As women, we are exposed to hundreds of hormone-disrupting chemicals each day.
Yap, just think about the shampoo you're using, conditioner, hairspray, body lotion, face wash, cleansers, makeup products, the water bottle you just drank from bleach you use to clean your bathroom, liquid soap to wash your dishes, cookware, mold...
Yap, all packed within your own home... all making their way through your skin and into your body.
»But these things don't get into our system!«
Ok. Now think about the birth control patch. A small sticky patch that releases hormones into your body through your skin to prevent pregnancy.
Skin is one of our largest organs (once was believed to be the #1 , but according to a 2018 study, the interstitium may now be the largest organ. Their findings, which classify the interstitium as an organ, suggest that it might be more significant than the skin). However, the skin plays still a substantial part in what we get into our system. It covers your whole body and makes up about 16 percent of your overall body mass.
The function of your skin is to:
protect your body from environmental stressors like germs, pollution, radiation from the sun, and more
regulate your body temperature
receive sensory information
store water, fat, and vitamin D
The skin is great at protecting our insides from several things, but it can also absorb chemicals. Even simply coming into contact with certain chemicals is enough to be absorbed by the skin (think about grocery store receipts, airplane tickets, containers that takeout food comes in, etc.). Chemicals can also be absorbed into the body and bloodstream through breathing in air pollution or ingesting toxins and pesticides in food.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported that the average person carries 91 toxic chemicals in his or her blood and urine. The number of new chemicals created each year also continues to grow an estimated 2,000 are introduced every year. In pregnant women, these chemicals may pose a threat not only to them but to their unborn babies as well. EWG study found 232 different toxins in the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborn babies.
»Yea, but we do have regulations. «
Yap, we do. There are a few regulations when it comes to what manufacturers can add to these products. But many of the chemicals found in cosmetics have not undergone extensive testing. Moreover, the ones that have usually been tested on lab animals, not people. Also, the adverse effects of novel chemicals present a growing threat.
These chemicals are endocrine disrupters. Let's break down the basics first...
According to Medicine Net, the medical definition of the endocrine is:
"Pertaining to hormones and the glands that make and secrete them into the bloodstream through which they travel to affect distant organs. The endocrine sites include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, pineal gland, thyroid, parathyroids, heart, the stomach and intestines, islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, the adrenal glands, the kidney, fat cells (which make leptin), the testes, the ovarian follicle (estrogens) and the corpus luteum in the ovary."
So, now it's clear to say that these lovely endocrine disrupters interfere with our hormones, which might result in hormonal imbalance.
Well, Xenoestrogens are Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are said to mimic your natural hormones, but give you none of the same benefits. They affect your adrenals, thyroid, hormones like estrogen and progesterone, even testosterone). This can lead to an overall imbalance in your hormones. Moreover, they've also been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, birth defects, infertility, and even lowered IQ in large enough quantities.
COMMON ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS AND WHERE THEY ARE FOUND
A chemical found in plastics that are known to disrupt the endocrine system, and it's also been linked to breast cancer, developmental issues, decreased fertility, diabetes, asthma and possibly childhood obesity. It wasn't originally screened for by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but, they discovered it kind of 'accidentally' and it turns out everyone is exposed to it.
Have you ever heard to avoid fragrance when it comes to hormones?
Yap. That's because fragrances can be a source of phthalates.
Where can you find Phthalates?
· Personal care products (hair spray, nail polish...)
· Plastic wrap and food storage containers
· Soft plastic food containers
· Shower curtains
· Plastic children's toys
· Fragrances in trash bags, diapers, and candles
· Air fresheners (plug-ins, sprays,...)
· Vinyl floors
How to avoid Phthalates?
· Read labels and avoid products that list phthalates or fragrance
· Drink and eat out of glass, rather than plastic storage containers
· Ditch air fresheners and choose essential oils instead
· Buy natural, beeswax candles only (or at minimum fragrance-free)
· Use laundry detergent that doesn't have artificial fragrance
Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA is a chemical that has been associated with cancer, including breast cancer. Moreover, there is a meta-analysis study published that BPA is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. There are also some other correlations like ADHD, heart disease, infertility.
