I want to talk about something that I have started to take very seriously, and that something is CHEMICALS.
The reason I want to talk about this is that over the last couple of years I have become increasingly aware of how harmful these chemicals are, and how detrimental they can be to someone with hormonal imbalances - particularly women with PCOS.
If you're reading this post you are obviously interested in healing your PCOS, so well done to you!! YAY!
When I was diagnosed with PCOS, the first thing I did was analyse my diet and absorb as much reliable information as I could about my condition and the best way to start to heal it.
Everywhere I looked people were talking about the different diets you can try, the foods you should or shouldn't be eating, and the supplements you should be taking. What I couldn't find much information about was the type of environment you should be LIVING in.
Surely if we are making all the drastic changes to our diets and lifestyles, we should also be taking in to account the place in which we live?
As you guys know I am a bit of health science nerd (In fact I have a whole degree in it haha!), and I remember one day I was scrolling through one of my favourite websites full of reliable and evidence-based data, the WHO (World Health Organisation), and I found an eye-opening academic journal about the link between Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and PCOS http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/endocrine/en/... And to be honest, it actually left me in shock.
I mean when you really think about it, CHEMICALS ARE EVERYWHERE!
They're in the water we drink, the food we eat, cosmetics and beauty products, even our wall paint!!! (gahhhhhh send help!!)
These chemicals are having HUGE impacts on our health and wellbeing, PARTICULARLY our hormone health! The effect is so profound they are actually referred to as hormone-disrupting chemicals, or endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC).
So what are Endocrine-disrupting chemicals I hear you ask? Well, they are basically foreign substances that alter the way the endocrine (hormonal) system works.
You- AHHH K cool, thank Brigitte…But what the hell is an endocrine system!?!
LOL ok, here is my simple explanation of the Endocrine system….
The endocrine system is basically like a communication network. It's made up of a series of glands that communicate with the rest of the body, these include:
Hypothalamus (in the brain)
These glands tell different cells in our body to do things by releasing specific instructions via chemicals (aka hormones) in the bloodstream.
So, for example, the ovaries and pituitary glands need to secrete the correct amount and balance of hormones to regulate a woman's menstrual cycle.
So when chemicals get involved they start to wreak havoc on the endocrine system - even tiny amounts can disrupt it.
This means that we can change absolutely everything in our diet, but if we are eating foods covered in chemicals, drinking toxic water, using chemical-laden beauty products and storing our food in plastic, then our endocrine system can't possibly heal itself….
ZOMG HOW MUCH EASIER WAS LIFE BEFORE FINDING OUT YOU HAVE A HORMONE IMBALANCE!!
So I thought I would put together a little list of some very simple things I have done around my home that you can do too!
Plastic is the devil! Haha ok not really, but in all honesty, it is your hormones' arch-enemy.
After doing an excruciating amount of research into hormone disruptors, (and trying to ignore all the articles pointing to plastic being a major one!) I finally couldn't ignore all the proof and I got rid of all the plastic (or as much as I could!) and swapped everything over to glass or other sustainable/non-hormone-disrupting alternatives….
I'm not going to lie, this was not easiest thing to do, and it meant I had to do a COMPLETE kitchen overhaul (which took me a whole weekend to complete!), BUT I am now obsessed with my glass jars and wax wraps (instead of plastic cling wrap!), and I really do love the way my cupboards look all stocked with clear glass jars!
If you can't avoid plastic altogether, then please consider using PBA- free plastics instead.
Wash your hands
This one has to be the easiest one of them all, so if you're going to start making one change today start with this simple one: Wash your hands! Try to wash your hands frequently (especially before eating!) But make sure you avoid soaps with fragrance or 'antibacterial' properties. (find out why here https://www.nrdc.org/stories/dirt-antibacterial-soaps. By washing your hands, you will be rinsing a substantial amount of chemical residue down the drain.
