Low Toxin for Longevity
Have you ever stopped to think about how many chemicals you are exposed to on a daily basis as you go about your life?
From when you wake up in the morning, the products you use, the food you eat, the water you drink and the air you breathe… it may really surprise you… it certainly did for me!
Since the industrial revolution we have become very clever at creating all kinds of chemicals for all kinds of purposes, hence there are now over 80,000 chemicals in commercial use.
Not all of these chemicals are bad. Some are compatible with the human body and the environment and some are not.
As you will read below, science is showing that the chemicals which aren’t compatible with our ecosystem are actually having a severe and devastating impact on human health and wildlife.
All the more reason to go Low Toxin for Longevity.
“We seem to be accepting as a society that it’s acceptable to load up our next generation with chemicals in an unregulated manner and hope they’re not bad. We need to change that entire culture.”
R. Thomas Zoeller, professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
This was a statement by one of the authors and scientists on the collaborative study between The World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, State of the Science of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals – and we couldn’t agree more.
This study involved a review panel of 16 international scientists who came to anonymous agreement that endocrine-related diseases and disorders are on a steep rise, and was the most comprehensive review of EDC research to date, until 2015 when The Endocrine Society updated their initial 2009 Scientific Statement (see here).
Both of these reviews are compelling evidence if you fancy a read and a science lesson. I will be discussing only a few of these critical findings below as this could be easily turned into an ebook. On second thoughts let me know in the comments below if you would be interested in reading that ?
This topic of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDC’s) is one that I’m very passionate about since I found out about it in 2009, when a wonderful man took the time to share some information with me that changed my life. This man eventually became my husband.
I think the reason this topic impacts my heart so much is two fold:
- Experiencing first hand the silent pandemic in society because of not knowing or ignoring this information.
- Experiencing the dramatic change that happens in the trajectory of a person’s life (and subsequent generations) once they know this information and make changes in this area.
Therefore my hope through this article is that you will have a light bulb moment (like I did) on the importance of this information and be inspired to take action with some simple steps that could literally change the life of yourself, your children and their children, not to mention our planet.
Before we go any further, if you are completely new to this information, there may be a temptation to beat yourself up for the past once you learn certain things. Please don’t. That will be completely counterproductive. Instead, be grateful that you now know. Be encouraged and inspired to look at what you can do today as part of creating your desired lifestyle of wellbeing for now and the future!
What are EDC’s?
According to The World Health Organisation “Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) and potential EDCs are mostly man-made, found in various materials such as pesticides, metals, additives or contaminants in food, and personal care products. EDCs have been suspected to be associated with altered reproductive function in males and females; increased incidence of breast cancer, abnormal growth patterns and neurodevelopmental delays in children, as well as changes in immune function.”
Firstly, to understand this a little deeper let’s take a closer look at the Endocrine System.
The Endocrine System is made up of a collection of glands which produce hormones, regulate mood, sleep, metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function and reproduction, among other things. The major glands involved are pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus, gastrointestinal tract and adrenal glands.
Basically the endocrine system influences every cell, organ and function of our bodies.
Therefore, when we are looking at chemicals which disrupt this system, we are talking about chemicals which can impact the whole body and it’s subsequent function.
What are the main sources of exposure?
We come into contact with EDCs via the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we are in contact with and breathe in, and the products we use on and in our bodies and bring into our homes or work environments.
Synthetic endocrine disruptors are ubiquitously found in pesticides, plastics and plastic packaging, pharmaceuticals, electronics, flame retardants, textiles, building materials, household cleaners, personal care products and cosmetics. They are also found in the food supply in the way of packaged foods, pesticide residue on produce and they bioaccumulate in the fat and organs of animals therefore are in products like conventional meat and dairy.
In the same way these chemicals bioaccumulate in animal fat, the same is true for humans. Certain EDC’s can be stored and accumulate in fat tissue. This process is particularly implicated with obesity and/or weight management and can be physically seen in the body shape of men and woman. We will discuss this more below.
