The human body is incredibly skilled at using hormones — basically chemical messengers that trigger specific biological responses — to coordinate and regulate everything from your metabolism to your mood. Hormones are the reason your legs are the same length, why your body changes at puberty, and the reason you start craving carbohydrates. But what happens when outside chemicals start interfering with this well-oiled machine and its systems? Let’s take a look.
WHAT ARE XENOESTROGENS?
Xenoestrogens are a type of faux hormone that imitates estrogen in the body and binds to hormone receptors, creating an excess of estrogen in the bloodstream. Often, xenoestrogens are widely used synthetic chemical compounds like BPA and phthalates (yes, like those in your shampoo), but they can be naturally derived as well.
Because xenoestrogens can mimic the effects of true estrogen, they have been linked to everything from reproductive disorders to precocious puberty. It is for this reason that they are considered environmental hazards to both wildlife and humans.
Here are some of the worst offenders:
- Commercially-raised meat and dairy products — they’re always contaminated with growth hormones.
- Insecticides and pesticides — go organic instead!
- Tap water — hormones are not able to be filtered out of municipal drinking water, so drink filtered water whenever possible.
- Parabens — shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, cosmetics…this is a great area in which to go clean.
- Phthalates — plastic wrap, baggies and styrofoam are risky business.
- Food additives — processed foods almost always contain xenoestrogens in the form of preservatives, artificial color and texturizing agents.
- Soy protein isolate — organic soy is a great source of protein within reason, but conventionally-raised soy products contain high amounts of plant estrogen.
- Dryer sheets — they may make your clothes feel soft, but these xenoestrogens can permeate your cells…ick!
- Birth control pills — if you can manage it, other forms of contraception (condoms, for example) are much healthier.
- Disposable “feminine products” — tampons and pads often contain chlorine, fragrances, surfactants and other synthetics which are all sources of xenoestrogens.
Endocrine disruptors are all too common in daily life. In an average day, it’s likely you’ll encounter them in your food, your beauty products, your kitchen wares and even your furniture. Pair this with a slow moving elimination system, relentless stress and an iffy diet, and you’re well on your way to estrogen dominance which has been linked to everything from fibroids to breast cancer.
HOW CAN I COUNTERACT ESTROGEN DOMINANCE?
Get to the root of the problem. Start eliminating products that contain xenoestrogens from your daily routine, then take a look at your diet. Alisa Vitti, functional nutritionist and founder of the women’s health resource FLO Living, recommends the following:
- Eat more fiber. A high-fiber diet will help your digestive system eliminate toxins more efficiently.
- Support good-gut bacteria. Your microbiome helps metabolize estrogen and usher it out of the body.
- Take care of your liver. Carrots, spinach and cilantro are all great liver detoxifiers.
Beyond this: do what you can to live a simple, natural life. Seek out organic foods whenever possible and only let clean, non-toxic products into your home. It’s time to stop polluting your body!