What Are Xenoestrogens and How Do They Make You Fat?
It’s no secret that Americans are fat. Not pleasingly plump, or a little thick around the middle – fat. The obesity statistics in this country are staggering. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7% of adult Americans are obese. That is well over 1/3 of the population. But given our highly processed, high fat, high sodium diets, and a culture that revolves around sedentary activities, it’s really not difficult to see why these numbers are so high.
For women in menopause, hormone imbalance and issues of estrogen dominance add yet another layer (pun entirely intended) of weight gain challenges. Simply put, too much estrogen in your body can make you fat too. Here’s how:
Excess estrogen increases body fat. Fat tissue produces and stores more estrogen. The estrogen in turn, causes the body to increase fat tissue, fat tissue produces more estrogen, estrogen continues to produce fat tissue, and on and on the cycle goes.
But estrogen dominance is not caused by menopause alone. In our Western, industrialized society, we are continually exposed to xenoestrogens (pronounced: Zee-no-estrogen), foreign estrogens which pass into our environment through pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, plastics, fuels, car exhausts, dry cleaning chemicals, industrial waste, meat from animals which have been fattened with estrogenic drugs, and countless other household and personal products which many of us use every day.
Chronic exposure to these estrogens also contributes to estrogen dominance. Which, according to some health care providers, is at epidemic levels in our society, and is primarily responsible for the increasing number of younger women who suffer with severe symptoms of estrogen dominance such as PMS, fibrocystic breast disease, bloating, and infertility, troublesome menstrual cycles, depression, endometriosis, mood swings, and yes, excessive weight gain as well!
How Do We Avoid Xenoestrogens?
Unfortunately, unless you withdraw from society, the chances of being able to completely avoid xenoestrogens are not very high. However, there are plenty of things you can do to at least minimize their effect and lessen your exposure to them.
Eating organic foods, for example, which have not been treated with herbicides and pesticides, is one of the easiest ways to avoid xenoestrogens. Almost all major grocery stores now have an abundant organic produce section which makes organic food more accessible to everyone.
Avoiding plastics such as bottled water is also an easy change to make. Drink filtered water and use ceramic or glass containers instead. Avoid heating food in the microwave in plastic containers. The heat from the microwave leeches xenoestrogens and other harmful chemicals from the plastic into your food.
Use protective gloves when using household chemicals, and remember to always keep the room ventilated. Avoid, if possible, using pesticides in your gardens, and finally, instead of synthetic hormone therapy for your menopause symptoms, use bioidentical hormones instead.
Do Your Best to Find What Works For You
Living in a modern society is a double-edged sword. We have all of the comfort and convenience of technology and advancements. But the downside is that we are also exposed to contaminants and invisible poisons, which not only make us sick, but can make us fat as well.
It can be incredibly overwhelming trying to do all of the things we are told to do to stay healthy, which is exactly why I personally adhere to what I call the “mantra of moderation.” Sometimes, “one small step for man” is the best you can do, and those steps may never rise to the level of “one giant leap for mankind.” But, if we’re all doing the best we can, maybe collectively we can at least make a “hop” for mankind.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.