This article was written by Nick Garcia, CEO of Fit Women for Life, Certified Nutrition Specialist and Holistic Nutritionist.
Everybody “knows” that fruits and veggies are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. It’s one of the few things nutritionists can agree on: “eat your fruits and veggies!” However, what you probably don’t realize is that some types of conventional (opposite of organic) fruits and vegetables contain enough pesticide residues to negatively affect your delicate hormonal balance.
These pesticides affect your progesterone to estrogen ratios, and cause many hormonal imbalances and metabolic problems, like estrogen dominance, insulin resistance, and cortisol dysregulation.
The Problem with Pesticides
The reason for this is that many pesticides are endocrine disruptors and mimic estrogen. Xenoestrogens are the biggest culprits to altering your hormones. They are chemicals that mimic estrogen in our bodies, causing estrogen dominance in women and Low-T in men.
While some pesticides mimic estrogen and take over your cellular receptor sites, others interfere with metabolic pathways responsible for the formation and/or delivery of insulin, cortisol, adrenaline, and other hormones necessary for a healthy metabolism. Pesticides also overload your liver’s detoxification phases, mainly the ones responsible for de-activating excess estrogen and the part of the liver responsible for converting T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone).
Besides pesticides, other sources of xenoestrogens that can harm your hormone balance are plastics (BPA and phthalates), fluoride, shampoos, sunscreens, and believe it or not, industrial vegetable oils.
If you’re a woman reading this, you should take the topic of estrogenic foods, xenoestrogens, and progesterone blocking substances very seriously, because if you don’t you’ll slowly accumulate more toxins in your body until your levels are high enough that you start to experience some of these problems:
- excess belly fat
- decreased energy
- problems sleeping
- and just an overall feeling that something is “off” and you’re not the same as you used to me
The Need for Balance
Balanced levels of estrogen, cortisol, and insulin are, quite literally, what make you a healthy woman and keep you consistently shedding fat, and maintain high levels of energy throughout your entire life. The loss of youthful levels of progesterone can greatly diminish your energy, lean muscle mass, mental, emotional, sexual, and physiologically function and contribute to fatigue, premature againg, obesity, and disease.
Moreover, these factors below also dramatically affect your metabolism and hormonal health, either in a bad way or a good way.
Your liver and thyroid health
Eating the RIGHT amounts of carbs and fats (and enough saturated fat/cholesterol too since it’s the building blocks for progesterone)
Doing the RIGHT types of exercises that boost HGH, and avoiding the WRONG types of exercises that increase cortisol
Utilizing adaptogenic herbs and metabolism-enhancing spices
Your stress levels and your sleep quality
Chemicals and Toxins That Force Your Body to Hold Onto Belly Fat
Certain toxins in our food supply and our environment, such as pesticides, herbicides, and estrogen-mimicking foods from air, pollution, cleaners, shampoos, foods, water bottles, etc…can disrupt your hormones and make your body store excess abdominal fat.
One specific toxin is called endotoxin and it’s actually intestinal bacteria. Under normal circumstances the liver works to keep endotoxin from entering circulation and estrogen from being retained by the cells. In malnutrition, hypothyroidism, protein deficiency and stress the liver allows estrogen to pass through without being completely inactivated.
Endotoxin excites your cells, causing them to inflame, store estrogen, and slow your thyroid.
Another chemical commonly found in our food supply and environment are xenoestrogens (mentioned above), chemicals that you are exposed to (and are hard to avoid in the modern world) that have an estrogenic effect in your body. Excess exposure to these can cause hormone balance disruptions for both men and women.
These estrogenic chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis can stimulate your body to store belly fat, along with many other problems (including diabetes and metabolic syndrome risks in the long term).
Luckily, your metabolic and hormonal health – and your overall state of wellness – are within your control if you do some of the right things, and one of the first actions you can take is to minimize your exposure to estrogenic foods, pesticides, and thyroid-inhibiting foods. Here’s how:
Getting back to the problem of pesticides in your food, your best bet is buy as much of your food as possible as organic to minimize your exposure to endocrine-disrupting pesticides.
However, if the slightly higher cost of organic fruits and veggies is a concern for you, at the very least, make sure to buy the “dirty dozen” as organic, since those are the fruits and veggies with the highest levels of pesticide residues.
The “dirty dozen” to always buy organic are:
- bell peppers
It’s also a good idea to buy kale, green beans, and pretty much any fruit or vegetable where you don’t remove the skin. Organic fruits and vegetables will be labeled with a sticker beginning with the number nine; conventional foods with the number four; and GMO foods with the number eight.
Foods That Fight Fat
In addition to avoiding the dirty dozen, there is a specific class of vegetables that contain very unique phytonutrients that actually help to fight against stubborn belly fat.
Let me explain what these unique vegetables are and why they help to burn stomach fat.
One of the cool “hacks” that I teach my clients that hire me for nutrition coaching is the use of root vegetables to help fight against stomach fat.
Root vegetables such as carrots, turmeric, beets, bamboo shoots, garlic, and parsnips contain very specific and important microorganisms and phytochemicals to help fight against these endotoxins and other estrogenic compounds.
Roots contain chemicals that inhibit microorganisms provide a high concentration of nutrients along with low concentrations of toxic anti-metabolic substances.
And by fighting against these fat-storing estrogenic chemicals and toxins, this is just one more step in helping you win the war against stubborn belly fat!
So, your mom wasn’t wrong when she advised you to “eat your carrots!”
I’ve really enjoyed adding bamboo shoots to curries, eating carrot salad as a side dish, and adding a couple of cloves of garlic to just about everything!