While it is nice to think that everything available to consumers has gone through rigorous testing to ensure that it is 100% safe, unfortunately that is not the case, especially in America. Our blog post on chemical-free living already discussed how chemicals are added to products for purposes like preservation and fragrance and how they can accumulate in the body. Of these chemicals, one class in particular has been shown to have detrimental health effects, impairing thyroid function, causing reproductive issues, decreasing fertility, and even contributing to certain types of cancer.
Xenoestrogens are a class of endocrine disruptors - substances that negatively impact the body's hormonal balance - that are widespread in our society. As their name implies, they are foreign ("xeno-") chemicals with estrogenic tendencies, which means they can clog estrogen receptor sites on cells so that the estrogen naturally produced in the body can't do its job. Some of the most common xenoestrogens are:
The best way to decrease xenoestrogen damage to your body is to avoid them as much as possible. This may seem overwhelming - they're everywhere - but there a few simple things you can do to limit your exposure:
- Eat organic foods: Organic foods are raised without pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or genetic modification, and the environment in which they are produced must meet strict guidelines as well. By choosing organic foods you're steering clear of both pesticides and other chemical residues that can be found in their non-organic counterparts.
- Eat whole foods: Xenoestrogens in the linings of cans and other packages can leach into foods, so opt for ingredients that are whole and fresh instead of pre-packaged.
- Choose glass over plastic: Store and reheat food in glass containers and use glass or stainless steel water bottles instead of plastic. Xenoestrogens in plastic and styrofoam can leach into food and beverages, especially when heated, so avoid them as much as possible.
- Use natural cleaners: There's a reason your favorite cleaning solutions have danger warnings all over them! Choose plant-based options or make your own cleaners using ingredients like apple cider vinegar - look through our Pinterest account for ideas - and toss the poisons.
- Eliminate toxic products: The poison symbols on cleaners are hard to miss, but unfortunately the xenoestrogens in beauty and personal care products aren't labeled in this way. Check the ingredients listed in your shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, makeup, lotion, etc. in the Environmental Working Group's free Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and replace everything with a scary rating with a natural alternative, either by making your own DIY version or buying from a trusted company. (We highly recommend Young Living because their products are free of synthetics and infused with therapeutic essential oils.)
Even if you're not dealing with an issue directly impacted by xenoestrogens (i.e. fertility), it's still in your best interest to avoid them as much as you can. While completely eliminating them may very well be impossible, by following the tips in this post you can significantly reduce your exposure. Decrease the chemical load you place on your body and it will have more energy and resources to detoxify and rebuild within itself, which will lead to better overall health.
Kathleen Ellerie is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.