Vegetable Oil: The Ugly Truth

Veg Oil

You know when you roast pork, all of the fat swamps the roasting pan. That fat is lard, natural, healthy lard. Now picture roasting vegetables…when you take them out of the oven, they’re not swimming in their own fat. So what is vegetable oil then?

Vegetable oil is typically made from applying heat and pressure to seeds (sunflower, canola, corn, grapeseed, safflower, rice bran and soybean oils) and them treating them with chemicals to make sure they look like natural fats, such as butter and lard.

These seed oils are now a core component of our food supply and the world is sicker now than ever.

Unlike animal fats, vegetable oils are very high in polyunsaturated fats and in particular, omega-6 fat. Anthropological research shows that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. It also shows that these hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Today, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats ranges from an average of 10:1 to 25:1. The problem with omega-6 fat is that it is pro-inflammatory. This means a diet with a lot of omega-6 fat (and not much omega-3) will increase inflammation.

When vegetable oils interact with oxygen they release neurotoxic chemicals. These toxic molecules are dangerous because they interact destructively with our DNA.

But aren’t vegetable oils ‘heart healthy’?

It’s been drilled into us that the cause of heart disease is too much saturated fat and the secret to curing it is to eat vegetable oils instead. Unfortunately though, if you’ve read our post ‘The Truth about Fat’, you’d know that the people actively encouraging us to eat these toxins are doing so because of their industry sponsors and BIG Food.

So what? A little vegetable oil wouldn’t hurt right?

Wrong. Every spoonful of vegetable oil is doing damage to your body. Elevated omega-6 to omega-3 ratios are associated with increases in all inflammatory diseases (aka pretty much all diseases). These diseases include:vegetableoilpoison

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Macular degeneration
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease

So in short, avoid vegetable oil if you want to stay healthy and live a long life!

Advertisements

The Thyroid, Your Hormones and Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine Disruptors hormones thyroid BPA

You’ve eliminated gluten, started eating more saturated fat, stopped eating that white poison, sugar, and tried to minimise stress, yet you’re still feeling crappy. Maybe it’s time to look at how your thyroid and hormones are being effected by the environment you live in?

Ok so it’s not feasible to live in a bubble of fresh air, free from toxins and chemicals, eating only organic food and drinking pure water (you know, that fancy, wind dried stuff that you pay $50 a bottle for at your local artisanal juice bar…). But realising what sort of chemicals and toxins you are exposed to everyday can help you minimise the bad of the bad and hopefully quick start your hormones into doing their job properly.

You’ve probably come across the term ‘endocrine disruptor’ before, or at least heard of the negative effects chemicals can have on your health. So what is an endocrine disruptor we hear you ask? Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with our body’s endocrine system, producing adverse reproductive, neurological, developmental and immune effects in both us and wildlife.

As the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says:

“…there is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signalling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones”.

Simply, endocrine disruptors mimic our naturally occurring hormones, tricking our bodies into thinking they actually are them. But once we start to use these ‘hormones’ are body reacts differently to how it would if they were the actual hormones.

BPA Hormones thyroid

When absorbed in the body, an endocrine disruptor can decrease or increase normal hormone levels (left), mimic the body’s natural hormones (middle), or alter the natural production of hormones (right).

Endocrine Disruptors and the Thyroid

Given the essential role the thyroid has in our hormone production, exposure to endocrine disruptors can significantly impact its functioning. In fact, endocrine disruptors can interfere with nearly every step in the thyroid system.

