01 Aug
Hormone Disruptors

Before M was born, Alex and I were vaguely familiar with hormone disruptors at best. With no fault to our parents (you can't prevent what you don't know is a problem) we've bee exposed to those bastards for YEARS. Our blood is probably flowing with "forever" chemicals as we speak. But pregnancy changed a lot of things for us, and our awareness of these skyrocketed. The difference between how we grew up and how we would like to raise M lies in awareness and new information on these harmful chemicals. 

I'm not going to lie, this is a huge topic, and pretty overwhelming to face. You can't change what you don't know, but it's different when you do know and you choose to ignore that information. So hopefully in this post I can bring to light what hormone disruptors are, the hormones they effect, where they are found, and safer alternatives. 

Before we jump into the disruptors themselves, let's talk about what the hell hormones are and why they are the rockstars of our bodies. Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body, working as part of the endocrine system to regulate various physiological processes and maintain overall balance and homeostasis. Produced and secreted by specialized glands, hormones travel through the bloodstream to target specific tissues or organs with receptors designed to recognize and respond to them. Each hormone plays a distinct role, influencing essential functions like metabolism, growth, reproduction, mood, and stress responses. Among the crucial hormones are insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels, thyroid hormones, which control metabolism, and sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, governing reproductive processes and secondary sexual characteristics. The endocrine system operates in a delicate balance, and even slight fluctuations in hormone levels can have significant impacts on the body's functioning. The interplay of hormones orchestrates a complex symphony that ensures the smooth functioning and adaptation of the human body to its internal and external environments. 

What are Hormone Disruptors? Also known as endocrine disruptors, these are a group of synthetic chemicals commonly found in household products, food additives, cosmetics, you name it. They imitate or interfere with the natural hormones in our bodies, disrupting the delicate balance of our endocrine system. 

Effects of Hormone Disruptors in our Bodies: Hormone disruptors can mimic natural hormones, leading to an overstimulation or blockage of hormonal receptors. They may also alter the production, transportation, or breakdown of hormones in the body. As a result, these chemicals can cause a range of adverse health effects, including reproductive issues, developmental disorders, compromised immune function, and an increased risk of certain cancers.

Exposure to hormone disruptors found in the home has been associated with various specific developmental disorders in children. One concerning disorder is neurodevelopmental delays, which can manifest as learning disabilities, attention deficits, and impaired cognitive functions. Hormone disruptors, such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), have been linked to these adverse outcomes by interfering with the developing brain's delicate hormonal signaling. Additionally, prenatal exposure to these chemicals has been connected to an increased risk of developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disabilities. Moreover, hormone disruptors have the potential to affect the development of the reproductive system in both males and females, leading to issues like early onset puberty and altered sexual development. These worrisome connections emphasize the importance of minimizing exposure to hormone disruptors in the home to safeguard the healthy development of our children.

But convenience is more important that the health and safety of everyone in our home, right? Wrong. 

It is also important to note that men operate on a 24 hour hormone cycle (so it's okay for them to care for their body the same way each day). Women, however run on a 28 day (average) hormone cycle made up of four different phases. So we need to care for our body accordingly. 

Common Hormone Disruptors in Household Products:

