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  • Common Endocrine Disruptors

    Posted November 23, 2015 | Uncategorized

    Our daily environment can harness a host of environmental pollutants and hormone disruptors that can be harmful to our bodies. They are not just found in gasoline and car pollution, but cleaners, chemicals used at home, water bottles, even our drinking water. Our endocrine system is essential in producing hormones that are necessary in growth, puberty, and regulating functions of other bodily systems. Here we discuss some of the most prevalent endocrine disruptors and how to avoid them.

      1.  BPA- stands for Bisphenol A

    What is it and where it can be found:

    This is a chemical produced in large quantities for use in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics can be found in linings of cans, water bottles, infant bottles, and CDs. Epoxy resins are used to coat metal products like food cans, bottle tops, AND water supply pipes. 

    How is it an endocrine disruptor:

    BPA has the ability to mimic our estrogen hormone. Estrogen is a hormone that is necessary for puberty, bone health, and reproductive health. It has been linked to breast and ovarian cancer, obesity, reproductive problems, precocious puberty and heart disease.

    How can you protect yourself and your child:Bottled-Water (1)

    • It is best to avoid plastics marked with “PC” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #3 or #7.
    • Do not microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers.
    • If you have a young infant or child, make sure to purchase baby bottles that are BPA free.

    2. Phthalates

    What is it and where it can be found:

    Phthalates are a group of chemicals commonly used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. Phthalates can be found in certain kids toys, plastic food containers, and plastic wrap.

    How is it an endocrine disruptor:

    Studies have shown that phthalates can trigger cell death. This can be troublesome because we need cells to function properly for our organ systems to work. Unwanted cell death can disrupt cell signaling and production of hormones. It has also been linked to dysregulation of the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities.

    How can you protect yourself and your child:lego

    • Purchase toys that are organic and made with wood
    • It is best to avoid products that list “fragrance” in it as it is a broad term meaning hidden phthalates.
    • To find phthalate free personal care products, please visit the Environmental Working Group’s skin deep data base: www.ewg.org/skindeep/

     3. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFC)

    What is it and where it can be found:

    According to the EWG, perfluorochemicals (including perfluoroctane and polytetrafluroethylene) are so widespread and extraordinarily persistent that 99% of Americans have these chemicals in their bodies. Can be found in carpet cleaning liquids, microwave popcorn bags, non-stick cookware and some water resistant products.

    How is it an endocrine disruptor:

    Perfluoroctane (PFOA) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) have been shown to be resistant to biodegradation. These PFCs have been linked to different cancers, thyroid disease, liver damage, and has cardiovascular implications as well.

    How can you protect yourself and your child:

    • We do not recommend non-stick cookware. It is best to look for cast iron or ceramic pots and pans as alternatives.
    • If you are unsure if it contains PFC’s, calling the company is a great way to get your questions answered.
    • Also making sure that furniture, carpets and water resistant coats do not contain PFCs would be wise.

     4. Lead 

    What is it and where it can be found:

    According to the CDC, at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. Lead is a toxic metal that can be found in paint in homes, school buildings that were built before the 1960s, old pipe systems that carry drinking water, PVC products like mini blinds, coat hanger, flooring, insulation.

    How is it an endocrine disruptor:

    It has been shown to harm almost every organ system in the body. Research has shown that lead can disrupt hormone signaling that regulates the body’s major stress modulation system called the HPA axis (hypothalamic- pituitary axis) Lead can cause anemia by impairing heme synthesis an increasing the rate of red blood cell destruction.  It has also been linked to an array of adverse health effects like lowered IQ, disruption of our methylation cycle, kidney damage and problems with our nervous system.

    How can you protect yourself and your child:

    • Best way to avoid lead is to make sure that there is not crumbling old paint in the house.
    • Making sure that toys in the house are not made with lead pain.
    • Water can be source of lead especially if the pipes are older. Getting a report from the county or city yearly about water quality, and investing in a good water filter would be beneficial.

    5. Mercury

    What is it and where it can be found:

    Mercury is a naturally occurring metal. Natural sources of mercury include volcanoes and forest fires.  It gets into the air and ocean primarily through burning of fossil fuels.  Mercury can travel long distances in the air, and mercury that is deposited in water can turn into its most toxic form methylmercury.  This means that the living organism in larger bodies of water like seafood will also have varying amounts of mercury in their bodies.

    How is it an endocrine disruptor:

    Methylmercury has been shown to bind to hormones that regulate menstrual cycles and ovulation. It has also been shown to damage cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which is critical for the body to metabolize sugar.

    How can you protect yourself and your child:free CFL lightbulbs

    • Be cautious when purchasing fluorescent light bulbs (like CFL energy saving light bulbs) and learn how to safely clean up any broken light bulbs.
    • Limiting the amount of tuna eaten (raw tuna, canned, or cooked)
    • Avoiding high fructose corn syrup.

