The ten simple ways to avoid hormone disruptors
We know that keeping our hormones balanced and as they should be is an easy way to help the process of having a healthy child. It can seem daunting as our modern world is full of things that can push them off. We go through ten quick and easy, practical things you can do to give your body an extra helping hand.
So we know that if you’re trying to get pregnant (guys this applies to you too: click here for more), are pregnant or in charge of a developing baby, it is best to avoid throwing obstacles in the way of the body doing what it does best.
Exposing ourselves to lots of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) is not the one (click here for a reminder as to why/what their effects can be). I fully understand that this feels super daunting, as frankly they are everywhere. However, as usual it is not about being perfect and living in a bubble (not fun), instead it is about being aware and making changes where you can. So let’s fight the fight where we can, and where it can make a difference, by focusing on what you are directly taking into your body. Every little change means less exposure, which is only a good thing.
Here are our ten top tips for reducing your EDC exposure in the easiest and most efficient way
ONE: You are what you eat/drink out of! We focus a lot these days on making sure our food is of good quality but what about what we eat and drink from? We know that plastics are bad for the environment but did you know that repeated exposure (particularly under heat/repeated use) can be bad for your hormones? Specific plastics (BPA and their derivatives) have been shown to disrupt hormones and mimic Estrogen. So, for yourself and for the environment just say no - use glass/metal containers and watch out for BPA where you can. For a simple ‘How To’ spot it: click here. Finally, when it comes to heating food it is also important not to use non-stick pans, and if you do, do not use metal implements on them (which can scrape off the chemical residue). Use a wooden spoon and go old-fashioned with some oil and/or butter to reduce the stick factor.
TWO: As if we needed another reason…processed food: avoid! There are pretty much a million (ok…at least twenty) reasons why you should avoid processed food. For one, processed meats and non-organic milk are very likely to have articifical hormones and steroids (amongst other nasties) present and secondly, what they’re packaged in is an issue. In all reality this is likely to seep into the food (especially if it’s heated in its packaging) and is likely, if the food is canned or wrapped in plastic, to be exposed to BPA, phthalates and other such treats. Buy whole foods and prepare them yourself.
THREE: my pet hate - the ‘free-from’ craze. Ok so this doesn’t apply to everything of course, but the pseudo health benefits that this marketing often promises is full of pitfalls. One (when it comes to your hormones) is the dairy free craze - you know where you have Almond, Soy, Coconut or Oat milk instead of dairy. I personally avoid dairy in large doses as it doesn’t agree with me (but everyone is different) so, by no means am I anti-that - however - although not conclusive, too much Soy consumption has been linked to hormonal imbalance and particularly issues with sperm. There is enough evidence (in animals) that pregnant women (and men who are wanting super sperm) should avoid Soy where you can (read more here). The other side note is that when you’re having these ‘milks’ in coffee shops beware as they are often full of all kinds of syrups and sweeteners (which also play havoc) it is rarely just the nut milk. I prefer to make my own. Super easy: soak the nuts overnight, put in a blender with a bit of water and a pinch of salt, blend and strain and there you go! Click here for more.
FOUR: Avoid heavy pesticide exposure (click here to be reminded why). This comes hand in hand with avoiding processed food, which is unlikely to be organic (although it’s worth bearing in mind that food labelled as organic, especially baby food, can also be processed. I make my son’s food myself in batches and freeze it, which also works out cheaper). Pesticides are not good for our hormones (check out the feminised frog study for more on this!) and industrially processed or farmed meat is also likely to have been treated with antibiotics, hormones, steroids, etc. Personally I now only eat meat at home when I have bought it myself and know where it comes from. I also buy organic fruit and veggies where I can, and use activated charcoal and the EWG Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists as my guide. Not too difficult. For a full list of how to avoid (which doesn’t only include buying organic) click here.
