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Where Else Do We Get Obesogens?

The three main sources of the obesogens you’re exposed to are from:

  • Bisphenol-A (BPA) – found in the lining of cans used for canned food and in plastics with recycling codes 3 and 7
  • Organotins – biocides found in conventionally (non-organic) grown fresh produce
  • Phthalates – found in personal products containing plasticizers like nail polish, shampoo, lotions, perfumes, etc., as well as plastics like PVC

How Do I Avoid Obesogens?

Now that we have identified the main obesogens sources as:

  • Highly processed soy products
  • High fructose sweeteners (not true obesogens)
  • Hard plastics
  • Biocides (eg. Pesticides) and
  • Phthalates

All we need to do is avoid them right?

Where Else Do We Get ObesogensWell, yes but our food chain is so dense with them, it will be difficult if not impossible to avoid them altogether.

Even domestic water sources in major cities have been found to contain obesogens.

So what do you do?

Answer : Avoid them the best you can.

Below are the principles for avoiding obesogens, I’ll let you decide to what degree you want to follow them. Do I follow every principle… “No” but I do

Principles for Avoiding Obesogens

  1. Highly processed soy products: Don’t consume them of course. However, soy oil is used in many products you’re most likely not aware of so you need to get in the habit of reading the ingredient label of everything you buy. That should be a standard practice anyway.

  2. High fructose sweeteners: These are mostly widely used in packaged drinks like cans of soda and fruit boxes. Stick to water, natural squeezed-before-your-eyes juices, green tea, herbal tea and limited caffeine drinks.

    But don’t stop there, HFCS is used in just about every packaged or processed food you can imagine, so limit your consumption of those and again, read the labels.

  3. Hard plastics : Don’t drink or eat from plastic containers and store your food in glass, metal or ceramic containers with foil or wax paper instead of plastic containers and plastic wrap and don’t microwave or dishwasher plastic bowls, plates and containers because both increase the degree of leeching. Limit your consumption of canned foods.

  4. Biocides (eg. pesticides and herbicides): Eat only in season fruits and vegetable that are locally grown. This ensures they have not been treated with chemicals to preserve then or ripen them off the tree as they are exported from another distant part of the country or world.

    And if you want to really do it properly, only buy organically grown, which although sounds “new-agey” is actually not new-age but instead the way we ate for the first 2 million years of our existence. It’s only in the past 100 years we’ve taken to spraying poisons all over our foods.

    It only takes 5 days of eating an organic diet to reduce levels of pesticide based obesogens to almost undetectable levels in your body.

    I understand we can’t all afford ‘organic’ foods because they tend to be more expensive, but buying locally grown and in season shouldn’t be too hard. Just find your local growers market and get your fruit and veg there.

    Now the same goes for your animal proteins. Try, if you can, to buy meats that come from animals that were free to walk about and graze the meadow enjoying the foods nature intended in preference to animals raised in pens, knee deep in their own manure and living on a diet of corn and soy.

  5. Phthalates : Don’t drink from the hose! Phthalates are in PVC so avoid storing water in PVC containers. Also, try buying cosmetics that are made without phthalates.

  6. Filter your water : Add a carbon based filter to your faucet or get a carbon filter pitcher because the USDA Pesticide Data Program found 54% of domestic water tests contain pesticides.

  7. Eat lean meats : Most obesogens are fat soluble so fatty meats are already higher in obesogens AND most meats available in the supermarket are wrapped in PVC plastic wrap which leaches phthalates into the fat of the meat… yet another reason to avoid fatty meats.

High Fructose Corn Syrup – It’s Everywhere

High Fructose Corn Syrup – It’s EverywhereHigh-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a very common food sweetener and preservative. HFCS is made by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose — the type of sugar typically found in fruits.

The resultant fructose is then mixed with corn syrup (100% glucose) to achieve the desired sweetness.

HFCS extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar so it has been used increasingly since the 1970s. It’s also pleasant tasting so proves to be a good additive for reduced fat foods because its sweetness compensates for the flavor lost when fat is removed.

You’ll find HFCS has become a popular ingredient in many sodas, fruit-flavored drinks and a myriad of other processed foods. In fact, I think you’ll be downright astounded at how pervasive its use is (they’re in almost every processed food you can think of!).

HFCS also parades under the guise of these different terms on the ingredient list:

  • Isoglucose
  • Iso Glucose
  • Maize syrup
  • Glucose-fructose syrup in the UK, and
  • Glucose/fructose in Canada

As your about to discover, HFCS is terrible for your weight and your health for a bunch of different reasons.

