If you’re gaining weight and considering doing a detox for your body, you might also want to consider doing one on your house. Hint: for once, it might not (just) be menopause that’s to blame.

Certain chemicals in your home, work, school, and other environments could be contributing to your weight gain. These chemicals, called obesogens, are endocrine disrupters, meaning they can interfere with hormones and may cause a range of health effects, including infertility and obesity.

Unfortunately, obesogens can be found in quite a few common household products, including, says the National Institutes of Health, “plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides.”

How do obesogens lead to obesity?

According to Dr. Patricia Salber, some obesogens can “disrupt the function of our hormones and others alter our gut biome, causing an imbalance of good and bad bacteria,” says Patricia Salber, MD, author of the blog The Doctor Weighs In.

(speaking of hormone disruption, read our piece on estrogen dominance with Integrative Women’s Health consultant Nicole Negron)

The end result? Research is still being done, but evidence points to slowed metabolism, lower available testosterone (which is a key fat-burner), difficulty utilizing stored fat for energy, increased fat deposition, and changing metabolic set points (your body’s ideal weight). Obesogens not only increase stored fat, they may then use that stored fat to attract and retain even more obesogens as well as other pollutant chemicals.

Even worse? You can pass it on to your kids.

How do I prevent contact with obesogens?

This is a tough one: the chemicals that are likely culprits are in a lot of common objects we interact with every day, which could mean the spring cleaning to end all spring cleanings.

Some suggestions for reducing obesogens in your daily life:

  • Replace non-stick cookware with stainless steel or cast iron. (MightyNest is a good place to find safe cookware and bakeware.)
  • Don’t buy objects containing phthalates. This is a biggie because phthalates are everywhere, including toys, soap, shampoo, water bottles, baby bottles, etc. Check the Environmental Working Group’s database to see how your choices rate.
  • Avoid products containing bisphenol A (BPA) – usually in plastics like water bottles and food storage containers. If you have plastic food containers and just can’t give them up, just don’t heat food in them, which can release the problematic chemicals. Reheat your food in glass and invest in stainless steel water bottles.
  • Avoid canned foods if they aren’t marked BPA-free. Yeah, we know. But BPA may promote fat-cell growth, so maybe soaking beans overnight isn’t quite such a terrible chore? To make life a little easier, NiftyHomestead.com has compiled a list of companies and their approach to BPAs in their canned goods.
  • Dust often (obesogens can concentrate in household dust) and use natural cleaning products like vinegar and baking soda when possible.
  • Ventilate well.
  • Eat organic. Many herbicides, pesticides. and other agricultural chemicals contain obesogens.

(one great way to eat better is to shop the bulk aisle at your grocery store)

Protecting yourself and your family from environmental toxins might seem like an overwhelming, impossible task. But this isn’t one of those times when perfection RIGHT NOW is the goal – what’s important is to reduce, replace, improve every day and with every shopping decision. Change one thing at a time: get rid of your old non-stick skillet and buy a satisfyingly solid cast-iron one, for example. Immediately stop heating food in your plastic containers (or putting leftovers in them while the food is still hot), and as they age out, replace them with glass.

If you have information or a story to share on endocrine disruption, obesogens, or doing a detox on your home, we’d love to hear about it. Tell us your experience in the comments below, or on genneve’s Facebook page or Midlife & Menopause Solutions, our closed Facebook group.