Examples of Endocrine Disruptors’ impacts on the thyroid:

  • Endocrine disruptors can alter the thyroid-pituitary-hypothalamus axis through increasing T4 and stimulating the thyroid which can result in thyroid follicular cell proliferation, and in some cases, result in thyroid cancer.
  • It is well established that thyroid hormones are of special importance in the development of the brain, which, in utero, is dependent upon normal levels of thyroid hormones. Studies have shown that exposure to endocrine disruptors during pregnancy can result in significant cognitive problems for the unborn child.
  • Dioxin-like compounds and certain flame retardants, have a high degree of structural similarity with the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. When we are exposed to these chemicals, they compete with our naturally occurring hormones for the thyroid hormone receptor and transport proteins.
  • Exposure to PCBs (or fire retardants) can reduce circulating levels of thyroid hormone, resulting in hypothyroidism.
  • Studies have shown that endocrine disruptors such as PCBs (or fire retardants) interfere with the way the thyroid hormone functions, but they don’t actually change the amount of the hormone found in the body. This is of interest as we know, our thyroid function is measured by hormonal tests.

Unfortunately, chemicals are not currently tested specifically for their ability to mimic, disrupt, or otherwise act as hormone disruptors.

Here are the most common endocrine disruptors and what you can do to best minimise your exposure to them.

5 Dangers Lurking in your Deodorant

hair-spray

Have a think about your morning routine: wake-up, exercise, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and get dressed. Seems harmless enough right? Unfortunately, the step between brushing our teeth and getting dressed often involves putting on deodorant.

Our skin is our biggest organ, absorbing anything we expose it to. This includes the deodorant we rub under our armpits to stop us smelling, every single day. For healthy people, using deodorant won’t have a huge impact on their health. However, for us with an already compromised immune system, any excess exposure to toxins can be damaging.

Deodorants are designed to work outside the body (i.e. stop us smelling). However, they contain chemicals that can pass through our skin and in some cases, leach into our bloodstream. What’s scary about this is that, unlike when we eat toxins, chemicals absorbed through our skin aren’t broken down and expelled as waste through our liver and digestive system. Rather, they enter our bloodstream without being metabolized.

Here are the 5 most common deodorant/antiperspirant* ingredients that may be dangerous to your health:

  1. Aluminium

Aluminium may cause increased gene instability in breast tissue, which may be linked to changes in tumour growth. It has also been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminium is used in antiperspirants to block your sweat glands, reducing the amount you sweat. So it doesn’t actually reduce the amount of sweat you produce, it only blocks it from coming out! Also, aluminium can kill off the bacteria under your arms that doesn’t produce smelly sweat, meaning that the bacteria that does make you pong, can proliferate.

  1. Phthalates

Phthalates are toxic to our reproductive organs. This chemical disrupts the androgen functions in our body and impacts our ability to build and maintain muscle. Phthalates can actually trigger signals to cells to make them die faster and earlier than they should. Avoiding this chemical is particularly important for sufferers of thyroid problems as some studies have linked phthalates to thyroid irregularities as well as hormone changes, fertility problems, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity and diabetes (read how to minimise your exposure to this chemical here).

Phthalates are used in antiperspirants/deodorants to help the product stick to your skin or hair. Shampoo, moisturiser, perfume, body wash and soap all contain phthalates and this chemical can build up in your body over time.

  1. Parabens

Parabens have been linked to changes in the production and regulation of hormones, and in particular estrogen, in our body. Like other endocrine disruptors, parabens penetrate your skin and mimic the actions of estrogen, increasing the estrogenic effect in your body. Parabens are used in antiperspirants/deodorants as a preservative.

  1. Fragrances

Scary: the chemical ingredients in fragrances are concealed and protected by trade law! So much for transparency. This means no one, besides the maker, knows exactly what goes into the product…or even worse, what the reactions could be. And just to make things worse, fragrances are usually used in products with phthalates to make them long lasting.

  1. Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is a petroleum based chemical that is used to soften cosmetic products, making it easier to apply to the skin. This chemical has been associated with causing damage to the liver, central nervous system and heart. While manufacturers generally argue that propylene glycol is only harmful at high doses, studies have shown that it can be harmful at as small a percentage as 2%. Deodorants generally have a dose of 50% propylene glycol.

*These ingredients are also extremely common in other health care products, such as shampoo and conditioner, moisturisers, shaving gels and make-up – just to name a few!!

