A typical day for me goes like this: Wake up in the morning and drink a plastic bottle full of water because water is good for you. Next, I head to the gym, there’s a lovely health food café there so I usually get a smoothie which they whip up very nicely in a blender, and pour it into the Plastic to-go cup. When I get back home, I pack a healthy lunch in my plastic food container so that I can just put it in the microwave when it’s lunch time at work. I also have my plastic water bottle which I carry around with me all day just to make sure I stay hydrated. If I’m craving a heathy snack, I would usually heat up a sachet of microwaveable popcorn or buy a sachet of plantain chips. When I get home, I’ll bring out one of my plastic containers of food from the fridge and warm in the microwave and have that as my dinner.
I’m sure many of you have a similar routine to the one illustrated above. Now, carefully look back at this routine and notice how many plastics we use daily – From the water bottles, to the smoothie cups, to the blenders, to the lunch pack, to the plastic food containers. We must admit, plastics are a necessity and essential in every home, they are light weight, durable, inexpensive. Almost all household utensils are made of plastics: blenders, food processors, cups, containers, baby bottles, cutlery etc. Plastics are basically a life-saver, or could it be in fact life-threatening? Let’s take a look at how plastics are made.
During, the manufacture of plastics, chemicals such as Phthalates are added to add flexibility, soften the material, and other chemicals known as BPA (BisPhenol A) are added to toughen the material depending on the type of plastic being manufactured. Unfortunately, these chemicals used do not have strong molecular bonds. Over time, these chemicals loosen and shed into the surrounding areas; which would be foods and beverages that we consume. These chemicals, mimic estrogen, the female sex hormone in the body and thereby disrupts the normal hormonal processes.
In addition to this, they stress the immune system, interfere with metabolism, increase risk of diabetes and obesity, greatly affect female fertility and reproduction; has been linked to low sperm count and male infertility, and can even increase the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer due to its estrogenic properties. Over-exposure to these chemicals have been proven to pose a great risk to human health, and what’s worse is that most people are unaware of the health risks associated with these plastics, and we use them every single day.
Several studies conducted have shown that over 90% of people had traces of BPA in their bodies. This is not surprising because of the widespread use of plastics in our homes and food packaging. It is almost impossible to totally cut out all plastics from our daily life but being informed about how we can reduce exposure to these chemicals is a great way to start.
There are four things that increase the rate at which these chemicals shed and enter into our foods and beverages: Heat, Oil, Acidity and Abrasion. Every single time we put hot liquids in plastic containers, put hot food into plastic plates, put plastic containers in the microwave, the more chemical molecules are broken down and released. Second, oils in fatty foods will also increase shedding because these chemicals are fat soluble and so they are attracted to fat and would sip out of the plastics and enter into the foods. Acidic foods such as tomatoes and oranges will essentially corrode these plastics over time and allow the chemicals to easily enter our foods and bodies. Lastly, abrasion from wear and tear, and over scrubbing of these plastics would increase shedding.
How to reduce exposure to BPA and Phthalates
*Replace plastic food storage containers and water bottles with glass containers. You can also buy stainless steel water bottles and cutlery rather than plastics.
*Throw out any old and worn out plastics that you have in your kitchen.
*Never heat up your food in plastic containers in the microwave, rather use ceramic plates or even paper plates.
*Instead of using the regular blenders, buy a stainless steel blender.
*Use wooden cutting boards instead of the plastics.
*When it comes to food, opt for whole fresh foods and ditch all the canned foods and foods in plastic packaging.
Now, you are likely thinking about all the plastics in your kitchen right now. This information is not meant to scare you, or throw you into panic mode; rather it should enlighten you on steps you should be taking to minimize exposure to these chemicals, not just for you but for your loved ones as well. Like I said earlier, plastics are everywhere and used in almost every home but these little changes can make a huge difference in keeping our families healthier in the long run.
Disclaimer: The medical information provided on here by Dr. Nini Iyizoba is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
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