Puberty. Wouldn’t it be nice if our innocent little ones could remain that way forever? Their lack of concern for what others think of them . . their adorable clothing ensembles . . . their pure, sweet love for us?
If only it were so. Unfortunately, we all have to grow up sometime. Most of us are already aware that society is making it harder and harder to keep our youth in that childhood stage. But what if I told you that some of the foods your kids eat and the products they use, just might be speeding up the pace of puberty as well?
Typically, the first signs of puberty’s arrival are seen around the age of 8 for girls and age 9 for boys. However, in a recent study of 1200 American girls, it was discovered that a large number of them had begun developing breasts by age 7. A similar study among boys found that testicular enlargement and pubic hair growth were beginning approximately one year earlier than previous rates as well.
Enter endocrine disruptors, a group of chemicals that interfere with the normal processes of the endocrine system.
The endocrine system is composed of glands and organs that are in charge of producing, storing and secreting our body’s hormones. This system works with other bodily systems throughout our lives, in an attempt to keep everything regulated and working properly as a team.
There are basically four types:
- The EDCs that mimic the hormones
- The EDCs that block the hormones from working
- The EDCs that adjust our hormone levels up or down
- The EDCs that change how sensitive our bodies are to certain hormones
These disruptions to the endocrine system are linked to numerous human health conditions. This includes early puberty, infertility, endometriosis, comprised immune systems, respiratory conditions, metabolic disorders, diabetes, heart conditions, inhibited physical growth, neurological disabilities, certain cancers and more.
During fetal development and into early childhood, exposure to EDCs is particularly concerning due to the fact that hormones are often regulating the formation of organs during this period of time. This exposure can lead to developmental abnormalities and increased chance for certain diseases later in life.
Sources of Endocrine Disruptors
These pesticides are found in non-organic produce. When farmers apply it to the plants, these pesticides also leach into the soils and into our waterways where it becomes a part of our drinking water as well.
The solution to avoiding these pesticides comes in two simple steps:
- Purchase ONLY organic when shopping the dirty dozen.
- Use a high-quality water filtering system for all of your drinking & cooking needs.
BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical that has been used to make plastics since the ’60s. It is primarily found in plastic water bottles, food containers, can liners and receipts. This substance used to be common in the makeup of baby bottles and sippy cups; however, now they substitute it with BPS, another chemical that is equally harmful.
In order to avoid exposure, you should opt for stainless steel or glass containers always. When buying canned food, Eden Foods is the only brand without a chemical lining, that I am aware of. Otherwise, seek out brands that use glass, especially when buying tomatoes since the acid promotes leeching. When shopping, skip the receipt or have it emailed.
Phthalates contribute to the flexibility of plastics and also lubricate cosmetics. Many beauty products that our children are being exposed to earlier and earlier, contain this chemical. They include perfumes, hairspray, fragranced shampoos, deoderant, and nail polish.
When laundering our kids’ clothing, we also frequently use one or more of the multitude of fragranced laundry products on the market. Unless they are fragranced solely with essential oils, those are also filled with phthalates that our kids absorb and inhale all day. Spray an air freshener like febreeze regularly? If it’s scented, those are typically phthalate havens, too.
Other common sources of phthalates include:
- bug repellent
- shower curtains
- vinyl flooring or carpetingwire/cable coatings
- new cars (steering wheel/dashboard/gearshift)
- medical tubing
If that’s not enough, they can also often be found in the animal products we eat, including dairy; some tapwaters; and produce, due to pesticide residues.
Due to the vast number of sources, this one can feel pretty overwhelming, but follow these steps and you will be in pretty good shape:
- If you see the word, “fragrance” or “parfum,” on the ingredient list or elsewhere on the packaging, run the other way!
- Check the EWG database when selecting any beauty products.
- When grocery shopping, avoid plastic containers with a 3 or a 7 as the recycling code.
- Opt for wooden toys whenever possible, especially for teething babies. Hape, Haba, and PlanToys are all safe bets.
- Avoid plastics when storing food. Stainless steel or glass are the way to go.
- Organic food only when shopping the produce aisle or meat & dairy sections, in order to avoid pesticides
- Invest in a Berkey water-filtering system. It’s well worth it.
Though flame retardants were originally created to protect our kids, they often do more harm than good. It can be challenging to find a carseat or baby mattress that doesn’t contain it, and many kids’ pjs incorporate this chemical as well. Other common harbors of flame retardants include our household electronics and fabric furniture pieces.
Check your children’s pajama labels to learn if they contain flame retardants or not. Here is a list of carseats that exclude the chemical. Here is a good guide to finding a flame retardant-free mattress. Do your research. Electronics and furniture do exist without the use of this chemical.
PFCs, or perflourinated chemicals, are found in teflon, scotchguards, and some drinking water. In order to avoid them, try the following:
- avoid those non-stick pots, pans & utensils
- always opt out of the stain-free coating for carpeting & furniture
- don’t buy stain or water-repellant clothing
- cut back on fast food & also microwave popcorn
In today’s world, your main risk for mercury exposure comes from eating seafood. The best way to remedy this is in limiting your fish intake to the smaller species that don’t eat other fish. Refer to this post I wrote on the subject for more information.