Plastics & Your Hormones
Plastic is everywhere. We all know it's bad for the environment, we all try to recycle it when possible. But are we aware that plastics also harm us personally, not just harm our planet?
Plastics wreck havoc wherever they are because of the invisible chemicals inside of them.
These chemicals are known to disrupt the very delicate balance of our hormones - hormones control everything from our sex drive, to our periods, to our energy and mood.
The first big chemical offenders are known as PHTHALATES.
You've heard of these if you've done any research on clean beauty or non-toxic skincare, because they're readily found in perfumes, nail polish and soap.
Phthalates impact testosterone and estrogen hormones. When they enter your body, through your skin (the largest organ in your body) or through your mouth (though foods contaminated with it), they alter levels of testosterone. While we classically think of this hormone being important for dudes; it's important for women, too. This hormone is responsible for your energy levels, bone strength, well-being and sex drive. If your levels get fussed with, you may feel lethargic, tired, and like your libido took a nose dive.
Phthalates INHIBIT estrogen production. That's right - they mess up testosterone, and then they block estrogen. Estrogen helps regulate the menstrual cycle - your estrogen levels may be impacted if you're experiencing period woes like irregular or skipped periods.
The hormone does a lot of good things in your body to help keep your blood vessels healthy, including decreasing inflammation and controlling your cholesterol levels.
Additionally, estrogen plays a big role in your mood because it has a very strong effect on a brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is a mood-balancing chemical and estrogen promotes its production. That means when your estrogen level is low, your serotonin level will decrease as well. The effect of this is very significant in some women.
So, we can clearly tell that phtalates are no bueno - & that we shouldn't touch products that contain them with a 10 foot pole.
But, there's more. That's right, lots of plastics still contain BPA's.
BPA is a known endocrine disruptor. Although initially considered to be a weak environmental estrogen, more recent studies have demonstrated that BPA may be similar in potency to estradiol in stimulating some cellular responses. And emerging evidence suggests that BPA may influence multiple endocrine-related pathways.
Because BPA is a synthetic estrogen (xenoestrogen) it has the potential to lead to hormonal imbalances, especially an overload of estrogen which may result in fatigue, weight issues, anxiety, poor sleep and other potential health concerns.
Yikes. So, let's talk about how to AVOID plastics and thus, avoid fussing with our hormones, eh?
Some simple changes and swaps will help you limit (because completely avoiding plastic is just not possible) your exposure.
1. Go BPA-free!
Thankfully, the world listened, and now we can find a lot of plastic containers that are free of BPA. But, new research is starting to shed some light on these BPA-free alternatives and they in fact, might not be much better. Best option is to go GLASS. If you can't go glass, BPA-free is still considered better than regular plastic.
Look for glass or stainless steel water bottles, glass food prep containers (throw out that old plastic Tupperware!) and any food or cosmetic products that can be purchased in glass (peep BeautyCounter!) versus plastic. You can re-use these glass bottles, or recycle them.
2. Avoid microwaving plastic containers.
Those frozen meals and leftovers you love are probably hanging out in BPA-containing plastic. Heating this type of plastic has been proven to cause leakage into your food. Your best bet is to transfer them to glass container before cooking and for storage in your freezer or fridge.
3. If you buy anything in plastic, transfer it into a glass/paper when you get home. You can find glass storage containers online on Amazon, at Costco, or your favorite home store. They might cost more upfront, but they'll last you a million times longer.
4. Stop using plastic produce bags. Snag these reusable cotton ones.
5. Transfer meats that are sitting in plastic or styrofoam into a glass container.
6. Use silicone Stasher Bags for storage over plastic sandwich baggies.
7. Use Beeswax wrap instead of plastic wrap.
8. Go Fragrance-Free. This can feel daunting initially, because if you look at all of your skincare, make-up, hair care - one of the first ingredients is usually fragrance. Remember those pesky phthalates? Yep, they're hidden under this blanket term "fragrance." Look for brands that are Fragrance-Free or that list what the fragrance is, ie: orange essential oil.
9. Avoid Plastic Applicators. That's right gals, jamming BPA up into your hoo-hoo isn't helping your delicate hormone situation. If you can, go cardboard or non-app. Or look into other menstrual options like cups, made from medical-grade silicone.
10. Make home-made K-Cups using this stainless steel pod, instead of buying the plastic ones from the store. Or purchase K-Cups that are paper-based and compostable!
Avoiding plastic is impossible these days, but there's so much you are capable and empowered to change with small choices here and there to limit your exposure to the harmful chemicals in plastics. These little changes can add up immensely when it comes to keeping your hormones happy - and to you living your best life!
Talk to me about ways you are using less plastics on a day to day basis?