10 ways to reduce your exposure
In a previous newsletter on infertility, I wrote about endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and their catastrophic effects on human health. To recap, EDCs are chemicals like BPA, phthalates, and pesticides. They can disrupt delicate hormone levels when we’re exposed to them and have been linked to a host of hormonal conditions including PCOS, low sperm count, endometriosis, obesity, and infertility. EDCs are found in almost everything these days from our water and food to the air we breathe. Other common places you’ll find EDCs:
La Croix and other carbonated drinks
Baby bottles and toys
The worst part about these chemicals is that they’re insidious. US industries have been widely using EDCs since the 1950’s, but we only recently began talking about them. Why? Because we’re only seeing their widespread effects over time, after compounded exposure, and across generations. That, and the industries’ successful disinformation campaigns—reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s—that create public doubt and confusion around the true harms of EDCs.
Only a couple years ago, anyone who openly avoided plastic or chose to eat only organic would be accused of wearing a tin foil hat. With sperm count in western men dropping 50% over the past 40 years and microplastics recently being found in human placentas, we now understand the very real and serious health risks that come from these chemicals.
So, what can we do?
Here are 10 ways to mitigate exposure and harms of EDCs:
Don’t use plastic tupperware, opt for glass - Plastic is public enemy no. 1 when it comes to EDCs. We all use it and can’t fully avoid it. Plastic contains BPA, phthalates, and other chemicals, which leach onto anything they come into contact with (like your food or skin). Plastic is especially harmful when it’s heated, so avoid microwaving plastic or putting it in the dishwasher. BPA-free plastic still contains other EDCs. Besides tupperware, some other plastic items to look out for:
Plastic wrap - use parchment paper
Ziploc baggies - use reusable baggies
Plastic water bottles – switch to glass and copper
Cooking and eating utensils – switch to metal and wooden
To-go boxes from restaurants
Eat organic food – Pesticides are well-known endocrine disruptors. You’d never pick up an apple, spray it with pesticide from Lowe’s and then take a big bite out of it. Just because you don’t see pesticides being sprayed when you shop at your local grocery store, doesn’t mean it’s not happening! If buying all organic is out of your budget, the Environmental Working Group releases annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists which have the most and least pesticide-sprayed produce, respectively. When it comes to animal foods, organic is important because it means that the animal was fed organic food, and remember, you eat what your food eats.
Buy products from non-toxic brands, your local health food store, or make your own – Any commercial hygiene, beauty, and home cleaning product is loaded with toxic chemicals. This includes toothpaste, shaving cream, perfumes, makeup, skincare, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, body wash, sunscreen, lotion, feminine hygiene products, condoms, surface cleaners, and dish soap, to name a few.
Local health food stores usually carry independent brands that offer clean and effective alternatives to these products. Another solution is to just DIY. For example, water and vinegar as glass cleaner and coconut oil as a body moisturizer.
Replace your non-stick and aluminum pots and pans – Non-stick pans like Teflon are non-stick thanks to carcinogenic, hormone-disrupting chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Instead, opt for ceramic, stainless steel, or good ol’ cast iron cookware. The verdict is still out on aluminum and its neurotoxicity, but just to be safe, I recommend avoiding cookware with aluminum as well as aluminum foil (parchment paper is a great substitute).
Avoid packaged, processed food and drinks – Processed foods contain EDCs through material used during manufacturing, processing, transportation, and storage. This includes canned foods. You might see “BPA lining-free” on cans, but these cans are just lined with other bisphenols like BPS and BPF and are still endocrine disruptors! Go for boxed packaging instead of canned.
Filter your water – Tap water you drink and shower in is a chemical dump of toxins from arsenic to traces of antidepressants and birth control pills. You bet these can have an effect on your body. I highly recommend getting a water filter (I like Berkey) and shower filter.
It’s impossible to avoid 100% of EDCs. If you’re reading this, you have EDCs floating around in your body. While we try to avoid EDCs externally, we can also focus on removing them internally. By supporting our body’s natural eliminative functions, we can help detoxify EDCs from our bodies.
If you think about it, scientists measure microplastics and EDCs from urine, stool, and sweat samples, meaning these substances do get excreted from the body, at least to some extent. If our digestion and elimination are stagnant or we aren’t sweating every day, we can be hindering our body from removing these chemicals. How do we double down on elimination and detoxification? With the following:
Use a sauna - Sweating is one of the body’s main channels of elimination. That’s why we can actually find chemicals and heavy metals in sweat. One study detected BPA in participants’ sweat but not blood or urine—this suggests BPA might be best excreted from the body through sweating. I’m a huge proponent of infrared saunas for a deep drench.
Pump your lymph – When we put chemicals on our skin, say, through lotion or makeup, some of it gets absorbed and can enter the lymphatic system. One function of the lymphatic system is to carry waste (like the chemicals that just entered through the skin) to the blood, which then gets filtered through the liver and kidneys. Unlike other parts of the circulatory system, like the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system doesn’t have its own pump—it circulates by physical movement.
Jumping on a rebounder and dry brushing are both effective ways to pump the lymph system and make sure those chemicals are properly moving out.
Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables - With high fiber content and rich nutrients and enzymes, a fruit and vegetable-based diet can be a powerful tool in ridding the body of EDCs. Dandelion greens, beets, and cabbage, especially, all support eliminative organs.
Make sure you’re regular 💩 – Daily bowel movements are critical to removing toxic chemicals like EDCs from the body. If you’re constipated, chemicals can get reabsorbed through the permeable intestinal wall. Probiotics and fermented foods can really help with this!