-Filter your tap water
So when I found out about how toxic tap water could be (and we have some of the cleanest tap water in the world in Australia!), I went a bit crazy and had a filtered and alkaline water tap installed in my kitchen. I realise not everyone can do this, but there are plenty of amazing carbon filters you can get these days that are portable and can sit on your kitchen bench. Unfortunately, tap water can contain loads of potential hormone disruptors, including residue from birth control pills, (according to NRDC’s Drinking Water Project) so drinking filtered water will help to decrease the level of some endocrine-disrupting chemicals… just make sure you are drinking it out of a glass!
This is another big one. For some reason, many of us will actually bring in harmful air pollutants into our homes in order to clean them. Most cleaning products are packed with hormone-disrupting chemicals and what makes it even more difficult is that companies are not required to list the ingredients on the label. CRAZY RIGHT!?!
So there are a couple of things you can do to solve this issue. The first is to look out for companies that voluntarily disclose their ingredients (as this usually means they are not hiding anything too nasty). Or secondly, (and what I now do!) is make my own!! Honestly, they are so simple to make, and you really only need a few basic ingredients like vinegar, borax, baking soda and some of your favourite essential oils (I like using peppermint oil because it makes everything smell so clean!) and then pop it into a spray glass bottle.
Choose your food and how you prepare food carefully
I know this seems like an obvious one, but I don't think many people truly understand how much the food we eat can disrupt our hormones. These days soooooo much of our food is covered in hormone-disrupting pesticides (not to mention being genetically modified). My biggest tips when it comes to choosing food are:
Choose organic whenever possible
Pick foods that are in their ‘whole’ state
Avoid canned foods, as they are likely lined with BPA to keep them from corroding
Avoid ‘packaged’ foods
Use stainless steel or cast iron pans to cook with (non-stick pans can contain hormone-disrupting chemicals)
Avoid animal products as they are likely contaminated with dioxin
Last but definitely not least is beauty and cosmetic products.
Our beauty products are absolutely packed with hormone-disrupting chemicals that should be avoided like the plague if you have a thyroid issue, imbalanced cortisol or any endocrine/ hormonal issues. If you do use products with these ingredients, I would strongly suggest discontinuing them ASAP. The most common hormone-disrupting chemicals to look out for are:
Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen and irritant found in nail products, hair dye, fake eyelash adhesives and some shampoos. It has been banned in many countries.
Parabens (Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl- and Isobutyl-): Used as preservatives in many products. A study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology in 2004 detected parabens in breast tumours and discussed their estrogen-like properties. While this doesn’t create a direct connection with cancer, I recommend avoiding these ingredients.
Mercury: A known irritant and allergen that, with body accumulation over time, can impair the brain and nervous system.
Fragrance: Has hormone-disrupting effects. Fragrance is also connected to headaches, dizziness, asthma and allergies. Instead, use products with natural fragrances only.
Lead: A known carcinogen and hormone disruptor found in certain eyeliners, hair dye and lipsticks.
Oxybenzone: An active ingredient in chemical sunscreens that accumulates in fatty tissues and is linked to allergies, hormone disruption and cellular damage. I recommend wearing skin-protective clothing and using natural minerals or zinc products.
Sodium lauryl (ether) sulphate (SLS, SLES): A former industrial degreaser now used to make soap foamy, it’s absorbed into the body.
DEA/TEA/MEA (Ethanolamines): Used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soaps and topical application. It’s been associated with cancer in animal studies.
Diethylene glycol (or DEG): A central nervous system depressant and potent kidney and liver toxin. Sometimes found in fragrances. Glycerin and propylene glycol are sometimes contaminated with DEG, and both are common ingredients in personal care products.
If you’re like me and have already spent time and effort trying to heal your PCOS (or other hormonal condition), then it’s time to stop ignoring these chemicals.
Because you can eat all the healthy food in the world, but if it’s covered in chemicals, you’re using toxic beauty products or storing all your food in plastic, then it’s highly likely you won’t be able to heal your condition fully.
I’ve said it before, and I am going to say it again, get out there and educate yourself on EVERYTHING! We are so lucky we live in a world where we have access to sooooo much amazing information, and the coolest thing is that every day we have the opportunity to find out more.
Lots of love!
SO as you can see Endocrine/hormone chemical disruptors are EVERYWHERE. #HELP
xxx Brigitte Warne