When you mention the word endometriosis to friends they may have no idea what you are talking about. I felt the same way when I heard the word xenoestrogens and wondered why more didn’t know about this horrible toxin.
When one doesn’t know about something does not mean it doesn’t exist or that it does not matter. I believe in education and with endo there is a big opportunity for this. For us to educate our loved ones so they can support us in a way that we need. And for us to educate ourselves on all the factors that can help us feel better and overcome the struggle with endometriosis.
Contrary to what your well-meaning friends, family, teachers, and coworkers may say: the pain you’re feeling isn’t in your head.
The pain you’re feeling is real.
And it can be hard. Especially because you want to show up for yourself, your team, your classmates, and your family. You want to achieve your goals and get the most out of life …
But sometimes, the pain is just too intense, and the chronic fatigue has worn you down.
You aren’t alone. While endometriosis can be an isolating and lonely disease, 176 million people in the world are going through similar pain and symptoms daily. And many women with endometriosis stated that they haven’t reached their full potential because of this disease.
I was one of those 176 million people. I know the toll chronic illness takes on all aspects of life. I’ve been there, and I want to provide you hope.
I’ve thrown money on a never-ending cycle of surgeries and pills until I found another way to beat endo – all through diet and lifestyle changes. And I know the same is possible for you too.
It all starts with learning the ins and outs of this disease so you can get ahead of your endometriosis. By doing my research and talking with expert naturopaths and functional medicine providers, I learned about different triggers that could be impacting my endometriosis.
While inflammatory foods can trigger endometriosis, non-dietary triggers exist too. Some of these include:
- Poor sleep
- Emotional trauma
- Toxins like dioxins
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Electric and magnetic fields from technology
Other triggers that are invisible and hidden in everyday products are xenoestrogens. You may be wondering, “Khush, what are you talking about?” To get this and all your questions about xenoestrogens answered, just keep reading.
What are xenoestrogens and how do they work in your body?
Think of xenoestrogens like imposters: they’re trying to act like estrogen would in your body, but they’re not really estrogen. They just mimic the effects of estrogen or help your body produce more estrogen (real estrogen).
Let’s break it down. The root “xeno” also helps to expose xenoestrogens’ true identities. “Xeno” means “foreign,” so these are substances outside of your body that will act like estrogen once they get inside your body.
To understand how xenoestrogens work in your body, we need to understand how estrogen works in your body.
Estrogen is a major type of sex hormone in women (the other is progesterone). It has many job responsibilities including :
- Your physical feature changes during puberty
- Control and maintenance of your menstrual cycle and reproduction
- Your bone, brain, heart, and skin health
Estrogen can move all around your body through your bloodstream to send important messages to different organs. It plays a crucial role in your overall health. But the problem comes when your body ends up making too much estrogen, too little estrogen, or your body is bombarded with chemicals that act like estrogen. When any of these things happen the ratio of estrogen to progesterone gets totally imbalanced, and this can cause problems.
- If you get too little estrogen, you’ll experience symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia, menstrual migraines, mood swings, and dry skin.
- If you get too much estrogen (something we call “estrogen dominance”), you may experience weight gain, fibrocystic breasts, extreme fatigue, depression, anxiety, and heavy or light periods.
So why all this talk about estrogen? Because estrogen levels play a huge role in endometriosis and how you feel.
Estradiol, a type of estrogen, regulates how your uterine tissues grow. When you have endometriosis, you may experience high levels of estradiol. High levels of estradiol mean high levels of estrogen, and this estrogen dominance can trigger endometriosis symptoms like inflammation and make your pain worse.
So how does estrogen dominance tie in with xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens act like estrogen. If your body is already in an estrogen-dominant state from high estradiol, your endometriosis symptoms could worsen when you expose yourself to xenoestrogens. Our solution: we need to identify the xenoestrogens you’re exposing yourself to.
Where are xenoestrogens hiding?
So where are these xenoestrogens found? Some places may surprise you.
Xenoestrogens can be lurking in common products, such as:
- Pharmaceutical drugs and medicines
- Cosmetics and personal care products: Make-up, lotions, and creams
- Plastics: Food containers
While chemical names can be a bit daunting, I wanted to include some xenoestrogen chemical names that you can look for in your products:
- Bisphenol A (aka BPA) in plastics
- Phthalates like Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), a plasticizer for PVC
- Polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs), flame retardants in construction materials, furniture, and electronics
- Chlorinated cleaning products
- Atrazine (a weed killer)
- Benzophenone in sunscreen lotions
- Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA, a food preservative)
It can be a little intimidating since it feels like we live in a bubble of these materials and products – I mean, some of these things we use every single day.
But despite how intimidating this may seem, we can reduce our exposure to xenoestrogens. We have control over what products we purchase, and over many aspects of our environments. So let’s choose healthier products and ditch the xenoestrogens. This will help keep your endometriosis symptoms on the DL and improve your overall health.
How can I reduce my exposure to xenoestrogens?
I’m giving you a peek into our “Anti-Endo Program,” because during Phase 2 we support clients through detoxification and reducing our exposure to triggers – triggers like xenoestrogens.
