kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

The endocrine system is one of the body’s main communication networks. It is responsible for controlling and coordinating numerous body functions. Hormones are first produced by the endocrine tissues, such as the ovaries, testes, adrenal, pituitary, thyroid, and pancreas, and then secreted into the blood to act as the body’s chemical messengers where they direct communication and coordination among other tissues throughout the body.

For example, hormones work with the nervous system, reproductive system, kidneys, gut, liver, and fat to help maintain and control of:           • Body energy levels • Reproduction • Growth and development • Internal balance of body systems, or homeostasis • Response to surroundings, stress, and injury

Endocrine disrupting chemicals may interfere with the body’s own hormone signals by mimicking their structure and activity. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors.

Endocrine disruptors get in the way of normal body functions by decreasing or increasing hormone levels. Frighteningly, endocrine disruptors alter the natural production of hormones.

Endocrine disruptors may be associated with the development of learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems; deformations of the body; breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid and other cancers; sexual development problems such as feminizing of males or masculinizing effects on females, etc.

Recently the Endocrine Society released a statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals specifically listing obesity, diabetes, female reproduction, male reproduction, hormone-sensitive cancers in females, prostate cancer in males, thyroid, and neurodevelopment and neuroendocrine systems as being affected biological aspects of being exposed to endocrine disruptors.  

Some of the most dangerous compounds ever produced by man are chemicals — including nine organochlorine pesticides — known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). As the name implies, they persist for decades in the soil, air, and global water currents. Even those that were banned decades ago continue to affect human health via these conduits because they concentrate in body fat. They are found in store-bought food items, but they are also found in wild fish and meat because of their persistence in the environment. Even very low levels of POPs are linked to serious health effects. 

The food supply of the United States is loaded with dangerous chemicals in the form of pesticide residues, and the majority of us have detectable concentrations of multiple pesticides stored in our bodies, along with residues of other toxic industrial chemicals.

We cannot completely control our exposure but we can control the water we drink, the food we eat, and the chemicals we use around the house. A good quality water filter is a first line of defense against pesticides in the water supply. Using no household pesticides, or those with lower toxicity, is also important. The wisest choice we can make to ensure lower exposures and better health is to purchase organically produced fruits, vegetables, and animal products — meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk products. 

Plastic is everywhere. You cannot live one day without it. Your car, your toothbrush (try bamboo!), your computer are all manufactured with plastic. Two synthetic chemicals have been identified as particularly disruptive. They are phthalate and bisphenol-A. Phthalates (pronounced thalates) are chemicals commonly added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to make it pliable. Unfortunately, since its molecules are loosely bound, it can easily leach out of the plastic. Think about the pipes in your house or plastic bottles of water. When the car or a bootle of water gets warm, the plastic leaches phthalates more effectively.

Many plastic medical products contain phthalates, including IV and blood bags and the tubing that goes with them, catheters, syringes, gloves, feeding bags, and tubes. In the case of IV bags, the kind of phthalate most commonly used is DEHP, which has been known since 1986 to be carcinogenic.

Bisphenol-A is a synthetic estrogen-like chemical that leaches out of plastic. Until fairly recently, it has been a key ingredient in the polycarbonate plastics used in infant bottles and sippy cups, water bottles and jugs, and in the thin plastic inner coating of metal food and drink cans (including organic foods). It is also contained in the dental sealants that are increasingly used by dentists to coat children’s teeth. This practice is defended by the American Dental Association (ADA), which insists it prevents cavities.

Thankfully, the use of BPA in infant bottles and in sippy cups was finally banned by the FDA on July 15, 2012. And BPA, in general, is being phased out, as companies respond to public outcry against toxins. Now many bottle and can labels proudly pronounce themselves as BPA-free.

Bisphenol-S (BPS) has moved in to replace BPA. BPS is a related compound, and it too has been shown to be a potent estrogen-mimicking chemical, and at very low doses. BPS is currently most abundant in thermal paper receipts and in our currency, but it’s also likely to be hiding in many other plastic products, including baby bottles and cups, and in children’s toys. BPA-free, therefore, doesn’t necessarily mean non-toxic. 

Other highly suspect and still controversial plastic products include plastic food wrap (i.e., cling wrap), so-called “microwave safe” plastic containers, and styrofoam cups and meat trays. Styrene, a known carcinogen and a suspected hormone disrupter, is more likely than other plastics to leach into oily foods and alcohol.

