Can't lose the weight no matter what you do? Sneaky ingredients called OBESOGENS hiding in your skincare and makeup may be playing a bigger role than you think....

THE STUBBORN FAT STRUGGLE BUS

Does it sometimes seem that - no matter what you do - the weight won't budge? Maybe you're fasting clean (oh hey water and black coffee!), counting your calories, controlling your macros (are you team LCHF or HCLF? ), or even meditating to address your subconscious energy holding onto fat stores from past trauma? While all of those modalities can often work - and I support engaging in all of them if they're what float your boat - the stubborn weight loss situation is a very real thing. Sometimes it just feels like something in your body just won't let it go.

And that, my friends, is not all in your head.

Because here's the thing: hormones and genes in our cells literally determine how our cells interact with, use, generate, and store energy. You could in theory eat a massive amount of seemingly excess calories , and gain little or even no weight.  On the other hand, you could miserably restrict your calories, fast for eons, and lose little or even no weight. I'd say the latter is the bigger bummer of those. (Actually, this isn't even theoretical - studies show this!)

So what's going on?  As it turns out, epigenetics - aka your environmental influences - play a huge role in whether your body wants to burn or store fat. In today's post, we're going to zero in on one of the biggest factors: endocrine disruptors.

A NOTE ON BODY ACCEPTANCE

Before we get into the shocking details of toxic fat, let me clarify something: weight is not a moral issue. I rarely make absolute statements, but I wholeheartedly believe you are not a good or bad person based on the amount of adipose tissue housed in your body, or what the scale says. I'm also all for body acceptance, as I believe our bodies are our kingdoms, and we should treasure and respect them as such. All of that said, that does not change the fact that there are healthy and harmful types of fat. Being overweight is linked to a host of health conditions, especially if it's inflammatory fat holding onto toxins and creating metabolic issues. (Note: brown fat, for example, is actually correlated to increased health! Learn more on that in my post The Power Of Cold: Resilience, Immunity, Fat Burning, And More! ). So while I believe having excess fat on your body says nothing of one's worth as a human being, that doesn't mean you have to feel obliged to accept your fat as just the way it is. I believe it's wonderful if not warranted to explore how you can support and team with your body to lose excess inflammatory weight.

WHAT ARE ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS?

Endocrine disruptors are substances which mess with our endocrine system. And the endocrine system - my dear friends - has the very important role of managing our hormones. These hormones can do everything from regulating  your feelings of hunger and fullness (like ghrelin and leptin), to literally controlling whether your cells store or burn fat (like cortisol and  neuropeptide Y). If you feed the same meal to two people - one with major endocrine imbalances and the other without - it's quite possible the one with endocrine issues might store more fat from that meal.

To make matters worse, there are actually endocrine disruptors which studies show are obesogens, meaning they encourage obesity! True statement my friend. In fact, endocrine disruptors may play such a pivotal role in fat gain, that a 2017 review in the Current Obesity Research & Therapy  journal theorized that overeating and reduced exercise alone cannot account entirely for our present disease states, and that endocrine disruptors may contribute to obesity through interfering with the control of energy metabolism and adipose tissue regulation, causing an altered balance towards weight gain and obesity, despite normal diet and exercise patterns."

WHERE ​?

Are you exposed to endocrine disruptors?

Yes.

Endocrine disruptors are overwhelmingly pervasive in our modern environment, from our cleaning products to our plastic containers to our food system. But perhaps our biggest source of constant, potent exposure comes courtesy of our skincare and makeup. While Europe has banned 1300+ compounds for their endocrine disrupting potential, the US has banned less than 10.  Furthermore, while companies may claim products containing these compounds are "safe," this is based on faulty assumptions regarding toxicity. Tests for "toxicity" are often conducted on very small amounts of the toxins, and do not take into account our constant exposure to them (particularly in our skincare!) over time, as well as their additive effect, in which they become more toxic thanks to accumulating exposure. For example, the additive effect of parabens - a common preservative used in conventional skincare - has been shown to specifically encourage fat storage at lower amounts than anticipated in studies, due to their additive effect. These compounds (by their very nature as discussed in a bit!) also easily build up in our system, rendering them more toxic. There's even something called "the cocktail effect," in which otherwise harmless if not healthy compounds (like Vitamin C) can react with other compounds to become toxic! Lastly, some endocrine disruptors are actually more toxic at lower doses!

