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Endocrine Disruptors and Your Weight: How to Limit Exposure

Right about now, you might be asking yourself, “What the heck is an endocrine disruptor?” Well, you are not alone. Many people are unfamiliar with this term and even more unfamiliar with all of their negative effects…..especially when it comes to weight management. Let’s learn about these awful things and how we can avoid them….

To answer your first question, endocrine disruptors are simple chemicals or chemical compounds that interfere with the way our hormones are supposed to function. There are thousands of these chemical everywhere in our life, from our cleaning products and personal care items to our plastics and pesticides. Endocrine disruptors can be especially harmful to an unborn child so be extra cautious about exposure during pregnancy.

Unfortunately for many of us, some of these endocrine disruptors are considered to be Obesogens, which means they can cause weight gain but impacted the hormones that control our hunger, our metabolism, our thyroid, and our insulin resistance. Super bummer considering these obesogens are everywhere! But, there are steps you can take to limit your exposure. Let’s look at the 5 most common obesogens and how you can protect yourself.

1) Bisphenol-A (BPA)

BPA is a synthetic compound found in types of plastic and in metal cans. Multiple studies have linked BPA exposure to all sorts of problems like weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and thyroid dysfunction.

Limit your exposure by: using BPA free canned goods, avoiding plastics marked ‘PC’ or with recycling #7, and don’t take receipts printed on thermal paper.

2) Phthalates

Phthalates are also chemicals used in plastic, serving to make plastics softer and more pliable. Phthalates are commonly found in children’s toys, plastic wrap, and plastic food containers. Exposure has been linked to obesity, increased waist circumference, and insulin resistance. In addition, men seem to be more susceptible than women.

Limit your exposure by: avoiding plastic products with recycling #3, and avoiding personal care products with the ingredient ‘fragrance.’

3) Perchlorate

Perchlorate is a chemical compound that is commonly used as an oxidizer in things like airbags, matches, and even rocket fuel. Its wide usage has caused it to sweep into our drinking water. The big problem with it is that it messes with iodine in your body which has a huge impact on the health of your thyroid. Your thyroid plays a key role in regulating your metabolism so this is problematic for weight management.

Limit your exposure by: installing a reverse osmosis water filter and using iodized salt if you are concerned about your iodine levels.

4) Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

PFCs are used to make nonstick cookware and water-resistant coatings and are used in some microwave popcorns. They are very widespread and virtually everyone is exposed to them. Unfortunately, exposure has been linked to thyroid disease and high cholesterol and can even affect your sex hormones.

Limit your exposure by: avoiding non-stick pans and water-resistant furniture and carpet coating, and making your own home-popped popcorn.

5) Atrazine

Atrazine is the most commonly used herbicide in the US for weed-killing. It is most commonly used on farms Atrazine has been shown to be an obesogen by decreasing metabolic rate and increasing abdominal obesity.

Limit your exposure by: avoiding farms or crop areas that have recently been treated with herbicides and buying organic produce.

There are also dozens of other obesogens and endocrine disruptors out there so, as a general rule, here are some overall tips to reduce risk:

  • • Limit or avoid using plastic storage containers
  • • When using plastic, avoid recycling numbers 3 and 7. Try to stick with recycling numbers 1, 2, and 5.
  • • Use cast iron or stainless steel cookware.
  • • Always filter your water and consider a reverse osmosis filter.
  • • Use organic, natural cosmetics and personal care products.

Endocrine disruptors are almost impossible to avoid but, by taking these steps, you can dramatically impact your exposure and any associated effects.

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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