You feel like your brain is in a fog, your food cravings are driving you nuts, you’re having trouble buttoning up those jeans, and you find yourself awake at night, what is going on? Well… it could be a hormone imbalance.
Here are five surprising everyday causes of hormonal imbalance. Find out if you could you be setting yourself up for a hormonal disaster…
Plastics are everywhere, but certain chemicals that they are made from can mimic hormones or bind to hormone receptor sites, disrupting the body’s natural hormonal balance. These chemicals are known as xenohormones. All xenohormones affect endocrine system function. They can alter how natural hormones are produced, metabolized and eliminated from the body.
The most harmful chemical found in plastics is bisphenol-A commonly known as BPA. In 2008 the FDA told us BPA was safe, but months later in that same year they repealed that approval after studies linked BPA to miscarriage, hormonal disruption, infertility risk, cancers, attention deficit disorder in both children and adults and even diabetes.
- Avoid purchasing water in plastic bottles and never drink water from a plastic bottle that has been left in direct sunlight or heat. This leeches the xenohormones into the water. Choose reusable water bottles that are BPA free, stainless steel or glass.
- Store leftovers in glass containers.
- Never microwave foods in cellophane or plastic wrap. The heat causes the plastic to off gas harmful chemicals which go into your food.
- Purchase meat in bulk from your local meat counter and have it wrapped in butcher paper.
2. Body Care Products
You would think that the products designed to make you more beautiful would actually be good for you right? Possibly wrong.
Many body care products contain hormone disrupting chemicals including parabens, phthalates, triclosan, 4-Methylbenzylidene, petrochemicals and even lead. These aren’t the only chemical toxins you are slathering on your body each day, some body care products can contain up to hundreds of chemical toxins.
You may be thinking well hey, I’m not ingesting it so why should it matter? Well, human skin has pores and it is highly absorbent. These chemicals are absorbed into the skin and circulate through the body via the bloodstream and on top of that can become stored long-term in fat cells. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to these chemicals can elevate estrogen levels. Elevated estrogen levels are linked to a variety of cancers, endometriosis, PCOS, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts.
The average American uses 12 body care products per day. If you would like to know how safe your products are, check out the Environmental Working Group’s website Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. They have ratings on over 77,000 body care products. Choose the most natural body care products you can to avoid exposure to toxic hormone disrupting chemicals.
3. Extreme Exercise
It seems like everywhere you turn there is some new exercise program designed to burn fat and get you looking like a supermodel, but extreme exercise may actually be harmful to fertility.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina found high-intensity, strenuous and prolonged exercise increases cortisol levels, while lowering thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones stimulate your metabolism and the desired outcome of exercise is definitely not to lower your metabolism.
The study showed that even after 24 hours of recovery post-exercise, cortisol levels remained elevated and thyroid hormones suppressed. Both high cortisol levels and low thyroid hormones have been linked to poor adrenal health which also in-turn directly impacts thyroid function and how the body handles stress long-term, all of which can negatively impact overall hormonal balance and fertility.
Moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week, with 2, 30 minute strength training sessions, and 1-2 sessions of yoga for an hour is a much better plan for maintaining hormonal balance.
4. Body Fat Content
Maintain a healthy weight, with just the right amount of body fat.
Too much body fat has been shown to create too much estrogen in the body. Body fat stores and produces estrogen, it also stores xenoestrogens from human-made chemical toxins in plastics, non-organic foods, body care products and a variety of other sources. This creates an internal environment of too much estrogen which can lower progesterone levels, which may cause infertility, estrogen dominant cancers and fertility health issues.
High body fat content can also lead to high insulin levels which affects the hormone leptin, which in turn, may prevent fertilization of the egg. Obese women should get on a healthy weight loss program right away, one that teaches them healthy food choices, provides healthy exercise tips, while also providing emotional support.
Having too little body fat can disrupt hormonal balance just as easily. Instead of having too much estrogen though, underweight women are more likely to have low hormone levels across the board. Women with low body fat are more likely to have absent menstrual cycles, irregular menstrual cycles, low estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone.
In order to support healthy hormonal balance for underweight women be sure to eat a 2,200 calorie diet rich in whole foods, eat 6 smaller meals that include whole fat organic dairy products, healthy fat rich foods like salmon, coconut oil and nut butters, and never skip a meal!
5. Non-Organic Foods
There are a number of reasons non-organic foods are linked to hormonal imbalance. Produce, grains, seeds and nuts crops are often heavily sprayed with herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers. All of these contain known endocrine disrupting chemicals, shown to alter hormonal balance and even alter reproductive function in both animals and humans. On top of that, there is a growing list of genetically modified foods (GMO) consumed by Americans on a large scale.
GMO foods have been linked to elevated estrogen levels and even the development of tumors. The only way to ensure you are not eating GMO foods is to buy organic.
Non-organic meat products are a number one source of hormone disrupting chemicals. This is because animals raised for their meat are given antibiotics and synthetic hormones regularly to ensure rapid development, muscle mass, milk production and to protect their health since their living conditions are rampant with disease due to filthy and cramped living conditions. The animals are fed GMO, non-organic feed. Animal meat has a fat content, which stores all of these toxins and synthetic hormones and then we in turn eat all of this. Choose organic, free range or grass fed meat, dairy products and eggs whenever possible.
1. THE OVERTRAINING SYNDROME: NEURO-ENDOCRINE IMBALANCES IN ATHLETES. Anthony C. Hackney & Claudio Battaglini, Applied Physiology Laboratory, Department of Exercise & Sport Science, University of North Carolina. June 2007 http://www.brjb.com.br/files/brjb_6_1200706_id2.pdf
2. Washington Post – Chemicals in Plastics May Cause Infertility, Steven Reinberg ( Nov. 13, 2008)
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