A few months ago, I had a concerned mother contact me because she was worried that her daughter seemed to be displaying signs of puberty at a very early age. She wanted to talk about why this was happening and what long term effects may result. Listening to this recent podcast on NPR, I realized that more and more families will be dealing with this type of issue in the coming years. There are several environmental factors that most experts agree contribute greatly to this problem. The number one chemical to avoid is anything that can mimic the effects of a hormone in the body, particularly estrogen. These chemicals are known endocrine disrupters. Here are some ways you and your family can avoid these chemicals:
- Go with glass. Avoid BPA, a chemical found in many items, particularly plastic. I would even steer clear of BPA-free plastic as it may still contain a chemical similar to BPA. I know avoiding plastic is very difficult. I use glass as much as possible and make sure to never put anything hot on plastic or to cut on plastic.
- Buy organic. Most importantly, organic meat and dairy. Although organic fruits and vegetables are also very important, the amount of hormones and antibiotics found in conventional meat make buying the meat and dairy organic more important if you need to choose. Costco is a great place to buy more reasonably priced organic meat and dairy.
- Forget about flame retardant! Although created to keep us safe, the chemicals in flame retardant clothes, mostly pajamas, are hormone mimicking chemicals. Look for 100% cotton pajamas for the kids.
- Avoid soy. This is where I disagree with the expert in the NPR article. Dr. Greenspan mentions that because soy mimics estrogen, ingesting it in childhood may protect children down the road from the effects of other estrogen mimicking compounds. Bad plan Greenspan! There is enough research about the many health problems caused by broken down, processed, GMO soy that I would not choose to take that chance and instead try to keep my kids away from all estrogen mimicking substances. Fermented soy, which is the type of soy found in the Asian diet, is quite healthy. Fermented soy includes miso, soy sauce, nato, and tempeh, but I know getting my kids to eat any of those things would be next to impossible so we just stay away from soy altogether.
- Clean up your cleansers. The amount of chemicals found in everyday household products is astounding. Hand soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioners, lotions and cleaning products bombard our bodies daily with a myriad of chemicals. More to come on how my family uses natural cleansers in my next blog post.