A University of Washington study involving cheese products found endocrine-disrupting phthalates present in 29 of 30 samples tested.
A University of Washington study involving cheese products found endocrine-disrupting phthalates present in 29 of 30 samples tested. Boxed mac-and-cheese mixes scored the worst.[i] [ii] Phthalates are added to plastics to increase their flexibility and durability, and sadly they are making their way into our food supply.
Phthalates accumulate in fatty foods such as meat and dairy due to their fat-binding properties.
Phthalates migrate into food from packaging and equipment used in the food manufacturing process. Cheese products become contaminated from contact with plastic tubing, conveyor belts, gaskets, plastic packaging, and even the printing ink and adhesive on labels.[iii]
The results of this study are very troubling because these chemicals have been linked to genital birth defects in infant boys, as well as learning disabilities, aggression, hyperactivity, increased blood pressure, insulin resistance in older males, endometriosis in women, and a variety of other adverse effects. There is strong evidence that phthalates interfere with testosterone production, a hormone vital to normal reproductive development. Deficiency results in several reproductive abnormalities including genital malformation, low sperm count, and even increased risk for testicular cancer later in life.
Phthalates are health risk, even at low levels
Phthalates are clearly a health risk even at very low levels of exposure, especially for pregnant women, infants and children.
In the cheese study, researchers tested for 10 different phthalates in a variety of products, including 10 varieties of mac-and-cheese with some labeled as “organic.” High phthalate levels were found in every single mac-and-cheese product, and as many as six different phthalates were found in a single product. DEHP is the most widely restricted phthalate yet it was the most frequently detected.
Not only were these hormone-disrupting chemicals found in ever-popular boxed mac-and-cheese, but they were also detected in the other cheese products ranging from highly processed to more “natural” cheeses such as shredded cheese, string cheese and cottage cheese. Processed cheese slices contained almost triple the phthalates of natural cheese, and boxed mac-and-cheese was four times as high as hard cheese.
In 2008, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) restricted six phthalates from use in children’s toys and childcare products. Children’s toys were previously thought to be the most significant purveyor of phthalates, but recent science has redirected the spotlight toward foods.
Europe has banned phthalates
Europe has banned many phthalates from use in all plastics involved with food production, but the US FDA continues to permit the use of 28 different phthalates—including DEHP—in food equipment and packaging, based on extremely outdated safety guidelines. Although FDA has fallen short of imposing a ban, they did go as far as issuing a report to the CPSC urging federal agencies to re-evaluate phthalate risks, highlighting the shift in focus from toys to foods:[iv]
“Overall, food, beverages, and drugs via direct ingestion, and not children’s toys and their personal care products, constituted the highest phthalate exposures to all subpopulations, with the highest exposure being dependent upon the phthalate and the products that contain it.”
What to Do
Unless and until regulators actually take action to clean up our food industry, you must take matters into your own hands. Below are 10 tips for reducing your phthalate exposure.
1. Processed food: Eat less processed food as it undergoes many opportunities for phthalate exposure. Fast food is also a significant source of phthalates, especially DEHP and DiNP.[v]Minimize restaurant food unless it specializes in serving fresh, organic whole foods.
2. Fresh whole foods: Eat more whole, fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
3. Cruciferous vegetables: Brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, watercress, kale, Brussels sprouts, and the like) boost your body’s detoxification from plastics.
4. Water: Drink plenty of pure water every day. Consider purchasing a whole-house filtration system designed to remove phthalates and other contaminants.
5. Dairy: If you consume milk, choose milk in glass bottles. Choose cheese that’s as unprocessed as possible and store it wrapped in parchment, inside a glass container.
6. Meat products. If you consume meat, choose meats that are as unprocessed as possible, staying away from “deli meats” and pre-packaged varieties.
7. Plastics: Plastics with codes 3 and 7 may contain phthalates, although there are other chemicals that may leach, therefore avoiding all plastics is optimal. Putting hot food or liquid in a plastic container increases chemical leaching. Replace plastic bags and wrap with glass containers and water bottles, parchment and wax paper bags.
8. Toys and baby products: Throw out old baby toys, baby bottles and sippy cups.
9. Fragrances: Avoid any product listing “fragrance” on the label because many contain phthalates. Choose personal and household products (cosmetics, cleansers, sunscreen, shampoos, nail polish, air fresheners, etc.) that are unscented, with the exception of pure essential oils. Phthalates are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List of Endocrine Disruptors. EWG is an excellent resource for identifying clean, phthalate-free products.[vi]
10. Sweating: Sweating helps the body detox from phthalates, so daily exercise and infrared saunas are two ways to help your body purge these plastics.
Breakfast, blood sugar, & inflammation
Recent research has shown that Inflammation is responsible for 7 out of 10 Deaths in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be the same way for you.
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Did you know that one of the best times to stretch is right before bed? However…
What stretches should you do? Here’s a 1-minute stretch routine you can do before bed...
Lisa, Yoga Coach
eatlocalgrown / wisemindhealthybody
...easy, 3-minute exercise that completely cured his horrendous snoring! We can both finally sleep!
Today is a good day. Tonight will be even better. Why?
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I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat. This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
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d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
In April, 2009, researchers stunned the medical community when they reported chronic inflammation as the root cause of several major diseases.
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Over the past year, my friend Dave over at PaleoHacks has been working on a super secret cookbook project with our good friend Peter Servold a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and owner of Pete's Paleo...
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Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
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5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.