While we’re all making sure we eat the right foods and take the best workout classes, have we missed an issue right under our noses…and on our skin or in our guts? Turns out, unfortunately, yes. Ack! Along with avoiding packaged foods and getting those HIIT classes in, the chemicals, pesticides and additives in our beauty, home and cleaning products need a ton of attention too.
But never fear: Health coach, chef and consultant Ashley Perkins is here to investigate, educate and ensure you’re able to clean up your home and health through her company Natur, offering in-person or virtual consultations. Plus, her info-filled Insta (@live.natur) and website include everything from a “dirty list” of items to avoid and amazing recipes of healthy, wholesome food, like her scrumptious muffins.
Originally from Westchester, NY, Perkins always loved making dinner for her family growing up, and she quickly realized it was much healthier to eat at home versus going out. After college at Tulane University and time working in real estate, she eventually made her way back to these home-bred roots and into culinary school, where she focused on farm-to-table cooking. When she became pregnant with her first child in 2010, she wanted to zone in on not only how food can help heal the body, but furthermore, how important it is to work from the inside out, including considering the toxic effects of conventional personal care products and home goods. She even earned her Holistic Health Certification in Gut Health.
Now, she’s helping others become their own advocates, sleuthing out the best options available, helping her clients avoid the worst—and understanding everything in between. Read on to learn more!
SBS: What was your professional path before you got into wellness?
Ashley Perkins: After graduating from Tulane University, I worked in real estate in Miami and NYC. Then I decided to switch career paths and attend culinary school. I have been a stay-at-home mother since 2011 when my first daughter was born. Then in 2019, I launched my company Natur (livenatur.com), which is a consultation business that helps clients remove toxins from their home environment.
SBS: How did you become a health coach?
AP: After focusing on food and removing external toxins I realized another component which is closely related and affected is gut health. Your gut is connected to so many different aspects of health and wellness from allergies to mental health to immunity. I knew I needed this certification from the Holistic Wellness Coaching Academy to fully understand the great connection and help my clients build their immunity and health from the inside out.
SBS: What helped you take that leap?
AP: The support of my husband and family helped me. I also have a need to help others and inform them of the toxins in so many products we use every day so they can also make smarter choices.
SBS: When did you become interested in and focused on removing chemicals and poisons?
AP: As I gained more knowledge, I realized how corrupt and unregulated companies and their chemical uses are. These chemicals are known allergens, endocrine disruptors and can cause developmental and reproductive harm. I wanted to spread knowledge on alternatives and shed light on this industry. Every time we make a purchase, we also make a statement and a choice on what businesses we choose to support. I support and recommend transparent companies that list their ingredients and avoid the use of toxic chemicals.
SBS: What are the top three toxic culprits?
AP: Synthetic fragrances listed as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ on the back of a label, parabens and preservatives found in lotions and hair care, and plastics top the list.
SBS: What are your favorite healthy foods for yourself and your kids?
AP: We love veggies! For me, a big salad is a must, as well as beginning my day with a green spirulina smoothie. In regard to my girls, I started them at a young age and made their own baby foods. Even now, after school, I always have fresh fruit and veggies on hand for them. I also love taking them to the farmers market and creating excitement over gorgeous, fresh food. We have home cooked dinners together a few times a week. We enjoy, eat, talk, and laugh.
SBS: What are the top three biggest misunderstandings regarding chemicals and health?
AP: One misunderstanding is assuming that the government protects us from these companies and their use of chemicals. This also has to do with pesticide use like glyphosate on wheat and oats in this country; it’s a known carcinogen but still used.
Next, we need to be our own best advocates and educate ourselves about personal care products.
And, over-sanitization has the reverse effect; it can decrease immunity. So antibacterial hand soaps, bleach or disinfectant aren’t really necessary inside a home.
SBS: What's your own health and wellness routine?
AP: I truly believe less is more and also that everyone in the family can use the same products because they are so clean. We do not use plastics at home for environmental and health purposes, and we try to buy bulk sizes, refill and reuse to reduce our footprint and waste.
I also love my lemon water in the morning, the use of essential oils, and meditation. I try to exercise every day, which is a gift I give my body and self.
SBS: What are good resources for truth about chemicals?
AP: My website has a ‘dirty list’ of toxic chemicals to look out for on the back of your products. Because the cosmetic industry is unregulated, there is a lot of false marketing, and it can get tricky deciphering what is really ‘clean.’ I also use EWG.org where you are able to plug in your products, and they rate them for you. I also do in-home and virtual consultations where we look at personal care, home cleaning, gut health, as well as if there are babies and childre in the house!
Ashley’s SBS Mantra: Be Mindful, Be Calm and Be Happy. I am all about spreading kindness and giving back when I can. I always try to model this with my girls and show them that they have choices on how they respond to people and situations. With that said Be Bold is important too and a tool that you should always have in your back pocket.
The best, zaniest part of being Ashley: I don’t take myself too seriously, and it’s always ok to make mistakes without caring so much about what others think.
Ashley’s NYC Faves:
Splurge Restaurant: Carbone
Healthy Restaurant: Two Hands
Fitness Studio: Xtend Tribeca
Yoga Studio: Lyons Den
Fun Activity: Being with my girls, Isabelle and Olympia
Calming Activity: Meditation
Athleticwear: Bandier mixed with Athleta
Athletic Shoes: Adidas
Books: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Brain Maker by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg Online Resources: EWG.org and Safecosmetics.com