Endocrine disruptors can increase production of certain hormones, decrease production of others and interfere with hormone signaling. – EWG
The topic of hormones and hormone imbalance seems to be trending at the moment, as it should be, since more and more men and women are finding themselves diagnosed with endocrine disorders, such as low libido, PCOS, endometriosis, fibrocystic breast conditions, infertifility, acne, hypothyroid, etc. There are many reasons why hormone levels become imbalanced, such as chronic stress, poor sleep and diet, the aging process and toxins (i.e. endocrine disruptors). In fact, the chemicals or toxins found in everyday items such as makeup, deodorant, toothpaste, conventional meat/diary and plastic bottles, are actually very much contributing to these endocrine disorders, thus we call these endocrine disruptors.
What is an endocrine disruptor? Any foreign substance or natural that offsets the balance of our natural hormones.
Fortunately, we do have some control over how much exposure we have to certain toxins on a daily basis and by examining the below variables, we take back our health and enjoy a more natural balance.
Invest in Organic, Pastured Meats (#1)
This is the number one thing you can do to reduce hormone imbalance! Yes, I repeat…stop consuming conventional meat and diary. Factory farmed meat, dairy and poultry is not only cruel and inhumane to the animals, but these animals also consume GMO’s, antibiotics and hormones…not a pretty combination. For individuals who then consume these animals, this yields anti-biotic resistance and hormone disruption. It is best to avoid conventional, processed meats, dairy and eggs completely and look for labels that say organic, pasture-raised. Yes. it is definitely more expensive, but you certainly get what you pay for. The same goes for seafood as well. Farmed fish and seafood is typically fed genetically modified foods (GMO’s), which is not natural for the animal. Not only does this diminish the health benefits of the seafood (i.e. omega 3’s), but then the consumer is indirectly consuming GMO’s.
Kick The Bottled Water Addiction
Not only are plastic bottles a huge waste product in our environment, that end up in our oceans, rivers and lakes, but the plastic itself can poison you. Yep, that’s right, synthetic chemicals like Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Bisphenol-S (BPS)–both found in plastic bottles–have been found to disrupt the endocrine system and mimic the hormone estrogen. Basically, this means that with the overload of “estrogen-like” compounds (also called xenoestrogens) in our bodies, our natural hormones are thrown out of balance. This can ultimately lead to what is known clinically as Estrogen Dominance. (I dare you to google symptoms of estrogen dominance…you definitely don’t want to go down that road). And men, don’t think you are disqualified from these “estrogen-like” compounds, they can also interfere with your testosterone balance. (Bauman, 2015) Do yourself a favor and get rid of the plastic all together. Store your drinks in glass water bottles or insulated stainless steel bottles.
Plastic has a chemical called phthalates linked to early puberty in girls and increases in testicular cancer, as well as reproductive problems, birth defects, and disruption of menstruation. – US National Library of Medicine
Ditch Toxic Cleaning Products & Cosmetics
One of the things we completely forget to do when trying to live a healthy lifestyle is change our skincare, body care and household products to chemical-free versions. You may make the excuse that it’s too expensive, but when it comes down to your health…well, health is priceless! And really the bottom line is you either pay now or pay later with doctor visits. In light of this, see the transition to clean bodycare/beauty as a gift to yourself and your liver. Everyday our body comes into contact with toxins…pollution, medications, genetically modified foods, cosmetics, pesticides, alcohol, cigarette smoke, household chemicals, etc. and these exposures add up. In light of this, our body has to work that much harder to process and eliminate these toxins. However, by being mindful, identifying and getting rid of the avoidable toxins, over time allows the body to balance itself and to function that much more efficiently. So often people are prone to sickness (i.e. colds and flus) and this is simply because the body is working overtime to eliminate the crap we put in it or on it everyday. Read more here.
Switch to Glass Storage Containers
Placing your lunch in plastic containers is the norm, however harmful chemicals like BPA, a known endocrine disruptor, can actually leech into your food, especially if using the microwave to reheat meals in plastic. To save your hormones, invest in glass storage containers, which are reusable (much more environmentally sound), odor-free and chemical free. Even though I am not a fan of reheating foods in the microwave (it reduces nutrients), it is much safer to microwave food in glass containers. So when you are purchasing your glass water bottle, also purchase glass storage containers for leftovers and meal prepping.
Purchase Organic Fruits & Veggies Whenever Possible
In the United States, more than 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides and herbicides are sprayed on or added to food crops each year, which equates to 5 pounds of pesticides for each person–man, woman, and child. But can’t we just wash the pesticides off? The short answer is no. To be clear, the National Resources Defense Council did a survey of fresh produce sold in San Francisco markets for pesticides and found that 44% of seventy-one fruits and veggies had 19 different pesticides. More astounding is they found 50 pesticides being used on conventional broccoli, 110 on apples, and 70 on bell peppers, many of these pesticides can actually penetrate the fruit or vegetable and cannot be washed off. If you think about it, with the average being 19 pesticides on produce (some possibly systemic), even if you soaked your food in apple cider vinegar for 2 hours, you’d be lucky to get some off, but certainly this is not a sure proof method. (Murray, 2005) Basically, non-organic foods can expose you to pesticides containing endocrine disruptors called dioxins, which may affect your thyroid. Read more here.
Drink Filtered Water
Being that our bodies are roughly 70% water, clean water is certainly nothing to take for granted. The Flint, Michigan lead crisis is a recent reminder of this critical issue. In fact, Dr. Batmanghelidj, who wrote “Many Cries for Water: You Are Not Sick, You Are Thirsty,” actually found that a large number of his patients healed after correcting their severe dehydration. Such diseases included, obesity, ulcers, and even depression. So it seems clean water=optimal health! EWG stated that over 260 contaminants have been found in thousands of samples of tap water, of which include petrochemicals and their byproducts. Half of these contaminants are unregulated. In fact, there is no rule, law or regulation that these petrochemicals need to be listed in water quality reports. More startling, EWG found that 52 of these unchecked toxins are linked to cancer, 41 to reproductive issues, 36 to developmental toxicity and 16 to immune system damage. Finally, for some of these chemicals there have been no health studies ever conducted. (EWG, 2008) To avoid endocrine disruptors, purchase a high quality water filter for tap water and purchase a glass or stainless steel water bottle. Read more here.
Ditch Canned Foods & Cook Your Own
BPA or Bisphenol A is not only found in plastic bottles and food packaging, but it is also found in the lining of metal cans. Research shows that BPA may interfere with hormones, which can create irregular menses and breast cancer. Buying canned foods like beans and legumes in bulk, rather than canned, can actually be more cost-effective, provide more nutrition and be easier on the digestion. By soaking and sprouting beans and legumes in larger batches, you not only save yourself time meal prepping ahead of time, but you also avoid harmful hormone disrupting chemicals that overtime imbalance the body. Moreover, by purchasing your fruits and vegetables fresh from the market and cooking them yourself, you ensure that you are getting the highest vitamin and mineral values.
In divine health,
US Environmental Protection Agency. Endocrine Disruptors Research. 2012 http://www.epa.gov/endocrine/#eds.
www.ewg.org – The Environmental Working Group (EWG)
Bauman, Ed. & Friedlander, J. (2015) “Foundations of Nutrition.” Bauman College: Penngrove , CA.