This exposure and subsequent accumulation of toxins starts in the womb, then over many years of exposure to a cocktail of EDCs from multiple different sources means that the total ‘body burden’ can often reach breaking point. Much like an overflowing rubbish bin.
This breaking point can manifest in a multitude of diseases and conditions; depending on the type of EDC, when the exposure occurred, the mixture of chemicals and the state of health or homeostasis at the time. As you could imagine, some of these factors are incredibly difficult to determine. Despite this, some disturbing correlations have been found.
Both of the scientific studies mentioned above go into depth on the effects these chemicals have on the human body and also their contribution on inducing chronic disease.
What health conditions are linked to EDC exposure?
The science on EDCs shows they are a contributing factor in the following conditions;
• Endocrine-related cancers (breast, thyroid, ovarian, prostate and testicular)
• Polycystic Overian Syndrome (or fibroids on ovaries)
• Fibrous breast disease
• Early puberty
• Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
• Immune deficiency and autoimmune disease
• Heart Disease and hypertension
• Alzheimers Disease
• Parkinsons Disease
• ADHD and learning difficulties
Earlier I mentioned the process of certain toxic chemicals accumulating in fat tissue in the body. Fat distribution is affected by the activity of various hormones and your hormones are affected by EDCs. A perfect storm for the above mentioned conditions. Many of these EDCs mimic your hormones and their actions and are referred to as ‘xenoestrogens’ – chemicals that mimic oestrogen and are carcinogenic to the body, hence why they are often implicated in cancer.
Hormone imbalance and associated issues is a whole other blog post in itself (which will be coming). For now I want to emphasise and help you understand how critically important it is to reduce your exposure to EDCs, if you want to prevent or heal from ANY hormone related condition from the above mentioned list, or have optimal health and wellbeing. We have seen this play out over and over in the state of health in a person during our experience in the health space.
To understand, lets do a quick 101 on hormone basics.
Both men and woman have progesterone, testosterone and estrogen, just in different amounts which is one of two factors that determines whether you are male or female. The other factor being your chromosomes. The synthesis or creation of these three hormones comes from cholesterol, hence why cholesterol is very important for the body, in particular, keeping hormones in the right balance.
Cholesterol has been given a bad rap in the case of heart disease, which is a huge misconception (again for another blog post). Whenever cholesterol levels are elevated in the body, there is a reason for that. Most likely the body is elevating cholesterol levels to perform one of the many biochemical processes it is used for. Many professionals in the medical establishment forget these 101 basics of biochemistry when they prescribe cholesterol lowering medication. But I digress.
For woman, when our hormones are in balance, we are meant to have more progesterone than estrogen. For men, when their hormones are in balance, they are meant to have more testosterone than oestrogen. The problem is we now live in an environment that is very dominated by synthetic estrogen’s (EDCs) which is pushing estrogen levels for men, woman and children through the roof. It’s also doing the same in wildlife, which is causing male fish to turn into female fish. Read more on that issue here.
Exposure to these synthetic estrogen’s occurs from various sources as discussed above. To make matters worse, many of us woman voluntarily insert, ingest or inject synthetic estrogens of some form in the way of contraceptives.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists synthetic estrogen as a Group 1 human carcinogen. Meaning it is known to directly cause cancer in humans.
Then why is it being allowed to be sold? Because it stops fertility, therefore is a quick, easy, fix for preventing pregnancy and managing a whole host of symptoms associated with hormonal issues. However it does nothing to address the root cause(s) of the issues and can very often create even bigger problems, especially long term and transgenerationally.
Long term effects of EDCs across multiple generations
Perhaps the best example of these long term effects across multiple generations, is exposure of the foetus to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a potent synthetic nonsteroidal estrogen taken by pregnant women from the 1940s to 1975 to prevent miscarriage and other complications. Its use was discontinued when a sub-set of exposed daughters presented with cervical cancer. It was also determined that exposed offspring of both sexes had increased risk for multiple reproductive disorders, certain cancers and other diseases.