    6. Arsenic

    What is it and where it can be found:

    Arsenic is a heavy metal that can be found in nature in both toxic or non-toxic forms. It can be found in our soil, seafood, certain fruits and grains.

    How is it an endocrine disruptor:

    In smaller amounts, arsenic can cause skin, bladder and lung issues. But in large amounts, arsenic can interfere with the normal functioning in the glucocorticoid system, which helps to regulates how we process sugar, carbohydrates. Disruption of this system has been linked to weight loss or weight gain, immune suppression, insulin resistance, etc.

    How can you protect yourself and your child:

    • Invest in a high quality water filter, please visit Environmental Working Group water filter database: http://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide.
    • Limiting rice products, apple juices and apple sauce

    Being more aware of products that may contain endocrine disruptors as well as limiting foods that may contain heavy metals can keep you and your child healthy. Boosting detoxification pathways will also help get rid of these chemicals and metals. There are many ways to do this, and is not limited to daily exercise, proper nutrition, hydration and supplements to reduce total body inflammation and oxidative stress.  If you have any questions regarding endocrine disruptors please make and appointment with your doctor. 

    Sources:
    http://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/mercury.html
    https://people.uwec.edu/piercech/Hg/mercury_water/sources.htm
    http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/lead/

    Maintain Healthy Bones on a Dairy-Free Diet

    Posted September 30, 2015 | Uncategorized

    With the increased prevalence of food allergies and sensitivities over the past couple years the food market has become abundant with allergen-friendly products. This is good news for people with food sensitivities, allergies, or intolerances and in particular those who are dairy free. Although there might be more products, it is still important to understand how to identify foods that are safe and those that are not. The first step when eliminating any food is to clean out the pantry and refrigerator of any products containing the known allergen or sensitivity. Deciphering food labels can be challenging, but there are great resources like godairyfree.org that have list of ingredients to look for and information on how to read food labels.

    After you have cleaned your kitchen it is time to shop! To set up for success it is important to shop in stores that contain several alternative dairy products. Some local Seattle grocery stores that carry the most diary substitutes are Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, PCC, and Trader Joes. When shopping it helps to be prepared with a list of dairy free products. Below there are lists of milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt alternatives to look for when grocery shopping. Now that the kitchen is fully stocked it is time to start experimenting in the kitchen. There are plenty of delicious dairy free recipes that everyone in the family will enjoy. Below is a list of great resources for recipes. Set some time aside to browse the recipe sections and start to compile a dairy free recipe book.

    When eliminating a food group it is important to be aware of vitamins and minerals provided by those foods that could become deficient. One of the main concerns when removing dairy is making sure children are getting enough calcium to help with bone development. While calcium is important, there are also several other vitamins and minerals involved in bone health.

    Calcium

    One of the roles of calcium is to combine with phosphorous to make hydroxyapatite that helps form the structure of bones. Calcium is well known for its structural role, but is also plays an important role in our second messenger system. As a second message it sends signals for muscle contraction, nerve impulse leafyGreenstransmission, secretion of hormones like insulin, and constriction and relaxation of blood vessels. Skeletal muscle and nerve cell membranes have voltage-dependent Ca channels along their cell membranes that when stimulated open to change the Ca concentrations within the cell. Once the calcium passes through the channel it stimulates a chain reaction within the cell by binding to specific proteins releasing more calcium from storage leading to muscle contractions, or the release of stored glycogen during prolonged exercise. The daily recommended intake for calcium for 1-3 years is 500.g, 4-8 years 800mg, and 9-13 years 1,100mg.

    Non-Dairy Food Choices: There are plenty of alternative options besides dairy for calcium, but not all sources contain calcium that is easy absorbed. Leafy greens like swiss chard and spinach contain a lot of calcium, but also have oxalates that inhibit the calcium absorption. Therefore they are not good alternative sources of calcium. A good resource for calcium sources for children on a dairy free diet can be found here Comprehensive List of Calcium Rich Non-Dairy Foods.

    Vitamin D

    The credit for bone formation often goes to calcium, but without enough vitamin D our bodies would not be able to absorb and maintain blood calcium levels appropriate for bone formation. The active form of vitamin D, calcitriol, is made in the kidneys and is released when our body senses that calcium levels might be too low. The calcitriol then travels to the small intestine and signals cells to increase their absorption of calcium into the blood stream. Besides working on the intestine calcitriol also increases the reabsorption of calcium at the kidney, and mobilizing calcium from the bone to increase serum calcium levels. When children do not get enough vitamin D their bones can’t form correctly leading to decreased calcification and bone softening.

    eggyolkFood Sources: egg yolk, mackerel, catfish, tuna, and sardines, cod liver oil, and mushrooms (D2). The vitamin D content of fish and mushrooms is dependent on UV exposure. When shopping for fish it is best to buy wild sustainably caught fish because those that are farmed have less UV exposure. There are a lot of dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D, but if dairy is not an option it is important to talk to your doctor about supplementation if you vitamin D levels are low.

