Posts tagged #environmental health

Your Food, Healthier: 3 Easy Ways to Avoid Consuming Chemicals

Environmental toxins are associated with infertility, autoimmunity, cancer, PCOS, endometriosis and more. Avoiding these chemicals is one of the essential steps to getting to adequate health. Here are 3 tips that will allow you to avoid these health-harming chemicals daily.

1. Wash your produce thoroughly. In general it is best to buy organic, especially the dirty dozen, but if it is not in the budget, then was your fruits and veggies with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. This has been shown to wash the pesticides off.

2. Store your leftover food in glass. Plastics containers often contain chemicals that can leach into your food and interfere with your hormones among many other bad effects in the body! Store your leftovers in glass or ceramic containers instead, if this isn’t possible, then be sure to avoid heating or microwaving any food in plastic, the heat encourages the transfer of plastic particles to your food

3.  Stay away from Teflon and other non-stick pans, they release toxic chemicals into the air, including agents used as chemical warfare. Swap the no-stick option out for alternatives including glass, stainless steel, or cast iron.


Posted on December 4, 2014 .

A "Detox" Explained

We live in a world filled with more pollution than ever, and even at low levels, these pollutants can affect your health. These toxicants can act in an unfortunate variety of ways in the body including disrupting hormones, brain function, and immune system.  Specific toxins have even been linked to endometriosis, ADHD, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, asthma, infertility, Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer.

Infertility: The Trends

An estimated 15.5% of couples in the United States experience infertility, with that number going over 20% for couples over 35. 

There are some suggestions that fertility in the US has been declining over the past decades. Reasons include the "modernization theory", or the idea that couples are waiting longer to start their families, often until after 35, which is when fertility noticeably decreases. 

Another reason includes environmental exposures. Lead, pesticides, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (such as BPA, pthalates, and other "xenoestrogens"), alter normal hormone functioning and lead to decreased fertility. These environmental toxins may account for the declining levels of testosterone in men, which has been steadily declining 1% per year, which is the same rate of decline seen in sperm production

Some studies show that despite the decreased sperm production, fertility levels have remained constant. But those numbers are no comfort to the millions of Americans struggling with starting their family. Some factors are uncontrollable. However, some factors, including exposure to environmental toxins, are more easily managed. 

Looking to decrease your environmental burden and boost your fertility? Check out these tips.


For an even more comprehensive list, check this out.

Environmental Exposures: Tips for Reproductive Health

Environmental exposures to certain toxins can affect your overall health, especially your reproductive health. Studies show the association with toxins and diseases, including endometriosis with pesticide exposure, Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and BPA, mercury with lower IQ, pregnancy loss and pesticides, pthalates with behavioral changes in young girls, BPA with obesity, and the list goes on...

What can you do? Avoid as much as possible the following:

Most common in high mercury fish and skin-lightening creams. Highest in the following fish: mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish and TUNA

Older homes often have lead paint, which can be breathed directly or touched. Ensure proper testing before any home remodeling.  Along with old paint, lead can also be found in playground equipment including artificial turf, or even dirt.  A great way to prevent this lead from being spread through your house is to take off your shoes upon entering your home and not wearing them inside. 

Always try to buy organic foods, especially those classified as the worst on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list, and when not buying organic be sure to wash in an acid-based cleaner (such as vinegar). 

BPA is found in high concentrations in receipts and canned foods. Avoid receipts if you can, and store them seperately, such as in a small envelope. Limit intake of canned foods, and chose BPA-free canned foods when possible. Avoid polycarbonate plastic bottles, steel or glass are better.

Pthalates are found it soft plastics, such as PVC and vinyl products. They are also used in cosmetics and personal care products (often labeled as "fragrance") such as nail polish, cologne, shampoo, hand lotion. Pthalates are also found in vinyl flooring, insect repellant, ziploc plastics, dairy products, any plastics with recycling codes 3 or 7. And unfortunately, since PVC pipe is what is used for most water pipes today, pthalates are commonly found in drinking water, but the good news is that these are easily filtered with a charcoal filter.


Male Infertility

Studies confirm that male sperm counts are declining, and environmental factors, such as pesticides, exogenous estrogens, and heavy metals may negatively impact sperm production. An estimated six percent of adult males are thought to be infertile and an estimated 15 percent of couples attempting their first pregnancy will have difficulty conceiving.

There are specific on specific nutritional and environmental factors that contribute to a man's fertility, but also other factors and conditions including (but not limited to):

  • Endocrine abnormalities
  • Prescription drugs (anti-seizure medications, sulfa drugs, some antibiotics and steroids)
  • Previous infections
  • Liver disease
  • Autoimmune conditions

In addition to these conditions, evidence suggests environmental reasons contributing to poor sperm quality, including exposure to chemicals, pesticidesheat, radiation, heavy metals, and electromagentic forces (a nearby cellphone).

There are many nutritional interventions for increasing sperm count, mobility, and motility. Often addressing the underlying medical conditions, environmental exposures, and stress can increase a man's fertility.



Learn more.

"Contaminants" in the Environment

Researchers at the University of Minnesota examined a nearby stream to determine its levels of toxicants. What they found was surprising. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs were found at detectable levels, apparently being released by the sewage treatment facility. This included drugs such as anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, and steroid hormones, but also environmental toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The truth is, these compounds, along with the many other chemicals being leached into our environment at very low levels, have known and unknown effects on human health.

Many attribute the decline in fertility over the past 40 years has been attributed to these "contaminants", often classified as EDCs or endocrine disrupting chemicals. An example of these include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which, despite being banned in 1979, still linger in our soil and water. Once inside the body, they mimic estrogen and other hormones, and studies show a relationship between EDCs and male infertility, endometriosis, recurrent miscarriages, and even hormonal cancers.

What can you do?

Reduce your PCB and contaminant exposure at home as much as possible. Here are some tips:

1. Take high quality fish oil supplements that are screened for possible contaminants

2. If you consume animal products, ensure that they are organic sources of dairy and grass-fed grass-finished meat

3. Consume organic fruits and vegetables, especially the "Dirty Dozen"

4. Avoid eating fish that are heavily contaminated, such as tuna and swordfish (the complete list here)

5. Ensure adequate fiber intake. Fiber binds up hormones and EDCs to allow for better elimination

Contaminants are present in the environment, their role is unknown, and they could be a threat to your health. Thankfully, there are steps that you may take to reduce your contaminant exposure and improve your health.

Plants as Air Purifiers

We all spend a lot of time indoors. Unfortunately, the air isn’t always clean. Building materials, furnishings, and electronic equipment, among many other materials, are known to emit various volatile organic compound "toxicants" that have been linked to numerous health complaints. Leaching of trace chemicals can result in indoor air pollution, causing disease-like symptoms, even at very low concentrations. Buildings that have minimal natural ventilation contained higher levels of these toxicants, indicating that outdoor air is better.

But there’s good news. NASA conducted a study on the usefulness of plants as indoor air purifiers and found that the addition of a plant to indoor air reduced overall  air toxicants, independent of what plant species.  Some of the plant species reduced toxicants by over 80% in one day! Of the plants included Gerbera Daisy, Peace Lily, Chrysanthemums, Bamboo, and English Ivy had some of the highest purification abilities. And, a recent study shows that employees who work in an environment with indoor plants have greater satisfaction and productivity. 

Bring a plant indoors and breathe deeper!