The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that Americans have become “obesogenic,” meaning they live in an environment of unhealthy foods — one that encourages increased food intake and decreased physical activity. But chemicals in food could also contribute to the problem. A White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President (pdf) says chemicals called obesogens "may promote obesity by increasing the number of fat cells, changing the amount of calories burned at rest, altering energy balance, and altering the body’s mechanisms for appetite and satiety."
Chemicals and food preservatives can disrupt our hormones and directly contribute to weight issues. In fact, studies reveal that the increased use of synthetic chemicals in food between 1930 and 2000 directly correlates with the increase in obesity.
These endocrine disruptors or chemicals “reprogram” the body to hold onto fat instead of burning it. As CBS News reports, “obesogens can cause heart disease, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.” They can be food preservatives, pesticides, BPA and more — and they are found in almost every aspect of American food production.
So what to do? Consider these five rules to help kick obesogens to the curb.
1. Avoid the dirty dozen of fruits and vegetables.
According to CBS News, these include anything nonorganic, but especially “peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots, pears.” Pesticides are linked to all sorts of health issues such as cancer and more, but they can also contribute to hormone disruptions and, therefore, weight gain. (Can't remember all that? Get the dirty dozen app on your smartphone.)
2. Do not buy hormone-treated meat or dairy, and choose leaner cuts.
The corn and soy feed used to nourish mass-produced animals is often treated with pesticides which travel through the animals to you. Further, hormones are used to make animals gain weight faster. So make an effort to pick organic, free-range, grass-fed meats. Choose leaner cuts because fatty tissues store hormones. And drink organic and hormone-free milk because hormones are also given to dairy cows to increase milk production.
4. Eliminate BPA from your plastics and food storage containers.
BPA has been found to mimic estrogen, making it another endocrine disruptor. Bisphenol A is highest in certain plastics and food containers, so be sure to toss out plastic containers labeled 3, 6 or 7 on the bottom.
3. Forgo plastic beverage bottles.
Plastic bottles contain phthalates which find their way into your water or sports drink. They are a known endocrine disruptor — and research points out that there is a direct link to obesity. One recent study shows that the heaviest children had the highest levels of phthalates in their urine. So leave off the bottled anything and start using a reusable BPA and phthalate-free bottle.
5. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup.
High-fructose corn syrup, cheaper than sugar to use and produce, can be the bane of anyone trying to lose weight. Our bodies do not process it the same way as sugar. To work it out of your body, the liver moves more fat into your bloodstream which can end up on your waist. It also destabilizes your blood sugar level, making you hungrier.
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