In this series on stress and how it relates to our bodies, you have learned that stress can attack us in various pathways and from various sources. So far, we talked about physical, emotional, and mental stress and how they can cause weight gain, hormonal imbalances, food cravings, and an all over sense of imbalance. But, there is one more huge area of stress producers that we have not touched on. One more damaging area of stress producers that often goes unseen and unthought of. It is the stress that people often glaze over and label as “not real (important).” That area of stress is environmental and lurking in every room of your home or work space! Let’s get real…
Part Three: Environmentally
Environmental toxins cause increased stress on the body due to requiring the body to work harder to filtrate the foreign substances out and cleanse the self internally but also by altering the hormonal levels and causing the body to work inefficiently and on levels that are out of balance.
1. Detoxification: Our poor liver…it works so hard every day to keep us healthy and detoxified! Along with the skin, colon, lymph, and kidneys, it’s job is to detoxify the system and rid the body of harmful toxins and chemicals. When there is an overload of these nasty toxins and they are constantly infiltrating the body, the liver starts to become taxed and can not perform the job properly, therefore becoming inefficient and slow. Through the build up of medications, pesticides, herbicides, air pollution, alcohol, etc, etc, over the years, the liver definitely has it’s job cut out for it! As described in Sean Croxton’s book “The Dark Side Of Fat Loss,” Detoxicification in regards to the liver will take fat soluble substances and prepare them for elimination by making them water-soluble. Next, the liver will take the water-soluble end products and excrete them through sweat, urine, and feces. This is vital for establishing hormonal balances! But, when the liver is working inefficiently, the hormones build up and stay in the body and return to the bloodstream, causing decreased metabolism and fat loss, increased cancer risks, and decreased overall health.
2. Hormonally: As noted above, the hormonal system can easily become disrupted by common environmental chemicals and assist in contributing to obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases. This can occur through the air, water, food, soil, and consumer products (personal care items and cleaning products). These chemicals and toxins (endocrine disruptors, meaning that they interfere with the normal function of the hormonal system) mimic naturally occurring hormones, altering the production of the actual hormones and causing over- or underproduction within the body. Some of the biggest culprits that cause the most damage and that are easily altered are:
A. Pesticides: Switch to organic! And if you have not yet, here is why it really is important for weight loss and overall health. As outlined in Croxton’s book, 9 of the 10 most common pesticides are linked to weight gain because most are fat-soluble and get stored in your fat cells. You heard that right…those apples may be going straight to your waistline! Recent studies have shown that eating an organic diet for just 5 days will reduce pesticide levels within the body to nearly undetectable levels. If you are saying to yourself that you are on a budget and can not afford to eat all organic, try adhering to the “Dirty Dozen” list. The Environmental Working Group choose the 12 foods that are the most important to eat organic since they are exposed to the most pesticides. For example, blueberries, apples, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, all leafy lettuce, and celery are essential to eat organic. There is even an app for your phone that makes grocery shopping so much easier! Whether your produce is organic or not, make sure to wash them thoroughly before eating as to rid your produce of any last offenders.
B. Personal Care Items: Our bathroom cabinets and gym bags can be a nightmare of environmental toxins! They are filled with chemicals and toxins that are endocrine disruptors by penetrating our skin and infiltrating our systems. From perfumes to make-up to deodorants to lotions, we are wreaking havoc on our systems. I love using http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com to assess my personal care items and see how they rank on safety. The EWG created this website to break down the safety of our products simply and to define the ingredients within the products to explain why they are not safe. This website will also give you a general, overall list of the chemicals you should avoid completely. It is a reality check!
C. Household Cleaning Products: Household cleaning products are just as frightening as personal care items. There are simple ways to clean the house without without harsh chemicals. Simply using lemon juice, baking soda and/or distilled vinegar will clean up those kitchen counters nicely. Water, olive oil, distilled vinegar, and essential oils make a very effective and pleasant furniture polish. Rid your house of these cleaning toxins to increase your health immediately!
D. Xenoestrogen: These chemical compounds include industrial compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), bisphenol A (BPA), and phthalates and they are at an all-time high. These xenoestrogens have estrogenic-like effects on living organisms and increase the estrogen in our bodies. Research has shown that in humans, men produce less than half a man’s sperm as they did 50 years ago and woman suffer from increased rates of estrogen-dependent diseases. That is frightening real and hits too close to home! And, remember what I said earlier…when the hormones are thrown out of whack, weight gain increases, fat loss and metabolism decreases, and over health is compromised.
For more information and reading on other environmental toxins that we should be aware of, check out: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=57586947-9466-4fcf-bb1b-2c464dd19e5c
So, let’s kick the next two weeks into high gear and get our bodies cleansed and on the way to healing! Make sure to incorporate the last two lessons and keep those habits developing as well!
1. Pesticides: Use the “Dirty Dozen” list the next time that you go to the grocery store. Vow that you will buy organic of those high-pesticide foods to decrease the pesticides that you put into your body.
2. Personal Care Items: Go through at least 3-4 of your most often used products and plug them into the “Cosmetic Database” website. See how they stack up and, if they are highly toxic, look for products to switch out that rank lower on the website.
3. Household Cleaning Products: Try using natural, everyday items in your kitchen to do the cleaning. If you need recipes, there are a ton of DIY cleaning products on the internet. You may need a little more elbow grease, but it will surely be worth it!
4. Xenoestrogens: Discard any of your plastic containers or water bottles that contain BPA. Plastics that are marked with the number 7 contain BPA…discard them. Cash receipts contain BPA..tell your cashier to discard the receipt. Plastic liners in canned goods in most products…some companies will state that they use alternative methods, but you never know. Try to limit canned goods and pick fresh or frozen produce instead.