When you buy food at the grocery store, you hope the packaging label lists everything inside. Except that's not true all the time. Hidden inside your food are potent hormones wreaking havoc with your health. Hormones are magical compounds that help balance many critical bodily functions, such as mood, temperature, metabolism, and brain function. Even a slight imbalance can cause your hormones to go all whacky. In this article, we'll explore what horrible hormones are in your foods and how to avoid them.
Most people know antibiotics as a life-saver when you’re fighting an infection. We started taking the bacteria-fighting agents ever since we could remember, so what could be wrong with penicillin or amoxicillin? In theory, nothing when you’re sick. But our meat and dairy products have become a secondary source of antibiotics that first can make us resistant to antibiotics when we need them and infect our soil and water systems in the meantime.
Some dairy cows receive an antibiotic pellet in their ears as calves, which slowly releases the stuff throughout their lifetime. The purpose is not to protect the cows from disease but to encourage weight gain and more milk production. Antibiotics change your hormonal imbalance by wiping all the positive immune fighting strains of bacteria in your gut and immune system. The best way to avoid “extra” antibiotics is to buy certified organic dairy and meat. (1)
If you're going to pass on one thing at the supermarket, it's food laden with white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. (2) Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity continue to be on the rise, and both have connections to thyroid conditions.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland on your throat that regulates metabolism. Too much sugar wreaks havoc on your metabolism. When you consume sugar, it spikes your blood sugar and insulin levels. Over time this can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. (3)
Tons of your favorite foods come with added sugar, but even the ones you're not expecting hide the sugar in names like dextrose, glucose, lactose, and sucrose. Especially deceptive shelf items are energy drinks and gluten-free products. Both have tons of sugary ingredients, sure to add extra pounds and hormonal imbalances.
We’ve known about the danger of pesticides on our fruits and vegetables for years, yet the strawberries we love come dipped in chemicals. Farmers are right to a certain extent— pesticides help feed more people. Yet, too many pesticides cause fluctuations in hormones necessary for optimal health. (4)
While it may be impossible to avoid pesticides, you can try by buying organic produce. If the organic price tag is too much for the budget, you can splurge only on the dirty dozen. (5) The dirty dozen are 12 fruits and vegetables that usually have the most pesticides unless they are organic. Some of the dirty dozen includes the following:
The growth hormone (rBGH) helps cows and fish grow more prominent. Yet adding the hormone to our food may not be suitable for humans. (6) According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), rBGH is safe for humans. However, there's some concern that the added hormones cause hormonal imbalances. Some dairy farmers also feed their cows a mixture of other steroid hormones, including:
Our bodies naturally make these hormones, but any imbalance causes everything from weak bones to weight gain. Progesterone and estrogen are the primary female sex hormones responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle and fertility. During menopause, levels plummet to signal the end of a woman's reproductive years. Testosterone is a male sex hormone that helps give men masculine traits, builds muscle, and sperm quantity. Since our bodies naturally produce these hormones, having them in our food may cause unintended health consequences. Although supplementing with progesterone or estrogen creams when you have a deficiency can help alleviate a hormonal imbalance.
What we eat every day matters more than we think. It can make the difference between living each day full of vitality and energy or a day plagued with fatigue. When it comes to making decisions about your diet, try to understand what's listed on a food label and what might be hidden. It can help you avoid the nasty hormones that plague our foods.
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