Stress Comes In Many Surprising Forms
Many different types of stress can have an affect on your body and health, in particular on your adrenal glands.
One way to think of your adrenals is as the ‘Emergency Glands’. They are the glands that go into action when our body perceives an imminent threat or danger.
Your adrenals perceive stress in many forms, work and relationship stress, financial stress, dietary stress and increasingly it seems stresses coming from the over chemicalized world we live in.
If you are suffering with adrenal fatigue it’s worth considering all forms of stress that could be adversely affecting your adrenal health. This should include the stress effects on your body from endocrine disruptors i.e., chemicals.
Your adrenals are only one set of glands that form your hormone system. The hormone system is very delicate and finely balanced.
Stress from chemical sources can affect the smooth functioning of your adrenal glands which causes imbalance in your hormone system. These chemicals are referred to as endocrine disruptors.
If your adrenals are under stress, it’s likely you are experiencing adverse effects on other glands within the endocrine system too.
The endocrine system consists of glands that produce and secrete hormones. These hormones regulate body growth and your metabolism, as well as sexual function and development.
Releasing hormones via the bloodstream, they potentially affect several body organs. This means the endocrine glands have a far reaching effect on your total body system and overall well being.
Hormones (chemical messengers created by the body) transfer information between cells. This information is then involved in co-ordinating the smooth functioning of numerous different body parts.
The Major Glands Of The Endocrine System Include:
- Ovaries and Testes
- Pineal Gland
- The Pancreas also has a role in hormone production and is part of this system.
Feedback Loops – The Key To Understanding How The Endocrine System Works
The endocrine system is regulated by a series of feedback loops. It works in a similar way to a thermostat regulating the temperature of a room.
Hormones regulated by the pituitary gland receive a signal from the hypothalamus via a releasing hormone. This stimulates the pituitary to secrete a stimulating hormone into your body’s circulation.
Your stimulating hormone goes on to signal the specific gland to secrete its hormone. Once the level of this hormone rises in your circulation, the hypothalamus and pituitary glands close down secretion of the releasing hormone and the stimulating hormone. At this point secretion by the gland slows down.
This system of feedback loops, stimulating and releasing hormones, works to stabilize blood levels of the hormones regulated by the pituitary.
As you can see, your hormones work in close concert with one another and all must work harmoniously together. One example of this close connection is how your adrenals and thyroid work together as part of the HPA axis.
How Do Chemicals Affect This Delicate Hormone Balance?
How chemicals affect the endocrine system depends on a few factors, for example how long your body is exposed to the chemical, and in what form you are exposed.
The frequency of exposure to a chemical and the dosage level can impact your adrenal health.
High doses at short duration can have a more immediate effect on your health causing short term effects of stress.
However, lower doses consumed consistently can have a cumulative effect in your body and cause longer term illness from the long term effects of stress.
Effects on your body are many, your adrenals along with your entire endocrine system, your heart and immune systems are all affected by stress.
Whether the stress comes in the form of chemicals or some other form, it can have a profound effect on your health.
How Do Endocrine Disruptors Affect You?
For a substance to be labeled as an endocrine disruptor it must affect the endocrine system negatively, that is, it causes a negative effect on your hormone systems.
A huge and varied list of chemicals are known to disrupt the adrenal function with certain structural features of the adrenal glands making them vulnerable to attack from these toxins.
Studies admit that endocrine disruption and its effect on the adrenals warrants more widespread research given the adrenal glands vulnerability to toxic attack.
These toxins are all around us, in the food we eat, the air we breathe, in our water and the various lotions and potions we use on our body.
They’re lurking in the cooking utensils and cookware we use as well as the enormous collection of cleaning products for household use that line supermarket shelves.
It is simply mind boggling when you stop and think just how completely we are surrounded by potentially harmful toxins in modern day living.
The normal harmonious interplay of the endocrine system can be disrupted in a variety of ways by these chemical stressors :
- The chemical substances can mimic a naturally occurring hormone and lock on to the hormone receptor within the cell giving a stronger signal than the natural hormone.
- Natural hormones and receptors can be blocked causing interference by these chemical substances.
- The correct natural hormone can be prevented from binding within a cell. Your body then fails to respond correctly to this signal.