But I want you to be aware it’s not only high fructose sugars made from corn you need to avoid. Any high fructose sugar made from any plant should be avoided. Here is a list of other high fructose sugars to avoid:

  • Inulin
  • Chicory
  • Fruit Fructose
  • Agave syrup
  • Agave nectar (agave is touted as a healthly alternative to sugar but its fructose levels can be up to 93% compared to about 57% in HFCS)

Statistics on HFCS Consumption

According to a 2008 USDA Dietary Assessment of Major Trends in U.S. Food Consumption report, the use of HFCS in the diets of all Americans increased a mind-blowing 10,673 percent in the 35 years from 1970 and 2005 (in 2005 the average American ate 59 pounds of high fructose corn syrup).

This scary statistic is made possible by the fact processed foods now account for more than 90 percent of the dollars Americans spend on our meals.

All this means HFCS is now the #1 source of calories for Americans… an artificial highly processed sugar made from corn!

Just a single can of soda contains about 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of HFCS. And it’s so cheap, fast food companies are able to super-size you with very little additional expense to them.

USDA Food Guide Dietary Guidelines recommends no more than 8 teaspoons of added sugar per day (not including sugars occurring naturally in fruits, vegetable and grains). But the average American in 2005 ate 30 teaspoons of added sugar, mostly HFCS.

That means, an adult on a 2000 calorie per day diet is getting 24% of their calories from added sugar – that won’t end well!

What’s So Bad About HFCS?

High fructose corn syrup is closely associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (adult onset diabetes).

Processed fructose found in HFCS is highly lipogenic (converts easily to fat in your liver) compared to other sugars, so high consumption of HFCS causes increased fat levels in your blood.

This is because the processed fructose found in HFCS does not follow the same chemical path as other sugars when processed by the liver. When other sugars enter your liver a decision is made of whether to:

  • Convert to glycogen and store in your liver and muscles
  • Or convert to glucose and burn as energy
  • Or convert to fat and store in your fat cells.

But the processed fructose found in HFCS does not follow this path and instead bypasses the first 2 steps and converts directly into fat.

When HFCS consumption is very high, which it is for most Americans, your body fat increases, your blood fat level also becomes high and the floodgates to a host of problems, including obesity, are opened.

More specifically, studies have shown the disruption of normal lipogenesis (fueled by too much processed fructose) leads to insulin resistance, which we discussed at length earlier makes you obese and at risk of diabetes.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism as early as 2004 showed high processed fructose meals decrease circulating leptin, the hormone secreted by fat cells which suppresses appetite, and therefore HFCS contributes to weight gain and obesity.

Another effect of HFCS is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A 2008 research paper published in the Journal of Hepatology concluded “excessive dietary fructose consumption” contributes to NAFLD.

We already know from earlier discussion liver dysfunction is common in obesity, even being overweight but not yet obese has been shown to stress your liver. And when you liver is stressed it becomes less efficient in the processes necessary for maintaining a healthy weight AND a healthy body.

High fructose corn syrup, it seems, snuck up on us all these years when the food industry was developing into the processed foods giant it is now.

Are You Addicted to HFCS? Are You Sure?

In a scientific paper published in The Bariatrician in 2009, Dr. Lustig MD says:

Similar to ethanol, through direct stimulation of the central nervous system “hedonic pathway” and indirect stimulation of the “starvation pathway”, fructose induces alterations in central nervous system energy signaling that lead to a vicious cycle of excessive consumption, with resultant morbidity and mortality.

In short, he’s saying HFCS is addictive. You want more and more and more!

This is a major concern for all of us because not only is HFCS:

  • Addictive
  • Converts to fat super easily
  • Causes high blood fat levels which contribute to heart disease
  • Causes insulin resistance and obesity
  • And causes non alcoholic fatty liver disease,

…it’s also in just about every processed or packaged food you can think of!

That’s scary!

I could go on and reveal more horrors about HFCS but hopefully I’ve said enough to convince you to avoid it as best you can.

Obesogens, The Fat-Making Chemical (Part 2)

Obesogens Affect… You?

Obesogens, The Fat-Making Chemical (Part 2)Bruce Blumberg PhD, the scientist that coined the term “obesogens” says there is still no evidence that obesogens are causing obesity in adults, but he also points out this science is still very new.

We may only be a few scientific research studies away from discovering a conclusive link between obesogens and adult obesity (such a discovery may have even been made since I wrote this book).

In the meantime, Bruce Blumberg PhD recommends a policy of “better safe than sorry”.

