Nothing seems to be safe in the current world that we are living in. From cosmetics to environmental pollution to the foods that we eat – we have surrounded ourselves with toxins that affect our health. With the rate of obesity rising every day in America, a new type of toxin called obesogens has been found to contribute to weight gain by disrupting how your body functions. Studies show that we are increasingly taking in more chemicals in our diets and our children are becoming victims of health complications at an alarmingly early age. In this post, we discuss what obesogens are and how to avoid them.
What Are Obesogens?
If you haven’t heard about obesogens, they are artificial chemicals that contribute to obesity. They are classified as a subset of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and can be found in cookware, toys, baby bottles, cosmetics, and plastics to name just a few. Studies show that when these man-made chemicals enter the human body, they interfere with the hormones and promote fat gain.
Shockingly, over 20 chemicals have been found to fall under this class and some have been linked to premature puberty in girls, birth defects, and breast cancer among other health issues.
How Obesogens Are Making You Fat
So, how are obesogens linked to weight gain and obesity? These chemicals are capable of binding to anything that resembles estrogen. The more receptors bind to these artificial chemicals the worse the situation gets because the damage is amplified. Sadly, the majority of the population is affected by these chemicals since they are found in items that we use daily. Evidence backed by science now suggests that obesity or being overweight is not just a result of unhealthy eating combined with a sedentary lifestyle. Exposure to traces of chemicals in the environment is increasingly becoming an epidemic that leads to the deterioration of our health. So, how exactly are obesogens making you fat? Here are the three major reasons.
Slow Down Your Metabolism
Obesogens are capable of disrupting the important hormones that propel the body to burn more calories. When your metabolism is slowed down, fat accumulation starts to occur and before long, you start putting on some weight.
You Feel Hungry More Often
Due to the disruption caused by these chemicals, the hormones that tell your body that you are full start to malfunction. Hence, your body fails to detect whether or not you’ve taken your fill. As a result, you end up eating without control, contributing to weight gain.
Alters the Production and Size of Fat Cells
Until a decade or so ago, no one thought of fat as part of the endocrine system. Recent studies discovered that fat does more than just store energy – it produces hormones of its own and acts as an endocrine. The endocrine system is responsible for all the hormones in the human body. This means that it regulates all the hormones required to perform virtually everything the human body is meant to. Seeing how important these hormones are, any disruption that causes hormonal imbalance can have devastating effects on our health. Obesogens are known to interfere with how these hormones work and are attributed to a variety of disorders.
Examples of Chemicals That Could Be Obesogens
- Some types of pesticides
- Cigarette smoke
- Flame retardants
- Tributyltin, a chemical widely used as a heat stabilizer in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping and as a fungicide
- Bisphenol A – a common type of chemical used to harden plastics. It’s found in most of the items that we use regularly like food packaging containers
- Phthalates – this is a class of chemicals that are added to consumer products to soften them
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – these are industrial chemicals that were widely used some years back in products like adhesives, paints, sealants, and cement
How to Avoid Obesogens
Like we mentioned above, the early stages of fetus development are the most sensitive time to be exposed to obesogens. During this period, the weight control mechanisms are vulnerable making their alteration easy. While obesity is the primary disease caused by exposure to obesogens, there is a high probability of developing other related health complications, such as liver disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease among other diseases.
Research shows that these chemicals do not cause weight gain and obesity in and of themselves but rather act as catalysts. That is to say, the chemicals alter your hunger hormones and slow down your metabolism.
As such, you start eating more and at the same time, the rate of converting the food into energy is slowed down. If you have a slow metabolism, it means that your cells require less energy, thus you use less energy throughout the day. That’s why losing weight might seem like such an uphill task for some people.
Having looked at how obesogens affect our hormones leading to being overweight, how can we avoid these chemicals? Here are the several ways that you can apply right now to reduce exposure to obesogens:
- Avoid using non-stick cookware – non-stick materials are created using perfluorooctanoic acid. This chemical has been found to cause a series of health disorders and tends to quickly build-up in the body every time you use non-stick cookware. Opt for stainless steel, cast iron, and enamel pots instead.
- Avoid plastics and cans – these containers contain an industrial chemical known as Bisphenol A (BPA), which if it leaks into your food, can cause serious health complications. Opt to store food in stainless steel containers, silicone or glass containers.
- Go organic – the foods we eat contain harmful pesticides that disrupt our hormonal balance. So, the next time you go shopping for fruits and vegetables, buy organic.
- Drink filtered water – local drinking reservoirs may be a source of harmful chemicals. Pesticides can seep into the reservoir and cause health issues. It is advisable to use a water tap filtration system to remove pesticides that may contain obesogens from the water.
It might not be possible to completely avoid exposure to obesogens. However, adjusting your lifestyle, especially the water you drink and the food you eat can significantly reduce the effects of these chemicals.
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