A plethora of examples is emerging for increased disease susceptibility later in life as a function of developmental exposures to EDCs that include BPA, phthalates, PCBs, pesticides, dioxins, and tributyltin (TBT), among others. Many of these ingredients are commonly found in food, tap water, household cleaners and everyday personal care products.
Obesity and weight management
Working as a personal trainer for 4 years straight out of university, I witnessed many times, people who just couldn’t shift certain areas of body fat no matter what they did, even for myself. Then I learnt about EDCs and the toxic chemicals that are in our everyday products, food, water, air and all around us.
As soon as I and they, started to make changes and go low toxin, suddenly all the hard work at the gym and eating good food was actually paying off. The fat I’d held on the sides of my upper thigh since my late teens/early 20s was starting to shift.
As mentioned above, EDCs can bioaccumulate in fat cells causing changes in the body shape of men and woman.
This estrogenic fat is what causes men to develop ‘man boobs’ and belly fat and woman to hold fat around their…
well you can see in the picture…
Eating fat doesn’t mean you will store fat. The right kind of fat is essential for your body to function well, especially your brain. More often this increase of fat storage in humans is from too much refined sugars, toxic food, water and products we use on our bodies and in our homes.
Obesity is one of the major health issues today and weight management is one of the most popular areas of health that people spend their time and money on. Many times well-intentioned efforts are in vain because people don’t know (or ignore) to address the toxicity component of health and wellbeing. This goes for ALL health goals, not just having the body shape you want.
Regulations are few and far between
Before I knew about EDCs, I assumed if something was allowed to be sold on the shelf, then it must have been checked and tested to ensure that it was safe to use or consume. Unfortunately that is not the case.
The truth is very few of the products on the market have been tested for safety, because they don’t have to.
As an example, looking at the personal care industry alone, the number of harmful chemicals banned by countries are as follows:
Europe – 1328 banned ingredients
US – 11 banned ingredients
Australia – 9 banned ingredients
This industry is a case of chemicals being allowed for use until they are proved to be unsafe, rather than the other way around. So we become the lap rat in this scientific experiment.
This trailer from the documentary Unacceptable Levels shows the reality and choice we are faced with
Beware of ‘Green Washing’
What is Green Washing? It’s when companies use trending buzz words like ‘organic’, ‘natural’, ‘non-toxic’, ‘eco-friendly’ in their marketing to attract customers to their product just because it’s popular. Often when you look deeper at the ingredients contained in these products, you’ll find they still contain harmful chemicals along with the ‘plant derived’ or ‘botanical’ ingredients.
When it comes to the personal care and cosmetics industry, even organic products can still contain harmful ingredients.
However with the food industry, the label of ‘certified organic’ carries much more strict guidelines and is the real deal. You may pay little extra but you are assured that the food is created in a particular way and free from any nasties (see our blog post here). There are also farmers around that choose to farm organically, but haven’t gone through the process of being certified due to time and/or money constraints. I would want to know these farmers personally though and be able to see first hand how they farm (unfortunately there are farmers who claim to be ‘organic’ or ‘spray-free’ that simply aren’t, hence the benefits of the organic certification).
It seems crazy to me that you need to pay to get a certification to produce food that is actually how nature intended it, yet companies are free to completely modify and chemicalize our food and this is referred to as “conventional” and “healthy”.
The 3 main industries to be aware of are:
• The food industry
• The personal care industry
• The household cleaning industry
These are 3 major areas where you have control over the quality of products you and your family are consuming and are exposed to; where you contribute to the behaviour of companies and can influence them with your purchases; and you contribute to the health of the environment and future generations.
How to go Low Toxin
By now I hope you have gained enough insight into this important topic and are ready to start making some simple changes for you, your family and their family. If not, I strongly encourage you to investigate this topic further until you have more clarity for yourself.
Although it is virtually impossible to avoid all harmful chemicals whilst living in our modern world, reducing your exposure and therefore the total toxic load on your body, can not only go a long way in reducing our risk for some serious health challenges, but also actually allow us to operate at our best and enjoy life.