When it comes to endocrine disruptors, even if the dose makes the poison, unless you've only eaten organic whole foods since childhood, breathed clean air, avoided all toxic cleaning products, and only used safe skincare, it's safe to say any dose of endocrine disruptors is likely a poisonous dose.  

HOW?

So just how do these endocrine disruptors stop your weight loss and tilt the scale in favor of fat storage?

"Require" Fat

The structures of obesogens are "Lipophilic," meaning they dissolve in fat. This is important, because it means your body stores them in fat, especially when it registers them as toxic. Basically, when you put endocrine disruptors into your body via your skincare, your body is just like, "Let us get rid of these now - bring on the fat!"  ​(​Sadly, even though the body sequesters endocrine disruptors in fat to protect us, studies show the compound​s still yield toxic effects. So the whole situation is  a valiant but not quite effective effort.)​​​

Encourage More Fat

If the fact that endocrine disruptors are naturally stored in fat weren't bad enough, once you start storing obesogenic endocrine disruptors, the body actually tries to keep storing them even more, because they actually"[increase] the capacity for their own retention." Translation: once your body stores endocrine disruptors in your body, they set up shop for the long haul, so good luck getting them out!

Invite Their Fat-Loving Friends

Endocrine disruptors also encourage all of their other toxic friends to join the party! It's like when you have a super classy get-together, and then that one trouble friend shows up. You say your silent prayers that they do not invite the rest of the gang... but they do. And then their friends do. Suddenly, what started as a classy wine night mirrors a college frat party. Good luck getting that under control! 

Convince Your Body To Store More Fat

We used to think fat was just fat. It turns out fat actually acts as its own organ and endocrine system, and secretes its own hormones. Once you start teaching your fat to store fat by infusing it with endocrine disruptors, the fat itself can start calling out for more endocrine disruptors and fat storage! It's like that aforementioned trouble friend showing up to your wine night, inviting their friends, and sending out an open invitation to the public at large to join the rage.

Increase Fat Cell Size And Numbers

Endocrine disruptors can  literally increase the number of fat cells, as well as the size of those fat cells. Everything I'm guessing you don't want...

Mess With Your Genes

Endocrine disruptors do not only mess with your jeans, but also your genes. On a molecular level, these obesogens can affect gene expression in charge of controlling how fat cells behave. They can do this by binding to nuclear receptors (like PPARα, PPAR-δ and PPAR-γ, and steroid hormone receptors)  in charge of fat cell behavior. For example, some receptors can encourage the body to break down fat, but EDCs can short circuit that.

Affect Metabolism And Hunger

Unfortunately, the detrimental effects of endocrine disruptors aren't limited to just fat cells. Endocrine disruptors can actually affect insulin sensitivity all throughout the body, locking you out of fat burning mode, and into fat storing mode. Studies have found obesogenic endocrine disruptors can affect appetite, cravings, and feelings of being full, so that you want to eat more. At the same time, they can affect the metabolic rate so you're more likely to also store what you eat. Double bummer.

THE YOUNG AND THE FEMALE

If you're a female, and particularly if you're pregnant and/or anticipate having a child, please... Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. The obesogenic effects of endocrine disruptors may be particularly detrimental for children and women. 

Conventional wisdom states that a person's set number of fat cells is mostly determined when very young, and then when you're older, they grow bigger. (Although we now know we can indeed grow new fat cells when older - sad day!) Setting the stage with a higher number of fat cells when young, encourages weight gain and obesity down the road. Young children exposed to endocrine disruptors tend to have a higher number of fat cells, indicating that children exposed to endocrine disruptors may be literally "set up" to be fatter throughout their whole life! It's much easier to grow new fat cells then lose them. Think of it like drawing on a white canvas with an "erase-able" pen, and then trying to erase it completely. Good luck with that!

Even more shocking? When pregnant mice were exposed to endocrine disruptors, it affected the stem cells in their babies! Stem cells are like blank slate cells with the potential to become anything, such as bone, muscle or fat. In the studies, endocrine disruptors made the stem cells ​prefer to become fat cells, rather than bone cells!

