Obesogens is a term you may have not heard before. It refers to a group of endocrine disrupting chemicals that are found abundantly in our day-to-day environment. Some are unavoidable, others we slather all over our skin at our own volition. The World Health Organization and various studies class these obesogens as chemicals that are known to disrupt lipid metabolism (aka fat metabolism).
These are now abundant in our environment, including the atmosphere, sediments, soils and water. They are derived both from industrial chemicals, such as bisphenol A and phthalates used as plastic packaging components, and other consumer products from agricultural sources such as pesticides, fungicides, insecticides or herbicides.
Why environmentalism is also a health issue
All of these obesogens, or endocrine disruptors, have come about following the industrial revolution. A recent report following investigation into our drinking water finding that we drink up to a credit card’s worth of plastic in a week. While many of these chemicals are unavoidable as they are rampant in the air, many can be avoided, especially those in our cosmetics, food and cleaning products. Reducing the use of plastics (yes, even BPA free) will help to reduce these chemicals. Note: when heated, plastics leach into your water and food so glass or stainless steel are good alternatives. The number six on a plastic product (usually on disposable coffee cups) means it includes polystyrene which is known to be a carcinogen.
Reducing everyday use of plastics is also important for our waterways, where a lot of our plastic ends up. Protecting our environment should always be high on our list of priorities. And it’s not only the waterways that are affected by plastics but our sea life too. Again, chemicals from plastics leach into the water where our sea life live which we, in turn, are consuming.
What does this mean for us?
Endocrine disruptors have a major effect on blocking of signalling and receptors for hormonal systems of the body. This means they can influence hormonal conditions such as PCOS, blood sugar control (diabetes), sex hormones, stress + more. These obesogens store themselves in fat cells, which makes it hard for us to excrete them, and can easily accumulate, making it even more important to try to avoid them.
These endocrine disruptors are especially important to avoid when you are pregnant or with young children as they can stunt foetal growth, affect metabolism and, down the track, affect weight control.
How obesogens affect weight control
- increase the number of fat cells
- increase the size of fat cells
- alter endocrine pathways responsible for control of adipose tissue development
- alter hormones that regulate appetite satiety and food preferences
- alter basal metabolic rate
- alter energy balance to favour storage of calories.
- alter insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism in endocrine tissues such as pancreas, adipose tissue, liver, gastrointestinal tract, brain and muscle.
Tips for reducing obesogens
- Eat organic!
- Exercise at least 150 minutes per week. Sweat helps to release BPAs and other toxins.
- Sleep well. Get adequate amounts of sleep, generally > 7 hours per night.
- Keep stress levels low. Find ways to decrease/manage stress.
- Watch your products. Look at detergents, cleaning products, hygiene products, make up, gardening treatments etc.
- Use an air purifier, especially if you live in the city.
- Try to avoid shift work if possible.
- Store your food in glass containers.
- Try to avoid food in plastic packaging.
- Buy local food. This helps reduce food miles, further aiding the environment.
- Don’t smoke.
- Consider a water filter. (Ask us about our beautiful zazen BPA-free and glass water systems!)
The more you think about what you are using and doing and ways you could change some habits, the easier it will become. And small changes can have a global impact!
If you would like to chat to one of our naturopaths about your health and wellbeing, please get in touch. We offer a range of consultation options including a FREE Discovery Call to see if we are a good fit for your current needs. Make a booking at www.kismethealth.com.au/bookings/ today!
Ally Stuart BHSc
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