Despite the convenience that plastics provide us with in our modern world, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that plastics are leaching a slew of toxic chemicals into our foods, beverages, and many other products.
Since the 1950’s, the use of plastics has risen exponentially. 75-97% of tested urine samples contain measurable amounts of at least two of the most common plasticizers, phthalates and/or bisphenols.
I run this simple, but in depth urine test on almost every patient and see plastics or their metabolites in just about everybody. While plastics can be hard to avoid, it is possible.
Getting testing is the best way to identify which are most abundant and therefore makes it much easier navigating how to avoid them.
Teflon, Cellophane, Polyester, Nylon… the list goes on.
Food and beverage storage, sports and medical equipment, body care, cosmetics, home products and even modern clothing contain various plasticizers.
Plasticizers can be defined as a substance (typically a solvent) added to a synthetic resin to produce or promote plasticity and flexibility and to reduce brittleness.
-Oxford Languages Definition
Side effects of plasticizers include abnormal heart rate and rhythm, decreased heart rate variability and impaired cardiovascular reactivity – even if you’re not a science nerd, you can go right ahead and assume that it’s a bad thing for your CV system to be less reactive.
These plastics, and their metabolites have been found to decrease nitric oxide synthase- making it a major risk factor for high blood pressure.
Don’t ruin a good thing
If you’re spending extra to eat organic foods but then cook in a standard non-stick pan, store in some cheap tupperware or plastic baggies you are likely wasting A LOT of money.
Always use glass food storage, drink from glass or stainless steel bottles and never microwave in plastic. (See preferred alternatives below)
Plastics exposed to heat dramatically increase the amount of chemicals leached into food or beverage. For example, those water bottles left in your car need to be thrown out ASAP!
One of the most commonly used chemicals has become pretty well known. Over the last decade BPA Free labels have been popping up on everything, yet still more than 1 million metric tons of BPA are produced in the US alone each year.
BPA = Bisphenol A – a starter compound manufacturers use to create plastics.
*Hint- There are MANY more bisphenols than BPA. So just because something is BPA free doesn’t mean it is free from other bisphenols which are equally harmful.
Plastic, a numbers game
You will usually be able to find these numbers on the bottom of the item in question and can use them to reduce your risk of negative health effects.
# 1 – PET: Polyethylene Terephthalate
Meant to be recycled, and not reused. This type of plastic is known for bacterial growth and leaching carcinogens. To avoid, look for phthalate free packaging and products.
# 3 – PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride
Contain phthalates and multiple toxic chemicals known to interfere with hormones. Very common in kids toys, garden hoses and plastic wrap. To avoid, shop for reusable beeswax food wrap, drinking water safe garden hoses and shop for trusted kids toys (Eco-kids and Grimm’s specifically avoid PVC)
# 6 – Polystyrene
Disposable cups, utensils, styrofoam containers, and insulation. Known to leach styrene into foods. To avoid, use glass reusable food storage and cutlery. Many restaurants have switched from using styrofoam take out containers, so opt for these whenever possible. Never reheat in styrofoam.
# 7 – Other
Most contain BPA or other bisphenols. These products are not typically made to be reused.
Numbers 2, 4 and 5 are typically safer because they are not found to transmit chemicals into food like the others and come up in the lowest amounts in human samples.
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If you’re interested in learning more about testing or speaking to one of our health coaches or practitioners call (480)535-6844 option 4 to schedule today