We are bombarded with different environmental chemicals in day to day life that are affecting male and female fertility, over-burdening our livers, causing cancers and contributing to cognitive decline. The thyroid in particular is a very vascular gland that is easily effected and damaged by toxins. Some occupations such as hair dressers, builders, mechanics, nail technicians and gardeners are exposed to various chemicals daily.
Symptoms of a high toxic burden can be weight gain, brain fog, hormonal disturbances, infertility, depression, headaches, skin irritations and dermatitis, acne… the list goes on and on!
Where to start?
Chemicals are in our cosmetics, food, food storage, household goods, cleaning products, tampons, animal products such as meat and dairy. These may be in the form of pesticides sprayed onto food or the food that feeds animals that you eat, it may be additives in foods, or a chemical that helps clean your dishes.
Chemicals are ever present, and not everyone will get symptoms to chemicals, it’s about age of exposure, length of exposure to a toxin and frequency. Many other factors come into play such as genetics.
Below is a very extensive list of chemicals you may be exposed to, but in general the best way to reduce toxin exposure is to slowly assess different areas of your lifestyle. When one of your “chemical” laden products in the home runs out, replace it with organic/ low tox. This doesn’t have to be perfect, aim for small changes over time. I started with my body care products first, especially things I use all the time, such as soap, then shampoo and conditioner, then I moved onto nail polish and makeup. I then began replacing our plastic food storage containers with glass, and sourcing out organic produce where appropriate.
Beware of “green washing”
Green washing is when a product tries to appear more environmentally friendly by having the packaging with pictures of trees or nature, using words like natural, eco, organic or earth friendly. These words really mean nothing, it’s all down to whats actually in the product. You can read the label to get a better idea of what is actually in the product.
The big culprits – Avoid
The worst chemicals to affect fertility, the thyroid gland and hormone synthesis are:
- Brominated flame retardants: Animal studies show that these disturb liver function and can damage the developing nervous system. These are used to stop certain items in our home catching alight. They are everywhere in furnishings, clothing, computers etc. The best way to avoid these is to air out new furniture, dust frequently (the particles settle in dust) and add plants to the home that help remove these gasses.
- Dioxins: These are found all throughout the food chain, and are released into the environment constantly. They are stored in animal fats, and are frequently eaten through eating animals, as well as in wool bleaching and tampon bleaching – opt for organic sanitary care products or use a menstrual cup. Also opt for organic meats.
- Phthalates: these are added to make plastics more pliable, see-through and durable. Frequently used to soften PVC and are found in things like vinyl flooring, cosmetics, soaps, shampoo and hairspray. To avoid these, look for organic personal care products and keep an eye out for these on the label. Also ensure you are not using plastic storage containers or water bottles – always look for glass. The effects in animal studies show that phthalates affect the reproductive system. Human studies show that women have higher levels of phthalates metabolites in their body than men due to the exposure from person care products.
- Bisphenol A (BPA): Mainly in soft plastics that store food such as water bottles, the inner lining of tins/cans. Avoid plastic food containers, never heat food in plastic, and opt for BPA free cans if you are buying canned goods, or avoid canned goods and buy bottled versions instead. Infants and fetus’ are shown to be the most effected by BPA’s, and this can travel through breastmilk, or be passed on in baby bottles that are not BPA free.
How to avoid:
- Drink filtered water. Different filtration systems filter out different levels of water pollutants such as large particles or heavy metals. I have a reverse osmosis system fitted that I adore.
- Do not heat or store food in plastic containers and never use non-stick cookware, aim for ceramic where possible.
- Avoid areas where exposure to chemicals and pollution is high such as heavy traffic areas, bus depots, flight paths, farm land where crops have been sprayed, shipping ports, mining areas and construction sites.
- Air out new furniture and linen in direct sunlight to help with off-gassing
- Asses all the products you are putting on your skin and using in your home.
- Eat local, organic, in season produce.
Make your own
The internet has a plethora of advice on how to make everything from deodorant to cleaning sprays. These are generally cheap and easy and also save costs with ingredients such as vinegar and bicarb as the key ingredients. If you are time poor like me, opt for low tox and organic products. Shops like Biome and Flora and Fauna are fantastic online shops to help source out these products.
When assessing your food, ensure that you are eating organic for the foods that require it most. There is a list called the “dirty dozen” which are the foods that hold pesticide residue the most, and the “clean 15” which are the foods that you can pretty safely eat non-organic and it should be ok. These change each year depending on which are the most sprayed crops, so look these up for this years list.
Detox chemicals from your system
Ensure you can appropriately remove chemicals from your body by:
- Drink at least 2L of filtered water a day
- Eat a high fibre diet, high in binders such as chia seeds, flaxseeds as well as fibre in vegetables such as broccoli, onion, cabbage, spinach etc.
- Sweat by intense exercise or sauna bathing. Sauna bathing also has many other fantastic metabolic effects.
- Ensure you are passing a stool daily. Constipation can lead to a build up of chemicals in your system and reabsorption of chemicals your body is trying to excrete.
- Include herbal teas that move your bowels and assist in removing chemicals from your system such as calendula, nettle leaf, licorice, rosemary, lemon and ginger.
- Herbs that help detox chemicals and heavy metals such as coriander, garlic, turmeric, St Mary’s thistle, garlic and chlorophyl.
Book in with me today to completely assess your whole body health and help open up your channels of elimination to help with reducing chemicals.
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