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4 simple ways you can ditch endocrine disruptors

Alexx Stuart shares 4 simple ways you can ditch endocrine disruptors

Credit: Congy Yuan

Endocrine disruptors, put simply, are chemicals (manmade or natural) that can alter your endocrine (hormone) system in some way. They can block hormone receptor channels or send mixed messages, allowing your system to believe you are already producing adequate amounts of certain hormones as they mimic them, thus slowing your natural production. It’s not a great idea to disrupt hormones as, when your body’s balance is upset, health and mood issues from minor to major may arise.

It’s not a great idea to disrupt hormones as, when your body’s balance is upset, health and mood issues from minor to major may arise.

Unfortunately, “normal” modern life means you are exposed to a whole bunch of endocrine disruptors throughout the day. As a result, the incidence of health issues related to hormones, be they thyroid, sex hormones, adrenals or others, is rising. The effects of endocrine-disruptive chemicals on your body include compromised reproductive and behavioural health, immune system, thyroid and neurological system, and tumour development, all being very strongly linked — not yet proven but strongly linked.

If research exists to suggest cause for concern, then I exercise the precautionary principle. It’s smart to avoid hormone mimics where you can.

Prevalent hormone mimickers

BPA: It’s mostly now out of babies’ bottles but it needs to come out of everything. You only need to look at the birth-defect stats on women who’ve worked in BPA factories to know that this stuff is B.A.D! It’s in many plastics, resins, paints, varnishes, can linings and inks.

Phthalates: They help perfume/fragrances last longer and they make plastics softer and help make PVC flame resistant. They lurk in nearly every synthetically fragranced product and many kids’ toys, raincoats, microwaveable bags and pet toys.

Parabens: These are used most commonly as preservatives and are found in many personal care products. Read the ingredients, not the catch-phrases on the front.

Triclosan: Used in a lot of antibacterial products/sanitisers, it’s damaging to the thyroid in the long term.

Making change

Short of living in a field with a vegie patch and a woven hemp yoga mat, the best way you can diminish your personal endocrine disruptor baggage is to know where they mainly lurk and make the right choices around that bit by bit as you find replacements over time. Freaking out is not productive, so each week just choose something to work on that’s small and then move to the next thing. Here are a few helpful and simple things you can switch and ditch to get you started.

Air freshener, artificially scented candles & perfumes

I don’t know what made the chemical manufacturing giants think they were the authority on capturing the scent of fresh alpines and ocean mists, but those weird cans, fake scented candles and “time-release technology” products smell nothing like the real thing. While no one is under any legal obligation to mention phthalates as an ingredient on their packaging, needless to say, they reside in many home cleaning products, cosmetics, fragrances, children’s soft plastic toys and air fresheners. They hide mostly behind the word “fragrance”. For cosmetics, stay natural and buy from brands that state they are proudly phthalates free or use natural essential oils.

Ditch most of your canned food

BPA or BPS is used in the lining of cans and the ink on receipts almost all the time. On receipts, there’s BPA in the thermal coating. Given that BPA is a chief ingredient in ink, too, whenever it’s not essential to read a physical newspaper or take a receipt, then don’t. BPA hangs out often in plastic bags and clingfilm so, wherever you can, avoid those, too. Use wax paper for cheese storage and brown-paper bags or wax wraps for your sandwiches and dry snacks.

Ditch PVC

Avoid buying kids’ raincoats, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, a lot of soft plastic toys and contact paper, most versions of which contain the endocrine disruptor, phthalate. Also, it has long been thought that because a fire takes longer to catch on PVC material it must be a safer choice. Sadly, it’s a double-edged sword as researchers have found that in the “hot pre-flame” stage it’s giving off hydrogen chloride and dioxin gases, which themselves cause burns themselves as well as permanent respiratory conditions, cancer and reproductive abnormalities.

Work up a sweat

Toxins and foreign chemicals are often stored in fat. One surefire way of minimising the amount of these chemicals in your fat tissue, therefore, is to do that extra run, sauna, swim, kettlebell set or dance class and work all the chemicals off. Less toxin load and a more energised bod. It’s a win win.

When it comes to plastics, it’s best to avoid any with the numbers 3, 6 and 7 in the little triangle underneath the item. Also avoid storing food in plastic long term, such as in your pantry, and opt for glass or stainless-steel storage solutions instead.

Most importantly, just buy less stuff! We overcomplicate our lives because we’re convinced we need so many things. Not so. Going low-tox and ditching endocrine-disruptive chemicals is a wonderful exercise in minimalism, switching to simpler, safer options and less overall.


Alex Stuart

Alexx Stuart is a passionate educator in the space she calls "living a low-tox life". Through her speaking, workshops, e-courses and online community, she helps people make the best new choices for themselves, their family and the planet.