Plastics and their chemical compounds are now considered the number one pollutant, not only for our planet, but in the human body too and they are causing havoc with your health!
Plasticisers, the chemicals and toxicants in plastic, may be handy in the kitchen by making products flexible and durable, but they are also in items you would not consider to be plastics, like pesticides, detergents, cosmetics, medications, clothing or your shampoo. The two main culprits under investigation are Bisphenol.A (BPA) and Phthalates (“THAL-ates”), but there are plenty others that are damaging to our health such as polystyrene and DEHA.
According to EPA studies, plasticisers are found in far higher quantities than any other toxins in our bodies. We expose ourselves daily through our personal care products and they enter our food directly through the food chain – yes, plastics are now found in the fish we eat and have even been detected in sea salt. They also affect our food through a process called “leaching”. Higher amounts of leaching occur when plastics are heated or when plastic is in contact with foods that are fatty, acidic or salty. This process is not disputed or denied, in fact it is acknowledged by chemical companies- it’s just how much is released that is not yet known, but when you know just how damaging they can be, even in the smallest amount, why take any chances?
Here are just 6 ways plastics damage the body-
1: Hormone function. BPA is a synthetic oestrogen found in rigid plastic products, food and formula can linings, dental sealants, and on the shiny side of paper cashier receipts (say no to the receipt if you sure you won’t be returning the produce). BPAs oestrogen-like activity makes it a hormone disruptor. Hormone disruptors can affect how oestrogen and other hormones, such as thyroid hormones act in the body, by blocking them, preventing conversion or mimicking them. This throws the body's hormonal balance into chaos. Because oestrogen can make hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer develop and grow, many women, wisely choose to limit their exposure to these chemicals. Phthalates have been found to affect and block testosterone function in both sexes as well as lowering testicular function and sperm production in men.
2: Essential fatty acid (EFA) damage, most importantly, the fatty acid, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Research has shown that exposure to these chemicals may lead to placental EFA deficiency and therefore may affect foetal development. EFAs are fundamental for making every cell lining or membrane. These fatty acids are the foundation for brain health including memory and recall.
3: Accelerated ageing- Due to Phthalates ability to decrease Zinc levels, which in turn can compromise the metabolism of vitamins A and B-6. This could lead to conditions such as indigestion, depression, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and accelerated aging. BPA has also been linked to vit D deficiencies.
4: Obesity – DEHA, a chemical found in PVC cling wrap has been linked to disruption of a gene (aptly named FAT for short) that is related to obesity as it is involved in fat metabolism.
5: Poor detoxification due to lower sulfation. Sulfation is required for the phase 2 detoxification that takes care of xenobiotics (foreign chemical substances that are not naturally produced) .This means that you are no longer able to effectively detoxify like you should and as we know, this in turn can lead to a whole host of separate health challenges.
6: Mood and behaviour- Phthalates have a negative effect on neurotransmitter production and conversion, as well as blocking the “happy hormones” creation, resulting in mood and behavioural disorders. They have been widely studied in relation to childhood developmental disorders.
These are only a few of the devastating effects of plastics in our bodies. Collectively, these harmful chemicals are known to cause severe health problems such as cancer, endometriosis, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, birth defects and child developmental disorders, reproductive damage, immune damage, asthma, and multiple organ damage. The CANSA association of S.A has stated:
“Man-made chemicals are the last big piece in the cancer causing puzzle”
With this knowledge many people are turning to BPA free products, unfortunately this still is not a good option. Instead of BPA, manufacturers are now using bisphenol S (BPS) and other chemicals, yet recent studies are proving that this new approach is just as bad (if not worse) than the original.
It’s true that plastics are found everywhere and it’s impossible to avoid them, but we can and should at least try to reduce our exposure, for ourselves and our environment. For practical ideas on how to do this, head over to plastic free July http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/
For information on cleanse programs that further address plastic chemicals in the body head to http://www.nutri-360.com/nutriclean-program.html
Kerry Fugard is a Functional medicine nutritional therapist. In practice she conducts One-on-one consultations, which can be done in person or virtually, as well as group talks and cooking demos with her chef husband- you can find out more about her practice Nutri 360 here