Are you having trouble losing unwanted extra weight even though you exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet and exercise? Maybe the plastics in your life are adding inches to your waistline. Research reveals that synthetic chemicals found in plastic can interfere with normal cell development in the body. These chemicals have been classified as endocrine disruptors and specific types known as obesogens have been linked to increased body fat and fatty liver, which further causes weight gain.
The body’s endocrine system secretes hormones to cells, organ and glands to regulate everything from mood to sexual function and growth and metabolism. Obesogens mimic certain hormones and these imposters have the ability to create fat cells or add fat to existing fat cells. Considering plastic is not a recognized food group, how are these chemicals getting into our body? They can be found in plastic containers and wrappings in which we store food, tin can linings (think Bisphenol A or its more common acronym, BPA which actually reduces the number of fat cells but makes those that remain much larger), and chemical pesticides found on “fresh” food and in water supplies. Further research has shown that touching non-food products that contain phthalates and plasticizers, including household décor like PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) blinds can introduce obesogens into the body.
Getting as much plastic as possible out of your life is a great start. However, the synthetic chemical-obesity link does not stop there. In Randall Fitzgerald’s book The One-Hundred Year Lie (Plume 2006), he discusses the hidden synthetic chemicals masquerading as food ingredients. These include monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Fitzgerald states that, in animal studies, MSG stimulates the release of hormones throughout the body and continued exposure results in extreme obesity and problems with sexual reproduction. The author also reveals that when scientists studying diabetes need obese laboratory rats, they inject them with MSG shortly after they are born.
The synthetic chemicals used in artificial sweeteners (ironically promoted as the diet version of sugar) can also wreak havoc on hormones and contribute to weight gain. Fitzgerald cites a study by the American Cancer Association that tracked eighty thousand women for six years. Women who used artificial sweeteners gained more weight than women who avoided these products.
These insidious chemicals are also found in non-stick cookware, stain repellents in carpets and fabric, and water-proof materials like Gore-Tex™ in the form of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). They are truly hard, if not impossible to avoid but here are some things you can do to reduce your exposure:
Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Obesogens:
1. Go fresh and organic: skip the package, processed and prepared foods that come in plastic containers, tin cans (unless they say BPA-free) and buy inexpensive, bulk organic fruits and vegetables. While these foods can still be contaminated with pesticides from other non-organic products, you will reduce your exposure and enjoy the great taste of fresh, wholesome food.
2. Skip the fast-food: Once you indulge in the fresh food above, the offerings from the drive-thru won’t be appealing any more. You will also reduce the amount of styrofoam, wax paper and plastic garbage you create and the amount of troublesome chemicals you ingest.
3. Buy natural fabric fashions: They aren’t perfect because they may still be treated and dyed using chemicals, but your exposure to obesogens will be less if you avoid the synthetic materials.
4. Think twice about buying it if it is plastic: Let’s be honest … most plastic products, including toys, are cheap, poorly-made, and break easily. Scale down your purchases and buy quality items made from safer, sturdier materials.
5. Get plastic out of the kitchen: Great non-plastic food preparation and storage tools are readily available. Try to find alternatives or look for BPA-free products if plastic is the only option. Give stainless steel pots and cast iron pans a chance. You’ll love the obesogen-free food you prepare to support your health and well-beings. And, never microwave food in plastic containers.