The Danger of Obesogens and How To Avoid Them
A study published in Nature Communications demonstrated the harmful effects of a chemical compound known as obesogens. Lead researcher, Dr. Bruce Blumberg, found that when mice were exposed to obesogens their body’s ability to manage weight changed significantly. The mice suddenly gained weight, became resistant to insulin, and had higher appetites. Dr. Blumberg concluded that the presence of obesogens could be playing a direct role in worldwide obesity.
Obesogens can be found in the food we consume and the materials we use daily. Example obesogens include atrazine (found in pesticides used to grow fruits and vegetables and in Chicago tap-water), bisphenol-a (used to produce plastic containers), mercury (used in high fructose corn syrup), and phthalates (used to make soap and shampoo).
Biologically, obesogens have a negative impact on our lipid metabolism which causes an increase in the number and size of fat cells, affects hormones that regulate our appetite, and alters energy balance to favor the storage of calories.
Here are 8 ways to avoid obesogens:
1. Avoid Cans and Plastic
Inside the majority of canned goods and food storage plastics, you’ll find a chemical known as bisphenol A or BPA. This industrial chemical can leak into your food and has been linked to complications in the brain, heart, and hormonal health.
Avoid using cans and plastic for anything that touches food. Even BPA-free cans or plastic containers are a risk as the source material is BPA-based but coated with another chemical that also poses a health risk. Instead, store food items in glass, silicone or stainless steel containers.
2. Filter Drinking Water
While Chicago’s tap water may be drinkable, it can contain a variety of chemicals that impact your health long term.
Pesticide runoff from the rain can easily seep into local drinking water reservoirs and end up in your tap water. Pesticides can contain obesogens and are well known endocrine disruptors. The best way to avoid pesticides and other dangerous chemicals is to install a water tap filtration system. See our blog post “Is Your Water Making You Sick?” for more information on what’s in our water.
3. Go Pesticide Free
As mentioned above, pesticides have been found in numerous studies to disrupt our hormonal systems. Avoid using pesticides in or around your home or garden. Instead, opt for natural remedies. When taking your kids or pets to a park, try to find a pesticide-free park or recreation spot. Most rubber mulch or artificial turf is packed with dangerous chemicals that off-gas, especially in the summer heat.
4. Buy Organic
The biggest source of consumed pesticides is in the foods we eat. The worst culprits are those fruits and vegetables with a delicate and consumable skin such as apples and peppers.
Buying organic fruits and vegetables can make a dramatic difference in the number of pesticides you consume on a yearly basis.
5. Don’t Use Non-Stick Cookware
Perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA is a human-made chemical used in the creation of non-stick materials. Take a look at the pan you cooked with this morning. If it’s labeled “non-stick,” it contains PFOA.
PFOA can cause several health problems, and quickly builds up in the body through repeated exposure, primarily through cooking. We highly recommend using stainless steel, cast iron, or enameled pots and pans instead of non-stick.
6. Avoid Microwavable Foods
Speaking of PFOA, did you know that this dangerous chemical winds up in microwavable foods such as popcorn? Microwavable food products contain a non-stick film to prevent food from cooking onto the plastics. Worse yet, the plastics themselves may also contain obesogens.
Be sure to avoid consuming any food product that has been prepared in a microwave such as T.V. dinners and popcorn.
7. Don’t Water Proof or Stain Proof
Traces of PFOA is found in waterproof clothing and stain-repellent chemicals used for carpets and mattresses. The bigger the item, the higher the risk of exposure.
Try to avoid purchasing anything that has been treated with a stain guard, or water-repellent chemical.
8. Keep It Clean
Even when we do our best to keep obesogens out of our home, we may unknowingly bring them inside. Obesogens can be found in dirt and dust, things we never think twice about.
Be sure to remove your shoes at the door and keep them away from high traffic areas, especially if you have carpet. Use natural cleaning products to dust, mop, and vacuum often.
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