Updated: Sep 25
Whether you choose to use natural cleaning products, beauty products and drink out of plastic bottles isn’t just about doing right by the environment, it will alter the way your body functions. What exactly do all of the chemicals contained in these products actually do to us that would make it worth while trying to avoid them?
These chemicals are found in everything from the lining of tin cans to cash register receipts and hundreds of other products we are using every single day and they disrupt the endocrine system which is the system that deals with all of our hormones.
Hormones that govern the development of the brain and nervous system, the function of our metabolism and blood sugar levels and the development and function of the reproductive system. It includes the glands like the thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands and the ovaries and testes. Our babies are even exposed to these chemicals prenatally, during a time when every single developmental stage is under the control of and affected by the hormones.
When these chemicals start messing around with our hormones, they negatively impact development, reproduction, the nervous system and the immune system. They do this by:
· Increasing or decreasing the production of hormones
· Behaving like certain hormones to confuse the body and turning some hormones into others
· Causing premature cell death
· Binding to hormones
· Building up in the organs that produce the hormones
· Competing with nutrients
· Interfering with the way hormones signal the body to perform certain functions
If these chemicals are doing all of those things to our hormones then why aren’t we protected by laws that stop them from being used in the products we come into contact with every day?
What kind of health problems is this causing and/or contributing to?
· Reproductive disorders
· Menstrual irregularities
· Immune disorders
· Breast cancer
· Prostate cancer
· Thyroid disorders
· Parkinson’s disease
· Liver cancer
· Etc. etc.
It’s not possible to avoid them completely but here’s my list of the top 10 things you can do that are achievable and can really impact your exposure. You can find endocrine disrupting chemicals in the foam of lounges, paint, the foam underneath your carpet, vinyl flooring, so many things and obviously you can’t just go replacing all your flooring and lounges and everything (although if you are replacing things you could look into healthier alternatives). The following 10 things though, are things you can make informed choices on every time you go to the supermarket.
1. Cleaning products are a big one. I personally use a spray bottle containing half white vinegar, half water and a few drops of essential oils like tea tree to clean everything. I don’t buy any cleaning products at all anymore and I use bi-carb soda made into a paste to replace a cream cleanser and soap nuts to wash my clothes. Your skin is your largest organ and will absorb any chemicals in your laundry detergents very easily. There are loads of good natural cleaning products out there but this is just what I do because I find it really effective, completely natural so I don’t have to think about what’s in them at all, and unbelievably cost effective!
2. All of my make-up, cleansers, shampoos, body wash, toothpaste, perfumes etc. have all been replaced by natural alternatives.
The options that are available these days are amazing! From budget products to more luxe ranges, the options are really great.
3. Tampons and pads contain bleaches, chemicals, pesticides and perfumes and are being used on a highly absorbent part of the body!! Organic tampons, pads and liners are a much healthier option. Alternatively, you now have even more options like menstrual cups and underwear. I went without a period for almost 5 years with being pregnant and breastfeeding. Sadly, I was snapped back to reality this year when I stopped breastfeeding and even though I was thinking it seemed a bit ‘yuck’, I decided to try a menstrual cup and now I seriously don’t know why I would ever want to use tampons or pads ever again!! Healthier, obviously so much better for the environment because there’s no waste, it seems so much ‘cleaner’ and again, way more cost effective! Sorry for the overshare but just sayin, it’s definitely worth looking into.
4. Buying organic food wherever you can will mean you avoid a lot of hormone disrupting pesticides and herbicides. It’s not always possible so just peel and/or thoroughly wash any non-organic fresh produce.
5. The cans used for canned foods, aluminium drink cans, tins of cooking oil or coffee, aerosol cans for whipped cream and cooking sprays, can all contain loads of these chemicals, including BPA which is one of the main offenders. Avoiding processed foods in general is a good idea but also look for glass jars or containers that say BPA free.
6. Non-stick cookware and microwave popcorn. They contain PFC’s that are linked to high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, decreased sperm quality, cancer, lower birth weight and so much more! I would recommend never eating microwave popcorn, not just because of those chemicals but the harmful ingredients that are in the popcorn itself. Just pop actual corn kernels and put melted butter and sea salt on it! As for the non-stick cookware, alternatives like cast iron and stainless steel are much healthier options.
7. Avoid plastic food containers and drink bottles because these chemicals leach into the food and water particularly when they’re heated. Use glass containers and bottles whenever you can and don’t heat your food in plastic containers or while covered in clingwrap, or leave your plastic water bottles in a hot car and then drink the water once its cooled again.
8. Birth control pills will basically wreak havoc on your hormones. We gotta do what we gotta do but there are other options you can look into like non-hormonal IUD’s.
9. Fibre and cruciferous vegetables are particularly effective at removing the excess circulating oestrogen that you can get when some of these chemicals mimic oestrogen and block or bind to oestrogen receptors resulting in oestrogen dominance. Increasing your intake of these will really help to balance your hormone levels.
10. Think very carefully before you go spraying Roundup all over your weeds and gardens! It contains Glyphosate which is linked to obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and many, many other health problems that would need to be covered in a topic all of its own. Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, France and countries in the Middle East have all banned the use of glyphosate completely or heavily restricted its use. This definitely isn’t a chemical that you want in your gardens or around your family and your home!
A lot of woman that I see in my job have issues with their menstrual cycle. Whether it’s pain, extreme moods, irregularity, endometriosis, bloating or any other number of symptoms, these endocrine disrupting chemicals will, and do impact these symptoms. The stats suggest that 75% of woman have premenstrual symptoms and 40% have symptoms severe enough to interfere with their lifestyle.
You can’t avoid all of these chemicals, we’re completely surrounded by them! But you can certainly reduce your exposure and the amount that your body takes on by making some simple changes.