Vegetable Oil: The Ugly Truth

Veg Oil

You know when you roast pork, all of the fat swamps the roasting pan. That fat is lard, natural, healthy lard. Now picture roasting vegetables…when you take them out of the oven, they’re not swimming in their own fat. So what is vegetable oil then?

Vegetable oil is typically made from applying heat and pressure to seeds (sunflower, canola, corn, grapeseed, safflower, rice bran and soybean oils) and them treating them with chemicals to make sure they look like natural fats, such as butter and lard.

These seed oils are now a core component of our food supply and the world is sicker now than ever.

Unlike animal fats, vegetable oils are very high in polyunsaturated fats and in particular, omega-6 fat. Anthropological research shows that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. It also shows that these hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Today, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats ranges from an average of 10:1 to 25:1. The problem with omega-6 fat is that it is pro-inflammatory. This means a diet with a lot of omega-6 fat (and not much omega-3) will increase inflammation.

When vegetable oils interact with oxygen they release neurotoxic chemicals. These toxic molecules are dangerous because they interact destructively with our DNA.

But aren’t vegetable oils ‘heart healthy’?

It’s been drilled into us that the cause of heart disease is too much saturated fat and the secret to curing it is to eat vegetable oils instead. Unfortunately though, if you’ve read our post ‘The Truth about Fat’, you’d know that the people actively encouraging us to eat these toxins are doing so because of their industry sponsors and BIG Food.

So what? A little vegetable oil wouldn’t hurt right?

Wrong. Every spoonful of vegetable oil is doing damage to your body. Elevated omega-6 to omega-3 ratios are associated with increases in all inflammatory diseases (aka pretty much all diseases). These diseases include:vegetableoilpoison

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Macular degeneration
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease

So in short, avoid vegetable oil if you want to stay healthy and live a long life!

The Chemical Effects of Copper Toxicity in our Bodies

We have covered the basics of excess copper (symptoms, causes, testing for copper toxicity, the detox process, diet, digestion and the effect of grains on copper toxicity). This post is going to be a bit more scientific – we’re going to discuss the chemical effects copper toxicity has in our bodies.

So we know that when excess copper accumulates in our body it can have both physical and mental impacts on our health…but why does this occur?

dopamine copper

The neurotransmitters in our brain and our autonomic nervous system are considerably impacted by excess copper. When we accumulate copper it impedes our brain’s ability to break down dopamine. It also decreases histamine levels and increases norepinephrine levels. These chemical reactions (or lack of) are what cause the psychological symptoms (anxiety, insomnia, depression, feeling like we are going to lose our mind etc.) we experience.

Copper Toxicity and Addiction

It is the disruption to dopamine and norepinephrine that can lead to addiction. Copper is needed in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters that regulate our thoughts, mood and behaviours. Given the minimal range of optimal copper, too much or too little can cause significant drive to self-medicate with psychotropic substances. Why psychotropic substances? Well drugs like MDMA, amphetamines and PCP cause chemical reactions that mimic our natural neurotransmitters, initially giving users the ‘boost’ of energy that the body is unable to give due to excess copper. When these drugs wear off, the user wants more to give them back that feeling, which leads to the cycle of addiction.

Copper Toxicity and Mood

Histamine is an important neurotransmitter. It is responsible for regulating pain sensitivity, sleep, tear production, sex drive and mood. Copper is responsible for breaking down histamine and when there is too much copper in our body, histamine is excessively degraded, leading to histapenia (low histamine levels). At extreme levels, excessive degradation of histamine can cause paranoia and hallucinations.

Copper Toxicity and Anorexia

Putting the above chemical effects of excess copper together, copper toxicity can actually play a role in anorexia. Whilst anorexia is a mental health issue, copper toxicity can actually affect the physical aspect of the disease.

Excess copper and low zinc can lead to a loss of taste and smell which results the desire to skip meals because the person suffering the imbalance has lost their appetite. As the person skips meals, their copper-zinc ratio becomes even further out of whack, making the lack of appetite fall even more.

