BPA, Plastics & Chemicals..O My!
The topic of BPA is so frustrating, but you do have the power to avoid it! The first time I read about BPA, plastics and their effect on fertility and PCOS, I felt so overwhelmed that I just sat and cried. Most of our food was being stored in plastics at the time and we frequently used plastic baggies. My husband saw how overwhelmed I was and came home with a 12 pack of mason jars and we threw out our plastic storage.Switching to glass storage was the first step I ever took in changing my lifestyle to fight PCOS.
I would love to see the day when BPA is banned from our food supply and packaging. The evidence is there that this is harmful stuff. I avoid BPA at all costs..sometimes going to great lengths or paying a little extra to make sure I am not bringing it in our home or ingesting it in my body. Some people may see this as excessive, but as a PCOS woman, I see the effects of BPA on a very personal level.
So what is BPA?
BPA stands for Bisphenol A and is an industrial chemical that is used in certain plastics- think water bottles, plastic food and beverage containers, and even baby bottles and cups. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It can also be used to coat the inside of metal products. Even the receipts you get at the store contain BPA. Research has shown BPA can leach into our food from the surrounding plastic containers.
Why is BPA harmful?
Research has linked exposure to BPA to heart disease because it is thought to suppress certain hormones that protect people from heart attacks and oxidative stress. It is also linked to diabetes and metabolic syndrome in which the body is unable to effectively use insulin (think PCOS). And the concern I am so passionate about- BPA has been linked to infertility because it acts as an endocrine disruptor. The structure of BPA is similar to estrogen and can cause decreases in progesterone and interfere with ovulation and conception. * Women with POCS were found to have 60% higher blood levels of BPA than other women. BPA can affect male fertility too and is also linked to lower sperm counts.
How to Avoid this Chemical
I want to make this a positive blog and empower you as the consumer on ways to limit your BPA exposure:. Plastics are usually labeled with a number on the bottom and a #7 usually means it contains BPA. Other numbers are harmful too so instead of getting caught up in what numbers are on the bottom, just try to avoid plastics.
1. Avoid canned foods. Some food companies, such as Eden Organic, offer canned beans using BPA free lining. Hopefully more food companies will follow their example. But always remember just because something is labeled BPA free, it is not necessarily made from a safe plastic. Instead of canned foods, try fresh! For example, when I make spaghetti or lasagna which calls for canned tomatoes, I buy fresh tomatoes instead. Its actually cheaper and makes the dish so much fresher.
2. Personally I would completely avoid all plastic food/beverage containers when possible. If you cannot avoid using plastic, do not microwave the plastic or expose it to high heat. Also always hand wash plastic and never put in the dishwasher, even if it claims to be "dishwasher safe". Use glass or stainless steel water bottles that do not have a liner (some metal water bottles can be lined with an epoxy-based coating that can leach BPA). I love LifeFactory water bottles or Swell water bottles.
Instead of plastic containers, store food in mason jars! We bought a 12 pack of mason jars for $9.99. We use them to store anything and everything- oatmeal, homemade dressings, leftovers, walnuts and almonds, raisins, flax seed, rice, cereal, flour, drinks, fruits/veggies, etc. You can also purchase Pyrex glass for storage of leftovers or a single serving lunch.
3. For those with babies/small children- always buy BPA free baby bottles and cups. Never microwave plastic baby food or drink containers. Babies and young children are at the greatest risk from exposure to BPA because their systems are still developing. For my older boys I love Life Factory straw cups and Thermos brand. There's also so many options for silicone spoons, bowls, plates, and bibs so you can avoid plastics when serving meals!
4. Try to purchase foods that come packaged in glass instead of plastic, such as salad dressings, tomato sauce, pasta sauce, etc. If you must buy food that is stored in plastic, switch the food to a glass container such as a mason jar if possible when you get home.
5. Always wash your hands after handling thermal paper, such as receipts. I try not to touch the receipts at the grocery, but if I do I immediately wash my hands.
6. I use cloth sandwich and snack bags to pack school snacks and snacks while we are out and about. We save on not buying plastic bags too! We love the yummi ones I got on Amazon and they make several fun designs for kids!
Avioding plastic is important but I also don't want women to stress too much. Stress is not good for you either! I do sometimes use a plastic baggie or drink from a plastic water bottle when in a bind. I just try my best to avoid plastics the majority of the time:)