When working on a fertility issue, it’s easy to focus on herbs and supplements, and put other areas of your life on the back burner. While herbs and supplements promote the success of your fertility program, they invariably work the best when combined with a clean, healthy diet and lifestyle.
The foods you eat, the products you use and even the clothes you wear can have a tremendous effect on your fertility program. Yet, it’s increasingly challenging to figure out what’s healthy and what isn’t in today’s world.
This article shares easy ways to reduce chemical exposures and begin cleaning up your diet and lifestyle.
Healthy food is part of any natural fertility program. Take another look at what you eat and drink, as well as how to prepare and store foods.
- Focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods in the Fertility Diet; choose organic foods, especially those on the Dirty Dozen list and all animal foods.
- Avoid “faux meat”, processed soy foods (soy meat replacements) as they can depress the thyroid gland, affect mineral absorption and lead to hormonal imbalance.
- Skip the microwave in favor of a traditional oven, toaster oven or hot plate.
- Use non-toxic cookware: ceramic, stainless steel, cast iron, glass, or “green” pans. Avoid non-stick Teflon or aluminum cookware with toxic perfluorinated chemicals (PFC’s).
- Use glass or stainless steel to store water, and use a filtration system or buy purified water if you have concerns about water quality in your area.
- Avoid storing food and water in plastic when possible. Use only BPA free (bisphenol A) plastic when necessary.
Household/ Cleaning products
We all want a clean house, but many cleaning products can be harmful to health and fertility. Here are just a few examples:
- Glass, carpet, oven and hard surface cleaners routinely contain solvents like EGBE, or 2-butoxyethanol, linked to fertility issues in animal studies and early human research.
- Most detergents contain APE’s (alkylphenol ethoxylates), which act as hormone disruptors (xenoestrogens).
- Many “all-purpose cleansers” contain DEA (diethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine). These chemicals can penetrate the skin and have carcinogenic and neurotoxic effects.
- Anything with “fragrance” or “phthalate” in the ingredient list is suspect. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 1/3 of chemicals used in the fragrance industry are toxic. Additionally, companies do not have to divulge what chemicals they use in “fragrance” on labels — a few common examples of products that use endocrine disrupting phthalates for fragrance: dryer sheets, scented candles, detergents, fabric softeners, room sprays/aerosols, dish soap, hand soap, plug-in air fresheners.
- Parabens are widely used as preservatives in cleaning products, and they have known hormone-disrupting effects. Purchase paraben free whenever possible. More paraben-free products are available today than ever before.
- For housework, choose natural cleansers from health food or fine grocery stores. There are many “green” or clean, natural brands on the market. You can make your own DIY natural cleansers and detergents. Pinterest offers many recipes to try. Learn more: Why You Should Be Making Your Own Natural Cleaning Products
- Use essential oil/aromatherapy diffusers, natural scented candles (soy, beeswax or coconut), and room sprays to decrease house odors. For people sensitive to chemicals, problems like allergies, headaches or respiratory distress often improve with this change.
- Pesticides used on lawns, flowers, herb or vegetable gardens add to your body’s chemical burden. Find non-toxic solutions to pests!
Personal Care Products/Clothing
Watch what you put on your body. The skin is your largest organ of ingestion. Anything you put on your skin can be absorbed into the body. Here are just a few trouble areas to watch for:
- Up to 85% of personal care products contain parabens. Check labels for parabens before purchasing skin care products, makeup, hair care, body wash, perfumes, deodorant and more.
- The antibiotic triclosan is routinely added to surface cleansers, deodorant, toothpaste, hand soap and lotions to fight bacterial overgrowth. Yet, triclosan is a hormone disruptor that can affect the thyroid gland. Overuse of triclosan may also increase the risk for antibiotic resistance.
- Foaming agents like Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are added to about 90% of personal care products; shampoos, conditioners, body wash, soaps and skin cleansers. Unfortunately, they can interact with other chemicals, form carcinogens, and over time stress the kidneys and respiratory system.
- Toluene is a petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar added to nail polish and treatments, hair color or bleaching products. Toluene is especially hard on the respiratory system and may be damaging to a developing fetus. Do your best to avoid products with benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, or methylbenzene in the ingredient list.
- High quality, natural personal care products are available in health food and fine grocery stores today. As demand has increased, more and more manufacturers are making non-toxic products.
- What about clothing? Fabrics like non-organic cotton, polyester, nylon, rayon, or “stain or wrinkle resistant” garments are regularly treated with chemicals that can affect the endocrine and immune system. Consider natural fabrics like linen, silk, wool, organic unbleached cotton, or hemp instead. Health food stores often sell organic clothing, too.
Make Smart Choices- Reduce Chemical Exposure
While the body can rid itself of many toxins through natural cleansing, it doesn’t take long to hit your limit with all the chemicals we’re exposed to. For women with fibroids, endometriosis, or immunological fertility issues, reducing chemical exposure can be a game changer for reproductive health. As you’re working on your fertility, give your diet and lifestyle a second look!
Start by making small changes. Shop in the organic foods section. Switch to natural cleansers and personal care products when possible. Try to wear more natural fabrics. Read labels carefully and explore reputable resources to learn more.
While we can’t avoid all toxic chemicals, you can reduce your exposure by making informed choices and becoming more discerning about what you use on a daily basis.
Resources for Learning More:
Elevated Estrogen Levels Linked to Toxins in Body Care Products
Parabens and How They May Impact Fertility Health
5 Causes of Hormonal Imbalance You May Be Exposed to Daily
Xenohormones: Causing a Hormone Imbalance Epidemic
EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database
- McLean, R. (2015, March). 4 Types of Non Toxic Eco Friendly Cookware That’s Safe For You and Your Family. Retrieved from: https://www.ecowatch.com/4-types-of-nontoxic-eco-friendly-cookware-thats-safe-for-you-and-your–1882023056.html
- How Toxic Are Your Household Cleaning Products? (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/how-toxic-are-your-household-cleaning-supplies
- Sholl, J. (2011, Oct.). 8 Hidden Toxins: What’s Lurking in Your Cleaning Products? Retrieved from: https://experiencelife.com/article/8-hidden-toxins-whats-lurking-in-your-cleaning-products/
- Natural Garden Pest Control. (2018). Retrieved from: https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/natural-garden-pest-control/
- Cunningham, V. (2014, Jan.). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html
- Baror-Padilla, H. (2018). The 4 Most Toxic Fabrics and Their Eco Friendly Upgrades. Retrieved from: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-25104/the-4-most-toxic-fabrics-their-ecofriendly-upgrades.html
- The Top 6 Fabrics You Should Avoid Wearing and Why. (2018). Retrieved from: https://bodyecology.com/articles/top_6_fabrics_you_should_avoid_wearing.php