While we isolate at home, here are a few household chores that you might want to take time to explore.

We are surrounded by plastics, from food and beverage storage containers, to product packaging, to cleaning products, and so much more. Have you ever stopped to think about the effect plastics can have on our bodies? Most of us don’t think about the long term effects of exposure to chemicals, plastics, and other products, or perhaps we trust that governing bodies that make decisions about our health are looking out for us. There is a need for more awareness of the negative impacts plastic and other chemicals can have on our body and our overall health.

Our bodies are regulated by a network of glands and hormones – also known as the endocrine system. The endocrine system is strongly impacted by synthetic chemicals released from plastics, fragrances, make up and other body products. We are exposed to the chemical by-products of these products daily. An increase in exposure to chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen can lead to hormonal imbalances in both men and women resulting in symptoms such as PMS, low sex drive, irregular or absence of periods, mood swings, headaches, weight gain, thyroid dysfunction, hair loss, sluggish metabolism, memory loss, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. 

What can you do to minimize your exposure? Here are some simple ways we can reduce exposure, protect our health, and be more environmentally conscious:

Wash your hands regularly, avoiding fragrance and antibacterial soaps, especially before eating. Washing your hands reduces the amount of chemical residue on the skin. 

Dust and vacuum often. Using a HEPA filter maximizes the amount of dust trapped when vacuuming. Most of our household products contain flame retardant chemicals, which are released and collect within household dust. These chemicals are not only hormone disruptors but they are also linked to increased risk of cancer. 

Avoid fragrance. Fragrances are made up of hundreds of harmful chemicals, with the most common chemical being phthalates, a known hormone disruptor. Fragrances aren’t necessary, they play no role in the function or effectiveness of a product so opt for fragrance-free cleaning products, laundry detergents, creams, etc.  

Swap out the plastics for other food storage options such as stainless steel or glass. The most commonly used plastics contain bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, chemicals both known to disrupt hormones. Even low-dose daily exposure has been shown to have significant health consequences. If you’re not able to get rid of all your plastic food storage containers, try not to store fatty foods in them and don’t microwave them. 

On a similar note, avoid canned foods when possible; cans are lined with BPA to keep the can from corroding. 

Purchase organic food when accessible. Conventional foods are grown using a number of pesticides that can be harmful to the hormones. If your food budget is tight opt to purchase the dirty dozen in the organic section, these are the top pesticide ridden foods, while the clean fifteen have the least amount of pesticides. Endocrine disrupting chemicals also live in our cookware including non-stick pans, opt for stainless steel and cast-iron cookware.  

Make your own cleaning products. Household cleaning detergents have some of the most harsh chemicals. Try making your cleaning products using vinegar and baking soda, check out this recipe

Perhaps you’ve been dealing with a thyroid condition that is difficult to get under control or a hormonal imbalance causing infertility; whatever your health concern may be you can bet that your hormones play a role. Although we are exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals daily, we can take steps to actively reduce exposure in order to protect our hormones, health, and the environment. 

What lifestyle choices have you made lately to reduce plastic or chemical exposure? Please share your tips in the comments.

Yours in health,
Dr. Kate Klein ND


About the Author

Dr. Kate Klein is a licensed naturopathic doctor and clinic director at Your Health Collective, an integrative wellness clinic located in the heart of Ajax. Dr. Klein and her team offer services including, naturopathic medicine, holistic nutrition, acupuncture, osteopathy, and psychotherapy to patients of all ages. Practitioners at Your Health Collective provide a collaborative approach to patient care through a variety of natural treatments and solutions for health concerns ranging from disordered sleep, allergies, fertility, headaches, digestive concerns, and much more. We believe that health is more than just the absence of disease; health is when we function at our best through proper nutrition, exercise, a balanced lifestyle, positive emotions, thoughts and actions. For more information about Dr. Klein, naturopathic medicine, or our clinic please visit: www.yourhealthcollective.ca