We know how difficult losing weight can be, and if your best efforts at a healthy diet and regular exercise can’t seem to move those numbers on the scale, there could be more than calories at play in your war against fat.
In fact, research has linked a whole host of environmental toxins (including phthalates, parabens, PCBs and BPA) to disrupted metabolism and fat cell production—with results indicating that these toxins can influence weight gain enough to have earned the moniker “obesogens,”1-2 a term that refers to environmental estrogens linked to obesity. To make matters worse, you likely encounter one or all of these fat-promoting chemicals daily, whether you realize it or not.
Take phthalates and parabens, for example. While they only linger in your body for a short time after exposure, they can still wreak havoc on your system—and you’ll find them on the ingredient lists of a number of everyday products, from lotion, soap and makeup to medications and food preservatives.3
Chemicals and Weight
This daily deluge of chemicals can sabotage your body’s fat-burning mechanisms by activating receptors involved in lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, reducing leptin levels and insulin sensitivity and contributing to low testosterone levels.4-6 This reduction in leptin spells trouble for your weight loss efforts, since balanced levels of the hormone leptin help control appetite and weight.
Bisphenol A (BPA), meanwhile, has emerged as one of the most ubiquitous endocrine disruptors, as it leaches into your food and drinks from common, everyday packaging—such as can linings, plastic bottles and other containers.7-8 So it’s no surprise that you’ll find detectable levels of BPA in the majority of Americans’ bodies—whether it’s in urine, blood, breast milk, or even amniotic and placental tissues.9-12
Unfortunately, BPA also spells trouble for your waistline. Researchers recently linked elevated BPA levels to high body mass index and abdominal fat in humans.13 In vitro studies support this connection, suggesting that BPA may actually cause an increase in fat cell formation. Other research shows that even low doses of BPA can disrupt your body’s blood sugar metabolism and insulin sufficiency, while inhibiting production of a critical fat-regulating hormone called adiponectin.14-18 Studies also implicate BPA in the increased output of inflammatory chemicals from your fat tissue, suggesting its likely role in the development of metabolic syndrome.
As if that wasn’t enough there are even more “fattening” chemicals contaminating the food supply. Organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—two pollutants lingering in the water and soil despite no longer being in wide use—are also connected to weight gain, with conventional produce and farm-raised salmon being common sources of exposure. Long-term studies have determined that exposure to these so-called persistent organic pollutants can lead to weight gain, as well as impact cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism—all being linked to heart health.19
Lose The Toxins, Lose The Weight
Losing weight can go a long way in minimizing these risks. Ironically, shedding pounds often has the unintended consequence of mobilizing stored toxins, which can remain trapped in fatty tissue for years.20 That’s another reason why any effort to slim down requires a tandem plan to keep toxic overload at bay.
The first and most obvious step is to minimize your contact with chemical toxins. While it’s impossible to avoid these endocrine-disrupting compounds completely, you can put a significant dent in your exposure to these chemicals—and help your body to better manage its toxic burden in the process—by switching to non-toxic hygiene products and eating a healthy diet packed with clean, organic foods.
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to weeding toxic products out of your home, the Environmental Working Group can show you the ropes. Their online library of up-to-date information, including an extensive cosmetics database, which offers detailed safety reports on popular hygiene products, as well as consumer product reports on everything from drinking water to carpeting to cookware. The EWG is also responsible for the annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists, which rank produce according to pesticide content, so that you know which fruits and veggies you should always buy organic.
To deal with those toxins you can’t avoid—and to help your body eliminate any unwanted byproducts released during the fat-burning process—gentle, ongoing detoxification support is your best bet.
Simply supplementing your breakfast, lunch or dinner with a daily shake like Detox 365—which features a carefully formulated, clinically supported blend of natural ingredients designed to facilitate all of your body’s natural detox mechanisms—can help to ensure that your body stays clean and lean.
1. Baillie-Hamilton PF. Chemical toxins: a hypothesis to explain the global obesity epidemic. J Altern Complement Med. 2002;8:185-192.
