Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Xenoestrogens. The good, The bad and The ugly Part 4 - What to do

So by now, if you have read Parts 1, 2 and 3, you are keenly aware that xenoestrogens are BAD for you. Great, so now what?

As mentioned in Part 2, there is no escaping from the effects of xenoestrogens. But there are things you can do to make it much less. Remember, changing everything all at once can be pretty overwhelming, but as you make changes at your own pace, these things will become a habit and you'll wonder why you thought it'd be so hard in the first place.

The first place I personally would recommend is get rid of plastics! Food should never be kept in plastic, especially hot food. Many sources will stop at "don't heat food in plastic" (do we need to tell you not to microwave food?), or "don't use plastics for hot foods", however some plastics still leach when cool. Hot is definitely worse, but don't think you're totally off the hook if you stop with that. Ever had water in a water bottle for an extended length of time and it had that plastic aftertaste? The ester bonds that forms BPA into a polymer is not stable and decays with time, leaching BPA. This does not require heat to leach it out!

There are some BPA-free products out there, but personally I think that's just a lot of hype. There are still other chemicals in plastic, BPA (usually in hard plastic) is just the one that's receiving media attention right now. Actually it is the soft  plastics (phthalates) that leaches more xenoestrogens. Both are bad for you.

So that's right, cut out the plastic. This alone may seem overwhelming to some, but the job is becoming easier as people are demanding non-plastic solutions.

Get rid of your Tupperware (I know they're so handy, but the cost isn't just in dollars anymore). There are now glass and stainless steel options in various sizes. Glass baby bottles are becoming popular again (be sure to check the nipple) as well as stainless steel sippy cups. You can even get stainless steel or wood bowls and plates for picnics and baby. One of my favorites is storing food in mason jars, it's super cheap and easy, or in bowls and instead of using plastic wrap (yes, that's bad too) use a plate as a cover. You can even get (or make) cloth baggies for snacks and sandwiches. Make sure your baby doesn't put plastic toys in his/her mouth, the only way to do that is probably not to have any plastic toys. Get creative and make some toys, or buy some stuffed toys or wood blocks from Etsy.

You can request PVC free supplies for hospital treatment. This is best done ahead of time (for a scheduled appointment such as surgery) as the hospital may not have such items always on hand.

If I had to choose, the second most important thing would be the personal care products. Actually for many this should be the first thing you should do, I've been using pure stuff for so long now it hard to remember how much of that junk people use everyday. These things are loaded with xenoestrogens from parabens (major xenoestrogen) to fragrances (also xenoestrogen) and all sorts of junk that you just don't need. Remember what you put on your skin doesn't by-pass the liver, giving you 10 times the does you would get orally. This includes your shampoos, conditioners, soaps, lotions and whatever else you use. Simplify, there are a lot of alternatives out there. (I think this alone will become a post in itself at a future time.)

Also in that line of thought, if you wear cosmetics, learn to know what is safe. I don't use any cosmetics, so I'm not an expert on that. You can always just not use them, from what I do know, it seems like it's a pretty iffy world in trying to find something truly safe. Whatever you do though, don't wear nail polish, there is no known "safe" nail polish right now.

Also extremely important, buy organic food if at all possible. The most important here is the animal products, as estrogen is especially hard to get rid of in fatty tissue (this would be butter, milk and meat). If you're budget is limited on this the animal products are the most important. However, as you make eating like this a habit you may find that it isn't any more expensive at all. There are certain foods that contain higher pesticide amounts than others. See EWG shoppers guide to pesticides. For the foods with the lowest amount of pesticides, buy these simply at a farmers market (to avoid irradiated produce).

Don't use pesticides, etc. on your lawn or if you are fortunate enough to have a garden.

Clean up your cleaning products. Especially potent is the laundry. Fabric softeners coat your clothes and that stays in contact with your skin over long periods of time. It's not just the fragrance in fabric softeners that is so deadly. Fabric softener is the most toxic common household product. Detergent is another doosey. We make our own old-fashioned stuff here, but I've heard good things about Soapnuts. There are also other "safe" cleaners out there, which I'm always a bit suspicious of. Whatever you switch to, do your research on the ingredients first.

For cleaning your house, use simple baking soda and vinegar. That's all you really need. Micro-fiber cleaning clothes are also great. Don't get the cheap stuff though, Norwex is high quality stuff with a good warranty. Believe me that's why I sell it, there actually is a difference in effectiveness. My favorite thing for cleaning is baking soda. It takes care of scum like nothing, and great for scouring pots, it has even taken off stains from my counter tops. Vinegar is excellent as fabric softener (much for effective too). Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle to get rid of any soap residue and a truly clean smell (it doesn't smell like vinegar unless you use too much).

Scents and perfumes are another big concern. Phthalates are just one of the many ingredients that you want to avoid. (Phthalates are used as a stabilizer for fragrances). There can be as many as 600 chemicals to make up a single scent. The ingredients that make up the scent in products are not required to be on the label. 95% of the ingredients used in the fragrance itself are derived from petroleum (xenoestrogens) and many are the same chemicals found in cigarette smoke. (You wonder why scents affect some people so much?) These products not only cause estrogen dominance, but also damage the central nervous system, lungs, kidneys, eyes, nose. They bring about asthma-like symptoms, migraines and skin problems. The compounds that are found in synthetic fragrances cause birth defects and end up in human milk.

It is very hard to avoid synthetic fragrances if you depend on common household products and personal care. There are a few good options out there, but the best that I've seen are small, often one family operations who make these products because they want to avoid the toxic exposure themselves. Learn to be an avid label reader, and ask many questions when you buy a product. All products you buy in a store will have some way of getting a hold of some sort of customer service, or especially if it's a small, private business they should be happy to answer your questions.

When you renovate, be aware that glues, paints, new carpet, vinyl flooring, etc all will release a vast variety of chemicals. It is not always possible to live in a separate location during this time. When you are pregnant, this is especially not a good time to remodel or paint. Mattresses, walls and flooring will "off-gas" for quite a while so it is best to air out the house as much as you can on a regular basis. A good-quality carbon filter will help with some of the pollutants, and - my favorite - house plants are natural air filters, some are much more effective than others.

Some sources;

Pyrex has glass storage containers (still with a plastic lid, apparently BPA free, but at least the food isn't touching it). You can buy these at stores such as Canadian Tire or any "home" type department store, whoever would sell Pyrex. (I got mine at Canadian Tire so I stopped looking after that.)

Life Without Plastic has great stainless steel and wood containers, water bottles, even water coolers. They also carry non-plastic toys miscellaneous household items (some you never would've thought of)  and are always adding new things.

GlassDharma carries glass straws.

Etsy has anything handmade. Believe me there's a lot there and it's always changing. A great place for wooden spoons, bowls, toys or other items.

The Common Sense Farm has a lot of personal care options including soaps, toothpaste, shampoo, lotions, and deodorant. I personally use their toothpaste and pure jojoba oil. Be sure to check each items ingredients, I have not checked everything (they have a lot of great stuff) and cannot say for sure that everything is safe.

There are many other places as well, learn what you need to avoid and surf the internet a bit, you'll be sure to find something.

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