Hormone disruptors, or endocrine disruptors, are everywhere. Are you unknowingly being exposed to these harmful chemicals? Find out here.
For many years, I thought that being healthy meant eating a lot of veggies and exercising a few times per week. It was until I became pregnant with my first child in late 2013 that I had my eyes opened wider to the reality of health.
I’d never done a lot of scientific research about the chemicals we’re surround by – in food, in household products, in beauty products, and more. But I wanted to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby, so I started to research how to have a healthy pregnancy. In doing so, I learned that a lot of chemicals that moms are exposed to reach the baby growing in utero.
Come to find out, many products that I was using daily or regularly could have an adverse affect on my unborn child.
This begged the question: If my baby could be exposed to these chemicals without touching them, what would that mean for a child living outside of the womb. Also, if these chemicals were that powerful, what were they doing to me as an individual?
My research took an interesting turn at this point – I have taken a huge interest in natural health and invested quite a lot of time and money in changing the way things work around my house. I am using mainly natural household cleaners, hair products, and natural remedies. I’m avoiding certain food packaging, aiming for organic, and using cosmetic brands that I know are safer. Overall, I’m so much more aware – and that’s what’s important.
But perhaps one of the best things that has come from this research is that I understand my own mental health more.
Taking the opportunity to educate myself about things like hormone disruptors has helped me take control of things that, well, I can actually control. Because when you have a mental health disorder, it can feel like EVERYTHING is difficult and out of your hands. (Read my story here.) That loss of control is a big deal, but in truth, there are a lot of things that affect our bodies that we can control. The more research I do, the more I believe that recent history’s influx in mental health issues has a lot to do with these products and chemicals I’ve been researching. So if the idea of hormone disruptors is new to you, I’m glad you’re here and I hope you continue to do your own research there. Because fitness isn’t just about food and exercise – it’s mental, emotional, and hormonal!
What are Hormone Disruptors?
Also referred to as endocrine disruptors (because the endocrine system is what delivers hormones into the blood stream), hormone disruptors are any chemicals that interrupt your normal and natural hormone production. There are many factors that affect hormone production, like nutrition and sleep, but these chemicals play an especially nasty role in messing with you.
The worst part is that these chemicals are found in so many different things and you can be exposed in many ways. More on that soon.
How Your Body Reacts to Disruptors
It might not sound like a big deal to have your endocrine system thrown off-balance, because it’s natural to have hormone production be interrupted sometimes. (Like when you have a poor sleep cycle or are pregnant). However, unnatural hormone disruptors are a big deal. They can:
- Tell your body to kill off cells
- Tell your body to make excessive estrogen or testosterone (which can affect fertility)
- Compete with your body for nutrients you really need, affecting your immune system
- Interrupt your body’s production of melatonin, which helps your sleep regulate
- Propel cancerous cell growth
- Force early puberty
- Lower sperm count (also affecting fertility)
- Cause birth defects
- Cause thyroid dysfunction, leading to weight gain or loss
- Difficulty processing proten
- SO MUCH MORE
I highly recommend reading this article from the Environmental Working Group, my favorite resource for educating myself on chemicals.
So basically, if you have trouble losing weight, getting pregnant, sleeping, or staying healthy in general, the cause COULD very likely be one or multiple hormone disruptors. Here’s the bad news. They’re everywhere…
Common Products with Potential Hormone Disruptors
- Canned foods – usually the culprit is BPA
- Plastic food packaging – again, the infamous BPA
- Many animal products – with multiple types of disruptors
- Unfiltered drinking water
- Anything with PVC
- Any personal care product with artificial fragrance
- Old carpeting
- Fire-retardant fabrics (clothes, upholstery)
- Non-stick pans
- Waterproofed fabrics or waterproofing products
To find out which specific hormone disruptors are in various product groups, again, I recommend starting with this article.
It’s disheartening, isn’t it? To tell you the truth, I go back and forth between caring a LOT and thinking, “What’s the point?” Because these guys are everywhere.
But the fact is that if I do in fact have a healthier option, I should take it. For me and my family.
Hormone Disruptors and Weight Loss
If you’re interested in learning about hormone disruptors because you’re having a hard time losing weight, here are a few specific chemicals that have been linked to weight gain and obesity:
There are more, but don’t get overwhelmed. 🙂
Tips for Reducing Hormone Disruptor Exposure
In my opinion, BPA, Phthalates, and Parabens are the “easiest” chemicals to start eliminating. That’s because many consumers have caught on to the chemicals’ rampant presence in their everyday products. Many companies now feature “BPA-free” food packaging and containers, and a lot of companies are featuring personal care products that are “Paraben & Phthalate Free.”
When in doubt, you can read the labels of your shampoos, lotions, makeup, etc. to discover whether or not parabens and phthalates are used. Chances are that unless stated otherwise, you’re products DO indeed have those two big chemicals. Avoid artificial fragrances and opt for “plant-derived” products when necessary.
A Big Help: The EWG’s Skin Deep Database and other Consumer Guides
When in doubt, you can research your household products, grocery items, and cosmetics using the consumer guides provided by the Environmental Working Group. I love these resources because they make me feel empowered and educated. They will tell you about the specific chemicals in each product and their overall hazard. (They even have an app for Skin Deep! Scan and go!)
So, now that you know more about hormone disruptors, are you encouraged to learn more? Please let me know how you feel about it all by leaving a comment below! Then stay tuned for more in-depth research about specific chemicals.