Endochrine Disruptors & 9 Tips For Avoiding Them
Understanding the endocrine system
The endocrine system is a network of glands and organs that produce, store, and secrete hormones.
In a perfect World, the endocrine system works harmoniously with other systems to regulate your body's healthy development and function.
A properly functioning endocrine system plays a huge role in all phases of development, metabolism, and behavior.
Some of the functions it helps to regulate are:
- Sensory perception
- Sexual development
What are Endochrine Disruptors?
EDCs are chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that interfere with the way the body’s hormones work. These chemicals are mostly man made, synthetic, chemicals.
There are three ways that these chemicals can interfere:
- By mimicking human hormones, and blocking your body’s normal hormone function
- By increasing or decreasing the levels of hormones in our blood by affecting how they are made, broken down, or stored in our body.
- By changing how sensitive our bodies are to different hormones.
These synthetic chemicals often lurk in products like:
- Industrial chemicals and pesticides used on plants (These can also work their way up the foodchain)
- Some plastics
- Some household cleaners
- Fabrics treated with flame retardants,
- Some cosmetics, lotions, products with fragrance
- Some anti-bacterial soaps
- Processed foods
- Soy-based products (these contain phytoestrogens, which are chemicals produced by plants that mimic estrogen)
- Household dust from weathering construction material or furniture
Why Are Endochrine Disruptors Dangerous?
The interference of EDC’sto the body’s normal processes can cause significant problems.
Since there are periods where hormones regulate the formation and maturation of organs, the changes that EDC’s make can be long lasting, and even irreversible .
Research shows that endocrine disruptors may pose the greatest risk during prenatal and early postnatal development, when organ and neural systems are forming.
Some EDCs have been found to cross the placenta and become concentrated in the fetus' circulation, while others can be transferred from mother to infant through breast milk.
EDCs can disrupt many different hormones, which is why they have been linked to a huge list of adverse health effects, such as:
- Sperm quality
- Abnormalities in sex organs
- Early puberty
- Altered nervous system function
- Compromised immune function
- Certain cancers
- Respiratory problems
- Metabolic issues
- Cardiovascular problems
- Growth, neurological and learning disabilities
EDC’s come from a multitude of sources, and exposure can happen in many ways including via the air we breathe, through food and water that we ingest, and they can also be absorbed through the skin.
Recent research shows even very low-dose exposures can be significant, so it’s best to avoid EDC’s as much as possible.
The Better News
There’s no disputing that chemistry and chemical engineering have done wonders for the progress of human kind, with it to thank for many life-saving breakthroughs, and much more.
Fortunately, change is already underway, with some EDC's being banned, while companies and consumers are becoming more aware. Environmental health scientists, biologists and endocrinologists have also started working with chemists to design chemicals that are don't interfere with our endocrine system-A study being termed as “Green Chemistry”.
The other good news is that EDC’s are not altogether unavoidable. There are many ways to lower your exposure to them if you know what, where, and when to look out for them.
Additionally, choosing natural alternatives over EDC’s has better outcomes for the state of our environment, and the greater good of the Earth.
9 Places To Avoid EDC's
Wash your Hands-
It sounds so simple, and it is, but by washing your hands frequently you’ll be removing a substantial amount of chemical residue. This is particularly important before eating.
Of course, stay away from fragranced and antibacterial soaps.
Say No To Plastics And Cans-
Chemicals from plastic and canned foods can leach into your food, especially when exposed to heat.
Try to swap plastic food storage containers for glass or stainless steel.
Since even canned foods labeled as ‘BPA Free’ may be lined with a similar chemical, it’s best to steer clear of them altogether. Choosing fresh, frozen, or dried foods is a safer option.
Replace plastic bags with reusable lunch bags, and plastic cling wrap with beeswax-coated cloth.
Did you know that a single kale has been shown to harbour 18 different pesticide and pesticide breakdown residues?! That's 18 good reasons to choose organic produce when possible.
Of course, if only non-organic produce is available to you, be sure to give it a good rinse to reduce any potential EDC exposure.
You might also like to check out the latest Dirty Dozen list -an annual list that ranks produce items by pesticide levels. Avoid those at the top of the list, and perhaps choose something from the Clean 15 list instead!
Many household items including material, furniture, and electronics contain EDC’s that escape and end up as dust in our homes.
Vacuum often and you’ll be reducing your exposure to the accumulation of things like lead, phthalates, fluorinated chemicals, and flame retardants.
Think you’re “cleaning"? You could potentially be introducing a host of harsh chemicals into your home if you’re using standard cleaning products.
Cleaning products for everything from benchtops, to bathroom tiles, and even garbage bags, can contain EDCs.
You can quite easily make your own cleaning products from safe household staples like vinegar (a great stain remover,), borax, baking soda (a natural deodoriser), and lemon juice ( a mild bleach).
If you do buy your cleaning products, it’s a good idea to buy from companies that voluntarily disclose their ingredients and look for carry a Safer Choice Label, or equivalent.
Reboot Your Beauty Routine-
Perfumes, nail polish, skin creams, shampoo and conditioner, antibacterial soaps, deodorant, body wash, and even toothpaste. The list to be aware of can be a little overwhelming.
Here are a few tips to simplify the “weeding out” process-
1. Remember to dodge the 4 P’s.
These are four the main culprits to look out for when choosing skincare:
- Parabens (and any word ending in ‘paraben’)
- Pestisides (go organic!)
A 2012 study found 99% of malignant breast cancer tumors contained 1-5 different types of parabens.
2. In general, the less ingredients the better!
3. Again, with a little knowledge you can create your own products using common household ingredients, such as bicarb soda and coconut oil.
Get Wise About Water-
We’ve talked about plastics, so by now it goes without saying that drinking out of single use plastic bottles is not advised. However, even drinking out of a glass can have negative consequences if the water that’s in it has come directly from your tap.
The most common EDCs found in tap water incorporate estrogen and progesterone from birth control medication, as well as anabolic steroids.
The fix? Drink filtered water where possible!
Avoid Processed And Soy Based Foods-
The best way to avoid EDC’s in the food you eat is by choosing produce that is as whole as possible.
The more processing, transportation, manufacturing, and storage that goes into a product, the higher the chance that EDC’s will have accumulated in it.
Another product to be wary of is Soy. Although many people consider soy-based products to be healthy, they actually contain phytoestrogens, which are chemicals produced by plants that mimic the hormone estrogen.
Practice On An Ajna Wellbeing Yoga Mat-
Although your skin does a great job of keeping a lot of things out of your body, like for instance, water, it is far from an impenetrable fortress. Just think about the various forms of medicines that are delivered via patches or gels designed to enter your bloodstream via topical application.
How long these chemicals take to penetrate the skin varies, with some invading in as little as 25 seconds.
So, just say you go to an hour long yoga class. If you’re rolling around on a yoga mat that has been made using dangerous chemicals, like BPA, PVC, or heavy metals, you could be doing yourself more harm than good!
It’s for this reason that our yoga mats are made with organic jute fibres and PU- a safe alternative to PVC.
By choosing these materials we ensure that you, your family, our workers, and the Earth won’t be exposed to harmful chemicals from our mats.