There is now evidence suggesting that even low levels of BPA-exposure can cause harm, and this is particularly true in vulnerable populations like pregnant women, infants and the chronically ill.
In the Environmental Health Perspectives study, researchers determined the estrogenic activity of commonly used plastic consumer products.
They bought more than 500 plastic products from major retailers (like Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Target, Trader Joe's) – products were selected from all categories of plastic, incl. Bags, Tupperware containers, and wraps.
Then they cut the containers into pieces and put them into liquids that contain similar chemicals found in food and drinks, and subjected them to stresses that mimic regular use - UV light (sunlight), microwaving, or moist heat (like boiling or dishwashing). Their results showed that over 90 percent of the products leached estrogenic chemicals before they were even stressed, and after being stressed essentially, all of the products showed estrogenic activity. Meaning, just about anything you can think of that's made of plastic (yap, baby bottles too).
»Yea, I know. I'm buying BPA FREE.«
What you don't know (till now) is that the chemicals they use to replace BPA are equally concerning in regards to the adverse health effects. A recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in July has shown that even BPA-free plastics have chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA), and can cause serious health problems as a result. It was found that some BPA-free products had even more EA than BPA-containing products!
BPA is Commonly Found In:
· Plastic bottles and containers
· Canned foods
· Food packaging
How to Avoid BPA:
· Avoid handling paper receipts at the store and opt for a mobile boarding pass rather than a paper ticket
· Avoid drinking out of plastic, especially when they've been exposed to sunlight. Use glass or stainežles steel water bottles.
· Use glass containers and canning jars at home for food storage
· Do not microwave food in plastic
· Skip the canned food and opt for frozen or dried instead
· Use stainless steel containers in the freezer instead of freezer bags.
· Check out these stories on my Instagram account for how to choose the right cookware.
· Parents: use glass baby bottles instead of plastic.
Flame retardants are everywhere. The tricky thing about flame retardants is that they aren't just in our couch cushions or mattresses. They are also in our pets beds, find their way into the dust in our home, are in baby car seats, electronics, and on kid's pajamas. What's more, they don't even work. Check out this article for more insight.
Flame retardants in couches and other furniture are linked to endocrine disruption and cancer, and they're especially dangerous for kids.
Flame Retardants Are Commonly Found In:
· Pet beds
· Children's Car Seats
· Children's pajamas
· Dust in your home (if your furniture has flame retardant)
How to Avoid Flame Retardants:
· Vacuum often
· Open windows to allow for circulation in the house daily
· Check the labels on clothes
· Check the labels on furniture before buying
· Purchase flame retardant free mattress
· Choose pet beds without flame retardant
· Use a HEPA or other air filter in your home
» It's not just about chemicals in our beauty products and cleaners...
It's the accumulation of a variety of factors. Think about ultra-processed foods, pesticides, refined grain products, seed oils, blue light exposure, stress. There are so many sources of chemicals and so many ways that they can get into us; it's a real challenge to try to understand the extent to which we are being exposed to these environmental toxins. Depending on the amount of time and chemical that a person is in contact with, they may have more or less effect on our health.
Keep in mind that, I'm not trying to freak you out :). I just want to make sure sure that you're informed, and you know how to support your hormones in the best way possible. Once you understand which to avoid, you'll be better able to protect yourself. That being said, minimizing your exposure to these harmful chemicals and ingredients is not that hard.
What can you do about it:
Remove all food toxins from your diet and stick to whole, single-ingredient foods as much as possible.
Reduce your exposure to chemicals at home.
Work up a sweat during regular exercise, or frequent a sauna.
Proper hydration is especially crucial for exercise or sauna use, but it is vital for everyone since we release toxins through urine. Look for markers of dehydration, like dark-colored or infrequent urination.
Support the body's natural detoxification
Get enough sleep
Let me know in the comments if you would like me to list the products I use.
Till next time...