Today I have a guest post from Nita Ewald of Nurture with Nita. We are both members of a local women’s group of holistic health providers and educators. I’m pleased to share with you this piece about the importance of avoiding toxins to improve your overall health and in particular, your fertility.
Steer Clear of Toxins to Improve Health and Fertility
Couples thinking about starting a family in 2015 should begin by taking a closer look at the products they use. They might want to switch deodorant and throw out the waffle iron.
Many common household products seem harmless, but often contain environmental toxins which, among other things, can impede fertility in both men and women.
Exposure to toxins comes through food, water, personal care products, cookware, household cleaners, pharmaceutical drugs, and many other ways. Most of these toxins are endocrine disruptors — chemicals which, at certain doses, can interfere with the endocrine (hormone) system. Endocrine disruptors are known to contribute to infertility.
Couples planning to conceive should remove as many toxins as possible from their day-to-day activities. Reducing exposure to environmental toxins not only increases a person’s chances to get pregnant, but can also reduce the risk of birth defects and other health impairments in their offspring.
In 2005, a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that newborns have an average of 287 chemicals detected in umbilical cord blood: 180 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals; 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system; 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.
During a recent online seminar, “How to Stay Clean in A Toxic World,” Dr. Soram Khalsa, M.D., a doctor of internal medicine and instructor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, cited this statement from the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology:
“Reducing exposure to toxic environmental agents is a critical area of intervention for obstetricians, gynecologists and other reproductive healthcare professionals. Patient exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and other stressors is ubiquitous, and preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course.”
Dr. Khalsa emphasizes the importance of the mother detoxifying before she conceives. “The chemicals you put in your body prior to conception and during pregnancy have lasting effects on the fetus.”
Whether couples are struggling with infertility or not, they should allow time (at least 6 months) to prepare for conception. By being better informed and practicing smarter lifestyle choices, couples will improve the health of their child, as well as have a positive impact on the future of humanity.
Commonly recommended environmental toxins to avoid:
Bisphenol A (BPA): Widely used in plastic products such as water bottles, plates, utensils, food containers, toys and the lining of most canned foods. BPA has been linked to infertility, breast and reproductive system cancer, obesity, diabetes and behavioral changes in children. For more information, visit the Environmental Working Group website: ewg.org/bpa.
Bisphenol S (BPS): A common BPA replacement that has similar hormone-mimicking characteristics as BPA, but it may be significantly less biodegradable, more heat-stable and photo-resistant; therefore, it can cause even more health and environmental damage over time.
Phthalates: Often found in plastic water bottles, shower curtains, personal care products (perfumes, hair spray, nail polish, deodorants and lotions), processed food packaging, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. Phthalates has been associated with lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and endocrine disruption. Find phthalate-free personal care products at ewg.org/skindeep.
Parabens: Used as preservatives in skin and hair care products. It has been linked to breast cancer, endocrine disruption and reproductive toxicity.
Pesticides: Known as an endocrine disruptor and can cause reproductive birth defects.
9 ways to minimize chemical exposure:
- Use glass containers to store food and beverages
- Use ceramic or glass cookware – avoid non-stick cookware
- Replace vinyl shower curtains with fabric or install glass door
- Clean with natural cleaning products
- Avoid fabric softeners, dryer sheets or other synthetic fragrances
- Buy toxic-free personal care products
- Filter water
- Purify the air in home and businesses, if possible, by opening the windows and growing some houseplants
- Aim to eat a diet of predominantly organic foods
For a complete list of endocrine disruptors, visit: Dirty Dozen List of Endocrine Disruptors.
- scientificamerican.com/article/bpa-free-plastic-containers-may-be-just-as hazardous/
Nita Ewald graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She has a Master’s Degree in Chemistry and worked for pharmaceutical companies for 12 years before finding her calling to help women prepare for motherhood and to deliver healthy babies. A natural product chemist, Nita also teaches the restorative elements of plant life. Nurturewithnita.com.
One more link I’d like to add to this information: Learn about making your own cleaning products
Great post, Nita. Maybe one day our regulatory system will do a better job of protecting us from toxic products. In the meantime, we need this type of info to keep ourselves and our families healthy!