Photo Marina Lohrbach

Studies show that antibacterial soap and plastic containers could be some of the reasons why you’re gaining weight. How? Use of these common household items could trigger off hormonal problems, specifically, your thyroid hormones. 

What you need to know about thyroid hormones

Produced by the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland in the neck, the hormones triidothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) are major players in regulating the body’s metabolism.Low levels of T3 and T4 lead to hypothyroidism, a condition associated with a sluggish metabolism and weight gain. Those diagnosed with hypothyroidism might need medication.Besides genetic causes, hormonal problems can also be triggered by the use of common household items, like antibacterial soap and plastic containers.

How antibacterial soap could make you fat

This is how antibacterial soap triggers off hormonal problems – its main active ingredient, triclosan, acts as an endocrine disruptor by decreasing production of thyroid hormones, says Dr Scott Issacs, author of Hormonal Balance: How to Lose Weight by Understanding Your Hormones and Metabolism.

What’s more, contrary to popular belief, antibacterial soap doesn’t protect you against the flu. That’s because the flu is caused by viruses, and not bacteria. 

Dr Isaacs recommends skipping antibacterial soap and using regular ones.

How plastic containers could make you fat

Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates are other hormone-disrupting chemicals. When BPA-containing plastics are heated, the chemicals can leach into your food and drinks, wreak havoc on your thyroid and cause weight gain, according to a University of Michigan study. These toxins have also been linked to cancer and genetic damage, warns Dr Alex Ching, a radiologist at Matilda International Hospital in Hong Kong.

Instead of storing food in plastic containers, use glass ones. If you must reheat food, make sure you use “microwave-friendly” or “microwaveable” labelled containers.

This story was first published on on February 14, 2016.