You hear it so often that it’s becoming commonplace: Obesity rates are skyrocketing. The latest research on the topic shows two-thirds of the population is overweight, and about 35 percent of Americans are obese. Clearly this is a public health priority.
What you may not know, however, is that our environment may be partially to blame.
The Conventional Formula is Failing
Mainstream medicine holds that we’re just eating too much and not exercising enough. And I won’t argue there isn’t truth to that – your diet and activity levels are paramount in the battle against the bulge.
But it’s more complicated than just calories in versus calories out. If it were that simple, more doctors would be able to help their patients shed the extra pounds, and we probably wouldn’t have the multibillion-dollar weight loss and diet industries that we do.
The skinny on fat cells (pun intended) is they have significant hormonal, endocrine and metabolic connections to overall health. Your endocrine system is intricately linked to how these fat cells behave – or misbehave – which means anything that disrupts this delicate system can have a huge impact on your weight.
That’s where our environment comes in.
Estrogenic compounds are synthetic chemicals that are now rampant in plastic materials, cosmetics, cleaning supplies and other products we use on a day-to-day basis. The problem is these chemicals, aptly called “obesogens,” have the potential to make us sick and fat. And since these environmental toxins are almost impossible to avoid completely, they may be wreaking havoc on your body without you even realizing it.
These compounds are nasty: They stimulate hormones that can increase appetite and reduce metabolism, a dangerous one-two punch when it comes to weight gain. (Dirty trick, huh?) Moreover, these chemicals can also increase the number and size of fat cells. In other words, they can predispose you to weight gain and present a serious barrier when it comes to weight loss.
Even more significant, these chemicals are related to an increased risk of insulin resistance, which is linked to a variety of serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
So even if you’re doing all the right things for your health, exposure to environmental toxins, as well as hormones in our food supply, can damage the body’s inherent weight-control mechanisms. Like a computer that’s been corrupted, it may still function, but its ability to function optimally has been compromised.
Steering Clear and Cleaning Up
So what do we do about this chemical chaos?
I’ve already mentioned that we can’t avoid these toxins entirely – they permeate our world. But we can minimize exposure to them.
Here are a few recommendations:
1. Clean your routine.
It’s time to toss conventional household and beauty products and replace them with their chemical-free counterparts. Opt for nontoxic, environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, soaps and shampoos that are free of parabens and phthalates and natural beauty products that don’t contain synthetic chemicals.
2. Enhance elimination.
For patients who are having trouble losing weight and may be dealing with obesogen overload, I recommend consuming more soluble fiber to help improve elimination.
3. Help a liver out.
Since your liver does the dirty work of detoxifying your body, it’s important to lend it a hand. For my patients, I usually recommend a combination of N-acetylcysteine, green tea, calcium D-glucarate and selenium.
While endocrine disruptors are a part of living in our modern world, should you lose sleep over avoiding them? No. Doing your best to assist your body in the detoxification process, however, can give you a big boost, and you may even see results on the scale.
Originally published at SaraGottfriedMD.com.