Do you know if Xenoestrogens are harming you?!
Hormones are chemicals that are produced by glands in the endocrine system. They travel through the bloodstream to the tissues and organs, delivering messages that tell the organs what to do and when to do it.
Hormones are important for regulating most major bodily processes, so a hormonal imbalance can affect a wide range of bodily functions. Hormones help to regulate:
- metabolism and appetite
- heart rate
- sleep cycles
- reproductive cycles and sexual function
- general growth and development
- mood and stress levels
- body temperature
When imbalances are present symptoms will eventually manifest and if left may actually spill over and start producing symptoms in other systems of the body.
The body, as a whole, always wants to be in homoestasis. When deviation from balance happens the innate response of the body is to return to homeostasis, however, as stressors/imbalances outweigh the ability of the body, then compensation starts to take place. Compensation, if not recognized leads further down the path to what we all know of called “DIS-ease”, where eventually normal function is lost and we are left with symptoms and disorder.
When we look at hormones, women tend to have imbalances present in Estrogen or Progesterone. For this particular presentation I am going to focus on Estrogen and the outside effects that food, man-made chemicals can have on its balance within the body.
Estrogen plays an essential role in the growth and development of female secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts, pubic and armpit hair, and the regulation of the menstrual cycle and reproductive system. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen produces an environment suitable for the fertilization, implantation, and nutrition of an early embryo.
An imbalance of these hormones can lead to a range of health problems and unwanted physical changes.
FYI: The related hormones in the estrogen family include:
- Estrone (E1): This is a weak form of estrogen and the only type found in women after the menopause. Small amounts of estrone are present in most tissues of the body, mainly fat and muscle. The body can convert estrone to estradiol and estradiol to estrone.
- Estradiol (E2): This is the strongest type of estrogen. Estradiol is a steroid produced by the ovaries. It is thought to contribute to a range of gynecological problems, such as endometriosis, fibroids, and cancers that occur in females, particularly endometrial cancer.
- Estriol (E3): This the weakest of the estrogens and is a waste product made after the body uses estradiol. Pregnancy is the only time at which significant amounts of estriol are made. Estriol cannot be converted to estradiol or estrone.
When Estrogen is unbalanced in the body symptoms can arise:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Foggy thinking
- Memory lapses
- Sleep disturbances
- Bleeding changes
- Mood swings
- Tender breasts
- Water retention
- Uterine Fibroids
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Weight gain in hips
- Bleeding changes
XENOESTROGENS: THE BIG STORY
Phytoestrogens are plant-derived Natural Xenoestrogens . There are many foods, that when consumed will imitate Estrogen in the body, although the effects may be a bit weaker than those from the actual hormone itself.
Phytoestrogens are found in many plant-based foods:
- Flax seeds (nuts/seed oils)
- Soy (tofu/tempeh)
- Some grains (cereal/bread)
Some of the popular foods you hear about are Flax, Soy, Yams, and Red Clover. However, some foods you do not realize that have Estrogenic effects on the body are Hops, Ginseng, Coffee, Bourbon Whiskey and Beer.
When we talk of those who are experiencing Estrogen dominance symptoms, these foods would most definitely be avoided. Some have tried using the foods to top up Estrogen receptors in the body, in the hopes that the body would not signal to make as much Estrogen. I believe this works if the individual is “producing” excess Estrogen; however, many times it is the detoxification of Estrogen through the liver that is compromised and consuming foods such as this will not help the situation.
When a woman is in perimenopause, and experiencing some of the symptoms of Estrogen deficiency, these foods may be used to actually raise the Estrogen levels and help to alleviate some of the symptoms. This along with a balanced, natural protocol has proven to bring about good results.
Xenoestrogens – Xeno, the Greek word meaning “foreign”, are synthetic compounds, created by industry and the potential ecological and human health impact they are having are of growing concern. Many Endocrine studies have been done and have shown that Xenoestrogens wreak havoc that not only have disruptive effects on humans but also wildlife.
During the past 10 years, many researchers found hard evidence of adverse effects on humans and animals; from male alligators not able to reproduce to parabens linked to breast cancer in women, and testicular cancer in men.
Sources of Xenoestrogens include plastics, pesticides, chemicals, and water systems.