So what actionable steps can you take to reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens?
Restore and balance your estrogen levels
You can do this through hormone therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and surgery, but that’s not the only way!
You can make simple lifestyle and diet changes to restore your estrogen levels. Some include:
- Eating mainly organic, locally-grown, and in-season fruits and vegetables
- Consuming a high-fiber diet
- Incorporating omega-3 foods into your meals
- Drinking green tea
- Moving your body (but making sure not to overexercise if it’ll exacerbate your endometriosis symptoms)
- Managing your stress levels
2. Reduce your use of plastics
Take a look at the containers your food comes in or what you store your food in. If possible, replace your plastic containers with glass containers.
Here are some other tips regarding plastics and cookware:
- Avoid microwaving your food in plastic containers.
- Avoid freezing plastic water bottles or leaving them in a hot environment. If possible, try to use glass or stainless steel water bottles instead. Be sure to hand wash them after use too.
- Inspect your pots and pans. If they’re Teflon-coated nonstick, they could be releasing endocrine-disrupting chemicals when overheated.
- Replace your plastic shower curtain with a curtain made of a natural material like cotton or linen. Plastic shower curtains may contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The heat and steam from your shower can cause additives in the plastic to leech out, which you can then be exposed to. PVC also releases over 100 chemicals into your indoor air just by hanging on your shower rod, and these chemicals can persist in the air for at least 28 days.
Products that I recommend
- Lodge Cast Iron Skillet: Cast iron pans are durable and can distribute heat evenly when cooking your food. Make sure to be cautious about how often you use your cast iron pan as too much iron can be toxic to your body as well.
- Pyrex Glass Pan: Cooking with glass cookware is beneficial because glass is non-reactive and won’t release chemicals into your food. Glass can crack, so be sure to never place hot glass on a cold surface.
- Caraway Cookware Ceramic Coated Pans: Cookware that’s made of 100% ceramic material won’t leach chemicals. Make sure to find ceramic cookware that’s free of cadmium, lead, and fluorinated compounds like polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs).
- Glass Mason Jars, Dinner Plates, and Food Containers: Reduce the amount of food that you eat that’s in contact with plastic containers to avoid consuming leached chemicals. You can use mason jars and food containers for food storage, and glass plates, bowls, and cups for enjoying a meal with your family.
- Cotton Shower Curtain: A cotton shower curtain can reduce your exposure to chemicals that are released from plastic shower curtains.
3. Replace your household cleaning products and beauty and health products
Take an inventory of the chemicals that are in your cleaning and personal care products.
- If needed, replace your cleaning products with chlorine-free, biodegradable chemicals.
- Avoid make-up, creams, and personal care products with fragrances, aluminum, and parabens.
- Replace your beauty and household products with naturally-based products that contain essential oils. You can even create your own products with natural ingredients!
Products that I recommend
- Dr. Bronner’s Soaps: If you’re looking for a soap that can be used for you and your family’s personal care, pets, fruits and vegetables, and for cleaning around your home – Dr. Bronner’s includes great soaps with organic oils.
- Deodorant: Aluminum is commonly used in some deodorants, but scientists have found that the aluminum can accumulate in your body and may pose a health risk. By using a deodorant that’s free of aluminum, parabens, and phthalates, you’re decreasing your exposure to xenoestrogens.
- Seventh Generation Dishwasher Gel: Brands such as Seventh Generation use natural, toxin free ingredients that can be used daily for everyday cleaning around your home.
I know this task can be a little daunting since we’re bombarded with over 700 chemical toxins daily, so just take it easy and go one step at a time. Try swapping out one item or product that contains xenoestrogens with another product. Then another. Then another…
By doing this you’ll be protecting yourself from xenoestrogens that are exacerbating your endometriosis symptoms. This is just another way to care for yourself.
Let’s beat endometriosis together!
I know what it’s like…
…To fear for your period every month.
… To sit at your office desk just wishing you could move the clock so you could go home because the pain is unbearable.
… To feel stuck in this cycle of comparison because so many of your friends are accomplishing their dreams while you’re just doing your best to manage your endo symptoms.
I’m here to help you ease your endometriosis. Together we’ll ease the overwhelm, emotional fatigue, pain, and work guilt. You don’t have to keep Googling your symptoms or going to endless doctors appointments.
I’m here to help you through this journey each step of the way. And it all begins by identifying your endometriosis triggers like xenoestrogens.
I’m holding a free endo workshop on how to Discover the 3 Secrets to Beat Endo for Good on Wednesday, May 19th at 7 pm EST/4 pm PST. You’ll hear about my endometriosis journey (and my detox) and learn:
- Why endo is more than a bad period and what you can do about it.
- How “the endo diet” didn’t work for me and what I focused on eating instead.
- The missing piece of my puzzle to finally achieving the pain relief I was desperately searching for.
I’ll touch on xenoestrogens and detoxification also! So if you’re ready to beat endometriosis for good, sign up at this link.
I’m here for you and rooting for you!
P.S. If you have ANY questions, send me an Instagram DM: @endonutrition.