Included in the most well documented health concerns from endocrine disruptors are negative effects on the reproductive and developmental systems.
- Disruption to adrenal and thyroid function and links to metabolic disorders like diabetes are seen from exposure to endocrine disruptors.
- Low sperm count in males, as well as uterine fibroids, breast cancer and ovulation disorders in females have been studied for their exposure to endocrine disruptors.
Learn more about endocrine disruptors here
What Are Common Endocrine Disruptors?
Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists their DIRTY DOZEN Endocrine Disruptors as follows:
1. BPA – Found in food can lining, imitates the sex hormone estrogen
2. DIOXIN – Found in the food supply, disrupts the way female and male sex hormone signaling happens.
3. ATRAZINE – A herbicide commonly used on corn crops, affects the sex hormones.
4. PHTHALATES – Found in personal care products, causes hormonal changes.
5. PERCHLORATE – Found in produce and milk, affects the thyroid gland.
6. PBD’s in fire retardant – imitates thyroid hormones.
7. LEAD – Found in drinking water – disrupts hormone signaling of the HPA Axis.
8. ARSENIC – Found in drinking water – disrupts how our bodies process carbohydrates and sugars.
9. MERCURY – Found in some seafood and amalgam fillings, interferes with signaling and damages pancreas cells.
10. PERFLOURINATED CHEMICALS (PFC’s) – Used in non stick cookware, affects thyroid and sex hormones.
11. ORGANOPHOSPHATE PESTICIDES– Found in non organic produce, affects fertility.
12. GLYCOL ETHERS – Solvent used in paint, brake fluid, cleaning and cosmetic products, affects fertility.
How Do You Avoid Them And Remain Healthy?
It’s a daunting task trying to avoid these disruptors when they are all around us, however it’s possible if you take it step by step.
As a starting point there are simple steps you can take with the way you feed and hydrate yourself daily to ensure your exposure to these toxins is reduced.
The foods we eat and what we choose to drink has a big effect on how many endocrine disruptors end up in our bodies.
These simple changes go a long way to ensure the ongoing good health of your adrenals, thyroid and entire endocrine system.
Review The Way You Feed Yourself
Eat only organic non genetically modified food and avoid processed food completely. Eating organic food eliminates the possibility of ingesting herbicides and pesticides used on crops.
Use pasture fed animal products, that is animals raised on pesticide free and non GMO feed.
Buy your food locally if possible, small farmer’s markets and the like are more transparent about the source of their produce than big industry.
Avoid canned food that can contain endocrine disruptors in the form of BPA used in the can lining material, which is transferred into the food and consequently into your body. Selecting fresh and occasionally frozen food instead is a healthier choice.
The cookware used to prepare your food also matters with older non-stick pans containing PFCs (perflourinated compounds) which are known endocrine disruptors.
Choose healthier cookware options such as ceramic/stoneware, glass, cast iron and enameled cast iron skillets like this one.
Stop using cling wrap and particularly do not use it to wrap and re-heat food in a microwave. You’ll also be doing the environment a favor too by cutting down on single use plastic items.
Beeswax wraps are great for storing leftovers and covering bowls.Wrap bread, half a lemon or avocado to use later. The beeswax wrap keeps them fresh.
Use glass storage containers in the fridge and to re-heat food for a safer alternative. Nowadays there are many glass storage containers that can go from freezer to oven and even look good enough to serve from at the table.
Review The Way You Hydrate Yourself
Stop drinking water from plastic bottles. A study showed that endocrine disruptors can leach from plastic water bottles into the water when the bottle is exposed to heat, for example sitting in a car in summer heat, or in a warehouse. Even the ‘healthier’ PET plastic bottles can leach antimony into the water.
Remember, it only takes small quantities of endocrine disruptors ingested on a daily basis to have a long term negative effect on health.
Use a water filter at home attached to your tap water. For carrying water during exercise, sports and on a long day out carry your filtered water in this bottle.
Putting It All Together
Start protecting your endocrine system from these hormone disrupting chemicals by implementing the easy steps mentioned here and take some of the stress off your hard working adrenal glands. Consider the simple steps of how you choose to feed and hydrate yourself each day. Small changes can make a big difference.
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