Choosing natural cleaning, beauty and other low-tox products isn’t just about doing right by the environment, it can dramatically improve the way your body functions.
What exactly do all of the chemicals contained in these products do to us and is it really worthwhile trying to avoid them?
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC's) 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. They effect the endocrine system, which is the system that deals with all of our hormones, and our hormones impact every part of our body.
Hormones influence the development of the brain and nervous system, the function of our metabolism, 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 hormones.
How do these chemicals affect our hormones?
They increasing and decreasing the production of hormones.
They behave like hormones and therefore confuse the body into thinking it has more hormones available than it really does.
They turn some hormones into other.
They cause premature cell death.
They bind to hormones.
They build up in the organs of the body that produce hormones.
They compete for nutrients, making less available for us to use for other things.
They interfere with the way hormones signal the body to perform certain functions.
What kind of health problems is this causing and/or contributing to?
Mental health disorders
It’s not possible to avoid these chemicals completely, they're everywhere. But the amount that you're exposed to is what matters. Your body can deal with some, but it's the sheer amount that has the most impact.
Here’s my top 10 Simple things you can do to really reduce your exposure.
With these you can make informed choices and positively impact your health every time you go to the supermarket.
1. Cleaning products are a big one. Your skin is your largest organ and will absorb chemicals very easily and these chemicals can enter from the air via the nose, mouth and eyes.
There are lots of great natural cleaning products available, but I clean everything with a mix of water, vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle. It's effective, completely natural and cost effective!
I use bi-carb soda made into a paste to replace a cream cleanser and I use the Abode brand of things like washing powder and dishwashing liquid.
Air fresheners, toilet sprays, non-natural candles and pest control sprays all contain chemicals that will negatively affect your health. Instead, diffuse pure essential oils, use diatomaceous earth to get rid of cockroaches and choose natural soy or beeswax candles scented pure essential oils.
Just making this one change alone would reduce your toxic load considerably.
2. Swap to natural make-up, cleansers, shampoos, body wash, toothpaste and perfumes. The options available these days are amazing! From budget products to more luxe ranges and again, our skin is our largest organ and will absorb chemicals very easily.
Beware of green washing. There are a lot of products and brands that give the impression or claim to be natural, that are very far from it. If you don't know what you're looking for, purchase from trusted sources like www.nourishedlife.com.au that have done all the hard work for you.
3. Tampons and pads contain bleaches, chemicals, pesticides and perfumes and are being used on a highly absorbent part of the body. If you want to know more about the effect of non-organic sanitary products, you can read more here.
Organic tampons, pads and liners are a much healthier option. Alternatively, you now have menstrual cups and period underwear and I tend to cycle between those 3 options. Click here to read more about the period underwear that I've found to be the most effective.
4. Buying organic food wherever you can, will mean that 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 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 for this reason and it's so simple to pop actual corn kernels and and melted butter and sea salt.
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 stainless steel water bottles whenever you can and don’t heat your food in plastic containers or while covered in clingwrap.
8. Birth control pills will basically wreak havoc on your hormones. Obviously we want to avoid unplanned pregnancy, but there are other options that can be less damaging that you can talk through with your practitioner for birth control and we certainly want to avoid the contraceptive pill as a solution for heavy bleeding, PMS and acne. These conditions have underlying drivers that should be addressed with a Qualified Naturopath, not just masked by suppressing the body's ability to produce natural hormones with synthetic ones.
9. Fibre and cruciferous vegetables are particularly effective at promoting healthy liver function and helping remove the excess circulating oestrogen that you can get when some of these chemicals mimic oestrogen.
Certain EDC's also block or bind to oestrogen receptors resulting in oestrogen dominance. Increasing your intake of fibre and cruciferous vegetables will really help to re-establish hormonal balance.
10. Don't use Round Up! It contains Glyphosate which is linked to obesity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and many, many other health problems.
At the time of writing this, 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, pets and your home!
75% of woman have premenstrual symptoms and 40% have symptoms severe enough to interfere with their lifestyle. PMS is very common, but shouldn't be considered normal. It's a symptom of imbalance and reducing your exposure to EDC's can be one of the underlying factors that need to be addressed.
You can’t avoid them completely, we’re completely surrounded by them! But you can certainly reduce your exposure and have a huge positive impact on your health by making some simple changes.