Are you exercising more and eating less but still battling that bulge around your gut? You are not alone. New research suggests that maintaining the same weight as in the 1980’s, today requires more intense workouts and consuming less calories.

Why? Pollutants. Endocrine disrupting pollutants. They are adding to obesity, type 2 diabetes and brain issues with our kids. And now, our guts inside and out. Fat on the outside and damaged gut bacteria on the inside!

What are endocrine disrupting pollutants? Pollutants that lurk in the environment (in air, food and water) but can mimic and deceive our hormone signaling systems, are called endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs). I wrote one of the breakthrough books on this subject, Hormone Deception 20 years ago. But only now are EDCs picking up steam in public awareness and in legal systems. And only recently have EDCs been linked to gut bacterial issues as well as belly fat.

In December 2015, the European Court of Justice said that EDCs play a large role in promoting type 2 diabetes, but also with obesity by damaging gut microbiome. They ruled that the European Commission has not been quick enough in identifying and banning potentially harmful endocrine-disrupting chemicals to help reduce these diseases.

Over the last two decades the dangerous potential damaging effects of EDCs on both genders reproductive systems has been appreciated, linking them to prostate, breast and thyroid cancer. They have also been linked to cognitive and behavioral problems—like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism—in kids and dementia in seniors.

But the role of EDCs and the gut is brand new.

And the biggest damage of all, occurs prenatally. In the womb.

The mom and dad are exposed throughout their live times. Their sperm and egg thus get contaminated with EDCs. They pass them on to the fetus. High levels are documented in umbilical cords. Even if not found in the blood stream of infants, the most damaging exposure is in the womb. This is the time organs are developing. The fetal phase of life is the most vulnerable time of damage from these compounds. The exposure takes place here, but the potential negative effects can then occur throughout the lifetime of the child. This is called the fetal origin of adult disease.

Of course reducing exposure to infants and all of us is important, but the womb is the first critical environment.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (like bisphenol A and some plastics and pesticides) have similar molecular structures to our own (endogenous) human hormones. They deceive our bodies into thinking they are natural hormones. Since they are fatty molecules, they easily cross membranes like the placenta, where they can potentially act on fetal hormone receptors.

Thus, I have been calling for ‘green pregnancies’. I believe that insurance-based, science-based detoxification preconception centers will be the way to protect our health as a human community.

Companies have been trying to find safer alternatives, like BPA-free plastics. But, so far have all have had the same issues, if not worse.

7 Protective Steps

1. Avoid plastics as much as possible

2. Do not microwave any foods in any kind of plastic containers

3. Do not regularly wash plastic containers, bottles, etc., in the dishwasher

4. Do detoxes regularly with an informed professional and ideally before conception or even gentle ones in early pregnancy

5. Care take your gut microbiome with a plant based health diet and less junk food and sugar.

6. Take probiotics.

7. Take fiber, veggies don’t have enough so you can’t lean on just them.

• Obes Res Clin Pract. Sept 14 2015; DOI:10.1016/j.orcp.2015.08.007).

• Emerging Picture on Role of EDCs, Microbiome in Obesity, Diabetes. Medscape. Dec 18, 2015