As the copper-zinc ratio becomes more imbalanced, the excess copper begins to have psychological effects on the sufferer. Excess copper can cause the sufferer to ‘detach’. Yet at the same time, the copper toxicity is wreaking havoc with the neurotransmitters in their brain causing them to feel anxious and depressed.

Scarily, the anorexia and copper toxicity biochemically feed on themselves – as the copper-zinc balance worsens they want to eat less, the psychological symptoms worsen, and the copper-zinc ratio worsens even further. It is a scary, viscous cycle.

How to Detox from Copper

Mind-racing

Detoxing from excess copper is a long and difficult process…and it is important to understand as much as you can about the condition because taking the wrong steps can exacerbate the condition.

If you have read my initial post, you will know that with pretty much everything I have tried, I have felt worse before I have felt better. This is because as your body is detoxing, the copper is mobilized and exits through many of the body’s detox pathways. As it does this it can cause a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Headaches,
  • Racing thoughts,
  • Anxiety,
  • Mood swings,
  • Digestive problems,
  • Very orange poo(!),
  • Skin conditions, and
  • Increased fatigue.

Be aware of your detox symptoms and if they are too severe, you may need to slow down the detox process.

So how do we actually detox from copper?

1. Eliminate the source of copper

Whilst this is the most important step, it is also the most difficult. To do these, you need to identify all possible sources of copper in your life (diet, lifestyle, environment etc.) and get rid of as many as humanly possible (because you probably aren’t going to be able to eliminate your exposure to some xenoestrogens when you’re out and about).

2. Supplement with zinc

Zinc is the most natural way of removing copper efficiently. As we have talked about in our previous post, zinc and copper have a close relationship, working together to help our body function. It is not the amount of copper and zinc in our body, but the ratio that matters. The optimal ratio of zinc to copper is 8:1, therefore supplementing with zinc can help bring this ratio back into balance. (Make sure to check with a practitioner about how much zinc to take – more is not always better).

Drink more water

3. Drink water

Ok so we know we should be drinking 8 glasses of water a day, but how many of us actually do this? When trying to detox from copper it is important to not only drink the recommended amount of water, but more. The water in our body helps to get the copper mobile and moving through the detox pathways.

4. Increase copper antagonists

These are minerals that help rebalance copper (excrete copper). The main copper antagonists are manganese, vitamin B, C and E, sulphur, selenium and molybdenum.

5. Sweat

Using saunas, steam baths and anything that increases sweating is helpful in removing copper from your body. Steam baths with added clay and Epsom salts also help to pull out toxic metals (and the Epsom salts help you to relax too – just be careful not to swallow any…unless you can get to a toilet very fast). We like to body brush before the bath too, not only does it open your pores, it also has a relaxing routine too it.

6. Coffee enemas

Coffee enemas are used to help eliminate toxins, not just copper, from our body. There is some controversy surrounding enemas and their health benefits, but if you are at your ‘wits end’, like us, trying to find answers, anything is worth a try!

7. Reduce/eliminate foods high in copper from your diet – Check out our copper toxicity and diet post for what foods this includes.

detox copper eat meat

8. Eat foods high in zinc – Again, check out our copper toxicity and diet post.

9. Address your adrenal health

This is easier said than done. In our previous post we mentioned the relationship between adrenal fatigue and copper toxicity is more like a catch 22. Read our post on adrenal fatigue and copper toxicity here.

10. Practice meditation

Meditation, among its other benefits, can help turn off your overstimulated sympathetic nervous system (caused by excess copper) and help you to relax (which will also help in step 9).

11. Identify if methylation and gene mutations are an issue

We suggest reading Dr Amy Yasko’s book Autism: Pathways for Recovery (downloadable free from her website).

What Causes Elevated Copper?

In today’s world copper-zinc imbalances are rather common. However, many people do not suffer from copper toxicity as their livers are able to detox the excess copper effectively. The problem occurs when our body’s liver is not functioning properly – this happens especially in people suffering from autoimmune diseases because we can’t clear heavy metals very well.

copper causes

There are numerous causes of copper toxicity, including:

1. Zinc deficiency – As we said in our previous post, copper and zinc have a very close relationship which act together in our body. Zinc is required to form ceruloplasim and metallothionein which bind to copper and carry it into our mitochondria. While the actual amount of copper and zinc doesn’t matter too much, it is the ratio of zinc to copper that has the most significant impact. Ideally, we want a zinc to copper ratio of 8:1.

