Ten simple ways to avoid hormone disruptors

So we know that if you’re trying to get pregnant (guys this applies to you too), 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: Water! I always thought I was being super healthy by downing massive bottles of mineral water. Ok hydration is clearly good, but drinking repeatedly from thin plastic bottles (which may or may not have been exposed to heat during storage or transportation) is not. Especially if you are then refilling the bottles (repeated use, manipulation of and heating these plastics is especially bad for releasing their nasties into our food and drink). The alternative is easy, cheaper and better for the environment - a win all around. I have bought a water filter, a large refillable glass bottle for home and a smaller metal one for when I’m on the go or at the gym. For me this is a total no-brainer.

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 so by no means am I anti-that - however - too much Soy consumption has been linked to hormonal imbalance and particularly issues with sperm. Look out for my article coming on this specific subject. 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 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!

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, and 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.

FIVE: When you are preparing your own food (especially if making big batches, which from a cost and time efficiency standpoint I always do) make sure you store it in metal or glass containers, not plastic. I buy simple, super cheap glass containers from Ikea and use them constantly. Do not store food in plastic, especially if it is plastic that you have repeatedly used and exposed to heat. 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.

SIX:I did find it quite hard to avoid using cling film as, let’s face it, its pretty useful stuff, especially when it comes to my favourite leftovers. However, I did find a great reusable alternative: Bee’s Wrap coated food wrap, which can be washed and reused. I found mine on Amazon. Nice, friendly to the earth, reusable and pretty too - bonus!

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 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.

EIGHT: Invest in a ‘keep cup’. Most of us enjoy going to get take out tea and coffee these days. I geek it up and take my own reusable glass cup: most places even give you money off or a voucher for doing so. Less plastic, less waste, cheaper and better for everyone. (You just need to remember to bring your cup with you, which I confess I sometimes forget to do…can’t be perfect all the time!)

NINE: 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.

TEN: being honest, toys are 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. So teething rings and suchlike I police rigorously. Similarly if you use a dummy, make sure it is phthalate free. Doing your best is definitely good enough here.

Ok so I lied… there are eleven ways (ten sounded better) so here is the extra bonus one!

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!

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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.

Sarah Heywood