Whenever I work with clients who are struggling with their hormones, we always begin by setting the foundation of optimal nutrition and working on lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress. One thing that seems to surprise them, however, is when we start addressing their environment. Did you know that certain chemicals in our cleaning products, cosmetics, food and environment have the ability to mess with our hormones? In this blog post, we are going to be finding out what endocrine disruptors are and where they can be found in our everyday items, as well as what to do to minimise our exposure to them. If you are struggling with hormonal issues despite eating a nourishing diet and addressing your stress and mindset, these may be the missing piece of the puzzle.
What are endocrine disruptors?
An endocrine disruptor is “a chemical compound that interferes with the normal functioning of the endocrine system and the reproductive and other biological processes regulated by it.” Essentially it is any external substance which interferes with our hormones. The chemicals include: BPA, DDT, Glyphosate, PCBs Dioxins, Phthalates, Parabens, UV filters, Triclosan, Perfluorochemical, Lead, Cadmium.
We can come into contact with endocrine disruptors through our food, beverages, environment, and through our skin. Unfortunately, these compounds can be found in many of our everyday products, including:
- Personal products, such as cleansers, creams, lotions, soaps and hair products
- Makeup and sunscreen
- Home cleaning products
- Candles and air fresheners
- Furniture coated in flame retardants
- Waterproof clothing
- Shopping receipts
- Plastic containers, bottles, cling film, non stick food wrappers
- Antibacterial soaps
- Solvents and Paints
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Tap water
How do they mess with my hormones?
Endocrine disruptors interfere with the production, actions or eliminations of our hormones. Some of these chemicals are xenoestrogens, meaning they exert an estrogenic effect on our body, which then further creates an estrogen – progesterone imbalance. As we already know, if estrogen goes unchecked, we may experience issues such as anovulation, menstrual irregularities, PMS symptoms, mood swings, night sweats, cramping, clotting and fertility issues.
Exposure to xenoestrogens could also bring on early puberty, disrupted sexual function, low birth weight and increases the risk for breast and prostate cancer..
On top of that, they have the ability to create oxidative stress, mitochondrial and DNA damage, as well as neurological damage.
OMG, what do I do??
If this sounds overwhelming, I hear you! It may seem like you need to lock yourself in your home or wear a hazmat suit to go shopping, but that is not the case! Our bodies are designed to be able to handle a certain level of toxicity on a regular basis, but it’s the overall load which we need to be careful of, especially if we are struggling with hormonal issues such as PMS, irregular periods, painful periods, night sweats, fertility issues or menopausal symptoms. And by making some simple changes in our daily routine, we can avoid may of these endocrine disruptors. Here are some of my favourite:
- Opt for less toxic home cleaning products
Luckily there are plenty of wonderful cleaning products available which are less toxic than conventional ones. My favourites are Ecover and Seventh Generation. Or you could strip things down even further and make your own! Vinegar and baking soda is a powerhouse combo for cleaning. You can add some lemon peels to a bottle of vinegar for extra grease-fighting action and a sweet lemony scent.
- Switch out your personal products for non toxic ones
First of all, you don’t need a million lotions and potions to be beautiful – beauty comes from the inside! A nutrient dense diet with lots of fat soluble vitamins will get your skin glowing, girl!
There are a lot of wonderful non-toxic personal products available to purchase. I really like brands such as Weleda and Green People, which can be found in most health food stores. I also love Native deodorants and body lotions and creams made with tallow such as the ones from Remnant Beauty. I love to cleanse my skin with organic jojoba oil and wipe it off with a face cloth. Oil cleansing is great for acne prone skin too.
Opt for products which do not contain parabens, phthalates or synthetic fragrances. If the ingredient list contains a million weird chemicals, they might not be the best option. If you are wondering about whether your skincare products or makeup may contain certain undesirable ingredients, I recommend looking them up on the EWG Skin Deep cosmetics database which is brilliant!
- Opt for organic produce where possible.
Endocrine disruptors accumulate in fat cells of humans and animals – so my first priority when it comes to organic products is animal foods. Aim to purchase organic meat, dairy and eggs where possible, and then focus on the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 when deciding which fruits and vegetables to purchase organic if you are on a budget. If eating non-organic meat, opt for leaner cuts or trim the fat off of them.
- Invest in a stainless steel bottle and tupperware.
This will cut down on your plastic exposure – and is great for the environment too! Avoid wrapping your produce in cling film and just use a glass tupperware container instead. Or you could use some beeswax wrappers or silicone produce bags. If you do use plastic containers, avoid heating or microwaving food in them, or putting them in the dishwasher. Replace non-stick pans with stainless steel or ceramic coated ones.
- Use a water filter.
You can start with a Brita filter or a charcoal filter in your water bottle, or invest in an under the sink filtration system.
These are just a few tips to get started. Don’t feel like you have to overhaul everything in one go, but start with what is easiest and then work your way through the products in your environment and start making some more hormone friendly swaps. If you are struggling with hormonal issues and feel like getting some dedicated support would be helpful, then click here to book a free discovery call with me and let’s chat about how some bespoke diet and lifestyle changes can help you flourish.