Our environment affects our health
We’re living in a modern world with a modern world’s worth of inventions. Unfortunately, a lot of those inventions are doing us harm. The inventions I’m talking about, in this instance, are chemicals that mimic hormones or bind to hormones thereby making them useless. Take Bisphenol-A for example: Endocrine disruptor and common plastic additive. You can read all about what I think of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in my posts on this blog. Unfortunately, the risks of ill health from chemical exposure through just living our lives extends well beyond BPA.
Everyone is exposed to hundreds of chemicals each day. Some our bodies are able to detoxify and excrete right away. Others are beyond our body’s ability to purge, so they just rattle around inside of us causing problems. When we’re talking about men’s health, and specifically sexual health and vitality, we need to pay special attention to the chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system, the system that produces hormones.
Hormones play a role in myriad processes in the body. Hormones, specifically the sex hormones known as androgens, are what differentiate the sexes in utero and continue to play a key role in the development of secondary sexual characteristics and sexual health. Both men and women have both male and female androgens, but men have more of the male androgens (testosterone, etc.) and women have more female androgens (estrogen, etc.).
Men are always susceptible to these chemical toxins that act like estrogen in the body or bind testosterone make its presence lower overall as compared to estrogen. When you combine this with the natural hormonal slow down in middle age (known as andropause; the male equivalent to menopause), you can get serious problems in men’s health, especially sexual function.
And men are not alone. This phenomenon of endocrine disruption and feminization of males has happened in fish, frogs, alligators, birds, and other animals. Some species of fish that live downstream from pharmaceutical companies making hormone medicines have shown males literally transforming into females as a result of continued exposure.
Since these chemicals have become pervasive in our ecosystem, men have to fight an uphill battle to keep their exposures down. Do we throw in our hats? No. Men can protect their sexual health by reducing exposure to toxins in the following ways:
- What you drink – Filter your water and use a stainless steel water bottle. I like the Multipure water filters very much. Berkey filters also have a good reputation. Using a stainless steel bottles are a toxin-free alternative to plastics.
- What you eat – Part 1 – Eat organic whenever you can. Follow the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen when you can’t. Eat only organic, pasture-raised meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy.
- What you eat – Part 2 – Incorporate freshly ground flax and sesame seeds for lignans and fiber to help bind these toxins and excrete them.
- What you eat – Part 3 – Skip the reduced fat dairy products. Androgen hormones are made from cholesterol. You need dietary fat from animal sources to make androgens.
- What you eat – Part 4 – Maintain a balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Keeping Omega-3s high and Omega-6s isn’t always easy, but I truly believe its a key to longevity. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory when they outweigh Omega-3s at certain levels, so keep your Omega-3 rich foods high in your diet.
- Eschew plastics whenever possible – Even exposure to plastic tubing for an IV can have a negative impact on sperm count according to animal studies. Whenever you can, live a plastic-free life. Put your leftovers in glass, use glass pitchers, etc.
These simple steps will make a difference in the amount of endocrine disrupting toxins you’re exposed to. Do your best. Even small changes can make big differences.
For more about Dylan’s favorite topics, like acupuncture, herbal medicine, healthy living, New York City and parenthood, follow:
Dylan Stein on Google+
On Twitter @Citypuncture
Or on Facebook on the Dylan Stein Acupuncture Page