Here are some additional precautions to further reduce your exposure to harmful plastics:
• Carry your drinking water in a glass container or a glass-lined or stainless steel thermos or bottle
• Dispose of your plastic cutting board and go back to using a wooden one
• Do not microwave food in plastic containers or allow plastic wrap to touch food when heating; ceramic or ovenproof glass dishes provide safe and effective substitutes
• Store foods, especially those with high fat content, in glass
• Don’t store oils, vinegar, or wine in flexible plastic containers because these foods more quickly draw chemicals from plastic.  When purchasing foods that are wrapped in plastic or heat-sealed containers from the supermarket or deli, slice off a thin outer layer where the food comes into contact with the plastic.
• Discourage children from chewing on plastic. Offer wood or natural fiber toys. Select PVC-free toys whenever possible.
• Before accepting the new plastic coating treatment for your children’s teeth, ask your dentist whether it contains bisphenol-A.

Walnuts

Daily consumption of 25 grams of walnuts provides 90% of the recommended daily intake of EFAs (essential fatty acids), which in turn lowers the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. They are also great for bone health by increasing calcium absorption and deposition, while reducing urinary calcium excretion.

The most common variety of walnut is the English walnut, which is also the most studied type.

Walnuts are an excellent source of antioxidants that can help fight oxidative damage in your body, including damage due to “bad” LDL cholesterol, which promotes atherosclerosis, plaque build up in arteries.

Several plant compounds and nutrients in walnuts may help decrease inflammation, which is a key culprit in many chronic diseases.

Walnuts are a good source of the plant form of omega-3 fat, which may help reduce heart disease risk.

Walnuts are calorie-dense, but studies suggest that you might not absorb all the calories in walnuts. In addition, walnuts might control your appetite.

Studies show that eating one ounce (28 grams) of nuts, including walnuts, daily might help improve blood pressure.

Walnuts contain nutrients that may help protect your brain from damaging inflammation and support good brain function as you age.

1 ounce shelled walnuts = 28 grams = 1/4 cup = 12–14 halves = 1 small handful

How to Buy

California walnuts are harvested late August through November and then stored in cold storage to maintain freshness. Walnut handlers shell walnuts as needed throughout the year to fill orders from retailers globally.

Because of the omega 3 and 6 content of walnuts, they go rancid easily. Buy walnuts from bulk bins where the turnover is quick or in a sealed package.

Some Whole Foods stores are offering walnuts in bulk that have been sprouted. Sprouting makes the nutrients more available and takes away the bitterness.

Heat causes the fat in walnuts to change structure, which creates off odors and flavors. Fresh walnuts smell mildly nutty and taste sweet. If you are buying walnuts and they smell like paint thinner, you know they’re rancid.

How to Store

Store walnuts in an airtight container and away from sunlight to maintain freshness. Keep them in the refrigerator or freeze them away from foods with strong odors.

How to Cook

  • Sprinkled on leafy green or fruit salads.
  • Finely ground in dips and sauces.
  • Chopped and used in whole-grain breads.
  • Crushed to use as a coating on fish or chicken.
  • Served on oatmeal or yogurt.
  • Chopped and added to wraps or pita sandwiches.
  • Roasted and added to a homemade trail mix.
  • Lightly browned in your favorite stir-fry recipe.
  • Roasted, chopped and used on pasta or vegetables.
  • As an oil in a vinaigrette dressing.

Lentil Walnut Loaf

The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

Yields 8 slices

Ingredients

For the Lentil-Walnut Loaf:
2 (14 ounce) cans of lentils, drained and rinsed*
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely chopped sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup peeled and grated sweet apple
1/3 cup dried cranberries (chopped) or raisins
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Fine sea salt, to tase (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons ground flax
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup spelt bread crumbs, or gluten-free bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
*To make lentils from scratch, swap the two can of lentils for 1 cup of uncooked lentils.
Put lentils in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over low heat, reduce the heat to medium-high, and the simmer the lentils uncovered for 20-30 minutes until tender. Drain well.

