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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Toxic Obesogens Stalk Our Endocrine System

Dec 03, 2013 10:20AM

When people talk about getting healthy, the conversation usually turns to food; calories, carbs and fat; or to exercise, the right kind, the wrong kind, and the quick and easy kind. These are all pieces of the puzzle, but there’s something important being left out: chemical toxins that hitchhike on the products that we buy and use every day.

These products include the food we eat, the packaging that food comes in, our tap or even bottled water, shampoo, body lotion, makeup, laundry detergent, dish soap, air fresheners and so on. Right now in the United States, there are more than 80,000 chemicals in use, and the vast majority have never been tested for safety.

Many people know someone that’s been on a medication that has a side effect of weight gain, depression or mood swings. These pharmaceuticals and chemical medications are part of a class of chemicals called obesogens, or endocrine-disrupting chemicals. They interfere with our body’s regulatory system, which ultimately determines our metabolism, our weight, how our fat cells develop, appetite and satiety cues.

There are different ways for the obesogens to do this. Our endocrine system is a collection of glands that secrete hormones. These hormones act as chemical messengers and regulate everything from metabolism and growth and development to sex drive, sleep, appetite and even our mood. The endocrine system is very sensitive, and very subtle changes in hormone levels can affect any of the systems regulated by those hormones.

Many of the chemicals we encounter, including the obesogenic kind, very closely resemble our own natural hormones and can actually act as synthetic hormones to mimic or block estrogen and testosterone in hormone receptors. This means that they’ll be moving throughout our body, landing in those hormone receptor “locks” acting as “keys”, turning on or off the signals in our bodies at random.

Chemicals can also make us fat is by creating insulin resistance and altering the way our fat cells develop, telling the fat cells to increase in number and increase in size. When we consider things from a holistic viewpoint, we can see quite clearly that there is never just one thing that causes illness or health struggles to take place.

Kristen Codianni, CHHC AADP, can be reached at 520-762-1314, and

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