What’s all the fuss about BPA?

Three Cans of Vegetables

What is it?

Bisphenol-A or BPA is a chemical used to make polycarbonate and epoxy resins. It is found in numerous products including canned food, plastic beverage containers and kids toys.

Why is it so dangerous?

According to the Environmental Working Group, “BPA is a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the endocrine system, even in small amounts. It has been linked to a wide variety of ills, including infertility, breast and reproductive system cancer, obesity, diabetes, early puberty, behavioral changes in children and resistance to chemotherapy treatments.”

BPA mimics estrogen. Can you imagine the impact this has on a young child’s developing body? Researchers have linked BPA and other endocrine disruptors like phthalates to the new puberty age of 10. According to a study in Pediatrics, 15% of American girls experience puberty at age 7. Do any of you remember what you were doing at age 7? I can remember playing outside on the playground and learning simple math in the classroom but I was definitely not worried about puberty.

How much exposure is too much?

This was my personal wake up call. A Harvard study found that when only one serving of canned soup was consumed every day for 5 days the amount of BPA concentration increased by 1,000%, compared to those who consumed fresh soup. Even one serving has a significant impact on our health.

How can I avoid it?

-The biggest offender is canned food. Buy fresh or frozen instead.

-Never microwave your food in plastic. Heating up these chemicals leaches them into your food.

-Avoid plastics marked #7 or PC

-BPA is also found in thermal paper, like store receipts. Avoid handling them if possible and never give them to kids.

-Dental sealants can contain BPA, ask your dentist before you get one.

-Buy wooden toys for kids or look for safer plastics

My final thought:

Canned food has been a major part of our culture for over 60 years and it is very convenient to reach into the pantry and pull out a canned food product when preparing dinner. We are used to this lifestyle of convenience, and that’s ok…it’s the culture we live in. But challenge yourself to look for safer options, read labels, and care about whats in your food, because I guarantee no one else is doing it for you.

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Is organic really necessary?

We have many options when deciding what to buy at the grocery store and many times cost is a major factor in that decision. So is it really worth it to buy organic? Lets take a look at the cold hard facts: research proves that organic diets lower exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides. 

Researchers looked at a group of elementary school children and had them replace their conventional diets with organic foods for 5 days. They concluded that the “organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production.” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 114 (2006)

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This graph shows that when the children switched to an organic diet, their daily concentrations of pesticides were dramatically lowered.

If you are still on the fence about organic just remember that our kids are at the highest risk  because they are still developing and their tiny bodies are exposed the same toxins as a full grown adult.

Tips:

1. Always refer to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” when buying fruits and vegetables. Did you know apples are the dirtiest of all fruits and vegetables?

2. Always wash your fruits and vegetables, even the organic ones to get rid of residue. We use “Veggie Wash” but there are many versions of this at your local stores.

3. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, the food will be fresher and have traveled less to get to you.

4. When buying packaged organic foods, look closely at the label to make sure it is certified organic, not just made with “all natural” or “organic ingredients”…what does that mean anyways?

5. GMO’s are not allowed in organic food! We’ll dive deeper into that one on a different post.

Ditch the non-stick!

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Non-stick cookware makes cooking fast and easy but at a major cost to your health. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is one of the many toxic chemicals found in non-stick cookware.

According to the EPA, the chemical PFOA has been under investigation because:

    • Is very persistent in the environment
    • Is found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population
    • Remains in people for a very long time (The Environmental Working Group estimates it would take 4.4 years for your body to get rid of 1/2 the PFOA in your organs and tissues)
    • Causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.

Additionally, according to the CDC, “In laboratory animals given large amounts, PFOA can affect growth and development, reproduction, and injure the liver.”

The problem with the non-stick pans is that the chemicals that make the surface so user friendly become toxic when they are heated, thus releasing dangerous toxins into the air and your food. If your non-stick cookware has scratches in it, you are at a higher risk of toxic exposure.

But what should I replace it with?

Safer alternatives include stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic.

In my home, we use The GreenPan, which has a ceramic non-stick surface without the risk of PFOA’s, lead or cadmium. I love it because it’s inexpensive, easy to use and available at Target! There are more non-stick ceramic pans popping up everywhere as the safety issues regarding non-stick cookware become more prevalent.

Healthy Cooking Tips:

  • Get rid of your traditional non-stick pan, especially if it has scratches
  • Always cook your food at medium temperatures, burned food becomes carcenogenic
  • Use different oils for different purposes: olive oil for low temp, coconut oil for medium temp and avocado oil for higher temps.
  • I have found that the ceramic non-stick pans perform best when you cook with them at a medium temperature and hand wash after every use. That said, I usually replace mine every six months.