Hi friends! Today we have a wonderful post from two of my favorite ladies, Megan Rand of Ginger Newtrition, and Alex Golden of Dig Primal. Megan is a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist, and Alex is an MD, and together they are taking the world by storm and helping people balance hormones, and reduce the toxin load in their bodies!
Megan and Alex are here to discuss how toxins in your home impact your health and your hormones, and why it’s so important to detox your living space. This is something that Bill and I have been working on for years, but it is something that was always evolving. We only use Branch Basics to clean our home (and it really gets things spotless!) We use Primal Life Organics on our skin. We purify our indoor air with HEPA filters, essential oils, and indoor plants. We upgraded mattresses to be completely non-toxic without any off-gassing chemicals, and of course we use our Big Berkey water filter for drinking, as well as our Berkey shower filter (pictured below) for showering. There are many more things we could do in our home to reduce the toxin load (and we plan to over time), but like anything, small steps make a big impact, and anything you can do to change the health of your home will help!
This may sound extreme to many of you, but for us it’s not. Our bodies are bombarded with more toxins in daily life than many of us could ever imagine, and we just can’t catch up. We truly live in a very toxic world, and these steps to remove toxins from the things we can control make a huge difference for lifelong health.
Chemicals and Toxin Load
Here’s a truth that most of us are pretty aware of: modern culture constantly and consistently exposes us to environmental toxins. This includes things like pollution from vehicles and power plants, chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene which are found in a lot of carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses, cleaning and paint products, heavy metals in water, and additives/preservatives in food…unfortunately, that’s just naming a few!
The actions we can take to make our environment cleaner and less chemical-laden have far reaching implications for the entire body. Our hormonal and endocrine systems are, however, the organ systems where this becomes shockingly apparent and incredibly high-yield.
This is because chemicals that are commonly in the environment interact in several ways with our relatively delicate hormonal signaling system.
Wondering how this works? Read on…
How Environmental Toxins Interfere with Our Endocrine Systems
You may have heard that certain chemicals are hormone mimicking substances. When these substances are present in high levels in the body, the hypothalamus (a structure in your head that controls a shocking number of aspects of our health) gets the message that there are plenty of hormones around…and logically downgrades the production of natural hormones. Despite the hypothalamus’s great intentions, this plan doesn’t work well because chemical hormone look-alikes don’t actually interact with downstream hormonal signaling molecules normally…and this causes us to feel the nasty side effects of being hormone deficient.
Additionally, certain hormone-mimicking chemicals in our homes and environments compete with naturally-made hormones for receptor sites on the cells of the organs. Said another way: if our natural hormones are keys that open locks on our cells, chemicals in our environment can act like gum stuck in the lock. They block our natural keys from working and cause major organ dysfunction throughout the body in the process.
Lastly, the liver processes both our natural hormones and any toxins that come in through the body (it’s a very type-A, hardworking organ!) When toxins come through the liver, they force the liver to stop its other functions to deal with the excess chemical load. In many instances, this forces hormones that were slated to be properly eliminated–and are therefore no longer functioning normally–to be re-circulated in the body. This can oftentimes cause a paradoxical state of ill that includes both symptoms of being hormone deficit and inter-hormonal imbalances. No wonder it can be so difficult to sort out what’s going on!
5 Steps to lighten the (toxic) load
Now, we’re generally not a fan of the tin-foil-hat, freak-folks-out kind of thinking. And no, we don’t believe we all need to move out to the middle of nowhere, bathe in trickling streams, and dig tubers out of the forest floor just to be healthy.
But we do think it’s quite reasonable to consider what your greatest toxin exposures may be and take the appropriate actions to minimize them.
The thing is, the actions we’re talking about don’t even have to be all that life-changing (especially in the beginning!). Without much effort these changes can equal big changes in the long run.
Here are 5 steps that you can take right now:
1. Invest in an Air Filter
HEPA air filters can be incredibly helpful for cleaning out the air in your home. These types of air filters help remove dust, some chemicals, molds, and animal dander and are especially important to have if you have allergies, asthma, or other air-borne sensitivities. Since they can take some energy to run, it’s easiest to run them at night where you sleep. If HEPA air filters are cost prohibitive for you, make sure you’re opening the windows in your house on a daily basis to get fresh air exchange.
