Toxins and its Impact on Belly Fat
This factor could be the cause for your belly fat…
I have talked about the secret sauce to weight loss before and it involves detoxing our livers by changing our diet predominantly. I have also talked about detoxification through our skin and how that can not only have a negative impact on our weight loss journeys but affect our fertility chances too. For example, did you know that women are affected by 200 unique chemicals before removing the house in the morning?
In this blog post, we are going to look at the direct link whereby toxins from the environment can impact our fat storage.
In addition, we are exposed to and absorb daily toxins from our lives, more so than ever before, as compared to our grandparents time. This surge in obesity and weight gain throughout the world is thought to be associated with environmental causes instead of just overeating and under-activity in humans. It’s definitely important to know what is surrounding you and your home and what you can do about it to improve your health. I promise, the weight loss becomes a side effect of changing your lifestyle.
Most of this material is covered in this podcast episode ‘Toxins and their impact on our bodies and weight loss’ with Vashti Kanahele and the audio recording is attached at the bottom of this blog post. Toxins are basically everywhere now in this modern day and age of civilisation and it is impossible to avoid them entirely. So instead of freaking out about what we are unable to control (the smoke from the huge truck that passes by your house or your car), let’s focus on managing our exposure to these toxins. For example, carcinogens have been found in the US tap water that affects 90 million Americans. I don’t know about you, but I would like to have filters on my water no matter what.
IMPORTANCE OF ADIPOSE TISSUE
Before diving deep into hating on our fat cells, adipose tissue actually have beneficial functions in the human body. They are a source of energy mobilisation because they store glucose in the from of fats via the regulation of insulin. They also regular appetite and metabolic functions via the release of leptin and adiponectin. Lastly, adipose tissues store not only fat cells but a range of other cells such as stem cells, vascular cells and immune cells.
I want to draw attention to the fact that toxins not only draw on the storage of adipose tissue but affects their function, which leads to a dysfunction in our metabolic and endocrine systems i.e. metabolism and hormone health.
WHAT ARE TOXINS TO US?
Aromatic Hydrocarbons from vehicles
Pesticides and fungicides in our food
PFCs in nonstick cooking surfaces
BPAs - bisphenol A is a production chemical used in food and beverage heating containers, lining of metal cans, use in dental fillings and found in water and air samples.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (very hidden in packaged foods)
Trans fat (hydrogenated fats)
BHA - butylated hydroxyanisole
Home products like air fresheners
Furniture in our home that releases flame retardant material
A lack of ventilation in our home
And three ingredients to avoid in skincare and makeup according to The True Spoon,
Thalates (endocrine disruptors which means they cause hormone imbalances)
The word ‘Fragrance’ is not regulated and can contain many chemicals because it is a trade secret in the beauty industry.
HOW DO TOXINS IMPACT OUR BODIES?
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
According to the first Scientific Statement of the Endocrine Society, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are known to act on a variety of receptors within the body including estrogen, nuclear, androgens, thyroid, progesterone, retinoid and more. For the purpose of this article, there is a focus on fat storage and ovarian health. Do note that toxins can cause a myriad of other problems including autoimmune disease, genetic influence in-utero and brain development in children.
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) for example, BPA, directly impact our hormonal system because they can latch on to our estrogen receptors and thus impacting our period and reproductive health.
EDCs are lipophilic, so they are stored in our adipose tissue and they have long half lives. As a protective mechanism, our body’s fats cells stop these chemicals from circulating in our bloodstream by storing it in your body.
Thus, the fat is retained.
This spells UH-OH for women with PCOS who are already struggling to lose their belly fat. Think of slower metabolism and a lower capability of the body to lose fats. The adipose actually protect our vital organs, however, accumulated adipose provides a large storage of these fat-loving toxins and is then an internal exposure of toxins to our body. In the end, the protective mechanism becomes a potentially dangerous source of toxin exposure from within our bodies. Talk about scary!
You may have heard of chemicals being called obesogens - because they can cause obesity. Obesogens affect metabolic processes that affect weight gain i.e. They can change the mechanisms of stem cells to make them fat cells instead of bone cells, plus these fat cells can carry more fat than normal. They can also change the amount of calories burned at rest by altering the fat storage balance and thus promote adipogenesis.
Obesogens/xenoestrogens work on estrogen receptors and thus directly impact our uterus and biological process. This can contribute to estrogen dominance (with lower levels of progesterone) which affects period regularity, PMS symptoms, an absence of ovulation, painful cramps etc. Women with PCOS alongside their higher levels of testosterone, struggle with all these symptoms too and it’s no wonder it can become such a hot mess! Estrogen is thought to have a bigger role in the key developmental stages of creating fat cells, both in males and females.
In addition, mums-to-be listen up, if you are exposed to obesogens and chronic stress during pregnancy, your offspring have a greater chance of developing metabolic syndrome and obesity later in life.
HOW TO MANAGE TOXIN EXPOSURE
Our bodies are incredible powerful at removing toxin waste and excess hormones from our system and thus, we need to give it the tools to help with the detoxification pathways in our liver, lungs, digestive system and skin. Our body’s power is underrated.
Given half a chance, the body can heal itself by itself.
Avoid inflammatory foods such as dairy, soy, wheat, gluten, sugars via an anti-inflammatory diet.
Avoid processed foods and refined sugars and trans fats at all costs. You will be more inclined to do this when you realise that over 2000 chemicals are allowed in conventional package foods but only less than 40 are allowed for organic ones.
Introduce wholesome fruit and vegetables into your diet, especially high fibre ones to help the digestive system to remove the toxins. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach are vital for helping our liver to detox and remove both excess hormones, waste products and chemicals.
Ensure a wide variety of whole ingredients in order to maintain biodiversity and bacterial harmony in your gut. The digestive system is linked to detoxification as well so we need to make sure this process is efficient and working!
Eat an organic diet whenever possible- use this resource from EWG to find out which produce you absolutely need to buy organic. Organic foods do not contain preservatives, chemical flavours, synthetic colours and substances that cause harm to the environment.
Avoiding canned foods because most of them are lined with BPA.
Exercise! A sedentary lifestyle leads to your body holding on to fluids contributing to water retention and also leads to an accumulation of waste products in your body. This could in turn result in skin rashes and all kinds of physical breakouts.
Home Environment & Beauty
Avoid plastic, especially BPA, and remove non stick cook ware - cast iron, enamel cast iron, stainless steel
Reusable cotton bags
Avoid talc in your makeup products - have them mineral based.
Use EWG Skin Deep Database to check the brands of your products to make sure they are safe.
Look into using essential oils to replace synthetic chemicals - look at the specific instructions by the company because safety of essential oils is not regulated by the FDA.
Avoid drinking tap water - always use a water filter.
Have indoor plants to help purify the air - Peace Lily, Snake Plant, Chinese Evergreen, English Ivy.
Weight loss is not just about portioning out your food and reducing the number of carbohydrates (though that does not work for everyone). Our food system is affected by the heavy use of glyphosate (pesticide) and the best we can do is either grow our own vegetables or buy organic. Weight loss is multi-factorial right now and there is a big struggle partly due to the onslaught of environmental toxin sources. Knowing where toxins can emerge in your home for a start, can be really helpful in guiding you towards weight loss. Detoxification as Dr Hyman names it the four Ps - pee, poop, perspiration and pranayama (sanskrit for breath) js the only way we can manage the amount of toxins that is present in our life.