One of the easiest things you can do to start living a Low Toxin Lifestyle this week, is to change where you shop for the everyday products you use on your body, in your home and the food and drink you put in your mouth.
It’s the things that you do everyday / twice per day (which you have control over) that’s the most important to look at first.
In your bathroom:
• Use safe products for showering, brushing your teeth, doing your hair, makeup, perfume… the list here alone is huge, especially for woman.
In your kitchen:
• Use safe products for washing dishes, cleaning bench tops and ovens
• Use a filter for your drinking and cooking water, including ice cubes
• Stock your fridge and pantry with fresh, organic and/or chemical-free whole foods
◦ Veges and fruit, nuts and seeds, grass fed meats, wild caught fish
◦ Quality, combination supplements to fill the gaps in your diet
• Replace plastic with glass as much as possible. Reuse glass jars. Never heat plastics.
• Use safe cookware. Avoid teflon.
In your laundry:
• Use safe products for washing clothes, sheets and towels, removing stains, ironing
Just say NO to:
• spray cans
• hormonal contraceptives
• unnecessary medications
• synthetic antibacterial everything like hand gel
• automatic air fresheners and bug killers
• factory farmed meat, eggs, dairy and seafood
• conventional corn, wheat and soy
When you start to explore the alternative safe products out there, or even make your own, you’ll find there is simply no need for the array of chemical cleaners most of us have piled up underneath our kitchen sinks, bathroom cupboards and laundry rooms. As we’ve discussed, not only do these directly affect us, they go down the drain and contaminate the environment and entire ecosystems. They are literally changing the genetics of the generations. I think sometimes we forget, we are part of that same ecosystem.
Which products are safe?
The good news is there are some companies out there who are passionate about the health of people and the planet, and are genuinely interested in doing the right thing by everyone, regardless of who is watching or not. It is part of who they are as a company and why they’ve existed from day one. They haven’t jumped on a band wagon just because of the growing number of people now looking for safer products.
If you are a parent, think of the investigation you do when choosing a safe and appropriate day care for your children. You don’t just expose them to anyone or anything. You carefully select a facility that you trust with your child’s well-being. I would highly recommend taking the same approach when it comes to EDCs.
As previously mentioned the regulations are few and far between therefore it really comes down to trust. This is why we take the time to read up about a company – their philosophy and why they do what they do. We also trust recommendations from people we trust and know have done the research.
We personally use, trust and recommend these brands and companies to our family, friends and clients:
Modere – we use their personal care, home care, essential oils and supplements, and are absolute raving fans! Modere avoids over 3000 ingredients which are harmful or even have a question mark over them. They manufacture and distribute everything themselves so they have control over the whole process, even down to the bottles the products go into. They will not compromise on quality or safety for cost. I’ve been using and recommending these products for 7 years and Steve for 12 years. We’ve seen incredible changes in people’s health as a result. They are not only safe, they actually work really well too. Click on The Hub and scroll down to Brand Partners to get a discount code.
Alkaway & The Water Shop – we use their water filtration products for drinking, showering and carrying water. Water is vital for life and something we all consume daily. However we often don’t stop to think what is in our water. Our water generally comes from the tap or a tank and both will contain a vast array of extra chemicals and contaminants that are not H2O. These are absorbed through the digestive system (drinking), skin and lungs (bathing) and can accumulate in the body. When you have your drinking and showering water filtered you not only remove daily exposure to these nasties, but it also tastes better as well.
Barambah Organics – we don’t consume much dairy but when we feel like a homemade pizza we go for Barambah cheddar. For anyone who insists they need their dairy, this is definitely one of the best farms who have got it right from a commercial stand point. Of course your local farmer who shares a similar philosophy to these guys would be great as well. Conventional dairy products are anything but a health food and as discussed above, certainly contribute to our exposure to EDCs.