2. Buy an attachable shower filter
Water quality varies widely through the US so it’s important to think about what’s getting into your drinking water and what you’re absorbing through your skin when you shower. Oftentimes, water coming in through your plumbing can have chemicals from the purification process, chemicals that serve to kill bacteria in the water, and chemicals that get picked up as the water runs through the pipes. Additionally, water can contain salts, heavy metals, and additives…the exposure from all these particles can impact health negatively from routine exposure for a long period of time. Installing an attachable shower filter can cost anywhere from $20-40 and can have the added benefit of leaving you with nicer looking skin and hair!
3. Fill your home with air cleaning plants
This probably sounds a lot of step #1 but in reality, plants have a huge advantage over HEPA air filters: they can filter minute chemicals in the air. NASA ran an entire program dedicated to researching plants that were best at filtering chemicals in the air and producing usable oxygen…because even though we have some pretty cool technology, it’s hard to beat a plant at this job! Certain plant species are incredibly efficient at using and neutralizing hormone disrupting and liver detoxification pathway hindering chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene which are ubiquitously found in modern home environments. As an added bonus, these plants make for some pretty amazing home decorations! This is an article Alex wrote about the best chemical filtering plants that are the hardest to kill or watch a TED talk on this topic.
4. Choose clean beauty products
Most people use an average of about 10 different skin products every day (we’re counting shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup, soap, even hand sanitizer)…and a lot of us use way more than that! Chronic exposure to chemicals, toxins, additives, preservatives, and dyes all get deposited and absorbed through the skin to the circulatory and lymphatic systems. In addition to acting in the hormone disrupting pathways outlined above, these toxins get circulated directly into the liver and force the liver to work overtime to neutralize the problem. When you have liver dysfunction on top of hormone shifts, it can be a very big problem. Primal Life Organics, Fat Face Skincare, and Dr. Bronners are some of our favorite non-toxic skin care products, or we like making our own.
5. Use Glass instead of Plastic, when possible
You’ve heard this before but it’s definitely worth repeating: it’s been demonstrated in studies repeatedly that using plastic tupperware, drinking from plastic bottles, and storing body products in plastic containers can and will increase the toxin and chemical load in your body. These toxins and chemicals are particularly potent hormone disruptors because they are so similar in structure to our natural hormones. While everyone should make a concerted effort to steer clear of plastics by using glass, metal, or wooden containers and bottles (bonus: you can reuse and don’t have to throw away!), this is a vitally important for anyone suffering from hormonal and adrenal problems.
Because both Megan and Alex have dealt with actively working on cleaning up their environments, they’ve put together the Toxic Home Makeover (get the free guide here) to keep this endeavor from being too stressful and overwhelming (which would be incredibly counterproductive to our hormonal-balancing cause!).
If you have adrenal and hormonal imbalances, cleaning up your environment is an incredibly important and high-yield place to start to get yourself on the road to recovery. It can be a big step to take if you’re dealing with debilitating fatigue but taking baby steps over a period of time will allow you to see huge results down the road! If you’ve been struggling with adrenal and hormonal imbalances and want help figuring out what’s going on and how to deal with it, we are kicking off our Healthy Hormones Group Program on September 15th.
This 12 week group program is complete with hormonal, adrenal, and neurotransmitter testing, a customized protocol created just for you based on your lab results, bi weekly videos, instructional emails, group calls, and a private FaceBook group. It’s filling up fast so make sure to get in touch with Alex and Megan ([email protected]) if you have any questions or are interested in joining them!
Alex is an anesthesiology resident at the University of Chicago with a passion for a whole foods and a holistic approach to health. She’s the creator of the Nutrient Boot Camp, a 28 day challenge devoted to helping people regain their health by diversifying and varying their nutrient intake from whole food sources. She also runs her blog, digprimal.com, which is all about integrative health, DIY-ing, and eating good food. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two adorable (and goofy) cats.
Megan is the founder of Ginger Newtrition. She is a health coach and certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® practitioner who works with clients in group and 1-on-1 programs using functional lab work (hormones, neurotransmitters, gut health etc.) to help clients discover underlying imbalances. She believes in a holistic approach to health that doesn’t require deprivation to get results. This includes not only eating REAL food but also recognizing the effects of lifestyle choices, exercise, sleeping patterns, relationships, spirituality and connecting with our environment. Although she stays busy running her company, her biggest daily challenges come from maintaining a holistic lifestyle with an active 4 yr old and baby on the way!