And for American adults born after World War II, they may already be suffering the consequences of prenatal exposure to obesogens, that could include you.

The obesity epidemic is worse in the USA than any other country in the world. And we discover, the citizens of the USA also have the highest exposure to obesogens both prenatally and during their lifetime than any other people in the world.

At the moment, the average American consumes 10-12 different pesticides each and every day. And 9 of those are identified as EDCs!

And 93% of all Americans test positive for the obesogen Bisphenol-A (BPA)… more on specific obesogens soon.

Considering there are over 3000 approved food additives and many thousands of different chemicals used in biocides and pesticides and many thousands more used in plastics and other food packaging, we can expect that many more obesogens are yet to be discovered.

In short, everyone is most certainly exposed to some degree of obesogens.

Obesogens From Soy

“Isn’t Soy Good For You?”

Soy has a reputation for being a good heart food and providing other health benefits. However, due to the evidence of recent studies, the American Heart Association (AHA) Nutrition Committee no longer recommends eating soy to lower cholesterol because we now know it has to be consumed in unrealistic quantities for only modest lowering of LDL cholesterol.

Soy protein on the other hand is a very high quality protein for a vegetable, is similar in quality to animal protein and therefore a healthy alternative to meat because of its high fiber and polyunsaturated fat content.

But don’t be fooled into thinking the mention of ‘soy’ means it’s good for you because most likely it’s not soy protein but instead a highly processed soy oil.

Estrogenic Obesogens in Soy

I mentioned earlier that soy is now used to make baby formula and that it contains 2 naturally occurring obesogens called genistein and daidzein.

Those 2 obesogens are estrogenic, meaning they mimic the female hormone estrogen.

When your estrogen levels are high, you have decreased capacity for building muscle, but an increased capacity for storing fat. That’s a formula for easy weight gain but a lot of difficulty losing it. Not to mention high estrogen levels are linked also with breast and uterine cancer.

You may be thinking you don’t eat soy products so it’s not really a concern for you but you’d be surprised how much soy you are actually eating because it’s in so much of the food we eat nowadays.. more on that in a moment.

Soy, Isoflavones and Your Thyroid

Soy is very rich in isoflavones.

Isoflavones act as phytoestrogens in mammals, meaning they mimic estrogen (the estrogenic obesogen, genistein, which we discussed above is an isoflavone).

But not only do they mimic estrogen, they also inhibit the production of thyroid hormone and for this reason are also called goitrogens because when thyroid hormone levels become low your thyroid may enlarge to compensate (goiter).

Now before I go on I need to temper this discussion with a balanced assessment. There is still no conclusive evidence that soy disrupts thyroid hormone production, however we need to keep in mind the companies behind ‘soy’ are giant multi-billion dollar behemoths with arguably the power to influence popular media and sway opinion.

The Chinese have used soy for 5000 years so it can’t be all bad, but here’s the difference and what you can use as a rule for choosing which soy products you eat:

Historically, soy has been eaten as the unprocessed bean or in fermented forms like tofu and soy sauce.

So if you enjoy eating soy and want to keep it on the menu, stay away from processed forms like soy milk and soy oil and opted instead for the more traditional forms.

What Foods Contain Soy?

Soy has become one of the largest crops in the US because it is cheap, easy to manage and very easy to process. The food industry has developed methods for processing soy to the nth degree and found many new ways to incorporate it into the food you eat for the simple purpose of increased profits via lowered costs.

The majority of soy you eat is most likely in the form of soy oil found in cookies, chips, pizza and many more.

Go to the kitchen and check the labeling of some of the packaged and processed foods you have in your pantry and I think you’ll be surprised.

For a more extensive listing of commercial foods containing soy, look here: http://www.neisd.net/foodserv/HTML/documents/FoodAllergens13Jan09.pdf

Indirectly you are also exposed to soy because livestock raised for the dinner table aren’t eating grass in the meadow as nature intended anymore. Instead the beef, pork and poultry you eat are raised on an unnatural diet of soy and corn (and hormones, antibiotics and other nasties).

Even farmed fish are raised on a diet of soy and corn. Is that natural? Yeah right! I don’t think so.

Obesogens From Corn

While corn doesn’t contain any specific obesogens and none are made from the processing of corn, there is some evidence to suggest that a processed corn sugar may actually create sugar cravings in your brain.

Obesogens, The Fat-Making Chemical (Part 1)

Obesogens, The Fat-Making Chemical (Part 1)Obesogens are chemicals that disrupt the normal hormonal balance of your body in such a way that leads to an increased propensity for obesity.

