Better Off Well
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INSIGHTS

What the Heck Is A Hormone Disruptor and Why It Matters

Before I started my stride toward healthier living, I'd heard various bodily function terms thrown around but never paid much attention. Hormone Disruptor was one of those. For some reason, the disrupting of hormones didn't seem all that worrisome. So I kept right on slathering and dabbing and scrubbing and burning with all the products and candles I had been for years.

To understand the importance of a hormone disruptor, I had to learn first what hormones are.

hormones

Sure, I knew they were responsible for the times I cramped and craved, the times I wanted to model the lacy undies for my man or cover myself in flannel from head to toe and eat ice cream from the carton. They were the things I could blame when I was cranky.

But hormones are so much more.

These chemical messengers in the body make up what's known as our endocrine system.

Sex hormones- the ones we most often think of when we hear the term- tell our bodies things like where to grow hair, how much muscle to make, how tall to grow, how thick to make the uterine lining in fertile women, and mmm...chocolate.

Insulin is a hormone that directs glucose from the food we eat into cells so it can be used as energy, or redirects it into fat cells that may be stored in the liver...as is the case when we eat too much food or too much sugary food.

Grehlin lets us know when we should eat and leptin gives us the "Whoah, we're all full down here! Stop eating."

Growth hormone is produced while we sleep, and supports lean muscle growth.

Thyroid hormones regulate the release of many other hormones in our bodies.

There are about 50 known hormones so far, and each has multiple responsibilities within our bodies. (For more information, visit Endocrine Web or NIH Medline Plus.)

By now, you've probably figured out why products that disrupt hormones is a big deal.

When hormones are out of balance, we may have a hard time sleeping or falling asleep, crave food often, have difficulty losing weight, and have little energy to get things done. Sometimes we get sick. Perhaps very sick.

Many of my clients found improvements in their health once they switched over the personal care and cleaning products they used. They slept better and longer, had more energy, lost weight more easily, and were better able to handle menstrual cycles and menopause.

So what chemicals are hormone disruptors? The Environmental Working Group has listed the Dirtiest Dozen.

They include...

Pesticides: think lawn care, some lice treatments, and the food we eat

Dioxins: cigarette smoke, car emissions Bisphenol-A (BPA): plastics and receipt paper

Phthalates: found in fragrance

Many of these chemicals are also found in the products we use. Obviously, we can't avoid every toxin out there, nor should we stress about trying. That's counter-intuitive to health.

BUT avoiding the chemicals that we can makes our bodies stronger and better able to deal with the ones that are out of our control.

Here is a small sampling of brands that often include hormone-disrupting chemicals in their products. Visit the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database to see where your specific products rate.

Personal Care...

Estée Lauder L'Oreal Maybelline Neutrogena Rodan & Fields (particulary Reverse Skin-Lightening Treatment)

Cleaning Products...

Easy-Off Oven Cleaner Mop & Glo Simple Green Scrubbing Bubbles Spic and Span Multi-Purpose Cleaner Whink Rust Stain Remover

So what's the GOOD news? I'm big on good news.

Because we are demanding better, safer products, manufacturers are starting to follow through! Many of the brands you see above DO have some alternatives that are rated fairly safe.

There are also a variety of products designed with our health and safety in mind.

For better cleaning products, click here.

For better personal care products, there is no definitive list that I can find. Product manufacturers are changing formulas all the time, so an exhaustive list is hard to pin down. I suggest checking each of your products here to see how they are rated and replace as you are able.

And here is more good news! The Savvy Women's Alliance will be launching this spring and I am excited to be a part of the amazing group of women working on this project.

Through this alliance, the search for safer and healthier products will be made easier. More to come soon, but in the meantime, join us on our Facebook page.