Many patients ask me why it is so difficult to control their weight or maintain a normal blood sugar. Many find it is much more difficult than it used to be. As a society, we know that much of this is due to increased caloric intake along with a sedentary lifestyle. But it is not always as simple as calories in-calories out. Chances are, even if you do not have diabetes or obesity, you have noticed it is increasingly difficult to maintain your ideal weight. There is something else going on which is affecting metabolism and contributing to these medical conditions.
When most of us think about diabetes, we instantly think about sugar and foods that contain sugar as being the source or culprit of the condition. When we think about obesity, we think about too many calories and too little exercise. However, new research believes that exposure to certain chemicals, called endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), could also contribute to the prevalence of not only diabetes, but also obesity — both of which are often linked together.
According to recent reports from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “More than one-third (78.6 million) of adults living in the United States are considered obese. About 17 % (12.7 million) of children ages 2-19 are obese.” These numbers shed light on recent attention being brought to the public about the epidemic of obesity.
Also often linked with obesity is diabetes. Although two separate conditions, diabetes is often a side result of the former. In 2012, the American Diabetes Association claimed “9.3% of the American population (29.1 million Americans) has diabetes. 21.1 million have been diagnosed, and 8 million are undiagnosed.”
These two conditions, among others contributed to by EDCs, remain some of the leading causes of preventable death. While diet and exercise play a primary role in prevention, according to a recent report released from the Endocrine Society, both of these conditions have been linked to exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
What Are EDCs?
The World Health Organization defines endocrine-disrupting chemicals as mostly man-made chemicals, found in various materials such as pesticides, metals, additives and contaminants in food, and personal care products. Some common names for these types of chemicals are: Lead, Arsenic, BPA, Dioxin, Mercury, PFCs, and more.
While it is not difficult to identify which types of chemicals fall into this category, it is more difficult to limit your exposure. These chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, ingested through dust, water, and food, as well as through inhaling gas or air particles. They can also be passed from mother to fetus through breast milk or the placenta.
Why EDCs Are Bad For The Human Body
So how does exposure to these chemicals link to obesity and diabetes? They interfere with the body’s natural hormones by either mimicking or blocking them. When they alter the body’s chemical messengers, they change the way our body’s cells develop and grow. Although diabetes and obesity are affected by EDCs, exposure to these chemicals has also been linked to a number of other health conditions, including breast cancer and abnormal growth patterns.
Regardless of the risks, everyone has been exposed to these chemicals at some point in their life. “The evidence is more definitive than ever before—EDCs disrupt hormones in a manner that harms human health,” says Andrea C. Gore, Professor and Vice Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin and Chair of the task force that developed the statement.
How Can You Reduce Your Exposure?
- Avoid Products That Contain Harmful Chemicals – Now that you know the names of some of the chemicals that are the culprits, do your best to avoid purchasing food and personal hygiene products that contain them, or are stored in containers produced from them. Websites like EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database allow users to type in the name of a product and see which harmful chemicals it contains. It also gives the product’s safety ratings to compare against similar products.
- Filter, Filter, Filter – Make sure you stay away from unfiltered water through which contaminated chemicals can enter your body. There are also shower filters available that will filter the water that is absorbed through your skin.
- Eat Simply and Organically – Many fruits and vegetables that are found at the grocery store are sprayed with pesticides. Meats are laden with hormones. Eliminate both by buying organic.
- Detoxify Your Body – I will be introducing a unique, targeted all-natural 30 day total body detoxification program soon. This is an easy program to follow, and will not be disruptive to your daily schedule. I will be addressing both phase I and phase ll detoxification. If you would like to receive a copy, please feel free to sign up for our free weekly natural health newsletter.
In my opinion body detoxification is one of the most important things we can do to reduce our body burden of EDCs, as we all have toxins which have accumulated in our bodies. If you would like more information about this program, please email me.