It is a sad reality that we are increasingly exposed to chemical pollution. Pesticides daily sprayed on fruits and vegetables, BPA’s used in packaging and cans, parabens and petrochemicals used in personal care products; artificial food additives; artificial sweeteners; food coloring; MSG in soy sauces & industrial snacks; PBDEs from mattresses; or formaldehyde from fabrics – are all leading causes of hormonal disruption, neurologic disorders, and even cancers. Yes, all this is pretty bad!
But in spite of the growing number of aggressive chemical compounds invading our households and lives, the biggest source of toxicity to our bodies at present may come from the ubiquitous and dangerous PLASTICS, chemically referred to as “phthalates”. Phtalates come in contact with our skin from absorption of cosmetics, creams and lotions, shampoos, hair products, detergents and deodorants. We also ingest them directly from water in plasticized water bottles, or pipes, or foods – all food containers made in plastics leak phthalates into the foods they contain, especially if left in the sun, or microwaved to heat up. We can also inhale phtalates from glues and airborne adhesives, construction materials, office or school supplies, insect repellents, carpet tiles, wallpaper, artificial leather, vinyl floors, dyes, and even toys. Plastic toys that little children put into their mouths, as well as pacifiers, are direct sources of chemical pollution that start disrupting their hormonal balance since infancy. In animal studies, phthalates cause an array of reproductive problems in male offspring, including small or otherwise abnormal testes, hypospadias (abnormal urinary openings), and undescended testes. In studies on people, boys born to mothers with greater exposure had altered genital development and other signs of demasculinization. Phthalates can also cause asthma as well as liver and kidney damage. Research suggests that there is an association between PVC flooring and the development of bronchial obstruction in children. According to a study by Puerto Rican scientists in August 2000, there’s a strong link between exposure to phthalates and premature breast development in little girls, linking phthalates to abnormal premature. Phtalates alter the natural chemical structure of the very important fatty acid DHA – docosahexaenoic acid, an essential fat for health & wellbeing that is required for a healthy preganancy, as it protects both the mother and the baby from preeclampsia and miscarriage. DHA is also an essential nutrient for proper and healthy brain function at all ages, including memory and focus. So, consumption of plastics, via disruption of biochemical structure of DHA, will reflect in poor quality of learning and concentration, two mental activities that we need constantly throughout life. Phtalates can lead to important deficits in Zinc, a mineral of great importance for growth and cell division, fertility, immunity & vision. Without proper levels of Zinc our hair, eyes, nails and digestive power suffer noticeably. It is important to note that these two deficiencies together – DHA and Zinc – lead to inflammation in body. It is well known that chronic inflammation is one of the main underlying causes of severe pathologies, like cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, etc. Leaving the body “in- flames” or “in-flamed” is definitely a bad idea and DHA and Zinc are key nutrients to control “the fire” in any of the bodily tissues in need of repair. Phtalates also damage the pancreas, causing diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome, three disorders also characterized by inflammation. T Researchers at Uppsala University published a study in the journal Diabetes Care, proving a connection between phthalates found in cosmetics and plastics and the risk of developing diabetes. Even at a modest increase in circulating phthalate levels, the risk of diabetes is doubled. Phtalates can damage the peroxisomes, little enzyme-containing organelles involved in a variety of metabolic reactions, needed for guarding the healthy structure of cholesterol. This means that plastics can lead to high cholesterol levels, while simultaneously keeping cholesterol from doing its essential role in the body: like important production of neurotransmitters and hormones, absolutely essential for wellbeing and survival. Phtalates also hamper liver’s detoxification pathway II, more precisely at its sulfation phase, the one effective in rendering manmade (xenobiotic) pharmacological drugs and other toxic substances less active. Exposure to phthalates is constant and there is little that we can do to completely avoid them, although we can take some measures to reduce it.
So… what to do about it?
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It is hard to avoid contact with plastics nowadays where everything is plasticized. However, the very first step to take to diminish exposure is to refrain from buying foods that have been packaged in plastics. Supermarkets are experts at doing this. Try and order your fruits and vegetables from a local farm from now on. Farms are more health conscious and don’t really like to get involved in useless packaging that pollute people and the planet. They deliver their produce in boxes, without the plastic bags. If you buy chicken, meats and fish in plastics, as soon as you get home, transfer them into glass containers to put in the fridge for prompt consumption. Stop buying beverages in plastic bottles and switch for glass bottles. Yes, they are heavier, but here you can also order and have them delivered to your doorstep. If you have children, buy stainless steel lunchbox containers for school – instead of plastic ones, and stainless steel water bottles for their drinks. These aren’t heavy and kids can handle them without risk. In terms of beauty products and toiletries for the entire family, stop buying conventional products from supermarkets or even from fancy brands, and visit this link: phthalates and parabens free products. Amazon and Ebay are good sources of non-toxic products like these. It is very important that you stop microwaving your foods and that of your children. Not only microwaving has been proven to be carcinogenic, but if you’re heating up baby bottles, Tupperware’s, etc., the phthalates will inevitably leak into the foods and drinks. An alternative is to learn to eat your foods at room temperature if you’re away from home (if it’s a soup think of Spanish Gazpacho which is served cold and still tastes amazing!), or to buy a little camping portable stove that you can use and leave at the office. You can find these at Tesco direct, for example, for a price that starts from £12. If you are concerned with high levels of phthalates or toxic burden in your body; would like to detoxify properly as a conscious preparation for pregnancy and lactation; are currently ill and need your liver, pancreas, kidneys, etc. to be functioning optimally for faster and proper healing and recovery; would like to lose weight; or other… the best thing to do is to get in touch with a certified nutritional therapist that can advise for proper functional diagnostic tests that accurately determine your levels of accumulation of toxic chemicals. I personally use Genova Diagnostics or Metamatrix for this. Once I get my client’s results back, I design a comprehensive detoxification plan, according to the client’s individual biochemical imbalances including high amounts of brassica vegetables in the diet (ex: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, radishes, watercress, arugula, turnips, collard greens, kale, and more). These super-vegetables are high in phytochemicals that naturally boosts liver detoxification pathways, helping the body get rid of big pollutants like phthalates via natural routes of excretion like the faeces. There are fantastic supplements to use under the guidance of a professional health provider, like Calcium-D-Glucarte; or the use of far infrared saunas, which have also proven to be a fantastic adjunct in detoxification via the skin. Get in touch for more information regarding this.