How Toxins Make Us Gain Weight

This week, the hormone weight loss principle I’d like to focus on is “Eliminate Toxins.” This one is important because I don’t think people realize all of the environmental toxins we come into contact with every day. In addition to contributing to weight gain, they are dangerous to our overall health.

Toxins destroy our hormone balance and often act as endocrine disruptors – substances that change the way our hormones usually work. Toxins can be found in many places in our homes and disrupt our hormones in many ways. They may increase, decrease or change the activity of a hormone by mimicking it, blocking it, changing the amount of hormone that is produced or changing the speed at which the hormone works. The hormones most often affected are estrogen, thyroid, testosterone, cortisol and insulin. But since hormones all work together, a problem with one has a domino effect on the others.

Here are a few toxins you should be aware of and how they can lead to weight gain:

  • Phthalates – Included in the ingredients found in many scented air fresheners, candles, detergents and beauty products. These toxins are known to reduce testosterone and females can see reduction in muscle mass that contributes to weight gain.
  • Bisphenol A, or BPA – Found mainly in the lining of canned goods and in plastic bottles, is known to increase estrogen as well as insulin levels. More insulin in the body leads to insulin resistance and that means your body won’t utilize your blood sugar properly.
  • Pesticides – Sprayed on crops, pesticides end in our food and drinks and therefore our bodies. Many researchers believe that pesticides in food increase risk for insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity.
  • Artificial sweeteners – These are worse than sugar because they are man-made chemicals and linked to many possible side effects including low thyroid (which can contribute to further weight gain).
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup – Causes changes in the liver by increasing the amount of glucose or sugar it absorbs, making the liver hungry for more sugar. This process accelerates insulin resistance and obesity, and it leads to resistance of the hormone leptin, which helps control the appetite.
  • Hydrogenated oils – Also called trans fats, may seem good for you since they come from soy, but aren’t! They are manufactured in laboratories into toxic foods that are not recognized by the body. They are dangerous to metabolism, increase cholesterol levels and increase risk of insulin resistance.
  • Refined sugars and carbs – These foods are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream causing a rapid increase in blood sugar and high demand for insulin. During the refining process, grains lose their fiber, vitamins and minerals, so you’re left with a food with minimum nutritionals value.

Many people with high levels of toxins in their body are obese. This is because toxins are stored in the fat cells and as you accumulate more and more toxins in your body, more storage space is needed and your body holds on to the fat cells. Keep this in mind as you’re losing weight, because as you lose fat, you may release some of these toxins, so it’s important to drink plenty of water to flush your kidneys of these toxins and continue the weight loss.