Our environment is filled with toxins – chemicals from farming, industry, traffic and even the furniture and food in our homes. We are surrounded by toxins every day, putting more and more pressure on our bodies to detoxify us. Some chemicals affect our hormones, wreaking havoc on all our body systems. So, it is really important that we avoid as many of these chemicals as we can. By avoiding them, we reduce the need to detoxify, and may even prevent ourselves from getting very sick.
Many of the chemicals in our everyday products can affect the way our hormones work, and are named endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). They work by blocking the hormone receptors in our body, interfering with the body’s feedback systems, preventing the right amount of hormones from being produced. This can have far-reaching effects on our bodies, and cause symptoms affecting our reproductive, nervous and gastro-intestinal systems.
These EDCs also add extra pressure on our liver and kidneys to detoxify, and prevent hormones from being broken down and excreted. This is because external chemicals are processed first. The more external chemicals in our systems, the less able we are to process our own hormones. This leads to hormones, such as oestrogen, being re-circulated around the body; the excess causing unwanted symptoms and even disease.
Some chemicals stay in our systems for years and even get passed down from generation to generation. One study of baby umbilical cord blood found 287 chemicals present, 212 of which have been banned for 30 years. So, while we cannot avoid those that don’t break down, we can reduce our toxic exposure by avoiding products today which are known to be harmful.
It may surprise you to know that many chronic health conditions have already been linked by scientific evidence to EDCs. Conditions linked to hormone disrupting chemicals include obesity and type 2 diabetes, reproductive cancers, endometriosis, fibroids and PCOS, thyroid conditions, neurodevelopment and nervous system dysfunction, including depression and anxiety in children linked to BPA and BPF exposure in mothers, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and even autism and intellectual disabilities. With over one third of the population suffering from a chronic condition, it seems well worth it to try and avoid these EDCs if we can.
- PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES & WRAP
No surprises here… or are there? We have all heard that plastic contains BPA or Bisphenol A, but did you know, plastic water bottles left in a warm car leach BPA into the water? When you drink that water, you increase your chances of developing hormone related cancers, such as breast and prostate.
There are other chemicals in plastic too, including BPF, phthalates and dioxins, and many we don’t know about yet, so well worth it to avoid. And another thing, they destroy our planet – see this TedED video if you want to know more.
Plastic wrap is best to avoid putting in direct contact with your food, as chemicals may transfer.
SOLUTION? Carry a stainless steel water bottle. Use a ceramic plate or baking paper to cover food.
- UNFILTERED TAP WATER
Sydney tap water has been shown to contain numerous heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium and fluoride. Whether you support the argument for fluoride in our drinking water or not, it is still a heavy metal, which our bodies have trouble eliminating. Heavy metals build up in our systems are cause countless miscellaneous symptoms which can be difficult to diagnose.
The most recent research on fluoride in drinking water suggests that it may cause harm to bones, nerves and brain cells. The research also shows that countries without fluoride in their drinking water have experienced the same decrease in tooth decay, over the same period, as countries with fluorinated water. See this comprehensive summary of the research by Harvard University.
SOLUTION? Always filter your water. You can buy a simple filtration bottle, or invest in one under the sink.
- PESTICIDES IN FRESH FOOD
Spraying pesticides, fungicides and herbicides is common practice on our fresh fruit and vegetables. For more info, and to see the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen foods, go to the Environmental Working Group site.
While there are many chemicals we know are bad, such as glyphosate and atrazine, there are still more that have not been tested for toxicity on humans. In Australia, 75% of the chemicals that are used and registered have not been tested for their effects on humans.
SOLUTION? Buy organic produce if you can. Wash your fruit and veg in water and vinegar.
- ALUMINIUM IN COOKING
Aluminium – another heavy metal – has been shown to increase your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Cookware containing aluminium and foil should not come in direct contact with your food.
SOLUTION? Use baking paper under aluminium foil when cooking. Buy stainless steel cookware.
- CHEMICALLY-LADEN PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS
Beauty products, skin care, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and toothpaste often contain artificial fragrances, triclosan and phthalates, which are all endocrine disrupting chemicals. Our bodies absorb these chemicals readily through the skin and by inhaling the artificial fragrances. There are many products on the market that are free from these chemicals, so look for the more natural products.
SOLUTION? Buy more natural or organic products for your skin, teeth and hair.
With this toxic load on all of us, it’s essential to stay well and optimise our bodies’ own clearance mechanisms – primarily our liver and gut. This way, the majority of toxins that are unavoidable, can be effectively cleared and our bodies freed up to function at their best.
Come and see a natural health care practitioner today about how to optimise your health and rid yourself of harmful toxins. Clinical nutritionist Kate Gray practices at Health Space Hornsby on Mondays and Wednesdays. Call 9482 4877 or email email@example.com