I talk about so many things with my clients – diet, herbs, supplements, exercise, meditation, and acupuncture – just to name a few. But I am more and more frequently thinking about the dangers of environmental toxins and how we should be doing more to help protect people, their fertility, and their health.
You may remember the Endocrine Society releasing a report in 2009 discussing the dangers of endocrine disruptors in our environment and how this affects our health and fertility. Technically they defined this as a chemical or any group of chemicals that “interfere with any aspect of hormone action”. This resulted in manufacturers trying to make everything BPA free since that seemed to be one of the biggest culprits. However, a more recent review on this topic by the Endocrine Society has discussed many chemicals are responsible for this Endocrine Disrupting nature and can have far reaching consequences. Bottom line, avoiding BPA is helpful, but it’s not enough.
So first of all, what is an endocrine disruptor?
The EPA defines it as “an exogenous agent that interferes with synthesis, secretion, transport, metabolism, binding action, or elimination of natural blood-borne hormones that are present in the body and are responsible for homeostasis, reproduction, and developmental process.” In other words, it’s something from outside your body that you’re exposed to, that affects your hormones and endocrine system.
Why is this bad?
An endocrine disruptor can have far-reaching consequences. Everything from fatigue and poor metabolism to cancer and infertility. If the hormones in your body are being manipulated and affected by external toxins, they can affect anything in your body that is part of the endocrine (aka hormonal) system. This means your thyroid, pituitary, ovaries, testes, even insulin and blood sugar balance can be affected by endocrine disruptors and environmental toxins.
What can you/we do about it?
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in our society with everything you read online regarding fertility and environmental toxins. But what you put on and in your body is something that you can control (at least most of the time). Your skin does absorb some of what you put on it, and some of these chemicals can pass through the placenta to a fetus or baby (check out this study published by the EWG in 2005 studying the toxins found in cord blood). This means you can absorb some of the chemicals found in shampoo, body wash, lotion, hand soap, makeup, and cleaning products (unless you’re wearing gloves every time you use Windex and Lysol wipes). Pretty much every chemical your body comes in contact with is the culprit or at least suspect for being an endocrine disruptor.
Take action to decrease exposure to environmental toxins
Here are some things you can do to decrease the toxins you’re exposed to:
- Switch to healthier bath and beauty products (The Beauty Counter and Arbonne have good products. And in general products that follow the European Union standards is a good place to start.) You can look up the products you currently use here to see how the ingredients are rated in terms of safety.
- Make the change to healthier and safer cleaning products to use in your home (products like Method and Mrs. Myers are a good place to start, but you can find even safer alternatives if you look around or make your own.)
- Eat meat that is hormone free and raised without the use of antibiotics.
- Eat organic produce whenever possible (Organic means it’s grown without the use of pesticides, which is desirable because pesticides are endocrine disrupters.) This article from the Human Reproduction journal in 2015 showed men had poorer sperm quality when they were consuming fruits and vegetables that contained higher pesticide levels. And if you can’t afford to eat organic all the time, check out this list called “The Dirty Dozen” by the Environmental Working Group to see the 12 produce items that contain the most pesticide residues. You can also check out “The Clean Fifteen” on the same page to see which 15 produce items contain the least amount of pesticide residues (hint, these are the ones to not buy organic if you’re having to pick and choose).
If you have questions about decreasing the environmental toxins in your life or other ways to improve your fertility, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time – don’t stop dreaming,
Misty Reed, Fertility Consultant and Coach
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