However, the push by the public health system to eat less meat, eliminate fat and cholesterol from our diets means we are not getting enough zinc in our diets (animal protein is the highest form of concentrated zinc). But not only that, because of over farming, antibiotics and environmental toxins, our soil has now had its zinc sources depleted.

2. Copper plumbing – Copper can leach from copper pipes into our water sources causing copper toxicity. In some instances, copper sulphate is also used in our water supply to prevent and control algae contamination.

3. Other vitamin and mineral deficiencies – Elevated copper in our bodies can also result from deficiencies in vitamin C, vitamin B, iron, chromium, manganese and selenium.

4. Other heavy metal toxicity – This is especially significant for us suffering from autoimmune diseases as our liver is unable to detox heavy metals effectively. As a result, there may be a build-up of toxic metals such as cadmium and mercury. When our copper binding proteins are busy trying to clear these metals, they are unable to transport copper, leading to an excess in our body.

5. Lifestyle factors – This includes contraception (especially birth control pills and IUDs which increase retention of copper in the kidneys), copper cookware, jewellery, swimming pools and some prescription medications.

6. Xenoestrogens – Today we are exposed to countless more chemicals in our environment than our grandparents. Estrogenic compounds, commonly found in plastic, cosmetics, petrochemicals and pesticides disrupt our endocrine system causing our bodies to retain copper.

7. Imbalances in copper binding substances – An imbalance in ceruloplasim and metallothionein (due to reasons other than low zinc) can cause copper toxicity.

8. Inherited – Unfortunately this one can’t be avoided if you have inherited excess copper from your mother. This can occur if your mother had high levels of copper and passed them through the placenta to you (gee, thanks mum! But we still love you to the moon and back!).

9. Genetic Disorders – In particular Wilson’s Disease and Pyroluria.

10. Diet – We have dedicated a whole blog post to the role of diet in copper toxicity (still to come), but the key point is that eating foods with high copper to zinc ratios (and vice versa) can lead you to accumulating copper.

11. Impaired methylationMethylation is one of the pathways our body uses to detox heavy metals. When we can’t methylate properly this can lead to the build-up of heavy metals in our bodies. In particular, a defected MTHFR gene mutation (an no, we are not swearing….although when suffering from copper toxicity you most definitely want to, this is actually the name of the gene) can result in the body not being able to break down heavy metals effectively, leaving them to accumulate in our body.

12. Adrenal Fatigue – Because it wasn’t causing us enough problems anyway. We have written another post dedicated to copper toxicity and adrenal fatigue (still to come), but the main take away is that copper and adrenal fatigue is a catch 22.

 

Copper Toxicity – Why Should I Care?

Copper is an essential trace element that our bodies need for vital functions. It works with zinc to:copper-zinc-scale

  • Produce ATP for cellular energy,
  • Produce and repair connective tissue,
  • Form collagen,
  • Metabolise iron,
  • Produce optimal immune function,
  • Enable our reproductive systems,
  • Provide a healthy nervous system,
  • Enable cardiovascular function, and
  • Develop neurotransmitter production and function.

This list is not exhaustive of the functions zinc and copper work together to achieve – but as you can see, the relationship is responsible for some serious systems in our body!

What happens with the copper-zinc balance gets out of whack?

There are 3 kinds of copper-zinc imbalances: insufficient copper, excess copper and copper bio-unavailability (there also exists a rare genetic disorder – Wilson’s Disease – where the body is not able to effectively excrete copper, leading to brain and liver damage).

The first 2 are self-explanatory. Copper bio-unavailability occurs when there is excess copper in our bodies, but it isn’t easily accessible. This occurs when copper binding proteins are deficient and may lead to both a copper deficiency and copper excess at the same time!

