This post was written by Emma Rohmann, a friend and fellow health business owner. We asked if she would write for us because of her expertise in eliminating toxins in day-to-day life. If you suffer from terrible period pain, it’s likely that your hormones are affected. Our approach is about balancing hormones with food, but even the best meals can keep you from seeing results. Are you eating toxin-free food? Read on to hear what Emma has to say on the subject.
There’s more to your food than what you’ll find on the ingredient list and nutrition label. There are hidden toxins in there that aren’t tested for or labelled. I know, right? Just when you thought you’d figured out healthy eating… But don’t worry, I’m going to give you some easy (and practical) tips to help reduce your exposure to toxins and amp up that healthy hormone diet.
How Toxins End Up in Our Food
There are 3 stages of food production in which hormone disruptors end up in our food. Studies have shown several hormone disrupting chemicals found in each of these phases are linked to menstrual cycle irregularities.
So, let’s start by breaking these down, then I’ll give you some tips to help you reduce your exposure to the chemicals that may be cramping your style (see what I did there?).
#1 Raising and growing food
The animals we eat (if you’re not a vegetarian) eat food and drink water. Unfortunately, much of our soils and water are contaminated with toxic chemicals – some of which have been banned for decades but don’t break down over time.
And since we’re at the top of the food chain, we’re exposed to the highest concentrations of these chemicals, including chemicals like PCBs, pesticides, flame retardants, and heavy metals which are linked to menstrual cycle problems.
Other chemicals, like pesticides sprayed on crops and antibiotics given to livestock, are added intentionally but often with unintended consequences.
#2 Processing and packaging
Food packaging sadly contains several hormone disrupting chemicals. BPA is commonly found in can linings and may be found in plastics labelled as #7. Fast food wrappers and packaging can be lined with PFOA (aka Teflon). Softer plastics may also contain phthalates, which do not bind to the material they are used in so are easily transferred to food that comes in contact with it (think plastic wrap).
Several studies have found that these hormone disruptors leach from food packaging into the food itself, and contribute to increased concentrations in our bodies.
How you cook your food can impact your exposure to hormone disruptors as well. Chemicals used in non-stick coatings like Teflon™ can migrate out of the cookware at high temperatures. And that microwave safe plastic? That just means it won’t melt – it doesn’t mean it won’t release plasticizers into your food (and it almost certainly will under heat).
Also, you know that sous vide trend? Well, even if you don’t boil your food in plastic at home (just typing that grosses me out), when you’re wining and dining your clients there’s a good chance that your perfectly cooked steak or chicken was cooked that way. If you eat out often, it might be worth asking how your meat is cooked when you order.
How To Choose Food Without Hormone Disruptors
OK, now that all the doom and gloom is out of the way (sorry to lead with the downer stuff), here are some simple changes you can make to your meal planning and prep that will help reduce your intake of chemicals that might be messing with your cycle.
#1 Eat less meat. As I mentioned off the top, several hormone disruptors are persistent in our environment. They are also fat soluble, so the more animal fat we eat, the more toxins we’re exposed to – and organic doesn’t really make a difference here (though it does have other benefits). Do this by working in a meal or two each week that incorporates plant protein from beans or legumes.
#2 Choose organic produce. This isn’t always easy, but opt for certified organic where you can. This is as close to toxin-free food you can get without growing your own. You can prioritize the EWG’s Dirty Dozen – the fruits and vegetables tested to have the highest amount of pesticide residues – to help if this is a big shift for you.
#3 Don’t heat food in plastic. Even if it says ‘microwave safe’, opt for a glass container or a dinner plate instead.
#4 Choose non-toxic cookware. Make plans to get rid of Teflon™ cookware as soon as it’s scratched. In the meantime, cook only on lower heat. When you’re ready to buy a new plan, check out some of my preferred options here.
I hope this information helps you tackle an often forgotten, but oh-so-important part of your hormone balancing journey. If you’d like more tips on reducing hormone disrupting chemicals throughout your home, you can download my free room-by-room checklist here.
Emma is an environmental engineer, mom of 2, and founder of Green at Home. She helps families reduce toxins at home without overwhelm, a lifestyle overhaul, or spending a fortune. She also helps health professionals incorporate environmental health into their practice. Emma is a David Suzuki Foundation Queen of Green Coach and guest lecturer at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Learn more at www.greenathome.ca.