Are Environmental Toxins Wreaking Havoc on Your Health? Here’s What to Do.

By Jamie Truppi, MSN, CNS

Every day, more than 82,000 chemicals are released into our air, water, soil, food and consumer products (such as shampoos, body lotions, and sunscreens). Chemicals are not well regulated in the United States, and only a fraction of them are tested for toxicity. Thus, we know little about the long-term health consequences of these pervasive pollutants.

Since industrialization, medical conditions related to bioaccumulative toxicants (highly toxic compounds, such as mercury and certain pesticides, that accumulate in people and other living organisms) have increased along with  production of  industrial chemicals. The effect of toxins on our reproductive and endocrine (hormone) function is particularly disturbing.

For example, we now recognize that heavy metal contaminants such as lead, chromium, arsenic, zinc, cadmium, copper, mercury, and nickel, which change hormones and alter menstruation, ovulation and fertility, can affect a human’s entire lifecycle, starting at preconception. Fetuses, infants and young children are the most susceptible to harmful chemical influences on their hormones.

Hormones are biochemical messengers with a significant role in managing growth, energy metabolism and fertility; they also influence our immune systems and behavior. Through communication with the brain, endocrine glands produce, store and secrete hormones throughout our bodies.

Chemicals that interfere with hormone production, metabolism and function are called endocrine disrupting chemicals and ample research connects them to low birth weight, birth defects and neurodevelopmental conditions (attention deficit disorder and autism), gestational diabetes, obesity, and some cancers. Plastics and plasticizers (such as bisphenol-A and phthalates), pesticides, industrial chemicals, fuels, flame retardants and perfluorinated compounds are all classified as endocrine disruptors.

These man-made chemicals affect both male and female reproduction and development. They are linked to breast and prostate cancer, thyroid dysfunction, cardiovascular endocrinology, estrogen promotion; androgen antagonism; thyroid dysfunction; steroid metabolism; and alterations in neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine and norepeniphrine).

What does that mean for us?Let’s look at some possible effects through the lens of a lifespan.

  • A woman’s chemical exposure prior to becoming pregnant may alter gene expression (potentially affecting multiple generations), and may affect her offspring’s risk for childhood cancer.
  • Prenatal chemical exposure alters fetal cellular programming and may affect development of sexual organs and the thyroid’s role in brain development, and may lead to polycystic ovary syndrome later in life for the mother and may cause potentially permanent damage to a developing baby’s brain.
  • During infancy, toxins in the environment, breast-milk and/or soy formulas may hinder development of the hypothalamus or neuroendocrine arrangement, both of which play a role in reproduction.
  • In adolescence, males may experience premature growth of pubic hair, small testes and either early or delayed puberty (dependent on fetal exposure) (9); females may experience premature breast development and/or puberty, polycystic ovary syndrome and delayed ovulation.
  • In adulthood, a lengthy list of endocrine and reproductive system related disorders includes interference with menstruation, fertility and menopause, and multiple cancers.
  • Over a lifetime, low-dose, chronic contact with indoor and outdoor toxins is as detrimental to health as one harsh exposure.

REDUCING YOUR TOXIC LOAD
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce the accumulation of toxins and chemicals in your body.

Eat organic
Consume a diet of primarily sustainably produced whole foods free of preservatives, herbicides and pesticides. Eating organic foods in no or toxin-free packaging significantly lowers measured levels of toxins. If you cannot buy all organic, focus on foods typically highest in pesticide residues, such as strawberries, spinach, kale, necatines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes). Wash all produce thoroughly, and soak and rinse rice, grains and legumes before cooking.

Switch to safer products

Check out EWG’s Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors and consumer guides to cosmetics, sunscreens, bug repellants, and other products to choose more wisely.

Test your water

Most is treated chemically, and bottled water leaches endocrine-disrupting chemicals from their plastic containers. Get a test kit from a certified lab or purchase one from a local store or online and DIY.

Check your hormones.

See an experienced nutritionist to inquire about functional lab tests to measure endocrine function or metal burden, to learn about “clean” eating and environmental habits, and perhaps to embark on an individualized, scientifically supported liver-clearing program that addresses all phases of detoxification.

Worried about the impact of environmental toxins on your health? Join Jamie Truppi for a 4-week, guided  “Happy Liver Detox” Program beginning April 1! A compromised liver causes whole-body imbalances, resulting in fatigue; mood alterations; headaches; muscle and joint aches and weakness; skin problems; recurrent colds; gut dysfunction such as heartburn, IBS, bloating, gas; excess weight; premature aging; and even infertility. Register by Sunday, March 24, to ensure herbal supplements are purchased in time to arrive for the detox. ADD LINK https://www.jamietruppinutrition.com/programs

 

REFERENCES

Allen, J., Montalto, M., Lovejoy, J., & Weber, W. (2011). Detoxification in Naturopathic Medicine: A Survey. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(12), 1175–1180. http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2010.0572

Duncan, D.E. (n.d.). Chemicals within us. National Geographic. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-human-body/human-body/chemicals-within-us/

Exposure to toxic environmental agents: Committee opinion no. 575. (2013). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Women’s Health Care Physicians, 122: 931-5.

Zlatnik, M.G. (2016). Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Reproductive Health. Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health; 61(4): 442-55. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12500.

Sengupta, P., Banerjee, R., Nath, S., Das, S. & Banerjee, S. (2015). Metals and female reproductive toxicity. Human & Experimental Toxicology; 34(7): 679-97. doi: 10.1177/0960327114559611. 

Dunn, K. (n.d.). How do hormones work? PBS.org. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/nature/etc/hormones.html

Diamanti-Kandarakis, E., Bourguignon, J.-P., Giudice, L. C., Hauser, R., Prins, G. S., Soto, A. M., … Gore, A. C. (2009). Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. Endocrine Reviews, 30(4), 293–342. http://doi.org/10.1210/er.2009-0002

Rutkowska, A.Z and Diamanti-Kandarakis, E. (2016). Polycystic ovary syndrome and environmental toxins. Fertility and Sterility; 106(4): 948-58. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.08.031.

Sengupta, P. & Banerjee, R. (2014). Environmental toxins: alarming impacts of pesticides on male fertility. Human & Experimental Toxicology; 33(10): 1017-39. doi: 10.1177/0960327113515504.