An honest look at some of the hidden toxicity lurking in your home that could be disrupting your hormones (and p.s. it’s not your fault), by Alexx Stuart.
Endocrine Disruptors, put simply, are chemicals (man-made or natural) that react in our body similarly to how our own hormones react. They can block hormone receptor channels or send mixed messages allowing our system to believe we are already producing adequate amounts of certain hormones as they mimic them, thus slowing our natural production.
It’s very dangerous indeed to disrupt hormones as when our body’s balance is played with, health and mood issues from minor to major arise – most notably? Endocrine disruptive disorders and boy what a minefield they can be to navigate out of – it’s hard enough to balance our hormones on a perfect day let alone with all the weirdness thrown in.
Now, before you think I’m pristine and perfect, in my teens / early 20s I would microwave popcorn bags, plastic containers, I used heavily artificially fragranced hair products, body creams and lotions, cheap cosmetics, contact papered books, shower curtains, loads of inexpensive tinned food before I realised what they all contained… endocrine disruptive cocktails. Our “normal” modern life means we are exposed to a whole much of them throughout the day. How are these allowed on the shelf? Isn’t there someone checking to ensure safety? Well, unfortunately, most governments around the world, while they have a registry of chemicals, they allow manufacturers to do their own testing and say a product or ingredient is safe, so you have the issue of self-assessment rather than independent trials, short trials as opposed to long ones. Scientists are starting to see that the issues surrounding endocrine disruptive chemical exposure don’t stop with us, but are passed down through generations.
I know most people tend to frown upon ‘alarmism’, but I’m not too sure how to talk about endocrine disruption and the things I’ve learnt, without alarming people… It IS alarming. The amount of incidence of health issues related to our hormones – be it thyroid, sex hormones, adrenals or others, is rising and while it’s impossible to ‘remove’ our exposure entirely from the endocrine disruptors, it is possible to dramatically reduce our exposure, given so much of what we use in the day to day contains at least one endocrine disruptor in its ingredients list.
We cannot wait to find out ‘for sure’ if these things are harmful when there is such a large net of doubt from independent scientists around the world, cast over this issue, with more and more studies emerging each day that affect not just one generation, but several afterwards.
In terms of the effects of endocrine disruptive chemicals in our bodies, we’re looking at compromised reproductive and behavioural health, immune systems, thyroids, neurological systems, and tumour development, all being very strongly linked – is not the fact that there ‘could be’ a link, enough when it comes to issues like this and their potential to affect us so adversely? The power to vote through knowledge and with one’s dollar, is the power we have today – I ain’t waiting for 3 eyed babies being born to make the change and feel that while science argues, if research exists to suggest cause for concern, then I exercise the precautionary principle!
What are the most prevalent hormone mimickers?
BPA – It’s mostly now out of baby’s bottles but this puppy needs to come out of everything. You only need to look at the birth defect stats on women who’ve worked in BPA factories to know that this stuff is B.A.D! It’s in many plastics, resins, paints, varnishes, tin can linings and inks.
Phthalates – They help perfume/fragrances last longer and they make plastics softer and help PVC be flame resistant – these guys lurk in nearly every synthetically fragranced product and many kiddies toys, raincoats, microwaveable bags and pet toys – this $2 shop el cheapo plastic toys!
Parabens – Used most commonly as a preservative and found in many personal care products.
Triclosan – Used in a lot of antibacterial products/sanitisers and damaging to the thyroid in the long term.
How I should change what I’m doing?
Short of living in a field with a veggie patch and a hemp weaved yoga mat, the best way we can diminish our personal endocrine disruptor baggage, is to know where they mainly lurk, and make the right choices around that bit by bit as we find replacements over time. Freaking out is definitely NOT productive so just pick something to work on that’s small, each week, and then move to the next thing.
What to ditch?
Here are a few helpful and simple things you can switch and ditch to get you started and when you’re ready to take a look at this super thoroughly you can join one of my course rounds of Go Low Tox.
Air freshener, artificially scented candles and perfumes. I don’t know what made these chemical manufacturing giants think that they were the authority on capturing the scent of fresh alpines and ocean mists…Those weird cans, fake scented candles and ‘time release technology’ products stink! No one is under any legal obligation to mention ‘phthalates’ as an ingredient on their packaging – scary! Needless to say they reside in almost every home cleaning product, most cosmetics, many fragrances and children’s soft plastic toys and air freshener. They hide mostly under the word “fragrance’. For cosmetics, stay natural and buy from brands that state that they are proudly phthalate free or use fragrances with natural essential oils – for a full and thorough low tox online site, you cannot beat Nourished Life.