  1. Bisphenol A (BPA): Found in plastic containers, water bottles, and food can linings, BPA is notorious for its estrogen-mimicking properties, leading to hormonal imbalances and potential reproductive problems.
  2. Phthalates: These chemicals are prevalent in fragranced products like air fresheners, cosmetics, and scented candles. Phthalates can disrupt hormonal signaling and may be linked to fertility issues and respiratory problems.
  3. Triclosan: Often found in antibacterial soaps and toothpaste, triclosan can interfere with thyroid hormones, affecting metabolism and potentially leading to thyroid disorders.
  4. Parabens: Commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products, parabens can mimic estrogen in the body and are associated with hormonal disruptions and breast cancer concerns.
  5. Soy: Often considered a healthful and versatile food, has garnered attention as a known hormone disruptor. This is due to its natural compounds called phytoestrogens, which mimic the hormone estrogen in the human body. While phytoestrogens are found in various plants, soy contains particularly high levels. When consumed in large quantities, soy can potentially disrupt the body's hormonal balance, especially in women. Concerns have been raised about the impact of soy on reproductive health, menstrual cycles, and even the development of young children.
  6. Aluminum: A widely used metal in various industrial and household products as well as some cosmetics, like deodorant, has been identified as a known hormone disruptor. This metal has the ability to accumulate in the body, particularly in the brain, bones, and other tissues, raising concerns about its potential impact on hormonal balance. Of particular concern is its potential association with estrogen disruption, which could lead to adverse effects on reproductive health and hormone-related disorders. While more research is needed to fully understand the extent of aluminum's impact on human hormones, minimizing exposure to this metal, especially through the use of aluminum-containing cookware and personal care products, may be a prudent precaution.
  7. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of human-made chemicals used in various industrial and consumer products for their water and grease-resistant properties. They can be found in items like non-stick cookware, food packaging, waterproof clothing, and furniture and carpets labeled as stain resistant. Y'all, I was devastated when I found this one out. We have a baby and two dogs, stain resistant would be so nice, but not for the price our bodies would have to pay. PFAS are persistent in the environment, earning them the nickname "forever chemicals." Studies have shown that these substances can interfere with the endocrine system, leading to disruptions in hormones such as estrogen, thyroid hormones, and testosterone. The potential consequences of PFAS-induced hormonal disruptions include reproductive issues, altered immune function, and an increased risk of certain cancers. Due to their widespread use and environmental persistence, reducing exposure to PFAS is crucial for safeguarding human health and the environment.

Safe Substitutes for Hormone Disrupting Products:

  1. Choose Glass and Stainless Steel: Opt for glass or stainless-steel containers for storing food and beverages, as they are free from harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates. Silicone is another safe option, which we like for food storage instead of plastic baggies. 
  2. Cast-iron and copper pans! A well seasoned cast-iron is our go to for nearly everything. And copper pots ad pans are so much more that their aesthetic appearance. they have incredible heat conductivity, and copper is also a natural antimicrobial, lessening the likelihood of harmful bacteria growing in your cookware. 
  3. Natural Cleaning Alternatives: Replace chemical-laden cleaning products with safer alternatives like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon. My next post will be a detailed guide to all of the household cleaners I have made and use on a daily basis. M is in EVERYTHING these days, so it's nice to know if he gets ahold of one of these bottles, there is nothing harmful in them. 
  4. Candles were always a big part of our home, but then I started thinking about where all of that wax goes, and it basically evaporates with those chemical fragrances. We then breath this in and it absorbs into our lungs with direct access to our bloodstream. might as well smoke 2 packs of cigs a day while you're at it. Swap air fresheners and scented candles for essential oil diffusers to add a pleasant aroma to your home without exposing yourself to phthalates.
  5. Read Labels Carefully: When purchasing personal care products, look for labels that clearly state "paraben-free" and "phthalate-free." Choose organic and natural options to minimize exposure to harmful chemicals. We use Dr. Bronner's for MANY of our needs. Toothpaste (flouride free), bodywash, hand soap, laundry detergent, dish detergent and shaving gel. That shit is VERSATILE and uses 100% clean ingredients.
  6. Go for Eco-friendly Cosmetics: Select cosmetics and skincare products made from natural ingredients, avoiding those with parabens, phthalates, and triclosan. 
  7. Dietary changes: These foods are incredible for your hormone health, for both men and women. Grass-fed/pasture-raised meats, organ meats, bone broth, well cooked root veggies, fermented foods and raw dairy.
  8. Some lifestyle changes that could help include lots of sunlight on your skin, managing stress, daily movement, regulating sleep cycles, and choosing a non-hormonal form of birth control.

Damn. That was A LOT. And there is still so much I could say about all of this. But I want to leave you with a challenge. This change does not come overnight. Many of the products in our house we weren't comfortable just throwing away and wasting, just being real. We used a lot of them up before replacing them with hormone happy alternatives! So I challenge you to find one thing from that list above and commit to change for at least 21 days. Find one of those chemicals and do some research on it and devote yourself to exiling it from your home. 

I Would love to go on this journey with you, so reach out if you need any guidance or support through this change. 

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