2. Grun F, Blumberg B. Environmental obesogens: organotins and endocrine disruption via nuclear receptor signaling. Endocrinology. 2006;147: S50-55.
3. Crinnion WJ. Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Sep;15(3):190-6.
4. Desvergne B, Feige JN, Casals-Casas C. PPAR-mediated activity of phthalates: A link to the obesity epidemic? Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 May 25;304(1-2):43-8.
5. Boberg J, Metzdorff S, Wortziger R, Axelstad M, Brokken L, Vinggaard AM, Dalgaard M, Nellemann C. Impact of diisobutyl phthalate and other PPAR agonists on steroidogenesis and plasma insulin and leptin levels in fetal rats. Toxicology. 2008 Sep 4;250(2-3):75-81.
6. Stahlhut RW, van Wijngaarden E, Dye TD, Cook S, Swan SH. Concentrations of urinary phthalate metabolites are associated with increased waist
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8. Biles JE, McNeal TP, Begley TH, Hollifield HC. Determination of bisphenol-A in reusable polycarbonate food-contact plastics and migration to food simulating liquids. Journal Agric Food Chem. 1997;45:3541-3544.
9. Calafat AM, Ye X, Wong LY, Reidy JA, Needham LL. Exposure of the U.S. population to bisphenol A and 4-tertiary-octylphenol: 2003-2004. Environ Health Perspect. 2008;116:39-44.
10. Takeuchi T, Tsutsumi O. Serum bisphenol a concentrations showed gender differences, possibly linked to androgen levels. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002; 291:76-78.
11. Ye X, Kuklenyik Z, Needham LL, Calafat AM. Measuring environmental phenols and chlorinated organic chemicals in breast milk using automated on-line column-switching-high performance liquid chromatography-isotope dilution tandem mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2006;831:110-115.
12. Padmanabhan V, Siefert K, Ransom S, et al. Maternal bisphenol-A levels at delivery: a looming problem? J Perinatol. 2008;28:258-263.
13. Carwile JL, Michels KB. Urinary bisphenol A and obesity: NHANES 2003-2006. Environ Res. 2011 Aug;111(6):825-30.
14. Sakurai K, Kawazuma M, Adachi T, et al. Bisphenol A affects glucose transport in mouse 3T3-F442A adipocytes. Br J Pharmacol. 2004;141:209-214.
15. Masuno H, Kidani T, Sekiya K, et al. Bisphenol A in combination with insulin can accelerate the conversion of 3T3-L1 fibroblasts to adipocytes. J Lipid Res. 2002;43: 676-684.
16. Masuno H, Iwanami J, Kidani T, Sakayama K, Honda K. Bisphenol a accelerates terminal differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells into adipocytes through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway. Toxicol Sci. 2005;84: 319-327.
17. Alonso-Magdalena P, Laribi O, Ropero AB, et al. Low doses of bisphenol A and diethylstilbestrol impair Ca2+ signals in pancreatic alpha-cells through a nonclassical membrane estrogen receptor within intact islets of Langerhans. Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113:969-977.
18. Hugo ER, Brandebourg TD, Woo JG, Loftus J, Alexander JW, Ben-Jonathan N. Bisphenol A at environmentally relevant doses inhibits adiponectin release from human adipose tissue explants and adipocytes. Environ Health Perspect. 2008;116:1642-1647.
19. Lee DH, Steffes MW, Sjödin A, Jones RS, Needham LL, Jacobs DR Jr. Low dose organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls predict obesity, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance among people free of diabetes. PLoS One. 2011 Jan 26;6(1):e15977.
20. Hong NS, Kim KS, Lee IK, Lind PM, Lind L, Jacobs DR, Lee DH. The association between obesity and mortality in the elderly differs by serum concentrations of persistent organic pollutants: a possible explanation for the obesity paradox. Int J Obes (Lond). 2011 Sep 27. Published online ahead of print.