When we think of managing our weight, the areas of our lifestyle we look at are usually diet and exercise. Right? What if there was something lurking in your shower that was the culprit for some of these excess pounds? Obesogens; agents that when absorbed, contribute to obesity. Our world is full of them. They lurk in everything from the foods we eat to the receipt for things we purchase.
According to Leah Zerbe of Rodale, obesogens are “chemicals and compounds in our environment that disrupt hormones, making it hard to maintain a healthy weight”. Obesogens mimic estrogen, causing the body to send a signal to convert stem cells to fat cells. In addition to affecting our endocrine (hormone) system, research shows that obesogens may also cause cancer, birth defects, infertility, insuline resistance, ADHD, autism, and high cholesterol. The main sources of obesogens are pesticides, BPA, personal-care products, vinyl, non-stick products, PCBs, soy and nicotine.
Pesticides, which are designed to disrupt the hormone systems of pests, also affect the hormone systems of humans. Some genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are even designed to create their own pesticides.
So, what is the solution to this seemingly impossible situation? There are several easy things we can do to reduce the amount of obesogens we are exposed to. There are also some more difficult things that will require more of a lifestyle change.
- We can purchase organic foods and avoid GMOs.
- Eliminating processed foods is also important, because they often contain soy and corn. Soy and corn are two of the most commonly modified crops in the US.
- In situations where organic produce is not accessible, a wash and rinse with a water and vinegar spray will remove many pesticides.
- To avoid BPA, choose fresh, jarred or frozen foods instead of canned. Cans are often lined with BPA to avoid a chemical reaction between the contained food and metal of the can. Some companies do not line their cans with BPA, but the chemical the do line the cans with has not been in use long enough to be deemed “safe”.
- Also, try to avoid getting receipts, whenever possible. Receipts are printed with thermal printers, and BPA is used during this printing process.
- Avoid using plastics. Use metal water bottles instead of plastic, use glass or stainless steel food storage containers.
If you really want to get serious:
- Vinyl contains obesogens called “phthalates”. Many shower curtain liners are made of vinyl. We can used hemp shower curtain liners as an alternative. Hemp is naturally anti-microbial, and has a much longer lifespan than vinyl.
- Non-stick coating is found on many products, including cookware, microwave popcorn bags, fast food packaging and non-stick cooking sprays. We can avoid being exposed to this obesogen by using stainless steel or US-made cast iron cookware, popping popcorn in coconut oil on the stovetop, and using healthy oils (such as coconut or olive oil) to cook our foods.
- Personal care products and household cleaners contain many obesogens, including phthalates, petrochemicals (petroleum products), and parabens. The ingredients “fragrance”, “parfum” and “perfume” are 95% petrochemicals. By eliminating products that contain “fragrance”, we can eliminate up to 700 petrochemicals from our lives. When shopping for personal care products and household cleaners, avoid any products containing ingredients ending in “eth”, such as “sodium laurETH sulfate”.
- Anything ending in “eth” was produced using petrochemicals. Also, avoid any ingredients containing the words “methyl”, “propyl”, “butyl”, “ethyl”, “mineral oil” or “paraffin”, these are all parabens. Some products use a “natural” preservative called “grapefruit seed extract” but petrochemicals are used to derive this extract from the seed.
According to “green beauty expert”, Paige Padgett, good quality safe personal care products are available. Some companies that make these products include: Jane Iredale, Eco Nvey, Primitive, Suki, David Babaii, and Prima Vera. Seventh Generation makes safe household cleaners. Visit www.paigepadgett.com and www.rodale.com for additional suggestions for safe personal care products and household cleaners. Rodale also offers tutorials on creating your own household cleaning products.
Rodale – Where Health Meets Green (http://www.rodale.com/)
Paige Padgett – Green Beauty Expert (http://paigepadgett.com/)
Croxton, S. (2011, July 21). The Organic Manifesto. Underground Wellness Podcast. Podcast retrieved from www.undergroundwellness.com
Michaels, J. (2011, April 8). Fat is not the enemy and green beauty. Jillian Michaels Radio Show. Podcast retrieved from www.jillianmichaelsradioshow.com
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