At the BePure Clinic, we are seeing more and more men and women experiencing hormone imbalances – predominantly oestrogen dominance. In men, this condition displays itself with symptoms of:
While for females, you'll experience:
This hormonal imbalance is caused by environmental toxins, increased stresses, the oral contraceptive pill, menopause and numerous other lifestyle factors. You can find out more about this in my blog, 3 tips for hormone balance.
Our exposure to everyday environmental toxins and chemicals is now higher than ever. Why is this? One reason is, unbeknown to many, these toxins are hiding in many of our household cleaners, body care products and other regular use items, which are then absorbed by our body.
Our liver is an incredible thing and has the capacity to detox most toxins, however it requires adequate nutrients to do this. Because of the pace of modern living, liver loading substances such as caffeine and alcohol, and the sheer amount of toxins we’re now exposed to, our bodies simply cannot cope.
What can we do about an oestrogen dominance imbalance? On top of ensuring our nutrient levels are optimal, we can start with simply reducing our exposure to everyday toxins where we can.
In this blog I’m going to look at some unlikely environmental toxins and chemicals we’re getting exposed to every day in our very own homes, talk about how they could be negatively impacting your hormone health and finish up with 10 simple tips to remove them from your life and your body.
What do we mean by environmental toxins?
The term environmental toxins refers to the total amount of toxic chemicals in your body at a given time, or the amount of a single chemical, for example, arsenic, lead, mercury, or heavy metals to name just a few. They are called this because we are exposed to these chemicals through our personal environment.
Scientific organisations such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimate that most of us carry hundreds of environmental contaminants in our bodies. Babies are born already carrying as many as 300 different chemicals in their bodies, and breast milk is filled with environmental pollutants.
These toxins come from the way we live our day-to-day lives. What we eat, our water, our air, our cleaning products, our makeup, sunscreen, plastic containers, building materials, and about a million other places.
This field of research is relatively new. We don’t know at what levels these chemicals become problematic. However in working with clients at the BePure Clinic, chronic exposure to environmental toxins is showing up in conditions affecting nervous systems such as anxiety or insomnia, in chronic fatigue, and most commonly in hormonal imbalances in both men and women.
These hormonal imbalances, leading to a condition known as oestrogen dominance can cause thyroid disease, metabolic conditions such as diabetes or weight gain, PCOS, and infertility.
Our immune systems are also affected, which helps to explain rampant increases in autoimmune conditions, inflammatory diseases, skin problems, and even cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Tim Gerstmar is a naturopathic doctor and has documented well-established connections between toxin-mediated changes in our endocrine and immune systems and obesity. His talk at the Ancestral Health Symposium in 2016 showcased the direct relationship between increased environmental chemicals and body fat. It’s also a cyclical relationship because these chemicals are stored in our fat cells, so the greater our body fat, the greater number of chemicals we can store. Dr. Gerstmar calls these environmental toxins 'Obesogens' and believes that tackling the obesity issue worldwide has as much to do with reducing our toxic load than our diets and exercise habits.
Our exposure to environmental toxins is one of the biggest challenges we face in the modern world. The good news is there are some simple and easy swaps you can make to improve your health.
We probably don’t think very much about the toothpaste we use. After all it’s a tiny dollop twice a day that leaves us with minty fresh breath. However, our mouths are actually one of the most absorbent places on our body. This is why lots of medicines are administered under the tongue!
Conventional toothpaste contains chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), which gives toothpaste its foaming properties. However this substance has been proven to be carcinogenic, and it can interfere with your taste buds. Toothpaste also contains Propylene - the same chemical used in deodorant - fluoride and artificial sweeteners.
The same as deodorant, you can make your own toothpaste. This recipe from Dr. Mercola contains only natural ingredients. However, you can also buy fluoride, artificial sweetener and SLS- free toothpaste from your local health food store. We love local NZ brands Red Seal and Grin.
There is some controversy over whether organic foods are more nutritious than conventional foods. However, from a toxic load point of view, there is no doubt conventional sprays, pesticides and conventional farming methods expose us to chemicals, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones from fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products.
The simple swap is to replace your conventional produce, meat and dairy items to organic options. We understand that budgets prohibit a lot of us from eating the gold standard. However there is a scale of improvements you can still make.
An easy place to start with selecting which produce to purchase organic when you’re on a budget is the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen, which is a list of the most contaminated foods, as determined by the Environmental Working Group.
If you can’t afford to buy all your meat, dairy and produce organic prioritise meat and dairy as conventionally raised animals store their own toxins in fat which we then ingest. If organic is out of reach, opt for free range, hormone free suppliers.
With regards to produce, organic is definitely best. However, spending your money on spray-free produce at a local farmer’s market will still reduce your exposure to these toxins and is a great intermediate step. It will also ensure you are eating seasonal produce, which is always more nutrient dense and reduces the carbon footprint of produce travelling to us for purchase. A double win.
Deodorant is the one that surprises most clients. We don’t really think to give it much thought other than to ensure we’re wearing it for our comfort and those around us. But, deodorant contains many chemicals which can adversely affect our health. The main problem lies with aluminium, parabens and propylene.
The solution is to switch to a natural deodorant free from these chemicals. You can have a go at making your own using this recipe from nourishingsimplicity.org or you can purchase natural, effective chemical and aluminium free deodorant from FREE range deodorant. We use and love this deodorant and know that it really works!
Our skin is our largest organ. It’s also the only barrier we have between us and the outside world. What we put on it is crucial. I have a saying I use with clients. “If it’s on your skin, it’s in your bloodstream”.
