing goes to a solution of our wool wash, because the quality of the wool is so much better and the sheep aren’t getting eczema afterwards, whereas they used to previously. And it, the cost of sending it there is more than the cost of the wool wash. But the outcome of their wool and the fact that the sheep don’t have irritation and eczema is worth it for them.

47:21 We have other cattle stations that are completely remote and have their own water, tank water, and they have to be tested on a regular basis by inspectors. We have people ringing us up going the inspectors come and check the gray water that’s come out of our washing machine, and he’s shocked because it’s almost drinkable. And the reason why it’s almost drinkable when they use our products is because we use food grade. So these farms can use their gray water on their farm, and on their crops, because it’s not got harsh chemicals or surfactants or solvents that are going to degrade the bacteria within the soil. So it can be used on their farms. So they’re absolutely shocked. So they will spend the money getting it to their station, which costs more than the cost of the product. But the outcome is they can use their water. The kids don’t get eczema, et cetera et cetera. So yeah. We haven’t advertised.

Stu

48:12 My word. Well again, I’ve said, I am sold. I think you sleep well at night, and it isn’t so much because of the EMF, and it isn’t so much about your healthy home. I think it’s because you’re doing so much good for everybody out there. I think that’s why you sleep well at night. My word. I need to find out a lot more about your products. And I’m also very intrigued to pursue a better water filter than we currently have as well. So my, yeah, stunned. You really are a pioneer in your field.

48:43 So Nicole, we’re just about coming up on time. But I have a question that I ask everybody on the show as well. And it relates to your non-negotiables, the things that you do every single day, to ensure that you crush every single day. And it might mean getting out of bed drinking clean water, meditating. I don’t know what you do. But if, run us through your non-negotiables.

Nicole

49:10 Follow your passion-

Stu

49:11 Yep.

Nicole

49:11 And the money will follow. Money took a long time to follow, but I did follow my passion.

Stu

49:18 Yeah. Well it sounds like, so you’re following your passion every single day quite clearly.

Nicole

49:21 Yeah. Like when I got into, decided, never expected to college in this. And now I’m doing halfway through my PhD on environmental sensitivities and their impact on human health. You know, following your passion is important. We spend so much time at work, and life’s so short that it’s really too important to follow what your passionate about. I really feel that. And then synchronicity happens and the universe meets the right people at the right time to get where you wanna go. So hold your vision and follow your passion.

49:48 Exercise is important to me. I really need to exercise on a regular basis. That helps clear my mind.

Stu

49:53 Yeah.

Nicole

49:54 Lots of drinking clean water. I live in an older house that has good ventilation in a bushy area.

Stu

49:54 Okay.

Nicole

50:00 I work in Warrandyte, which is the closest state national park to the city of Melbourne. Why, because the trees are filtering the air instead of my body. So that’s a conscious decision I’ve made to live in an area that has lots of trees that then filter instead of me. You know, I think it’s just to be happy. If you’re happy, you secrete hormones and neurotransmitters than enhance your health. But also, you need to be knowledgeable. Nowadays, the government is going to, you know, doesn’t have exposure standards that are there for public health. Exposure standards for chemicals and electromagnetic fields are a compromise with industry to see what’s practicable in a workplace. So you need to understand the system isn’t there to improve public health, that most things on the supermarket shelf have never been tested for their impact on human health. You know, ever 60 seconds, another 20 chemicals are registered for use in the world’s largest database, the Chemical Abstract Service. That’s about 200,000 new chemicals every week. And there’s over 143 million chemicals on that database currently. 80 to 90% of those manmade portion of the chemicals have never been tested. So get wise. Start reading good quality books. And start understanding that you need to take control of your own health. No one’s gonna be doing that for you. So you need to start reading lots, listening to good podcasts, et cetera.

Stu

51:20 Yeah. Fantastic. Excellent. What’s next? What have you got on the horizon? Obviously you’ve got that great book. What is the title of that book again?

Nicole

51:28 Yes. Healthy Home Healthy Family.

Stu

51:31 Right. Yes.

Nicole

51:33 The third edition came out this year. It’s got checklists on how to assess your home. It’s got chapters on the latest electromagnetic fields, their impact on human health, and how to reduce your exposure.

Stu

51:43 Yep.

Nicole

51:43 It’s got drinking water chapter. It’s got how to build and renovate a healthy home with clean steps. It’s got chemicals, how to clean your home, personal care products, all that sort of thing. How to reduce your toxic load basically. And the first chapter looks at the true cost of progress and how exposure standards are set, and why you’re not protected, et cetera, and how the system works. It’s yeah. So all of that’s really in there. It really gives you a good understanding of the introduction to the whole building biology.

Stu

52:13 Yeah.

Nicole

52:14 Most of my time is spent running the college now. Aces.edu.au on building biology and Feng Shui courses.

Stu

52:14 Yeah.

Nicole

52:22 And I didn’t mention Abode products can be found through your health food stores across Australia. And if they’re not there, get them to get them in. And get them in bulk, and that will save a lot of money for you.

Stu

52:31 Great. Fantastic. So the best place for anybody right now that is listening to this and wants to find out more, where would we send them right now?

Nicole

52:40 Well the book will be probably the best option. You’ll find a lot of information on my personal website. That’s buildingbiology.com.au.

Stu

52:49 Yeah.

Nicole

52:49 Lots of videos that I’ve presented at medical conferences. Lots of good research on all of these topics, EMFs, water, et cetera. And I’m about the launch as part of my PhD a health home survey to see how healthy your home is, and use that data as part of my research. So that’s going to be very, very interesting. That’s thehealthyhomesurvey.com. I think that’ll be launched in August, so people can look at how healthy their home is, and see if there’s correlations to their own health.

Stu

53:18 Fantastic. Nicole, thank you so much for your time today. You have been an absolute wealth of knowledge. And I can’t wait to share this across our audience and tell them the absolute critical importance of all this, all of this fantastic info that you’ve given me. You’ve changed my perception of a lot of things today. And I really thank you. And it’s barely even 9 o’clock in the morning, so you’ve done well.

Nicole

53:41 Thank you for the opportunity Stuart.

Stu

53:42 No problems. Thank you so much, and we hope to connect with you at some stage soon.

Nicole

53:48 Great. Thanks so much.

Stu

53:49 Thank you. Bye-bye.

  • Share:

    Want More Articles Like This?

    Sign-up for the 180 Nutrition mailing list to receive the latest news and updates.

    2 Replies to “Nicole Bijlsma – How To Create A Healthy Home”
    Gayle Kiehne says:

    What a breath of fresh air you are. I am a firm believer of what you are saying but I have found that hardly anybody wants to hear this message as it is just all too hard for them to make any changes in their life. It infuriates me, but the more (people with your knowledge) put this out there the more they are likely to believe it. I will check your website and thank you so much, you have made my day.

    Guy Lawrence says:

    Thanks so much for the feedback Gayle, glad you enjoyed 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *