A home should be a sanctuary, a place of safety, not a cesspool of toxic stuff that can endanger your health. But the typical home is full of seemingly benign items and appliances that in fact spew chemicals that can mess with your fragile endocrine system. And tough-as-nails men are among the most vulnerable to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Studies are showing that chemicals called xenoestrogens indirectly provoke the production of or imitate the female hormone estrogen in the body. Found in everything from plastic to pesticides to milk and meats, they can tip a man's hormonal balance, leaving him with more estrogen and lower testosterone levels—and a lot more body fat as a result. This possibility becomes more significant as men age, since levels of testosterone begin to drop in their 30s and continue to decline by 1 to 2 percent per year in their 40s and 50s, according to endocrinologist Florence Comite, MD, author of the new book Keep It Up: The Power of Precision Medicine to Conquer Low T and Revitalize Your Life. Not only do these chemicals disrupt male hormones, but they can also put anyone at risk for health problems.
What's worse? They're lurking all over your house. Here's how to eliminate them.
Heating up food in the microwave either by placing it in a plastic container or covering it with plastic wrap can cause xenoestrogens within the plastic to leach into your food. Switch to a glass bowl and cover it with a plate if necessary, or use the stove or oven to heat up your food.
The average American is exposed to more than 13 different pesticides through food, beverages, and drinking water every day, and most of them are endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The herbicides and synthetic fertilizers that make strawberries, apples, and other fruits and vegetables so big and juicy undermine their healthy benefits. Hormones given to chickens, cattle, pigs, and turkeys to make them grow plump affect the proper function of our hormonal systems, leading to weight gain. The solution: When possible, buy organic or naturally grown meats and produce. The more people demand organically raised crops and livestock, the faster prices for these healthy products will come down. And if you can't afford organic, at least wash your produce well to reduce your consumption of xenogenic pesticides.
Companies use polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins made from BPA (a type of xenoestrogen) to line food and beverage cans. Whenever possible, eat all-natural foods or foods that are in certified BPA-free containers. That goes for your water bottle—or whatever you use to drink from—as well. Glass containers and unlined stainless-steel water bottles are the best thing to use, says Heather Patisaul, PhD, who studies hormones and sex differentiation at North Carolina State University. Never use old or scratched plastic containers, since they can expose you to BPA even more quickly. Any product with a 3, 6, or 7 inside the recycling arrows on the bottom may contain BPA. Numbers 1, 2, and 4 are BPA free.
Your Bathroom Sink
Today you're using an arsenal of cleansers, creams, lotions, and potions on your scalp and skin to look good and smell clean. Problem is, many of the products in the men's grooming aisles contain parabens (a type of xenoestrogen), chemicals commonly used as preservatives in products such as cleansing gels, makeup, moisturizers and lotions, shampoo, shaving cream, sunscreen, and even toothpaste. This doesn't mean you need to (or should) stop shaving, using sunscreen, or brushing your teeth, but avoid parabens by checking ingredient listings for words containing "butyl," "ethyl," "methyl," or "propyl." The most common parabens used in cosmetic products are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.
Sprays and powdered chemicals used to keep pests out of your house or garden also contain xenoestrogens. Use organic weed- and pest-control products instead. Store any nonorganic pest products outside of the house in a locked shed to keep children from coming into contact with them.
For a testosterone-boosting workout and nutrition plan, check out Men’s Health's new book, Testosterone Transformation.
Published on: October 3, 2013
Updated on: October 7, 2013