Floating Around In a Sea of Chemicals
In the first part of my post-cleansing blog, I reviewed some motivating factors in regards to avoiding toxins in our world. Specifically, I discussed how, by changing what’s at the end of our fork, we can greatly reduce exposure from foods. Now, I want to empower you with some quick tips on reducing everyday environmental exposures. In doing these simple steps, you can continue to make progress in decreasing your toxic load. After all the hard work of a supervised and supportive cleanse, you don’t want to trump re-igniting your body’s metabolic and wellness power!
1. Go for glass, pass on plastics
BPA (bisphenol A) #7, and other substitutes such as bisphenol S (BPS) and phthalates #3 are found in plastics. These have been linked to hormonal disruption and many diseases. According to a 2008 article in JAMA, data from the NHANES suggests a strong relationship between urine concentrations of bisphenol A and the incidence of CVD, type 2 diabetes, and liver-enzyme abnormalities.1
Furthermore, radiating plastics can be even scarier, increasing leaching of phthalates into your boodstream!
An interesting article on heating food in plastics appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 2013, where Dr. Rolf Halden, director for the Center for Environmental Security at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, was interviewed. The article states:
Phthalates, the chemicals that make a PVC container flexible, “can migrate out of the plastic when it’s heated,” says Dr. Halden, who has done comprehensive studies on emerging contaminants and plastics for more than a decade. Phthalates can leach into food, resulting in hormone imbalances and birth defects—although no one knows at what level those effects are triggered, he says. Phthalates are present in measurable levels in the blood of nearly every person in the developed world, he adds.2
2. Use safe and organic personal care products and household items.
3. Avoid the ‘Dirty Dozen’ endocrine disruptors and find proper replacements.3
An endocrine-disrupting chemical is an “exogenous substance that causes adverse health effects in an intact organism or its progeny, secondary to changes in endocrine function,” according to the European Union.
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- Perfluoroalkyl compounds
- Bisphenol A (BPA)
- Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene organophosphate/organochlorine pesticides
- Polybrominated diphenyl
A Steering Committee of scientists recently utilized evidence characterization in order to determine the contributing disease burden on the health and economic cost of endocrine disruptors. In their introduction, the committee summarized the problem as follows:
These chemicals have been shown to interfere with a variety of endocrine pathways, including estrogen (14), androgen (14), thyroid (15, 16), retinol (17), aryl hydrocarbon, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor pathways (18). The chemicals are widely used in consumer products, electronics, and agriculture, and widespread human exposures occur. Many EDCs are food contaminants (eg, pesticides, BPA, and phthalates), although inhalation and dermal absorption are known pathways for human exposure. Potential consequences of exposure to EDCs include infertility and male and female reproductive dysfunctions (19), prostate and breast cancer (20), birth defects (21), obesity (22, 23), diabetes, cardiopulmonary disease, neurobehavioral and learning dysfunctions, and immune dysregulation (24). 4
4. Filter Your Water
The Environmental Working Group assessed 48,000 communities in 45 states with 256 Americans. They found over 300 contaminants in tap water.5 Furthermore, bottled water runs the risk of exposure to phthalates and other nasty toxicants, according to the National Resource Defense Council.
The following list of various filter types (with a summary of what they remove) was presented to me by one of my environmental medicine instructors in naturopathic school along with a few of my own findings:
- Reverse Osmosis – particles, pollens, human hairs, yeast, bacteria, solvents; similar to distilled water which removes everything
- Carbon – odors, colors, solvents, chlorine and fluorine, pesticides, volatile solvents, cyanotoxins
- Ion Exchange – heavy metals, salts, minerals, just about everything
- Steam Distillation – can remove heavy metals, micro-organisms, bacteria, sediment, minerals and contaminants, but still can contain volatile organics (gasoline) if not used with carbon filter and it cannot remove substances with lower boiling points than water.
- Ceramic Filters – takes out algae, protozoa, fragile
- UV Light – Class A system. This needs to be a slow passage of water so that light particles can contact that which is to be killed. This method is often used with hot tubes. It won’t remove metals or solvents; casts shadows.
- Berkey – Consists of six media types for matrix of microscopic pores (pathogenic bacteria, cysts, parasites, sediment and materials), adsorption and absorption (ionic barrier for viruses), ion exchange (heavy metals), and gravity flow for optimizing removal rate.
Now that we have reviewed the important baseline factors to continue post-cleanse, we will next look at how to transition to ensure staying lean and clean continues. Keep watching for Part 3.
1. JAMA. 2008; 300: 1353-54.
2. Heidi Mitchell. Burning Question: Is it OK to Heat Food in Plastic? Wall Street Journal. April 22, 2013. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324493704578433290465517564
3. Environmental Working Group. Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors. October 28, 2013. http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors
4. Trasande L, Zoeller RT, Hass U, et al. Estimating Burden and Disease Costs of Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in the European Union. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2015;100(4):1245-1255. doi:10.1210/jc.2014-4324.4. Use Filtered Water
5. Environmental Working Group. National Drinking Water Database. December 2009. http://www.ewg.org/tap-water/executive-summary.php