When someone is deficient in copper they may experience:

  • High blood pressure,
  • Depression,
  • Chronic fatigue,
  • Miscarriage,
  • Chronic fungal infections,
  • Loss of libido,
  • Heart disease,
  • Food cravings and compulsive overeating, and
  • Addiction.

Copper toxicity occurs more often than insufficiency. When someone is suffering from excess copper they may experience a wide range of both physiological and psychological health problems, including:Stages of adrenal fatigue

  • Anaemia,
  • Brain fog
  • Hair loss,
  • Candida,
  • Impaired digestion (e.g. fat intolerances, feeling queasy after eating animal protein, bloating, gas),
  • Insomnia,
  • Autism,
  • Bipolar,
  • Schizophrenia,
  • Anxiety,
  • Depression (generally from the anxiety and insomnia),
  • Adrenal fatigue (though this is a chicken-and-the-egg problem, more on this in later posts),
  • Light sensitivity (sometimes so bad that you need to wear sunglasses inside),
  • Burn easily by the sun,
  • Fluid retention,
  • Anorexia,
  • PMS,
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Candida, and
  • Many, many more….

Excess copper stimulates the nervous system, having a profound impact on the neurotransmitters in our brain and causing a similar effect on the body as caffeine or amphetamines. The excess copper tends to accumulate in the liver, brain and reproductive organs. When excess copper accumulates in the thyroid it can lead to hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease.

The copper-zinc relationship has such an important role to play in our bodies. Copper has a very narrow range for optimal function – both too much and not enough, is associated with an increase in oxidative stress. The key is to try and keep the two minerals in balance (which is easier said than done in today’s society), as too far in either direction leads to trouble.

Common Endocrine Disruptors

thyroid hormones chemicals

In our post The Thyroid, Your Hormones and Endocrine Disruptors we briefly covered the who/what/how of endocrine disruptors.

The EWG recently published a list of the 12 worst hormone-disrupting chemicals we may be coming into contact with on a regular basis. The most common include BPA, Phthalates, Fire Retardants and Organophosphate Pesticides. Here’s a brief explanation of what these four chemicals do to our bodies and how you can minimize your exposure to them.

BPA

BPA (or scientifically, bisphenol-A) is an estrogenic plastic by-product used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics that can leach into our food or drink from the plastic containers holding them. BPA is an estrogen-mimicking compound that tricks our bodies into thinking it is the real thing. BPA has been linked to everything from breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease. The scary thing is, 93% of Americans have BPA in their bodies!

How to avoid it?

Many canned foods are lined with BPA (even some of the BPA free ones use similar chemicals or BPA byproducts) so always aim for fresh food. When storing food make sure it is in glass as, especially when still warm, BPA from plastic containers (and those take-away plastic cups you get from coffee shops) can leach into our food. Also, plastics with a recycling label #7 or marked with “PC” contain BPA, so avoid these.

Phthalates

About 50 billion cells in our bodies die every day – and that’s normal. But some chemicals, like phthalates can actually trigger signals to cells to make them die faster and earlier than they should. Avoiding this chemical is particularly important for sufferers of thyroid problems as some studies have linked phthalates to thyroid irregularities as well as hormone changes, fertility problems, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity and diabetes.

How to avoid it?

Like BPA, many plastic food containers and plastic food wrap are made with phthalates. Plastics with the recycling label #3 and even some kids’ toys also contain phthalates. Scarily, many personal care products contain phthalates hidden behind labels such as ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’. Given that us, as women, use personal care products on our skin (our biggest organ) daily, make sure they are phthalate-free (you can search for these products here). We like to use the rule “if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin”.

Fire Retardants

Fire retardant chemicals are especially scary for sufferers of thyroid dysfunction. These chemicals imitate thyroid hormones and disrupt their activity. Furthermore, they are extremely persistent, Swedish scientists in 1999 found that women’s breast milk contained an endocrine-disrupting chemical found in fire retardants, and the levels had been doubling every five years since 1972!

How to avoid it?

