Toxins are a major threat to our hormone health, as they can act as endocrine disruptors in the body and interfere with the normal functioning of our hormones. These harmful substances can be found in many different places, including processed foods that are high in sugar, chemicals in the environment, and even certain personal care products. There are so many toxins we have the potential for being exposed to daily which are entirely out of our control. The air we breathe often has some level of pollution, each time we fill up our gas tank, we may work in a building that is cleaned with toxic chemicals, filled with toxic paint, or even has (hopefully mild) mold growth depending on the climate of your environment. Though we are exposed to toxins often, there are many things we can do, especially when it comes to protecting the balance and production of our hormones.
Some common signs of toxic buildup in the body include fatigue, hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain or loss, headaches, hair loss, intense cravings, sleep issues, and digestive problems. So many people live with these symptoms and maybe brush them off as the typical aging process. While we are constantly aging, we can definitely support our bodies in such a way that slows the process and allows us to age a lot more gracefully.
To protect our hormone health and avoid unpleasant symptoms, it is important to eat a diet rich in whole foods that nourish our bodies instead of depleting them. We need increased resources in order to heal, open up our detox pathways, and avoid toxic buildup. In order to do so, we have to work on minimizing our intake of sugar and other processed foods, while focusing on nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Sugar is an endocrine disruptor, throwing off our hunger cues, leading to decreased energy and more. Try replacing sugar with regular, balanced meals consisting of high quality protein, healthy fats, and plenty of low-starch vegetables. Protein sources to avoid are those that are highly processed, filled with antibiotics and injected with hormones, as these will throw off the health of our gut microbiome and hormone balance. Our gut plays such a significant role in hormone balance and detoxification. If we have an unhealthy gut, we can be sure that our hormones are also out of wack. Increase as much variety of fiber from plants, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, and complex carbohydrates moderately in order to optimize gut function. Beware of low-quality meats, and opt for wild-caught fish, pasteur raised eggs, grass-fed beef, and organic sources of meat and vegetables. This will also ensure the reduction of toxic pesticides and herbicides. *Tip: When buying organic produce, look for the USDA Organic label!
It is important to acknowledge that our skin is indeed an organ and even plays a major role in the release of neurotransmitters. Anything that we expose our skin to will impact our health tremendously! So, steer clear of harsh chemicals, parabens, and endocrine disruptors in personal care products such as lotions, hair care, deodorants, and perfumes. Certain household cleaners and detergents for clothes and dishes, especially those with strong fragrances contain toxic chemicals and irritants. Try using more natural alternatives that come from plants or ingredients that you actually recognize! Check your makeup as well, as there are so many lists of toxic ingredients. The great news is that there are many of clean products out there today! Check out lists of clean products for household and personal care items on the EWG website (linked below)!
As mentioned before, the health and balance of our hormones is linked to the health of our gut. In order to properly detox from and eliminate toxins from the body, we have to ensure we are maintaining regular elimination. If we do not have a regular digestive system, efficiently removing waste daily, toxins may reabsorb and circulate within the body. Xenoestrogens, endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogens, must be properly eliminated through our digestive system in order to avoid being reabsorbed and throwing off the balance of our hormones. Eating seeds, such as flax seeds, encourages the binding and elimination of xenoestrogens, while helping to encourage digestive regularity. Make sure you are drinking adequate amounts of water daily, exercising, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables in order to maintain digestive motility to eliminate toxins daily!
Overall, we can help promote hormone health by living a lifestyle that minimizes our exposure to toxins in our environment while supporting optimal functioning of our gut microbiome and organ function through proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits. By doing this we can ensure better health now and in the future!
Hormone Health: Avoiding Endocrine Disruptors for a Better Life. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322719.php
Hormones and Endocrine Disorders: Hormonal Imbalance in Women, Men, and Children – NutritionFacts.org. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/hormones-and-endocrine-disorders/
Smithson HN et al., "Endocrine Disruptors", Hormones and Behavior, 2017
Hultman et al., "Better Moods from Better Nutrition: Health Benefits of a (Pasture) Fed Diet for Women with Depression," Journal of Functional Foods, 2016
EPA's website on endocrine disruptors: https://www.epa.gov/endocrine-disruption
Environmental Working Group (EWG): https://www.ewg.org/