When you try to lose weight and stay healthy, you make the choice to eat fresh fruits and veggies, eat healthy meat, and avoid unhealthy sugar and fat. But if you are still eating out of plastic containers, you may be making your efforts much less effective.
Studies have indicated that chemicals in common plastic containers are more likely to increase your chances of being overweight and getting weight-related diseases, such as diabetes.
In September 2015, a group of researchers from the University of Texas, Austin released data indicating that chemicals and plastics can contribute to weight gain and other health dangers. Researchers at the university reviewed over 1,300 studies on the effects of chemicals used in packaging. They concluded that chemicals and plastics cause hormone disruption that can increase the risk for several health problems:
- Heart disease
- Sluggish thyroid
- Brain development delays
- Hormone-related cancers (breast cancer, prostate cancer or ovarian cancer)
According to this new review, the best way to protect your health — aside from eating a healthy diet and exercising — is to avoid these endocrine-disrupting chemicals. However, this can be a challenge because the chemicals are used in many common foods and household products. According to the researchers, many of these products are not even tested for safety before they are used for packaging the foods we consume every day.
The study authors estimate that we’re exposed to over 85,000 chemicals in our daily lives. However, it is difficult to identify which chemicals cause hormone problems since few chemicals undergo safety testing.
Past research has revealed that the following chemicals appear to be some of the biggest hormone disruptors:
- Bisphenol A (BPA) and other plastics
- Phthalates (used in perfumes, soaps, shampoos and plastics)
- Triclosan (an antibacterial product)
- Pesticides (such as DDT)
Some manufacturers and retailers have already taken action to reduce chemicals used in their products. Retail giants Walmart and Target have both created a list of chemicals they will no longer allow in company-manufactured products. Walmart and Target also request that other manufacturers of products sold in their stores no longer use these chemicals. The full list of chemicals is based on Health Canada’s prohibited substances list, which includes almost 600 chemicals.
Easy ways to reduce your chemical exposure
Chemicals are difficult to avoid in today’s society, but there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of exposure.
Avoid the main offenders listed in this article, such as BPA and other plastics. When possible, avoid the use of any type of plastic in products that come in contact with your skin or food. Plastic used in household products is almost unavoidable, but you can reduce your risk by avoiding plastic in the kitchen and bathroom.
When shopping, look for chemical-free versions of foods and products. Organic foods typically contain fewer chemicals than non-organic varieties. Purchase fresh ingredients to cook from scratch as they will contain fewer chemicals and preservatives. Never heat food in Styrofoam or plastic containers and avoid nonstick cooking pans.
In the bathroom, avoid cosmetics and soap containing phthalates, triclosan and other chemicals. Pay careful attention to your toothpaste, as many common toothpastes contain suspect chemicals too. Most products can be made at home using simple, safe ingredients.
By making these simple changes, you can strive to reset the balance of hormones in your body and avoid weight gain caused by hormone disruptors. How far have you gone in removing plastic from your life?
—The Alternative Daily