I am happy to welcome Jennifer Steiner of Healthy Healing Wellness. Jennifer is passionate about and an expert on eliminating toxins in our environment. She is a holistic health coach and her mission is promoting a healthy, toxin-free lifestyle. Her website is healthyhealingwellness.com.
UNDERSTANDING OBESOGENS – CHEMICALS THAT CAN MAKE US FAT
By Jennifer Steiner, CHHC
Weight loss is something that too many people struggle with. Discussion about weight, and weight-related issues absolutely saturate the media – newspaper headlines, magazines, broadcast news, etc. While some people might be sick of talking about this, others are just sick – sick of feeling uncomfortable in their bodies… sick of trying every diet, every exercise program and barely making any progress, or making progress only to end up back where they started. People are sick of “remembering when” they could still fit into their favorite jeans, and they’re sick and tired of constantly struggling.
Normally when people talk about weight-loss, they talk about “getting healthy,” and the conversation almost exclusively turns to food. Calories, carbs, fat… they’ll turn to fad diets, and maybe even “cleanses.”
The conversation often also turns to exercise, the right kind, the wrong kind, the “quick and easy” kind. And these are all valid parts of the conversation and are all pieces of the puzzle, but there’s a part of the conversation that’s being left out… and a piece of the puzzle that’s been missing.
The missing piece?Environmental Toxins.
If you thought about things like oil spills, etc. – then you’re not wrong…. BUT, those aren’t the kinds of toxins I’m talking about. Instead, I am talking about ones that are much closer to home… and are, in fact, in your homes. Chemical toxins that hitchhike on the products that you buy and use every single day. Products like the food you eat, the packaging that food comes in, your tap or even bottled water, your shampoo, body lotion, make up… your laundry detergent, dish soap, and air fresheners…
So, how did these chemicals get into these products in the first place? What on earth are they doing there? Before I answer these questions, let’s back up for just a minute because I want to explain a few things that will help you to understand the bigger picture, and help you to understand why this is such a widespread issue.
Right now, in the United States, there are around 80-84,000 chemicals in use in commerce, and around 1,000 more are being added each year. Some of these chemicals have benefited us – they’ve given us medicines, building materials, etc. – and there’s no argument that many of them have made our lives easier, better, safer, and even longer. However, the vast majority of these chemicals have never been tested for safety by our government, or anyone else. And these are chemicals that are being put into the products that we’re using every single day – with very little government oversight or regulation. This bears repeating: THESE CHEMICALS HAVE NEVER BEEN TESTED FOR SAFETY!
Environmental Toxins, in the context of this conversation, are not chemicals “out there” in the bigger environment, but “in here” in our personal environment, and inside our bodies. And these chemicals are IN us… the CDC routinely tests the bodies of Americans, and they consistently are finding traces of these chemicals in our blood. They’re in all of us. If you live on planet earth, some amount of these chemicals are in you. They’re so ubiquitous around the world that they’re even found in the blood of polar bears living in totally remote parts of the world.
So, how does THIS connect to why we’re here – how do 80,000 mostly unregulated chemicals relate to a population that’s 70% overweight or obese?
I’ll start by saying this: If cutting calories were all that it took, if it was merely calories in vs. calories out, energy intake vs. energy expenditure, we wouldn’t have as many people struggling with weight as we do. And if you’re someone whose tried diets before, someone whose done all of the right things, gone on juice fasts, cleanses, the Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig… if you’ve done any of those, and either had no success, or had some success, but ended up back where you started, or worse, then YOU know that calories in/calories out doesn’t work.
Obesogens are chemicals that directly or indirectly affect our weight in ways that can result in obesity through the disruption of metabolic, hormonal, or developmental processes. These are chemicals that interfere with our body’s regulatory system, which ultimately determines our metabolism, our weight, how our fat cells develop, appetite and satiety cues, or can cause us to be predisposed to weight gain from birth.
Reducing exposure to these chemicals can ease the burden on our body’s natural detoxification process and can help to more gently and permanently release weight!
3 Obesogens In The Kitchen:
Pesticides: Over 1 BILLION pounds of pesticides are used on US crops each year, and 9 of the top 10 pesticides used are obesogens. The average consumer is exposed to between 10 to 13 pesticide residues in their food and water every single day!!
Buying and eating conventionally grown produce means that you’re consuming pesticide residues, many of which are not removed by washing. The best way to reduce exposure to pesticides through food is to commit to eating organically grown foods as much as possible.
Studies show that children who ate organically grown food for only 5 days were able to reducing the circulating pesticide levels in their body to ZERO! It’s that quick and easy!
BPA (Bisphenol-A): BPA first synthesized back in 1891 as a synthetic estrogen, and over the years, made it’s way into hundreds of thousands of consumer products, and is currently found in the bodies of 98% of Americans
BPA is a well established obesogen, and is linked to changes in the way that our fat cells grow and develop.
PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid): PFOA is a chemical used in the manufacturing of non-stick cookware, and is also found in greaseproof paper products like microwave popcorn bags, and pizza boxes. PFOA is an obesogen that interferes with thyroid hormones, which regulates our weight and metabolism, and which can predispose prenatally exposed children to gain weight.
Non-stick cookware was initially sold under the premise that using less oil to cook will help you lose weight, which is ironic considering that chemicals used in the making of non-stick coatings can have the opposite effect!
Other ways that chemicals make us fat?
The chemicals in our everyday products can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use the sugar you consume – if you become “resistant” to insulin, your body can’t use food and energy the way it’s supposed to, and can lead to your body storing fat more easily, can increase fatigue, and can increase your cravings for more carbohydrates.
Here’s how this works: You eat food – your body responds by producing insulin whose job it is to transport the sugar in that food to your cells for energy. But because your body has become resistant to insulin, it can’t do that, and instead stores that sugar as fat. Because your cells never got the sugar needed to give you energy, you feel both tired and hungry, which causes you to eat more food. This, obviously, is not a position we want to be in, especially if we’re already trying to lose weight!
What can we do?
We have options to the products that we use every day! There are many products out there that are safer and leave out the harmful chemicals. Getting support around making these changes in your home to reduce exposure, while also aligning healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle practices, can make all the different between those who succeed, and those who are destined to try and try again.
Jennifer is a Certified Health Coach and owner of Healthy Healing Wellness, LLC in West Hartford, CT. She specializes in helping people create a safe and healthy environment by identifying and removing dangerous toxins from their diets, homes and workspaces, and replacing them with healthier, safer alternatives. Learn more at http://www.healthyhealingwellness.com.