- Propylene glycol
- Benzophenone (found in sunscreens)
- Industrial plastic products:
- Sandwich bags
- Plastic water bottles
- Film wrap
- BPA (Bisphenol A) – used to manufacture plastic
- Pesticides (DDT, Dioxin, Atrazine)
- Cleaning products with Alkylphenol/Triclosan
- Fragrances “Parfum” – mixes of many different chemicals, many of them Phthalates
- Emulsifiers in soaps/cosmetics
- Atrazine (Herbicide) – used for corn, wheat, hay and sprayed in Christmas trees, lawns and golf courses
- Endosulfan (Insecticide)
- PBB (Polybrominated biphenyls) – added to plastics used in computers, TVs, textiles, foam containers to make them more difficult to burn
- Phthalates – plasticizers add flexibility to plastics, can also be in different degrees in flooring, wall coverings, medical devices (IV bags/tubes), perfumes, lotions, cosmetics, varnishes, nail polish, lacquers and coatings for timed-release pharmaceuticals
- Petrolatum (Petroleum jelly), mineral oil, paraffin wax
- PFC’s (Perflourinated chemicals) – found in non-stick cookware; use Ceramic or cast iron instead
- Oral Contraceptives – synthetic hormones
Even though countless studies on Xenoestrogens have been done and continue to be done, these chemicals still continue to be unregulated by Governments and used commonly by Manufacturers, all over the world.
Because Xenoestrogens are not biodegradable and are stored in fat cells the body does not know what to do with them, they can build up quite easily and have been implicated in many serious health problems:
- Breast, prostate and testicular cancer
- Infertility and miscarriages
- Early-onset puberty
- Menstrual irregularity
- Suppressed thyroid function
- Impaired Immunity
- Hair loss
- Increased lethargy
- Weight gain in hips
- Water retention
- Estrogen dominance
- Severe PMS
- Decreased Testosterone
- Ovarian cysts
SO, WHAT CAN WE DO TO CUT OUR TOXIC LOAD?
- Buy hormone-free meats and dairy
- Use Natural hair dye and only natural organic beauty products
- Avoid plastic containers, use glass
- Keep any plastics out of the dishwasher or microwave
- Choose unbleached linens, sanitary products, coffee filters tea bags. The US Environmental Protection Agency has determined that using bleached coffee filters alone can result in lifetime exposure to dioxins and exceed acceptable risks
- Peel/wash all NON-organic fruits and vegetables – try to buy ORGANIC
- Avoid synthetic hormones
- No lawn, garden chemicals
- Avoid particleboard and synthetic fiber carpets in the home
- Drink filtered water
Hormone mimicking chemicals like Xenoestrogens are far more common than they used to be. They are currently found in a worrying number of products from hair dyes to take away cartons. So, even though the dangers in the actual products themselves may be low to moderate, the real danger is that we are exposed to so many of them, it is causing many issues and disease in the human and animal systems.
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PLASTIC:
Getting to know your numbers:
All plastic containers have a Resin Identification Code. We have been led to believe that the safest numbers are: 1, 2, 4 & 5; with the most toxic being: 3, 6 & 7.
#1 – PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) – typically used to beverages, mouth wash, condiment containers, can leach toxic metal antimony.
#2 – HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) – used in containers for milk, water, juice, cleaning supplies, shampoo, grocery bags.
#3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) – used in bedding, shrink wrap, deli and meat wrap, plastic toys, blister packs that store medication. PVC contains toxic chemicals including DEHP, a type of Phthalate. These chemicals disrupted wildlife causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, infertility in a number of species: whales, polar bears, otters, and deer.
#4 – LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) – bags for bread, newspapers, household garbage, and frozen foods.
#5 – PP (Polypropylene) – containers for yogurt, deli foods, medication, and take-out meals. Supposed to be safer to heat at higher temperatures.
#6 – PS (Polystyrene) – cups, plates, bowls, take-out containers, meat trays, etc. Leaches styrene, which can damage your Nervous System and has been linked to cancer, into your food/beverage. Hot coffee in a Styrofoam cup may be the absolute worst.
#7 – OTHER – BPAs, Combination plastics – They are endocrine disruptors and affect the hormones that are instrumental in regulating mood, growth, and development. As well as, tissue function, metabolism, sexual function, and reproductive processes.
Lisa Pitel-Killah is a Hair Mineral Analysis Expert and Educator, with a background in Functional Medicine. She is a Kettlebell World Champion, Coach and Entrepreneur; and has a passion for guiding people to maximize health, reverse debilitating symptoms and gain energy to truly recognize their full potential. She is a health, wellness and fitness advocate for her clients.