The amount of time, financial cost and level of commitment required to improve your health can make a healthy lifestyle seem daunting. However, I believe that healthy living can start with one small habit change. Over time, multiple, small habit changes can eventually lead to the results that you are striving for. If you are looking for an easy and cost-effective way to improve your health, I suggest that you start by eliminating endocrine disruptors from your home; this seemingly small change can produce dramatic results for your health!
What is the Endocrine System?
The endocrine system (adrenal gland, ovary, pancreas, pituitary gland, testes and thyroid gland) makes hormones (chemical messengers) that travel through the body and affect our body in numerous ways. According to the National Institute of Health, hormones affect the following:
- Growth and development
- Metabolism (digestion, elimination, breathing, blood circulation and maintaining body temperature)
- Sexual function
As you can see, the endocrine system affects just about everything in your body!
What are Endocrine Disruptors?
According to the National Institute of Health, “Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.” According to The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, endocrine disruptors may also cause an increase or progression of obesity, diabetes, endometriosis and some cancers. Unfortunately, some research suggests that even low doses of toxic chemicals can cause diseases and symptoms that may not be detectable until later in life. These diseases might even affect our future children, even if our future children were not directly exposed to the chemicals that we were exposed to!
Categories of Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals (EDCs)
Household product ingredients: Chemicals found in items such as appliances, vehicles, materials, electronics, crafts, textiles, furniture and household cleaning products.
Personal care products/cosmetic ingredients: Chemicals found in products such as cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, soaps, deodorants, fragrances and shaving products.
Pesticide ingredients: Insecticides/acaricides (miticides), herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and other biocides, including chemicals described as “inert.”
Flame retardants: Chemicals used to prevent fires. Applied to clothing, mattresses, and furniture.
Plastics/rubber: Components, reactants or additives used in the manufacturing of rubbers or plastics.
Industrial additives: Chemicals used as preservatives, antioxidants, and surfactants used in such things as glue, plastic, rubber, paint and wood products.
Solvents: Chemicals used to dissolve other chemicals. Common in cleaning products in the home.
Food additives: Dyes, preservatives and many compounds used in food processing and as components in food packaging.
Metal/metallurgy: Elements or chemicals used in the extraction, processing or manufacturing of a metal or metal-containing product, including welding.
Medical/veterinary/research: Chemicals used in hospitals, medical supplies, and equipment, in laboratories or as reagants, and pharmaceuticals.
Antimicrobials: Chemicals that prevent the growth of and/or destroy microorganisms including hand washing products.
Source: Copyright © 2014 by the International Nurse Coach Association. http://www.inursecoach.com
How can we protect ourselves from endocrine disruptors?
- Buy safer personal care products or make your own (see Toxic House and DIY: Foaming Hand Soap).
- When possible, buy organic foods that do not contain toxic additives and pesticides.
- Buy mattresses, pillows, furniture and baby gear that have not been treated with flame retardants and other toxic chemicals.
- When possible, avoid plasticware with food, drinks and children.
- Buy safer supplies when painting or renovating your home (see Toxic House and ewg.org).
- Open a window for ventilation.
- Help your body detoxify with healthy foods, whole-food supplements (non-GMO), exercise and essential oils.