Beyond Diet and Exercise: How You Can Take Control of Your Health

We all know that eating a balanced diet and exercising frequently are very important components to a healthy life! We can readily make changes to our lives when it comes to our food and movement. However, there are invisible threats that are outside of our control when it comes to the items we use daily and the things we eat! Read on to learn more about where you may be exposed to toxic chemicals and certain items to avoid.

Every day, we make choices for our health.

Eating nutritious food and exercising are things we usually have complete control over.We can decide what food to buy, how to prepare it, what supplements to take, and what kind of exercise we do. We go to the doctor when we get sick. But for the average person, this is where the control of our own health ends. We know very little about the inner workings of our own body. The invisible aspects of our lifestyle. In particular, what toxic chemicals we might be exposed to.

Toxic chemical exposure is an “invisible threat.” You may have heard that plastics contain chemicals such as BPA and phthalates, and that plastic should be avoided. Maybe you’ve also heard to avoid canned foods and drinks, and receipt paper. Perhaps also to avoid certain cosmetics and personal products. But, unfortunately, these chemicals are potentially anywhere and everywhere. The idea of having no control over our exposure to toxic chemicals can be scary. Is there a way to take back control? 

Some answers my lie in new ways of approaching whole-body health, known as Health Optimization and “biohacking.” Health Optimization focuses on prevention rather than cures, using the body to guide treatment. Biohacking is, as quoted by Dave Asprey, “the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so that you have full control over your own biology.”

Over the years, discoveries in science and medicine have brought about new and cheaper testing for health. There have also been new insights into how body imbalances affect health. People can be tested for a wide range of body functions. These include lack of vitamins, changes in blood, food allergies, kidney and liver health, hormone levels, and heart health. The results of these tests can be used to create personalized therapies and life changes for each individual. An important way to  discover potential health threats is to test for toxic chemical exposures, such as BPA and phthalates.

How does learning about exposure optimize health? We know that both BPA and phthalates can  mess with hormones and cause problems with fertility. They also affect other parts of the reproductive system, including contributing to PCOS, endometriosis, low sperm counts, low libido, and can cause genetal birth defects and other problems in babies. But what about everyday health? Let’s look at some of the short and long term effects of BPA and phthalate exposure.

BPA is short for bisphenol A, which is one chemical in a class of chemicals known as bisphenols. BPA is present in some hard plastic (“recycle number” 7), can linings, dental sealants, and on receipt paper (the shiny kind that makes a mark when you scratch it). BPA can cause problems with  all areas of the body, both in humans and animals. In humans, BPA can increase blood glucose levels and risk of diabetes, including in pregnant women. BPA has been linked to obesity and insulin resistance (a sign of diabetes). BPA has been shown to harm the immune system and increase allergies. BPA has also been associated with high blood pressure and heart diseases. BPA has been linked to mammary cancer.

There are other bisphenols as well, including  BPS and BPF. Some of these are becoming widespread in the environment because they are being used to replace BPA. Unfortunately, they seem to have the same harmful effects as BPA.

Phthalates (pronounced “thalates”) are used in plastic as well.. They make plastic soft and pliable--think shower curtains and soft plastic toys like rubber ducks. Phthalates are also present in cosmetics. They are also in fragrances/perfumes and air fresheners to help disperse odor. Phthalates also can cause many health effects. They have been linked to allergies and asthma, obesity, heart diseases, and poor sperm quality.

The idea that there is an invisible threat to our health can be overwhelming. But by testing for personal exposures to these chemicals, you can take a step in taking back control of your health and environment. You can start making the choices that will promote a long and healthy life for you and your family.