In my previous article, Exercise for Better Menopausal Health, I wrote about how hormones are affected during menopause and the importance of exercise to release toxins from the body, as well as get the body’s hormone levels back in balance to decrease and prevent a number of symptoms of menopause. Your body’s hormone levels are so unpredictable when you don’t take an active role in keeping them in balance, which could lead to extreme reactions in your body such as severe depression and weight gain. Although we can’t control the toxins in the air we breathe that can affect hormone levels, we can control the toxins, chemicals, and hormone disruptors that can get in our bodies when it comes to choosing cosmetics, face and body creams, as well as soap and bath products.
Here are a couple of questions you might want to ask yourself:
- Whether you are going through menopause or not, when your hormone levels are completely unbalanced, why would you want to add more things to your body that would make your hormone levels unstable and increase your chances of gaining weight, or even triggering other health issues?
- If your hormones are currently in a balanced state, why would you want to put something on your body that can possibly create an imbalance and trigger health issues?
On February 6, 2013, Mark Bittman wrote an article in The New York Times, called The Cosmetics Wars. In it he came to the conclusion that “…as things stand we’re all being used as guinea pigs in the great test of new product safety.” What he is referring to is the fact that the ingredients that go into cosmetics, shampoos, toothpastes, etc., do not need to be proven as safe by personal care product makers before you use them. Researchers are finding carcinogens and hormone disruptors in products that we use every day.
We can all be proactive in keeping our hormones in balance. One of the easiest things we can do is choosing products that are all-natural, free of artificial colors and dyes, free of harmful chemicals such as sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, phthalates, and parabens. Check out the health aisle in your local grocery store, or go to your local health food store to find cleaner products. The internet is also a great source to do research on finding clean products.
Author of the book, Easy Green Living, Renée Loux, has been quoted as saying that parabens not only cause allergic reactions and contact dermatitis, but “they have even been linked to endocrine disruption, because they mimic hormones, and reproductive toxicity.” He believes the everyday use of toxic ingredients will create disruption in our bodies.
Make sure you read the ingredient labels and check out the product details. Just because you see the word “green,” “natural,” or “organic” on the front label doesn’t necessarily mean all the ingredients are all-natural. It comes down to what a company perceives is the “all-natural” state of how they treat an ingredient, as sometimes they use ingredients that were grown using pesticides. European labels usually use the botanical or Latin names for plants, which could be confusing to many who don’t understand the translations if not listed. Products that have the USDA organic seal contain ingredients that come from plants grown without artificial pesticides and fertilizers. Europe uses standards set out by the Natural Products Association (NPA), NSF and NaTrue, which are also certifications to look for on a product. The point is to use products whose ingredients can do the least amount of harm to your body.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) http://www.ewg.org/ is an excellent source that has researched over 79,000 products and rates them on whether they are low, moderate, or high hazard on our bodies. They claim that their “ratings represent the best available information on safety of personal care product ingredients.” They also note that as science advances they are open to learning about new insights into the safety of chemicals in personal care products.
Another website that is helpful is goodguide.com. Their ratings can be personalized as to whether your product has an effect on the environment, your health, and social responsibility of the company. They also have a phone application that scans barcodes while you are shopping products to get a rating on your preferences and values for a product. Using these resources is an excellent way to start sorting through the products we currently use, and choose better alternatives. EWG has also begun a petition searching for signatures to “tell congress to reform our broken cosmetics regulations.” To sign the EWG petition click this link:
In the meantime, you have the ability to prevent your hormones from reacting to the products you put on and in your body by choosing products that have the least possible amount of chemicals and hormone disruptors, and switch to products with the cleanest and purest of ingredients. When your hormones are in balance, not only will you feel better, it will be easier to maintain a healthy weight, prevent toxins from affecting your major organs, reproductive and endocrine systems, and prevent symptoms of menopause.
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net