For the Balsamic-Apple Glaze:
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce or apple butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, and then line it with a piece of parchment paper cup to fir the length of the pan.
2. If using canned lentils, rinse and drain them in a colander. If using lentils cooked from scratch, follow the instructions. After draining, add them into a large bowl and mash the lentils with a potato masher. The goal is to create a paste while still leaving about 1/3 of the lentils intact.
3. Spread the chopped walnuts on a baking sheet. Toast the nuts for 8-12 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
4. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.
5. Add the oil to a large skillet, and increase the heat to medium. Stir the onions and garlic and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onion softens.
6. Stir in the celery and carrots, and continue cooking for another few minutes.
7. Finally, stir in the grated apple, dried cranberries (or raisins), thyme, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes longer.
8. Into the bowl with the mashed lentils, stir in the walnuts and ground flax, oat flour, and bread crumbs until combined.
9. Stir in the veggie mixture until combined. Add the red pepper flakes, if using. Taste and add more salt. If the mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water and mix again.
10. Press all of the lentil loaf mixture into the prepared loaf pan. *Pack it down firmly as you can as this will help it hold together after cooling.
11. In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, applesauce (or apple butter), vinegar, and maple syrup until combined. Using a spoon, spread all of the glaze over the top of the lentil loaf.
12. Bake the lentil loaf, uncovered, at 350°F for 50-60 minutes. For lentil muffins, bake 30-35 minutes. Bake until the edges start to darken and the loaf is semi-firm to the touch. Place the loaf pan directly onto a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then, slide a knife around the ends to loosen, and carefully lift it out of the loaf using the parchment paper as handles. Set the loaf on the cooling rack for another 30 minutes.
13. After cooling, carefully slice the loaf into slabs. Serve immediately. The loaf will continue to firm up as it cools. Some crumbling is normal if sliced when it is warm. *Use muffin tin (without paper) for mini-loafs. One loaf equals about 12 “muffins”.

Resources

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/endocrine_disruptors_508.pdf
Environmental Working Group (EWG). (2009). How to reduce pesticide exposure. Environmental Working Group Food News.
Retrieved from http://www.foodnews.org/reduce. php
https://environmentalhealth.ucdavis.edu/endocrine-disruptors

Kittredge, J. (2003). Pesticides in food. Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. Retrieved from http//www.nofany.org/hottopics/pesticidesinfood.html 

Schafer, K., Kegley, S., & Patton, S. (2001). Nowhere to hide: Persistent toxic chemicals in the U.S. food supply. Pesticide Action Network of North America. Retrieved from http://www.panna.org/files/nowhereToHide.pdf U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2011, Feb).
Pesticides industry sales and usage: 2006 and 2007 market estimates [PDF]
Retrieved from http://www. epa.gov/opp00001/pestsales/07pestsales/market_ estimates2007.pdf
_______ (2009).
About pesticides. Retrieved from http:// www.epa.gov/pesticides/about

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2001). National report on human exposure to environmental chemicals. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ exposurereport/
Consumer Reports. (1999, May).
Baby alert: New findings about plastics. Available at http://www.greenerchoices. org/pdf/Baby%20alert%20-%20New%20findings%20 about%20plastics%20May%2099.pdf

Liao, C., Liu, F., & Kannan, K. (2012). Bisphenol S, a new bisphenol analogue, in paper products and currency bills and its association with bisphenol A residues [Abstract]. Environ Sci Technol, 46(12):6515–6522. doi:10.1021/ es300876n

National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). (2001). Endocrine disruptors FAQ. Retrieved from http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/qendoc.asp

Stover, R.L., Evans, K., & Pickett, K. (1996, Apr 8). Report of the Berkeley Plastics Task Force. Retrieved from http://www.ecologycenter.org/ptf/report1996/ report1996_toc.html

Tavernise, S. (2012, Jul 17). F.D.A. makes it official:BPA can’t be used in baby bottles and cups. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/ science/fda-bans-bpa-from-baby-bottles-and-sippy- cups.html

Viñas, R. & Watson, C.S. (2013, Mar). Bisphenol S disrupts estradiol-induced nongenomic signaling in a rat pituitary cell line: Effects on cell functions [PDF]. Envir Hlth Pers, 121(3):352–8. Retrieved from http://bmb.utmb.edu/ graduate_program/BCSO/JournalClubPapers/Spring2013/ Barb_Spring2013.pdf
https://walnuts.org/how-to/how-to-buy-care/
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-walnuts#section3
https://walnuts.org/how-to/how-to-buy-care/

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