Today, let's take a peek into your kitchen cabinets and drawers and see what’s there. One thing to be mindful of in the kitchen is what we call endocrine disruptors which are found in plastic, the lining of canned food, non-stick pans, grocery store (and other) receipts, as well as drinking water.
What is an endocrine disruptor?
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with the body’s endocrine system. This is an important system that regulates our mood, growth, development, sexual function, reproductive health, and our metabolism.
Even slight changes to our hormones can have significant effects. Endocrine disrupting chemicals can increase production of certain hormones and decrease production of others, imitate hormones, turn one hormone into another, interfere with hormone signaling, tell cells to die prematurely, and accumulate in organs that produce hormones.
No thank you!
Any of these changes can have big effects on our reproductive, developmental, neurological, or immune systems. While endocrine disruptors can have a negative impact on many functions of the body, they’re most harmful to the thyroid, sex hormones, and reproductive system.
Have you noticed that more and more women are experiencing thyroid problems? (I can pretty much guarantee you know a woman who is.)
Have you noticed that girls are entering puberty earlier these days?
These problems have been linked to endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment.
These are small amounts of endocrine disrupting chemicals we’re talking about, but it’s important to note that small amounts can be dangerous. This is because the body makes, regulates, and responds to really small amounts of hormones in our daily lives naturally.
Where are hormone disrupters found?
- DDT and other pesticides, found in the food system and our back yards.
- Bisphenol A (BPA) is a potent hormone disrupter that is used as the building block of polycarbonate plastics and in the resins that line most food cans. It can block or mimic estrogen. BPA is also used as a coating on many receipts, so avoid touching them when you can.
- Phthalates have been linked to reproductive toxicity and hormone disruption. Phthalates are common in fragrance in personal care and household cleaning products.
- “Fragrance” can harbor dozens or even hundreds of chemicals that are hidden from the consumer since they are considered proprietary and companies are not required to disclose their chemical ingredients!
Please get rid of anything with “fragrance.” Instead, choose products that are scented with clearly identified essential oils and no “other” fragrances. Be careful! Some products that appear to be natural and scented with essential oils will also list “fragrance” on the label, which is synthetic and usually contains phthalates. Read the label!
Many cleaning products contain harmful ingredients such as phthalates, parabens, and fragrance.
Your liver has to filter out everything that comes into your body.
There are two primary ways you can help out your lovely liver. One is by reducing the number of toxins in your home. You're already working on that!
The other is by eating a clean, whole foods diet that supports the liver in doing it’s important detoxification work.
We’ll be doing that soon in the REVITALIZE Spring Cleanse in April!
4 Action Steps You Can Take to
Reduce Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in the Kitchen
1. Avoid plastic as much as possible.
If you do use plastic utensils or food containers, consider that these are the factors that break down plastic and cause the release of chemicals into your food:
What breaks down plastic and causes chemicals to leach into your food?
- Heat --putting hot food in a plastic container, using the microwave, letting it sit in the sun
- Acidity --lemon or other citrus juice, coffee, tomatoes, etc
- Abrasion -- if it’s scratched, throw it out
- Time -- all plastic will break down over time, even without the above factors. If it's handed down from your grandma, time to throw it away!
Acidic foods like canned tomatoes, citrus, and coffee break down plastic and can cause it to leak into your food. Use BPA-free cans for canned tomatoes. Don’t put lemon and other citrus in plastic; use glass or metal.
Heading to Starbucks for coffee? Remove plastic coffee cup lids before drinking your coffee. When you drink coffee through these plastic lids, you are drinking an acidic medium that’s also hot, so you are drinking in endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Here are safer alternatives to plastic for the kitchen:
- Pyrex glass bowls or mixing bowls
- Snapware glass food storage containers
- Mason jars or glass food storage jars
- Wooden or metal spatulas
- Bamboo cutting boards (or other wood, but I like bamboo because it is sustainable)
2. Steer clear of canned food with BPA in the lining
Choose fresh or frozen food over canned. When buying canned food, look for BPA-free cans (that's especially important for tomatoes, which are aciddic and will draw out the chemicals).
Be wary of companies that say BPA-free, but use other chemicals like BPF. Eden brand (for beans) does not use BPA. Instead, they use a pine tree resin to line cans.
3. Avoid Non-stick or Teflon Cookware
Non-stick pots are made with perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA which is an endocrine disruptor and has also been linked to cancer. Using these pans with high heat can cause them to release chemicals.
Just as with plastics above, abrasion will cause the release of chemicals into your food. So if your non-stock pans are scratched, definitely throw them away.
The best option is not to use them as all, and replace them with safer alternatives. I know this can be overwhelming – just take it one step at a time, and if budget is a concern, begin to slowly replace harmful kitchen items with safer ones.
Here are safer alternatives for pots and pans:
- Stainless steel - safe, easy to use, affordable
- Cast iron skillet - safe, very affordable, need to keep it seasoned
- Enameled cast-iron skillet or enameled cast iron dutch oven pot - my personal favorite for cooking, but expensive
4. Choose organic to reduce the pesticides you consume.
If you can’t afford to buy organic all the time, try to choose organic for the Dirty Dozen, produce with the highest amount of pesticide residue. Opt for conventional produce for the Clean Fifteen, produce with the lowest amount of pesticides.
Three helpful tips:
- Download the EWG app on your phone and keep the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen handy when you shop.
- If you don’t have the list handy and are wondering whether it is important to buy organic for a particular item, this trick often works well: opt for organic produce when you are eating the skin, and conventional produce if there is an inedible peel or skin.
- If you buy organic, you can be sure that the food is not genetically engineered (non-GMO).
Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen (2017) – ranked with the worst offenders at the top of the list
Sweet peas, frozen
My motto: do one thing, make it sing!
You don't need to change everything at once. Just increase your awareness and begin to take one action at a time to choose safer, healthier options for you and your family!