Ever heard of a endocrine disruptors? No? I hadn’t either two years ago, and honestly I didn’t really care to know. Ignorance was bliss prior to having a dozen health issues pop up all at once. A “crunchy person” could have talked to me until they were blue in the face about dangerous ingredients or swapping my products for healthy ones and I would not have cared. The bottom line for me was the cost, and a lot of clean products are more expensive (or so I thought) so I wasn’t interested, until I had to be. Once I started to listen and really learn I was shocked at the dangerous ingredients in my products.
How many different products do you think you use on a daily basis? 2 or 3, 10, 15, more? The Environmental Working Group says that on average people use about 9 products a day. In those 9 products there are, on average, 126 different ingredients. That’s a lot of different things you are using around your family or putting on your body. I recently learned that what we put on our skin enters into the bloodstream within 25-30 seconds. We might as well be eating our shampoo and our dish cleaner :). That knowledge alone isn’t too alarming until I dug into exactly what my products were made of and how it was affecting my body both short and long term.
What exactly is a Endocrine Disruptor?
Some of the ingredients in the products that you use every day are considered “endocrine disruptors.” That sounds fancy but basically the endocrine system consists of glands that release hormones to keep our bodies in balance. “There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones (EWG article).” I had never heard of this or cared until about it 2 years ago, now I find it shocking everyone doesn’t know there are ingredients in our everyday products that are undermining our health.
Since our hormonal systems are critical to body function and health, when they’re changed there can be some pretty big impacts to our health. Here are some of the issues these endocrine disrupting chemicals cause, both long and short term:
- cancerous tumors
- birth defects
- developmental disorders
- early puberty in children
- changes in behavior
- behavior issues in children
- completely screws with the balance of your body’s hormones which can affect a number of systems cause numerous health issues
- effects reproductive organs/function which can lead to infertility (in men and women)
- disturbances in the immune and nervous systems
- heart disease
- changes in mental health
These endocrine disruptors are in our everyday products and they are messing with our bodies’ systems. All the systems. The above list is just a few of the things that can be affected, and these disruptors are found in almost all the products you put on your body or clean your home with. (I ran across a good article that goes over some of the common places you can find these endocrine disruptors and exactly how each one affects our bodies if you want to check it out here.)
Limiting our Exposure
Switch out your products. This feels like the most obvious to me but can be extremely overwhelming . I’d encourage anyone who wants to start limiting their exposure to harmful chemicals to start with the cleaning products they use in their homes and then their shampoo, conditioner, body soap and deodorant. From there I would take it one thing at a time, it took me over a year to switch out everything we used and I’m still learning about things that are in my home that are toxic! I recently went down a rabbit hole learning about cookware and that will be the next thing I switch along with our bedding.
Start Reading Labels. There are dozens of ingredients you want to avoid but honestly if I listed them out it would just be overwhelming. Luckily there are some really awesome resources to help. The EWG has an app that you can download that allows you to scan or look up products as you are shopping. They let you know what ingredients are in these products that may be toxic and give the product an overall health score. They also have an incredible website that is jam packed with information. The article on the EWG site I quoted earlier goes over specific disrupting chemicals and exactly what type of products they can be found in.
Another cool resource is the Think Dirty app, which allows you to scan or look up products to see how healthy they are. They break the ingredients down in a user friendly manner and give them a health score. You can also shop directly from their interface.
Buy Local. Buying from small local businesses can help too. First of all it supports local businesses, which is always a win and it allows you to learn more about how the products are made and where they source their ingredients from.
If someone would have told me anything I’m writing about now 5 years ago I wouldn’t have cared. I probably knew it was true but for some reason I didn’t really think any of these things affected ME. I think for some of us, it takes a life changing event, a skin problem or some sort of issue to really listen, or even want to learn about clean products.
Once I started listening and learning I found out exactly what was in my products and how they were affecting my body. I. was. alarmed. I don’t want to continue to suffer needlessly and I certainly don’t want any of these things to affect my children. I honestly just want to help people avoid learning the hard way about these chemicals and the health problems that are associated with them so they can and feel the best they can with clean options.