As if it is not enough that insulin resistance, obesity , stress and dietary factors cause hormonal imbalance, our bodies are also being constantly bombarded by toxic environmental estrogens. The effects of these toxic substances further compound issues related to female hormonal imbalance and have been speculated to be one of the reasons our children are reaching puberty at a much earlier age age.
Over 70,000 registered chemicals have hormonal, as well as toxic effects, further compounding the impact of estrogen dominance. They are hiding in unsuspecting places like in our hair products and cosmetics. Xeno literally means foreign, therefore xenoestrogens are foreign estrogens that accumulate our bodies and are difficult to detoxify in our liver. While the presence of these substances are well documented, their synergistic effects are largely unknown. Xenoestrogens can also be found in pesticides, herbicides, industrial chemicals and in the petrochemical residue in plastics. These plastics ranges from plastic water bottles to baby bottles. Did you know that estrogen compounds are feed to our cattle and chickens to increase milk and egg production? No wonder we are a hormonal mess!
Byproducts of the plastic and pesticide industries—called organochlorines—are one of the largest sources of xenoestrogens and have been shown to exert hormone-disrupting effects. What’s more, organochlorines are known to accumulate in fatty human tissue and fluid such as breasts and breast milk. Plastics in our lives also expose us to the chemical bisphenol A, a breakdown product of polycarbonate, widely used in many plastics. Bisphenol A, found in the lining of many food cans and juice containers, escapes when polycarbonate is subjected to high temperatures. The estrogenic effects of bisphenol A became clear when men working in the plastics industry developed breasts after chronically inhaling the chemical in dust -source Energenic Nutrition article on Environmental Estrogens.
Further evidence suggests that these toxic estrogens may be causing breast cancer , fibroids and other reproductive issues in women, as well as increasing breast tissue (man boobs) and reducing sperm counts in men. So another challenge we face is to minimize these environmental estrogens through diet, supplements, lifestyle changes and reducing chemical exposure.
1 - Increase your intake of phytoestrogens which bind to the receptors that are stimulated by xenoestrogens. Good sources of phytoestrogens include; legumes, beans, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables and flaxseed oil with lignans.
2 – High fiber diet: In our past posts we have identified multiple benefits of a high fiber diet. Fiber also binds with the toxic xenoestrogens in the gut which in turn, decreased their absorption.
3 – Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage enhance the liver’s ability to break down excessive estrogens.
4 – Natural progesterone may help balance the estrogen dominance created by excessive estrogen exposure. We will discuss this in greater detail next week.
5 – Reduce exposure to chemicals and byproducts of plastics
Photo courtesy of Josef Seibel’s Photostream