Ditch most of your canned food and say no to receipts wherever possible– BPA or BPS in the lining of cans and the ink on receipts almost all of the time! The 2 brands of cans I know that are BPA free are Honest to Goodness organics and Global Organics. On receipts, there’s BPA in the coating. Given that BPA is a chief ingredient in ink also, whenever it’s not essential to read a physical newspaper or take a receipt, then don’t. BPA hangs out often in plastic bags and cling film, so wherever you can, avoid those too. Use wax paper for cheese storage, brown paper bags or wax wraps for your sandwiches and dry snacks.
Ditch PVC – Kids raincoats, Shower curtains, Vinyl flooring, loads of soft plastic kids toys and contact paper – all leaching PVC which is packed with phthalates. Also, it’s long been thought that because a fire takes longer to catch on PVC material that it is a safer choice. Sadly it’s a massive double-edged sword as researchers have found that in the ‘hot pre-flame’ stage it’s giving off hydrogen chloride and dioxin gasses, which cause burns themselves, permanent respiratory conditions, cancer and reproductive abnormalities – Definitely worth checking the labels on a few household items there!
Parabens lurk in many cosmetic products, so the best thing you can do is keep your routine simple and go paraben free. Read the ingredients!
Work up a sweat – Toxins and foreign chemicals are most always stored in fat, except for the water-soluble ones such as phthalates. One sure fire way of minimising the amount of these chemicals ‘on board’ with you in your fat tissue, therefore, is to do that extra run, sauna, swim, kettlebell set or dance class and work all the chemicals off – literally! Less toxins AND a more energised bod. It’s a win win.
And when it comes to plastics – it’s best to avoid 3, 6 and 7 if that is one of the numbers in the little triangle underneath the item. I’ve written a post on that here if you fancy checking it out. Stay away also from storing food in plastic long term, ie, in your pantry and opt for glass or stainless steel storage solutions instead.
So there you go. Make a start at going through what you’ve got and starting to shop for better alternative brands or simply cut down on the amount you’re using of things. For cleaning products I choose Ecostore and good old fashioned baking soda and white vinegar. For body products, just cold pressed coconut oil or 100% shea butter. For tinned food for cooking emergencies, I stick to the two brands I mentioned above and then for cosmetics, I stay simple and use things like Weleda, Dr Bronner’s, Young Living and Black Chicken mainly. If you’re on a journey with this too, I’d love to hear your ideas on what you’ve eliminated and found to be easy or challenging if you’ve time to share with me on instagram.
Most importantly I’ve found? Just buy less stuff. We overcomplicate things because we’re told we NEED so many things. Not so. Going low tox and ditching endocrine disruptive chemicals is a wonderful exercise in minimalism, switching to simpler, safer options and less things overall.
Low Tox. Happy Planet. Healthy People.
More info on Alexx:
Check out our e-courses, depending on what your current goals are…
Real Food Rockstars – Develop a deep understanding of the Food system, sustainable choices, preventative health through food choices and empowering ways to fall back in love with cooking. Note: I do not ‘sell’ you on one particular way of eating, other than whole, sustainable food. It’s all about you educating yourself to then make your own informed decisions, rather than adding to the land of the fad.
Preconception Ninja – Everything you need to know to feel empowered about getting ready for making babies, from food to lab tests, to stress, to conception maximisation and troubleshooting. Practitioner interviews, meal plans, shopping guides and more.
Low Tox Kids – A brilliant course to ensure you minimise the impact of toxins on your children specifically, with interviews focused on children’s health.
Go Low Tox – The flagship course done by over 2500 people now, to help you reduce your toxin exposure over 17 topics.
THRIVE: Raising Kids who love real food – A course done by thousands to help give your children a rock solid food foundation – we cover fussiness, nutritional building blocks, meal times, 4 x mean plans, body image, deficiencies, nutrient density, lunch boxes, oral health and more.
Alexx Stuart’s book “The Low Tox Life” comes out in July in Australia, the UK, NZ and Ireland and will be available from August in the USA on Amazon.