While endocrine disruptors aren't anything new, this word has been buzzing around the health and wellness community a lot lately. So, I thought today we would get back to basics and talk all about what an endocrine disruptor actually is and how they can play a larger part in impacting your overall physical and mental wellness.
In the broadest sense, endocrine disruptors are anything that has the ability to manipulate your hormones. Any system in the body that is controlled by hormones (and trust me, there's a lot of them) can easily become imbalanced once in contact with an endocrine disruptor. An endocrine disruptor can actually mimic our own hormones or interfere with them, disrupting the ever so delicate balance our bodies are constantly attempting to monitor. This could be a chemical in your shampoo, water from a plastic bottle, the laundry detergent you use on your sheets, the food you just ate, and so much more. Endocrine disruptors are literally everywhere and it's almost impossible to completely avoid all of them in our modern-day society. Just when you think you've gotten rid of every single disruptor, you'll surely find out about a new one lurking in your toothpaste or that bottle of air freshener. It's like that saying the more you learn, the less you know.
This isn't to scare you off, but the contrary. It's to further inform you as to which products or ingredients may be causing a hormonal imbalance within your body. While diet, stress, and lifestyle play a huge part in the overall balance of our hormones, endocrine disruptors carry an equal significance as well.
so, what do endocrine disruptors do?
Our endocrine system has several different glands which produce and release hormones. These hormones function in the body as chemical messengers, they bind to specific cells and tell them exactly what to do. When everything is in order, your body is properly functioning, your hormones are balanced, skin is clear, and you don't experience any other "mystery symptoms". You basically go on living your normal everyday life.
When everything is not in order, you may experience skin problems, excessive stress, anxiety, social problems, weight gain, disrupted immune function, impaired bone health, and significant hormonal imbalances (duh!). The best way to combat these hormonal imbalances are to remove toxins and ED's (endocrine disruptors) from your everyday life. Luckily there are plenty of natural options on the market today for everything from skincare to laundry detergent, so it's not completely impossible to find a great skincare cream or detergent without all the nasties. While it may seem overwhelming to switch everything at once, start small! Even removing the smallest amount of endocrine disruptors in your haircare and makeup can make a huge difference in your overall wellbeing!
In general, endocrine disruptors are found in:
- Personal hygiene products
- Makeup and Skincare
Chemicals specifically linked to hormone disruption include BPA, Dioxin, Atrazine, Phthalates, Perchlorate, Fire retardants, Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, PFC's, Pesticides, and Glycol Ethers.
Seems like practically everything you touch, put on your body, and eat is an endocrine disruptor; amirite? Well luckily there are a few simple ways that you can actively avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals, and it all starts with simply washing your hands. The list below is not extensive, but meant more as a general, easy to follow guide for beginners who want to slowly make the proper lifestyle changes to remove Endocrine Disruptors from their life.
Wash Your Hands
I know it seems simple and silly, but washing your hands is one of the #1 ways to get rid of endocrine disruptors. As you move throughout the day, your hands can come upon an absurd amount of chemicals. Even using fragrance hand soap can cause a disruption. So, make sure you're washing your hands frequently, especially before you eat!
Vacuum and Dust
Flame retardant chemicals are used in many household products and are unfortunately known to be big endocrine disruptors. These chemicals slowly leak out over time from electronics and furniture, being known to accumulate in household dust. They do make flame-retardant furniture, but it is quite expensive and most people don't have the means to replace all of their furniture to flame retardant versions. The best way to combat the extra ED's is to dust as often as possible!
Fragrances are EVERYWHERE. They're in your shampoo, skincare, laundry detergent, garbage bags, and even hand soap. Do they smell good? Yes. Are they needed? Absolutely not. Fragrance simply means a mix of 100's of different chemicals. They're dangerous because companies can keep their fragrance ingredients a secret without disclosing exact formulas. Meaning they can put whatever they want in their product and call it a "fragrance". That’s a RED FLAG. You definitely need to know exactly what you're putting in and ON your body! Luckily there are plenty of nontoxic fragrance-free versions of both your favorite cleaning supplies and skincare.
Use Glass When Possible
Plastic is a huge no-no. Two commonly known EDC's used in plastic are BPA and phthalates. Even a very low dose of these can pose a risk for endocrine disruption. While plastic is used manufacturing our cell phones, conditioner bottles, and makeup containers, it may be impossible to ditch 100% of it. Start small by eliminating things you know you can easily get rid of like plastic Tupperware or replace plastic trash bags with smaller paper ones. Always be sure whenever buying plastic to research if something safer exists first.
Watch What you Eat and Drink
It's not enough these days to only watch what you're putting on your skin, you need to be mindful of what goes into it as well. While tap water is safe for the most part, installation of a filter (and using glass cups) will help to further protect you from potential hormone disruptors, like birth control pill residue that is often found in tap water (yikes!). Be mindful when buying food as well!
Try to make sure you're purchasing organic foods when possible and be sure to always rinse your veggies of any pesticides or chemicals before you eat them! Also try to avoid processed food as often as possible which contains preservatives, enhancements, and chemicals. Try to eat whole, and fresh foods diet to not only achieve the biggest health benefits, but reduce the amount of endocrine disruptors in your life as well.