FIVE: Carb dodging might make you slimmer but it wont help your hormones: I was big into the ‘carb-light lifestyle’, but what I didnt realise is that it was sending my cortisol levels higher and knocking my hormones off course. When your body feels under threat (which includes not having enough fuel) cortisol is secreted - one of the things it does is pull glucose in to your blood - not good if you have PCOS or any other hormonal imbalance. The key I realised is not to be extreme about anything. Now I am not so afraid of carbs - low GI and towards the latter part of the day is the way to rebalance your cortisol and despite my fears I have not put on weight. Unless you have an intolerance - I have found that cutting out entire food groups is not ideal for balancing your body. Similarly too much of one food group is equally not good with too much refined sugar being equally bad, especially for PCOS - click here for more.
SIX: Sleep: I started to prioritise this. We all have our own optimal amount of time (mine is 7-8hrs which is pretty normal). Modern life usually means we try and ‘do it all’ and sleep comes last (I was getting 6 at most on average). We all know the old ‘you can sleep when you’re dead mantra’. However, I think that is now going out of fashion. There is a reason why over thousands of years of evolution our need for sleep hasn’t changed - ask Ariana Huffington. It sounds strange but I started making getting to bed at a decent time a big priority and I genuinely feel like it made a difference. Dont feel embarrassed about it (I did for a while) - you’re protecting your health and your body and will feel better for it. The science has also shown it to be especially important for male hormonal balance and sperm production. Click here for much more. One other difficult feature of our modern lives and sleep is the dreaded blue light which has been shown to have a real (and negative impact) on production of the all important sleep hormone Melatonin. Switch off at least 90 mins before sleep and keep your bedroom technology free. Click here for more.
SEVEN: Check your beauty cabinet. Sometimes people don’t realise that what you put on your skin goes into your body. Call me a soap dodger, but I would rather use less detergent on my skin wherever I can. Check the labels as a starting point. Nice alternatives are coconut oil for body and hair moisturising (although avoid the roots when using it on your hair - I learnt the hard way on that one and looked like I had put my head in a deep fat fryer!) I also use coconut oil on my son, and although he has a bath every night I try to avoid washing his hair more than a couple of times a week (it also strips the natural oils, which I try to avoid doing). Once again, I look for less ingredients, no perfume or added fragrance which is typically full of hormone disrupting phthalates and formulations that are as gentle as possible. If you want to wear fragrance, which is nice to do occasionally, spray it on your clothes rather than onto your body and hair. Click here for more ‘How To’ when it comes to cosmetics.
EIGHT: Exercise: Like Goldilocks, you don’t want too much and you don’t want too little. It’s all about ‘just right’. The latest research is suggesting a real benefit from moderate regular exercise that builds lean muscle mass particularly if you have hormonal imbalances like PCOS. Click here for more. HIIT training is a huge trend at the moment and is great if you want to lose weight. However, too much without adequate rest periods in between can actually physically stress your body and cause things like chronic inflammation. Click here for how you can use exercise in a positive way for your hormones.
NINE: For your baby: when it comes to my son eating and drinking, the good news is that baby’s bottles are now BPA-free by law (hooray!) For his food and drink I use bamboo products, which are nice and light, and biodegradable, and silicone vs. plastic. These alternatives are actually surprisingly easy to buy now, as more and more people are wising up. As usual just being aware is the first step. Toys are of course a bit trickier especially when people are kind enough to buy you presents! Luckily, awareness is on the rise here too, so there are a lot more products available that are labelled as BPA/phthalate free. Of course no-one’s perfect, and I most definitely have plastic toys in our house, but I do try and make sure they aren’t ones that he is going to be putting in his mouth for any extended period (teething rings and suchlike) I police rigorously. Similarly if you use a dummy/pacifier, make sure it is BPA/phthalate free. Doing your best is definitely good enough here.
TEN: furniture, bedding etc. Flame retardants are not good, and they are present in a lot of upholstery and bedding, particularly older items. When it comes to yours and your child’s beds, they are in them every day and hopefully sleeping a lot when they are very little (!) so it is 100% worth being aware and investing in an alternative. Also: might sound strange, but dusting and vacuuming your home regularly is also a good idea, and according to the Environmental Working Group it does help.
If you have any additional tips please share!
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.