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How the Chemicals in Your Environment Are Making You Overweight

Do what you can to insulate yourself from anything that isn’t natural, while you still have your health.

personal scale wikimediaThose who subscribe to mainstream health advice often have a good laugh at those of us who believe in alternative health treatments; especially when it comes to our concerns about toxins in the environment. To them, words like ‘toxins’ and ‘detoxing’ are just marketing terms that snake oil salesman use to sell their products to health nuts.

But we know better. We understand that there are very nasty chemicals lingering in our environment, and we know that even in small amounts they can have an accumulative effect over the course of our lifetimes. We also know that the human body can soak up these chemicals like a sponge, and they aren’t always just ‘expelled’ by the body as is commonly believed. These substances build up, and often linger in the human body for years.

Fortunately, science has been catching up to what we’ve known all along. In fact, the scientific community is beginning to realize that these chemicals are not only making us sick, but more specifically they are making us obese and diabetic.

Washington, DC–Emerging evidence ties endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure to two of the biggest public health threats facing society – diabetes and obesity, according to the executive summary of an upcoming Scientific Statement issued today by the Endocrine Society.

The statement’s release comes as Society experts are addressing a global meeting, the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4), in Geneva, Switzerland, on the importance of using scientific approaches to limit health risks of EDC exposure.

The statement builds upon the Society’s groundbreaking 2009 report, which examined the state of scientific evidence on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and the risks posed to human health. In the ensuing years, additional research has found that exposure is associated with increased risk of developing diabetes and obesity. Mounting evidence also indicates EDC exposure is connected to infertility, hormone-related cancers, neurological issues and other disorders.

EDCs contribute to health problems by mimicking, blocking or otherwise interfering with the body’s natural hormones. By hijacking the body’s chemical messengers, EDCs can alter the way cells develop and grow.

So what are EDCs? They are endocrine disrupting chemicals such as BPA, flame retardants, phthalates, and some pesticides, and these days they can be found in the bodies of pretty much every human being on Earth. So far the researchers haven’t been able to find a causal link between these chemicals and the myriad health problems they seem to be creating, but time and time again they have found a correlation between the two. Though one compelling theory for how some toxins cause obesity was established back in 2010.

The scientific theory of how these chemicals cause weight gain8 and difficulty losing weight has now been established.  They bind to gene signaling within white adipose tissue and induce new fat cells to form9 while simultaneously increasing inflammation10. Oftentimes, the newly formed fat cells are themselves damaged by the toxins11 so that they cannot metabolically perform12, which includes an inability to make leptin normally13. These damaged fat cells can fill up with excess fat14 and toxins, but are not able to efficiently carry out normal functions of fat cells, leading directly to increased risk for type 2 diabetes15 via the suppression of the important fat cell hormone16 known as adiponectin17. Several human studies confirm that PCBs increase diabetes risk.18 These chemicals pose a serious problem to the thyroid gland19 and the efficient utilization of thyroid hormone throughout your body.  Furthermore, they can cause either hypothyroidism20 or hyperthyroidism. Trying to get the fat and toxins out of these damaged fat cells is no small challenge in terms of successful weight loss, yet it is vital to restore normal metabolism.

As far as obesity is concerned though, I suspect that the cause is rather simple. In all likelihood, obesity may be nothing more than a defense mechanism. Numerous studies have shown that body fat tends to accumulate environmental toxins at much higher rates than any other part of your body, and when these chemicals are in your fat, they’re pretty safe for the most part. They’re not circulating throughout your body, and wreaking havoc on your internal organs.

This may explain why so many people have trouble losing weight, or quickly regain the fat that they’ve lost over a short period of time. When you rapidly lose weight, the concentration of toxic chemicals in your blood will spike, sometimes to alarming levels. After that, your body may be desperate to put the weight back on. You might feel more exhausted or irritable than usual, or start feeling the old food cravings that you had once vanquished. Before you know it, you’ve gained all that weight back.

It also might explain why people who are a little overweight live longer (yes, you read that correctly). Studies have shown that while people with an average body weight live longer than those with obesity, people who are somewhere in between live the longest. There are plenty of very good theories that would explain this observation, but perhaps the fact that fat keeps toxic chemicals away from your internal organs, is a contributing factor.

Whatever the case may be, it’s abundantly clear that we have to reduce our exposure to these endocrine disrupting toxins, as well as countless other chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis. They’re wrecking our bodies in ways that we didn’t even understand a few years ago, and these EDCs are just the tip of the iceberg. Do what you can to insulate yourself from anything that isn’t natural, while you still have your health.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on October 8th, 2015

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