We use plastic storage containers, plastic baggies, plastic water bottles, plastic wrap,
etc. But studies are continuing to reveal that all of this plastic contains harmful chemicals
that leach into our food and liquids.These chemicals can mimic estrogen. Plastic exposes
us to some potential risks, especially when we use plastics to store food and beverages.
What's the concern and potential about plastics?
Plastic containers contain chemicals that break down in response to temperature, causing harmful chemicals to leak into the very food or beverage the container is holding. These chemicals
are not intended to be ingested and are not safe for anyone, but especially not safe
for infants and children.
Two of the chemicals, bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates can cause disturbances in
the body chemistry because they mimic the hormone estrogen and trigger hormonal
imbalances. They may also interfere with the endocrine system which can lead to
insulin resistance, lower sperm count, and belly fat. These chemicals that may cause
hormone and endocrine imbalances are becoming increasingly concerning since the
use of plastic is so commonplace and Americans store food in plastic containers, cover
food with plastic wrap, drink water from plastic containers, use juice and soft drinks that
have been stored in plastic bottles, freeze food in plastic and microwave in plastic containers.
In the last few years, when the research indicated that BPA ( bisphenol A) was turning out in
breast milk, in urine samples, and other tests, manufacturers were pressured to try to stop
using BPA and we began to see plastic containers that said , BPA-free. We all thought that
this made our plastic containers safe. Not so. Although the BPA was indicated as removed
from some specially marked plastics like plastic baby bottle nipples, pacifiers, and
specific plastic containers, there are many other chemicals still in the plastic which
are still potentially harmful.
What can you do?
Here are some simple changes you can make to reduce the amount of chemicals
you are exposed to.
- Use glass containers to store, freeze, and heat food ; avoid plastic at all costs. Temperature changes, both hot and cold, can break down the fibers in plastic and make the plastic chemicals more likely to continue to leak into your food. Purchase glass containers that are made to store, freeze, and microwave food. ( mason jars are great for storage too)
- Take Out- When you order take out food from a restaurant, do not accept hot food or soup in plastic containers ( styrofoam might be better and remove it asap) The plastic will melt right into your food or soup and expose you to high levels of estrogen-like chemicals that play havoc with your hormone balance and insulin. If you like to take out dinner from restaurants, why not bring your own containers and ask them to put your take-out into your glass or metal container. I've brought a covered pot for soup when we've ordered enough for four in a neighborhood Chinese restaurant that we frequent. I know it's awkward, but it better for your health.
- Do not put plastic in the dishwwasher- The heat of the dishwasher and the detergents may cause plastics to break down faster ,which may cause these harmful chemicals to leak into your food more easily next time you use it.
- Learn the Plastic Codes- Plastic containers are coded with a number on the bottom of the container - According to the Environmental Working Group, which is a non profit organization that does independent reseach for environmental safety, plastics with a number of 1, 2, 4 and 5 are considered a little safer than plastic with a number of 3, 6, 7 which contain the most harmful chemicals. ( you will see the number on the bottom of a water bottle for instance) Also, any containers maked with the letters "PC" means that it contains even additional harmful chemicals.
- Don't Drink Bottled Water that comes in plastic containers- This daily exposure really adds up and the estrogen like effects can become cumulative in your body. I
- If you must microwave-Use paper towel or glass plates to cover food in the microwave, never never use plastic
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