What’s messing with our hormones?
Something is desperately wrong. Hormonal diseases are on the rise. Nowadays, everyone knows someone who suffers from Polycystic Ovaries. Did you know that one generation ago this disease was completely unknown? If a woman missed a period back then, it was because she was pregnant or had reached menopause.
Polycystic ovaries are just the tip of an iceberg. There are a host of conditions relating to the male and female hormonal (endocrine) systems that are becoming more common. These are conditions like fibroids, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis in women, and falling sperm counts and fertility rates in men. Worryingly, hormone related cancers are also on the rise in both men and women.
Research has started to suggest that there are a host of modern chemicals previously deemed to be completely safe, but are now known to be endocrine disruptors. These endocrine disruptors are so common, it’s no surprise that the problem has become widespread. I can guarantee that over the next few years you will be hearing a lot more about endocrine disruptors. The US FDA has already started to ban and phase out some of these, but it’s going to take years. In the meantime countries like Trinidad and Tobago are likely to become dumping grounds for products containing these chemicals as they can no longer be sold in the developed world.
Here is a list of some of the most common exposures to endocrine disruptors, along with a few things you can do differently to reduce your risk.
Avoid products labelled “antibacterial”
Such as hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, and antibacterial cleansing wipes. Our parents and grandparents were definitely NOT using these products back then, and guess what, they weren’t any worse for it. Substances like triclosan and triclocarban which can be found in soaps, mouth washes and toothpastes are known to disrupt the function of the thyroid gland and destroy the healthy bacteria in the gut.
Switch to more natural soaps and cleaning products. Try vinegar for cleaning floors and surfaces. Your body will thank you.
Stop drinking water stored in plastic
Food grade plastics like PET and BPA are known endocrine disruptors and many researchers are very concerned. PET plastics are used in water bottles and nearly everyone drinks bottled water now. The studies for safety of water bottles are done at temperatures below 25 degrees celsius. However, every day in Trinidad the temperature rises above 25 degrees. High concentrations of phthalates the chemical responsible for messing with our hormones are found in water stored in plastics over 40 degrees. This is a normal scenario in warehouses and delivery vans everyday in our country. The lining of cans contain BPA plastic, another known hormone disruptor linked to cancers. Microwaving in plastic containers also increases toxic plastic residues in food.
Store water in stainless steel containers and glass bottles, avoid canned foods and microwave (if you must) in glassware or stone ware.
Stay away from artificial fragrances
These are found in air fresheners, scented candles and some perfumes. Phthalates are used in the fragrance industry to prolong the scents of air freshener products.
Try using aroma oils and natural scents instead.
Cut out GMO and non-organic grains
Ever wonder why so many people can’t digest flour and gluten anymore? Glyphosate is the most commonly used weedicide worldwide. Its heavily used in Genetically Modified foods and in non-organic grain crops such as wheat, oats, and corn coming from the US. This is because glyphosate is used to increase the ease of harvesting the crop, a process called glyphosate drying. All of this to say that glyphosate levels are shockingly high in our food supply. Glyphosate is a potent endocrine disruptor and it also destroys the health of the good bacteria in the gut. When our gut bacteria is disrupted so is our digestion of complex proteins like gluten.
Minimise the use of US grains such as corn, wheat, and oats, unless organic. Genetically Modified foods should be avoided for the same reasons. It is relatively safer to use grains from Europe, as these have lower pesticide residues.