Who Gives A Crap – have created environmentally friendly toilet paper, tissues and paper towels without any dyes, chemicals or scents, plus they donate 50% of their profits to building toilets in developing nations. Did you know there are more mobile phones than toilets in the world? Think of that next time you are texting on the loo. We are huge fans of social enterprise!
Tom Organics – have created certified organic feminine hygiene products. Yes, this is important too. Organic tampons and pads decompose much faster than conventional products. Plus, organic cotton ensures we’re keeping synthetic pesticides, chemicals and genetically modified materials out of the air, water and soil, and away from one of the most delicate and absorbent parts of a women’s body.
Neoflam – we use their safe cookware products. Most non-stick cookware is highly toxic, not only when used in the cooking process but also in the production process. Neoflam products are absolutely free of any harmful chemicals. They are also super versatile to switch from the stove top, to oven, to dinner table, to fridge. Plus they look cool.
Food – we mostly buy from local farmers, markets and producers who prioritise organic, spray free, biodynamic and sustainable farming methods. We do buy the odd thing from the supermarket or corner store, which is normally organic as well.
Do I need to live in a bubble?
No. You have been intelligently created with an inbuilt self-cleaning system.
For everything you can’t control, like the numerous substances you breathe in the air or come in contact with from living life, it is so critically important that we have optimal detoxification happening in our body on a daily basis to remove as many toxins as possible.
We are generally very good at servicing our cars regularly to keep the engine clean and running optimally, however we are not often informed of the importance of being as diligent, if not more so, with our own bodies.
Optimal detoxification requires proper functioning of your detox organs: skin, lymph, colon, kidneys, liver and lungs, as well as adequate energy in the form of specific nutrients to perform specific functions along the detox pathways. Lack of specific nutrients can severely hinder detoxification. A high toxic load in the body is one of the major contributing factors we’ve seen which impacts people’s health and wellbeing, preventing them from having optimal health.
Signs that your body is struggling to detoxify can be:
• regular headaches
• skin irritation or skin conditions
• dark circles or lines under your eyes
• lethargy and constant fatigue
• hormone problems
• poor liver function from blood tests
• sluggish gut function: ie constipation or not moving your bowels at least daily
• chronic illness and disease
Other things that can help promote detoxification are:
• regular physical movement
• quality and adequate sleep (7-9 hours) – a good test to see how much sleep you need is to allow yourself permission for one day (or more) to wake up without an alarm and see how many hours you slept for. I personally function best with 9 hours sleep. This certainly became a priority for me after dealing with adrenal fatigue.
• drinking 2-3L of clean filtered or spring water (more if physically active or living in a hot climate)
• infrared saunas
• dry skin brushing
Keep an eye out for our blog on The How To of Detoxification, or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified.
Summarising The Problem
With our modern day lifestyles and the level and array of environmental toxins today, we are literally being bombarded by a chemical cocktail. This means the total toxic load on our bodies has resulted in the health of humans and wildlife being severely compromised.
If you are dealing with one of these health issues mentioned in this article (or even if you aren’t), your doctor isn’t going to tell you to change brands of laundry powder, or to only eat organic grass fed meat, unless they have read the latest science on the topic. Even then, chances are slim.
Since this information is not making the headline news, it really is a silent pandemic.
The science on EDCs clearly shows that the effects can be passed on through generations during fetal development or from continued exposure of the child to EDCs.
The good news is we can use this information to take steps to detoxify the body as much as possible before conception (of both parties), reduce exposures, nourish the body and clean up our environment, to give our future children the best chance possible and dramatically lower the risks.
The scientific statements call for the ‘precautionary principle’ – where we need to do all we can to minimise the risks.
The more people who go Low Toxin will in turn create a low toxin culture and environment. It is our own daily choices that shape both our future and that of our kids and grandkids. We all have the power to make a difference.
Further reading and scientific references
There is so much more detail to this discussion that we simple cannot cover here. If you would like to read the summaries on the science in this area head to World Health Organisation or The Endocrine Society.