Infants are particularly exposed to endocrine disruptors via their mother's placenta and breast milk, as these can actually serve as detox mechanisms for the mother, with the sad side effect of infusing a high endocrine disruptor burden into the baby right from the get-go! With this in mid, not only is it pertinent that new moms only use lotions and products on their children that are free of endocrine disruptors, but they may want to pay particular attention to addressing their own personal endocrine exposure as well, since what goes into mom, goes into baby!

As the aforementioned 2017 Current Obesity Research Journal  article notes:"[R]eduction in exposure to obesogenic EDCs, particularly during early life stages, could also contribute to reducing obesity in the population. This will require a political will to limit the use of some of the offending chemicals and an education programme in maternity clinics so that there is a more general understanding of the consequences of exposure to obesogens in early life."

As the final nail in the proverbial coffin, studies also suggest endocrine disruptors may have gender specific influences, with females being more predisposed to accumulating them, and succumbing to their obesogenic effects.

​THE SOLUTION?​​

Until recently, it was pretty hard to consistently reduce exposure to endocrine disruptors in our skincare and makeup. Trust me, I was the girl spending hours in Ulta and Sephora, looking up the individual ingredients products proudly proclaiming "Natural! Paraben free! Gluten free! Vegan!"... then ultimately scratching my head at my disheartening findings. (Extensive research often revealed many ingredients of concern, despite their alluring promises). Furthermore, whenever a product had "fragrance" on the label, I had to automatically toss it, since "fragrance" can contain anything  the company wants, and they don't have to tell you! This is thanks to a legal loophole from the 1960s protecting "trade secrets." {Sigh.} Even more confusing, I learned that many "natural" makeup products are quite high in endocrine-disrupting heavy metals (such as lead, cadmium, and talc), since these are typically high in the mineral powders and other source ingredients. So much for the safety of "natural"!

I found myself yearning for a single, go-to company making all the skincare and makeup products I could want, without me having to double check everything. I wanted verified testing for toxins, endocrine disruptors, and heavy metals in the products. Oh, this pipe dream brand also needed to rival my previously adored skincare and cosmetic lines on the performance side of things. Was that too much to ask?

As it turns out... such a company exists!

I breathe of sigh of gratitude every time I think about Beautycounter - a skincare and makeup company with a mission to make fantastic makeup and skincare products extensively tested to be safe for your skin. Their products are free of over 1,800 questionable or harmful chemicals , including over 1,400 restricted in personal care products in Europe, as well as other chemicals determined by Beautycounter to be of concern. And of course they never test on animals!

So YES! Removing endocrine disruptors from your skincare and makeup to help combat stubborn fat and take charge of your health, is indeed possible! You can slowly transition over (when you run out of a current item, switch over to Beautycounter!), or you can do it all at once, in a go-big-or-go-home type way. Every step is a step in the right direction! Beautycounter also has a Band Of Beauty membership which I love: it's like the Amazon Prime for safe skincare, giving you 10% back in product credit, free shipping on qualifying orders, and a full-sized welcome gift for one of their most popular products! 

So are you ready to clean up your fast inside and out, and free yourself of a potential kryptonite in your fat burning journey?

You can shop with me at melanieavalon.com/beautycounter, and something magical might happen after your first purchase! If you'd like to know what that magical thing is, and also get more science, exclusive discounts, and special skincare related things from me, get on my Clean Beauty Email List, at melanieavalon.com/cleanbeauty!  

REFERENCES


Endocrine Disruptors and Obesity

Prenatal exposure to the environmental obesogen tributyltin predisposes multipotent stem cells to become adipocytes.

Concentrations of urinary phthalate metabolites are associated with increased waist circumference and insulin resistance in adult U.S. males.

Obesogens: an emerging threat to public health. 

Hormones and endocrine-disrupting chemicals: low-dose effects and nonmonotonic dose responses.

Skin safety and health prevention: an overview of chemicals in cosmetic products 

Cumulative effects of antiandrogenic chemical mixtures and their relevance to human health risk assessment

Mixture effects at very low doses with combinations of anti-androgenic pesticides, antioxidants, industrial pollutant and chemicals used in personal care products.

Chemical Exposures: The Ugly Side of Beauty Products ​

Safety assessment of esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens)

Concentrations of Parabens in human breast tumours

An insight into toxicity and human-health-related adverse consequences of cosmeceuticals — A review ​

Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns 

Differential effects on adiposity and serum marker of bone formation by post-weaning exposure to methylparaben and butylparaben

Leave a comment:


Latest posts