Try to avoid foam products as many of these are made with fire retardants. Instead, look for products that are filled with polyester instead. Repair any ripped covers on foam furniture or replace the furniture. Many people might not like this one, but vacuum and dust. These chemicals accumulate in household dust (make sure your vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter to get pollutants out of your rugs and floors).

Organophosphate Pesticides

So we have all of these left over compounds created by the Nazis for chemical warfare, what are we going to do with them? Here’s an idea, let’s use them as pesticides on our food! As crazy as this sounds, unfortunately it is true. At the end of WW2, scientists modified these chemical warfare compounds to target the nervous system of insects to protect agricultural crops. Given they make insects insides explode, what damage are they doing to our bodies? Studies have linked the use of these pesticides (and others) to slowed and abnormal brain development, fertility problems, behavioral issues and interfering with testosterone, lowering the hormone and altering thyroid hormone levels.

How to avoid it?

Always eat organic! If possible, also filter your tap water as pesticide residuals can run into water ways.

 

For more information on endocrine disruptors, check out these articles:

The Thyroid, Your Hormones and Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine Disruptors hormones thyroid BPA

You’ve eliminated gluten, started eating more saturated fat, stopped eating that white poison, sugar, and tried to minimise stress, yet you’re still feeling crappy. Maybe it’s time to look at how your thyroid and hormones are being effected by the environment you live in?

Ok so it’s not feasible to live in a bubble of fresh air, free from toxins and chemicals, eating only organic food and drinking pure water (you know, that fancy, wind dried stuff that you pay $50 a bottle for at your local artisanal juice bar…). But realising what sort of chemicals and toxins you are exposed to everyday can help you minimise the bad of the bad and hopefully quick start your hormones into doing their job properly.

You’ve probably come across the term ‘endocrine disruptor’ before, or at least heard of the negative effects chemicals can have on your health. So what is an endocrine disruptor we hear you ask? Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with our body’s endocrine system, producing adverse reproductive, neurological, developmental and immune effects in both us and wildlife.

As the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says, “there is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signalling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones”.

Simply, endocrine disruptors mimic our naturally occurring hormones, tricking our bodies into thinking they actually are them. But once we start to use these ‘hormones’ are body reacts differently to how it would if they were the actual hormones.

BPA Hormones thyroid

When absorbed in the body, an endocrine disruptor can decrease or increase normal hormone levels (left), mimic the body’s natural hormones (middle), or alter the natural production of hormones (right).

Endocrine Disruptors and the Thyroid

Given the essential role the thyroid has in our hormone production, exposure to endocrine disruptors can significantly impact its functioning. In fact, endocrine disruptors can interfere with nearly every step in the thyroid system.

Examples of Endocrine Disruptors’ impacts on the thyroid:

  • Endocrine disruptors can alter the thyroid-pituitary-hypothalamus axis through increasing T4 and stimulating the thyroid which can result in thyroid follicular cell proliferation, and in some cases, result in thyroid cancer.
  • It is well established that thyroid hormones are of special importance in the development of the brain, which, in utero, is dependent upon normal levels of thyroid hormones. Studies have shown that exposure to endocrine disruptors during pregnancy can result in significant cognitive problems for the unborn child.
  • Dioxin-like compounds and certain flame retardants, have a high degree of structural similarity with the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. When we are exposed to these chemicals, they compete with our naturally occurring hormones for the thyroid hormone receptor and transport proteins.
  • Exposure to PCBs (or fire retardants) can reduce circulating levels of thyroid hormone, resulting in hypothyroidism.
  • Studies have shown that endocrine disruptors such as PCBs (or fire retardants) interfere with the way the thyroid hormone functions, but they don’t actually change the amount of the hormone found in the body. This is of interest as we know, our thyroid function is measured by hormonal tests.

Unfortunately, chemicals are not currently tested specifically for their ability to mimic, disrupt, or otherwise act as hormone disruptors. In our next post, we’ll discuss the most common endocrine disruptors and what you can do to best minimise your exposure to them.