Obesogens are a subclass of chemicals called Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDC) (a.k.a. endocrine disrupting chemicals), which act like hormones in your endocrine system.

The majority of EDCs make their way into your body via the food you eat.

 

Obesogens enter the food chain and your body from a number of different sources including:

  • Synthetic hormones fed to livestock and other animals raised for human consumption
  • Herbicides and pesticides sprayed on the grains, fruits and vegetable we eat
  • Naturally occurring chemicals found in soy
  • Plastic compounds found in our food packaging
  • And chemical additives used in processed food

What obesogens do:

Obesogens confuse your body. They send false messages, prevent other messages from being sent and cause some of your genes to turn off and others to turn on.

In short, you don’t need them in your body and you definitely don’t want them in there either.

The actions of obesogens include:

  • Mimicking human hormones
  • Blocking others
  • And even changing the action of genes

Specifically, obesogens act to make you gain weight and become obese.

Should I seriously consider obesogens something to worry about?

Consider these US statistics:

  • Roughly 1 in 3 American adults are obese, not just overweight, but obese.
  • If we expand the statistic to include the overweight it’s actually 2 in 3 (67%)!
  • In the past 25 years, obesity amongst adolescence (12-19 years) has more than tripled from 5% to 17.6%
  • For 6-11 year olds obesity rates have almost tripled from 6.5% to 17%
  • Obesity in 2-5 years olds has more than doubled from 5% to 12.4% (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/)

Remembering early on in this series of articles we discovered:

  • Americans spend $192 million PER DAY on weight loss products but official statistics show 95% of people will FAIL to maintain weight loss

So we must consider there are many other factors at play other than just calories and exercise.

Hopefully you agree managing your self-image (mind) and self-esteem (spirit) are 2 of the other factors we need to nurture for successful weight loss, like I show you soon.

But how can we explain this statistic:

  • Obesity in infants under 6 months has risen 73% since 1980! (Harvard School of Public Health, 2006)

These babies are only drinking breast milk and baby formula and at 6 months no babies get much exercise so the normal reasons for obesity don’t apply.

So why?

New research is showing that obesogens can trigger precursor cells (cells that have not yet been designated a role in the body and still have the potential to be any kind of body cell) to become fat cells.

So because of obesogens for example, precursor cells that were destined to become connective tissue cells, are triggered by the obesogens to become fat cells instead.

Exposure to obesogens also lowers your metabolism and triggers your body to hoard calories as fat.

Babies are exposed to obesogens circulating in their mother’s blood while still in the womb and then from the hard plastic bottles they drink from (containing the obesogens called bisphenol A) and even the soy-based formula they may be drinking (containing the naturally occurring obesogens called genistein and daidzein).

Scientific Findings From The Experts:

In 1997, Dr Baille-Hamilton published an article in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, in which she mentioned there seems to be a correlation between increasing obesity rates and the increasing use of pesticides and plasticizers over the past 40 years.

While it was an unfounded claim at the time, it sparked the interest of other scientists and subsequent studies began to show there is indeed a relationship.

Scientists in Japan were able to show in a lab dish that some of the chemicals used in hard plastic baby bottles actually cause prefibroblasts (cells destined to become connective tissue cells) to change and become fat cells instead.

Since then several more studies have shown that prenatal exposure to obesogens increases the likelihood of infant obesity.

This is very new science and research is continuing but there is enough evidence accumulated now for The Endocrine Society to make the following official scientific statement regarding EDCs:

“The rise in incidence in obesity matches the rise in the use and distribution of industrial chemicals that may be playing a role in generation of obesity suggesting that EDCs may be linked to this epidemic.”

Foods That You Absolutely Need To Avoid

Foods That You Absolutely Need To AvoidThere are some things that the human body just wasn’t meant to digest. There are chemicals that when introduced to our systems, will not be assimilated or will be too quickly converted into sugar. The following list of foods interfere with digestion and should be either avoided entirely or restricted to only occasional consumption:

 

 

 

  • Hydrogenated oils (trans fats)
  • Candy
  • Alcohol
  • Soft drinks
  • Luncheon meats
  • Pastries
  • Fast foods
  • Margarine
  • Highly processed foods
  • Corn sugars
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Preserved foods (bacteria essential for our digestion are stripped from the food to extend shelf-life.)
  • Food additives, over 3000 used in the US

Study this list, and don’t skim over it, because not surprisingly, all of these foods are also the enemy of anyone trying to lose weight. They are high in the wrong type of fats and refined sugars while being very low in nutrients… nothing good will come from eating anything on this list.