    Phosphorous:

    For proper bone mineralization you do not just need calcium, phosphorous is the other major component of hydroxyapatite. Phosphorous deficiencies are uncommon due to its abundance in food. Besides bone health phosphorous is important in several phosphorylation reactions that add phosphates to molecules. Such reactions are required for the production of ATP, DNA, RNA, and the activation of certain enzymes, hormones, and cell signaling pathways.almonds

    Food Sources: salmon, halibut, turkey, chicken, lentils, almonds, peanuts, eggs, whole-wheat bread. Phosphorous that is found in nuts, seeds and grains is 50% less bioavailable than from other sources.

    Vitamin K:

    Osteocalcin is a molecule that is required for the formation of calcium hydroxyapatite crystals. Osteoblast, cells that build bone, create osteocalcin that is also regulated by vitamin D. For Osteocalcin to bind calcium it requires a vitamin K dependent reaction call gamma-carboxylation. This reaction is needed to insure proper mineralization of bone.

    Food Sources: all dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard), broccoli, watercress, parsley, olive oil.

    Magnesium:

    The main role of magnesium in the body is as a cofactor for several enzymes involved in energy production, nucleic acid and protein synthesis, cell signaling, and structural functions. A deficiency in magnesium can brownriceinterrupt vitamin D and calcium balance leading to poor bone development and general bone health. Magnesium’s connection to bone health is as a co-factor in the activation of calcitriol. As mention above the calcitriol is need to help maintain calcium homeostasis for bone development. Therefore without magnesium the levels of calcium in the blood cannot be maintained for proper bone health.

    Food Sources: brown rice, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, fish, swiss chard, banana.

    Resources:

    Dairy-Free Bloggers:

    Going Dairy Free Resources

    Alternatives to Dairy:

    MILK

    • Almond(GF): Silk, Trader Joes, Safeway Brand, Almond Breeze
    • Hemp (GF): Living Harvest, Hemp Dream, Pacific all natural
    • Cashew (GF): Silk, So Delicious
    • Coconut: Coconut Dream, So Delicious, Silk, Trader Joes
    • Rice (GF): Rice Dream
    • Soy (GF): Soy Dream, Silk

    CHEESE

    • Daiya (GF) Shredded Cheese: Cheddar, Mozzarella, Pepper jack
    • Daiya (GF) Wedges: Cheddar Style Wedge, Jack Style Wedge, Jalapeno Garlic Havarti Style Wedge
    • Vegan Gourmet (GF) Cheese: Cheddar, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and Nacho Cheese
    • Tofutti (GF) Soy Cheese Slices
    • Galaxy Nutritional Foods (GF) Vegan Grated Parmesan Flavor Cheese Alternative
    • Avocado slices

    BUTTER, CREAM CHEESE, & OTHER SPREADS

    • Earth Balance (GF) Natural Buttery Spread
    • Earth Balance (GF) Organic Coconut Spread
    • Nutiva Vegan Buttery Spread
    • Omega Flow (GF) Coconut Butter
    • Tofutti (GF) Better Than Cream Cheese
    • Vegan Gourmet (GF) Cream Cheese
    • Wayfare (GF) Cheese: Cheddar Spread, Hickory Spread

    ICE CREAM                                                          

    • Tofutti (GF) non-dairy frozen desserts
    • Rice Dream (GF) frozen dessert
    • Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss ice cream
    • So Delicious (GF) non-dairy frozen desserts
    • Fruit sorbet (dairy-free only)
    • Fresh or frozen fruit smoothies

    YOGURT

    • Daiya (GF) Greek Yogurt Alternative
    • Silk Soy Yogurt
    • So Delicious (GF) Coconut Milk Cultured Yogurt, Almond Milk Greek Style Yogurt
    • Trader Joe’s Soy Yogurt
    • Amande Cultured Almond Milk Yogurt
    • Nancy’s Organic Cultured Soy Yogurt

    SOUR CREAM / CONDIMENTS                                    

    • Vegan Gourmet Sour Cream
    • Vegenaise Roasted Garlic, Chipotle, Barbeque or Pesto
    • Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
    • Guacamole (homemade or purchase dairy free)
    • Mayonnaise
    • Tartar sauce
    • Horseradish sauce

    Example Dairy-Free Menu

    References:

    http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/

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