Your endocrine system is one of the most important systems within your body because it regulates vital hormones. From cortisol to serotonin, estrogen to insulin the endocrine system balances and controls our body chemistry, which affects the way we feel, act and function. Is it any wonder that disruptions to this system have major effects on our day-to-day lives?
Endocrine disruption is common these days, manifesting in everything from adrenal fatigue to chronic conditions and even cancer. The trouble is, it’s not always easy to pinpoint what’s causing endocrine disruption or hormone imbalance. Most people are left coping with symptoms and conditions that seem to have no concrete treatment.
To get to the root of endocrine disruption and restore hormonal stability to your everyday life, you need to go back to basics. It’s time to look at the endocrine disruptors that may be lurking in your everyday routine and eliminate them to restore your homeostasis.
Major parts of the endocrine system
Most of us are a few years removed from high-school biology, which means it’s good to have an endocrine system refresher. Here’s a look at the most important organs in the body for controlling hormone production:
- The hypothalamus links the endocrine and nervous system together.
- The pituitary gland secretes hormones at the direction of the hypothalamus.
- The thyroid gland manages hormones and metabolism.
- The adrenal glands produce hormones as a result of fight or flight.
- The pancreas produces and regulates insulin levels in the body.
- The testes (men) or ovaries (women) regulate sex and development hormones.
Endocrine disruptors can affect some or all of these parts, leading to imbalances in different types of hormones or regulatory functions, leading to all sorts of side effects. For example, disruption to your pancreas can cause your blood sugar to skyrocket or crash, affecting energy levels. Likewise, adrenal gland disruptors can leave you feeling stressed, anxious or uncertain.
Here’s a look at common endocrine disruptors
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that adversely affect your body’s ability to produce and control hormones. There are dozens of them and even more still being studied! Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent in our everyday lives and how they disrupt our endocrine functions:
- Atrazine is a common herbicide that can cause adrenal fatigue and weight gain.
- BPA, found in plastic, imitates estrogen, causing everything from weight gain to cancer.
- Dioxin, found in processed meats, causes reproductive issues and has links to cancer.
- Lead is found in water and old paints, and can lead to widespread endocrine disruptions.
- Mercury is found in groundwater and fish, and disrupts sex hormone regulation.
- PBDEs are flame retardants widely linked to pituitary gland disruptions.
- PFCs are prevalent in non-stick cookware, linked to thyroid diseases.
- Phthalates, found in plastic, are linked to overactive thyroid issues and weight gain.
These are, again, just a few of the most common endocrine disruptors in our everyday lives. Each is deeply engrained in modern society—from the Atrazine farmers use to protect their corn crop, to the BPA and PFOA used in plastics. It’s extremely difficult to escape these disruptors—but not impossible.
How to break free of endocrine disruptors
Because endocrine disruptors are all around us, incorporated into everyday life, evading them takes a conscious effort. Here’s a look at some of the ways you can avoid endocrine disruptors and alternatives that are better for your body:
- Avoid plastics. Plastics are some of the most prevalent carriers of endocrine disruptors and obesogens. Use glass storage containers whenever possible and strive for environmentally-friendly packaging.
- Look for chemical-free products. Buy products that are specifically labeled as “BPA-free” or “lead-free.” This is especially important for consumer products like plastics, cookware and even household appliances.
- Avoid cleaning products. There are plenty of eco-friendly household cleaners that don’t use chemicals. Use these instead of the chemical-laden products you’ll find at the store to keep the presence of endocrine disruptors to a minimum in your home.
- Be conscious of your body. From your diet, to the medications you take, to the supplements you rely on, be aware of what you’re putting in your body and do everything you can to avoid endocrine disruptors.
- Read labels. Labels are very telling when it comes to ingredients that might bode poorly for your endocrine system. As a general rule of thumb, the fewer ingredients and the more pronounceable they are, the better off you are.
Above all, consider your diet. Eat natural, healthy foods that are high in vitamins and minerals, and try to buy organic whenever possible. Supplement your diet with healthy vitamins, nutrients and adaptogens that support endocrine system health and positive hormone production and regulation.
It might be difficult to rid your everyday life of endocrine disruptors, but the more you know about them, the more you can do to avoid them and their side effects. Put your personal health first, pay attention to what your body is telling you, and strive for a well-rounded, natural lifestyle.