Research strongly supports a healthy diet, daily exercise, and quality sleep for achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. But what if you follow all these lifestyle habits and still can’t get the scale to budge?
With obesity numbers trending up around the world, scientists are beginning to question if we are missing a part of the obesity equation.
In the last two decades, researchers have unveiled evidence suggesting that environmental triggers may contribute to the obesity epidemic. Dietary, pharmaceutical, and industrial chemicals, termed “obesogens”, may alter metabolic processes and predispose some people to gain weight.
Obesogens include a variety of chemicals with diverse mechanisms of action resulting in excess fat accumulation. While water-soluble chemicals are rather easily metabolized and excreted by the liver, fat-soluble ones are stored in fat cells where they are protected from the body’s natural detoxification systems. Some obesogens have been linked to a greater number of fat cells or increased fat cell size (1-3). Others have been implicated in altering how hormones might affect appetite, satiety, food preferences, and metabolism.
How can you protect yourself from obesogens? Take these steps to avoid exposure to the toxic chemicals:
- Avoid skincare products with harmful chemicals such as phthalates. Many skincare products—including sunscreens—may improve the look of your skin temporarily but often use harmful chemicals that can be absorbed by the skin and disrupt hormone systems. Phthalates, for example, are common in synthetically fragranced personal care products that can influence hormones related to metabolism (4). Stick with a skincare line (like Rejuvity) that not only supports your skin’s appearance, but also your health.
- Avoid certain plastics. Some plastics contain toxins that easy leach into food and liquid. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a toxin found in some plastic products that has been linked with increased abdominal fat and glucose intolerance even at low levels—characteristics associated with obesity (5). When storing foods, use stainless steel, glass, or BPA-free plastics. Also, look for products that have BPA-free packaging, such as Isagenix products.
- Choose green house cleaning methods. Toxins aren’t just outside your door—they are also in your house. Harmful organotins (tin-containing compounds) are found in flooring, purses, and shower curtains. Studies show that mice exposed to organotins were predisposed to weight gain problems (3). The best way to manage these obesogens within your home is to clean on a regular basis using green cleaning methods, such as steam, rather than polluting your home further with toxin-filled cleaners.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoke contains millions of toxic substances and some are suspected obesogens. Research shows that infants born to mothers who smoke while pregnant have an increased risk of obesity during infancy and childhood (6). Second-hand smoke may have the same effects, so it’s best to avoid cigarettes all together.
- Support internal detoxification. The human body itself has within its organs, tissues, and cells, a series of pathways that are involved in detoxification. These pathways must be supported nutritionally and the use of certain bioactive compounds from plants can improve their efficiency (7-9). In addition, dietary approaches such as intermittent fasting can help stimulate greater detoxification across these pathways and support fat loss—the primary location for toxin storage (10). A combination of nutrition, bioactive compounds, and intermittent fasting is incorporated in performance of Cleanse Days on an Isagenix system (read more here).
Obesity is complex condition involving many factors including calorie intake and expenditure. It’s still too early to know just how and at what level toxins play a role in contributing to obesity. But avoiding toxins that are suspected to be obesogens and cleansing regularly can be a step in the right direction to weight management.
- Lustig et al. Obesity before birth: Maternal and prenatal influences on the offspring. New York, NY:Springer (2010).
- Li et al. The environmental obesogen tributultin chlorine acts via peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma to induce adipogenesis in murine 3T3-L1 preadiopcytes. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 2011;127(1-2):9-15.
- Grun et al. Evironmental obesogens: organotins and endocrine disruption via nuclear receptor signaling. Endocinol, 2006;147(6):S50-S55.
- Stahlhut R, et al. Concentrations of urinary phthalate metabolites are associated with increased waist circumference and insulin resistance in adult U.S. males. Environ Health Perspect. 2007;115(6):876–882.
- Somm et al. Perinatal exposure to bisphenol A alters early adipogenesis in the rat. Envrion Health Perspect, 2009;117(10):1549-1555.
- Gao, et al. Prenatal exposure to nicotine causes postnatal obesity and altered perivascular adipose tissue function. Obes Res, 2005;13(4):687–692.
- Vinson et al. Effect of Aloe vera preparations on the human bioavailability of vitamins C and E. Phytomedicine 2005;12:760-5.
- Kim et al. Diarctigenin, a lignan constituent from Arctium lappa, down-regulated zymosan-induced transcription of inflammatory genes through suppression of DNA binding ability of nuclear factor-kappaB in macrophages. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2008;327:393-401.
- Ahmad et al. Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertil Steril 2010;94:989-96.
- Yang et al. Transactivation of genes encoding for phase II enzymes and phase III transporters by phytochemical antioxidants. Molecules 2010;15:6332-48.