Conventional sunscreens work by using chemicals to block the sun’s rays. These chemicals might work on the sun, but they have an adverse effect on your hormones and endocrine system.
We recommend a natural, chemical free sunscreen. We use Soleo Organics Sunscreen because it is organic, paraben-free and made using naturopathic principles without preservatives, chemical UV absorbers or titanium dioxide.
When you were applying your lipstick in the morning I bet you didn’t think you were wiping lead on your mouth? Did you know approximately 60% of lipsticks contain lead? Scary isn’t it? But the truth is, most commercial cosmetics are laden with heavy metals and other toxic ingredients.
Similarly, other personal care products contain parabens and other toxic ingredients.
When choosing makeup, choose a mineral foundation powder or research some natural beauty care product brands. The female members of the BePure team love Karen Murrell a New Zealand makeup artist for her range natural, lead-free lipsticks!
For moisturisers, toners and cleansers we also love Tailor Skincare, Herb Farm, Trinity Skincare and The Beauty Elixir.
Learn to read labels and avoid ingredients known to be especially harmful. For more information and resources, including companies with clean ingredients and eco-friendly policies – and those to avoid check out SafeComestics.org.
Non-stick cookware has become increasingly popular as our lives have gotten busier. The logic is if we can save time on washing up, it can help us in other areas of our lives. Except that we are exposing ourselves to toxic chemicals each time we use these everyday kitchen items.
The problem is compounded because we are often in such a rush we don’t use non-stick cookware properly. They were never designed to be used over high heat. Robert L. Wolke, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained, says when they are used at high heats, the coating may begin to break down (at the molecular level, so you wouldn't necessarily see it), and toxic particles and gases, some of them carcinogenic, can be released.
Wolke is quoted in Good Housekeeping magazine as saying "there's a whole chemistry set of compounds that will come off when Teflon is heated high enough to decompose. Many of these are fluorine-containing compounds, which as a class are generally toxic." But fluoropolymers, the chemicals from which these toxic compounds come, are a big part of the coating formula — and the very reason that foods don't stick to nonstick.
Switch to cast iron cookware and stainless steel pots.
Cast iron when looked after well (no detergent or washing liquid) and are seasoned with salt and oil are largely non-stick, can be used at any heat and create delicious textures on the outside of meats and vegetables.
You can also use your BBQ hot plate - especially handy in summer. There are a huge number of cast iron skillets and frying pans available, including in chain homeware stores.
The problem with drinking from plastic bottles is that the plastic leaches chemicals like pcb’s dioxins, which are xeno-estrogenic and mimic oestrogen in your body.
When your body’s oestrogen levels are too high it blocks the oestrogen receptor sites, which then means your body essentially becomes insulin resistant, making it very difficult for your body to lose fat. When this happens you become oestrogen dominant.
The simple swap is to drink water out or glass or stainless steel bottles. There are lots of great brands making eco-friendly water bottles but you can also re-use glass jars or glass water bottles from the supermarket. It doesn’t have to be expensive!
The way we store our food has the same problems as water bottles. Plastic containers and food wraps contain BPA, PCB dioxins and chemicals that leech from the plastic over time, especially when heated. But all of us put plastic containers in hot cars, bags and the dishwasher, right?!
Avoiding plastics can be harder than you think. Here are several sources of plastic you might not have thought about
... and the list could go on
Swap your plastic containers for glass or stainless steel. For a cheap alternative, you can reuse glass jars or mason jars for storage or you can purchase specialty lunchboxes from eco-friendly brands such as Planet Box or Lunchbots.
Why is it toxic?
Most of our diets and lifestyles are slightly more acidic, which can cause a whole bunch of different functions within the body disfunction, like the digestive system and kidney function for example, so the best water to drink is pure, mineralised and slightly alkaline.
For most people, we do not recommend drinking tap water as most tap water is going to have chlorine and fluoride, and both of these can be problematic.
Chlorine is basically a mild bleach that has a bad taste and has been put in water to kill any bad bacteria. When you start drinking a lot of it, it starts killing the bacteria in your mouth and gut.
Fluoride blocks iodine in the body. We have 72 pathways of iodine in the body that are vital to our health, therefore anywhere fluoride is blocking iodine will be causing you some serious issues.
For most people, we recommend a water filter that removes the chlorine and reduces the fluoride, adds minerals and slightly alkalises your water. We have a few basic water filter options available in our store if you want to see what I recommend.
What we clean our homes with leaves residues on all our surfaces. These particles also get into our clothes and bedding meaning we ingest, breathe, and absorb them. Using conventional cleaners such as spray'n'wipe, mr. muscle or other products with parabens and carcinogens expose us to some very harsh chemicals and toxins.
The easiest way to resolve this is to switch to chemical-free, natural brands of household cleaners. Even large supermarket chains are carrying eco-friendly cleaning products by companies such as Ecostore.
For a thrifty tip, you can also use pantry-staple items such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon to clean your dishes and surfaces.
Plain baking soda works well in your dishwasher and adding vinegar to hot water will clean your benches without streaks. Who knew?!
As you can see, it’s easy to make simple swaps to slowly improve your toxic load. As a challenge we want you to choose one item from the list above to swap out for a healthier option.
Maybe you buy a glass water bottle and stop using plastic. Maybe you want to try using a natural cleaning alternative or eco brand. Or maybe you could switch the sunscreen you’re using while the days are hot outside.
Whatever it is know that every small change you make adds up. Not just for your own personal health equation, but for those around you and the environment.
We’d also love to see your changes. Share your pics with us on Instagram for your chance to be featured. Tag us @bepurebenwarren or use #bepurebenwarren
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