Sunday, March 10, 2013

Do These Chemicals Make Me Look Fat? Obesogens: what they are and why you should care!

You feel like you're at the end of the road. You've tried every diet. You've counted as many calories as you can stand. Let's not even delve into the stories of those days when you acted like you were experiencing perpetual PMS because you were skipping meals. Don't succumb to the idea that you are forever stuck rocking that muffin top.

Yes. Diet is a huge component of achieving a healthy weight, but have you ever wondered if you were missing a part of the puzzle? & I'm not talking exercise. (That comes tomorrow.) ;)

Let's talk toxins, y'all.

Numerous studies have shown that there is a direct link between the increased usage of chemicals in the U.S. and the increase in obesity in adults. A landmark 2002 study, from the Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, found just that. Increased industrial chemicals in our environments are in parallel with the ever present obesity epidemic.

So what do you call these nasty obesity contributing chemicals? Obesogens. Clever name, huh?

Obesogens act as endocrine disruptors. Basically meaning, they are chemicals that mimic hormones & mess up the physiologic function of these particular hormones,  reprogramming your metabolism & causing it to build and store fat.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

So what falls under the category of being an obesogen?
  • Pesticides
  • Preservatives in food & cosmetics- think BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) & BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
  • Parabens
  • HRT- Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Birth control pills
  • BPA- Bisphenol A
  • Phthalates- a plastic softener found in many brands of nail polish, shampoo & soap
These are toxins that you are exposed to on a daily basis, so it may not matter how many hours you have racked up at the gym or how diligently you have been watching your diet, you may never achieve the health goals you are seeking because these dang obesogens are getting stored in your fatty tissues! So when you finally make some progress and do lose some weight, these chemicals that have built up in your fat cells are released into the bloodstream, reeking havoc on your thyroid. They cause a decreased metabolism, possibly accompanied by fatigue, nervousness, depression, insomnia, damage to the reproductive system & possibly cancer!

This decrease in metabolic activity causes the body to hoard calories instead of burning them off, making your desired slim down even more difficult to achieve. But don't throw in the towel! Reducing your exposure to these nasty toxins is easy if you're willing to make a few little changes.

Baby steps, people.
  1. Buy organic fruits & veggies! Conventional fruits & vegetables are sprayed with all sorts of pesticides & insecticides to get them looking nice, plump & able to travel 1,500 miles to local grocery stores.. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), you could cut your pesticide exposure by a whopping 80% if you avoid the most contaminated produce options in favor of eating the cleanest options. Read up on the Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen here.
  2. Choose glass instead of plastic for food storage.  BPA is a lining that is often found covering plastics, the inside of canned soups & sauces (Except Eden Organics! Yummm.), etc. Items like reusable containers & Tupperware are also lined with harmful softening agents called phthalates. These obesogens can leach from plastics into your food & eventually wreak havoc on the body. Phthalates can also be found in items such as raincoats, vinyl flooring, backpacks & PVC shower curtains.
  3. Reach for toxic-free cleaning & personal care products. This one is a doozy. Toxic-free makeup can cost a bit more than your typical department store buys. You can check out how your cleaning products stack up here & how your makeup products rank here.
  4. Step away from the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Try to cut back on your sugar intake all together & when you do use sugar go for more natural options like pure maple syrup, medjool dates, sucanat, coconut sugar, palm sugar or evaporated can juice crystals. HFCS has been linked to increased abdominal fat storage and triglycerides. Do yourself a favor and toss the stuff for good!
  5. Say no to fragrance. Items listed as containing "fragrance" are basically telling you that they are loaded with synthetic chemicals, of which can be hidden & undisclosed under the name fragrance. Don't let them fool you, choose fragrance options that are derived from essential oils or go for unscented household/beauty products. My current favorite is
Now, you don't have to go crazy trying to eliminate all of these things at once. Maybe decide to cut out a couple small things or even just one of the toxins you know you've let creep into your daily life. But don't wait.

What is one toxin you will commit to eliminating this week/month? I'd love to hear your thoughts, successes, trials, whatever! Good luck, sweet potatoes! ;)

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