Can we talk? I mean really talk?
I work with clients who come to me with autoimmune conditions, mainly gut related, however, all diseases start with the gut. Hmm, let me back up, all diseases start with what you put into your mouth.
Have you read the report from Consumer Reports about food packaging? If you have, good, read this. If you have not, please read this.
Consumer reports did independent testing of more than 100 packaging products from US restaurant and grocery chains. They found what is called “Forever Chemicals” in paper bags for french fries, wrappers for hamburgers, molded fiber salad bowls and single-use paper plates.
"Forever Chemicals" means, they stay in our body forever because our overwhelmed liver and kidneys can not detoxify them. With the right tools, it is possible to release them from the body. I believe it is quite possible, given the fact on average, PFAS can remain in the body between two and nine years. Unfortunately, most people are not willing to change their habits. Believe it or not, this also plays a role in the severity of some cases of Covid-19.
According to the findings of Consumer Reports', restaurants, especially fast food restaurants had at least one packaging product containing Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) (pronounced PEA-fahs). Grocery chains such as Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Kroger, and Stop and Shop.
There are more than 4,700 different PFAS chemicals, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and among the 9,000 known PFAS, testing can only identify a couple dozen according to Consumer Reports.
Here is the thing, this is not the first time Consumer Reports has done this type of a report. They have done it several times. We hear the message, it remains in the news for a couple of days, and restaurants go back to how they have always done it. If we, as consumers, are not demanding change, it is not going to happen.
And, believe me, it is not just Fast food chains, restaurants from chains to high end are all using these types of packaging. More than likely, not knowingly or turning a blind eye. According to Consumer Reports;
“retailers that claimed to be phasing out PFAS, including Cava, Chipotle, Panera Bread, Sweetgreen, and Whole Foods Market. All 13 of the products the companies said had reduced PFAS still had some detectable organic fluorine, and seven were above 20 ppm. They ranged from a Whole Foods soup container with 21 ppm organic fluorine—the only Whole Foods item to top the 20-ppm limit—to a paper bag for pita chips from Cava with 260 ppm.
PFAS are a a class of industrial chemicals used to repel grease, water and stains in consumer products. This is why you will find these chemicals in pizza boxes, fast food packaging, restaurant take away containers, disposable coffee cups and soup containers, nonstick coating on many pans and bakeware, carpeting, in some areas, drinking water, packaging lining (think cereal, crackers), furniture coating, clothing, electronics.
Why are PFAS Dangerous?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the chemicals are linked to liver damage, harm to the immune system, developmental toxicity and cancer, and can accumulate in humans and the environment.
PFA’s in packaging, are seeping into the food. This contamination is building up in our body, is leading to health issues. Studies have shown in animal testing to cause liver, pancreas, and testicular tumors, effects on serum liver enzymes, however, how it is effecting humans is uncertain. Other studies have shown increases in prostate, kidney and testicular cancers in people who live near facilities and workers exposed to PFAS
Studies looking at the harm of elevated levels of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water found that, people who’d been exposed to higher than normal levels of PFOA had an elevated risk of high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension
According to a 2020 Consumer Reports article, PFAS have been detected in the drinking water of more than 1,400 communities in 49 states, according to research by the PFAS Project at Northeastern University in Boston and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization that estimates that 110 million people may have tap water contaminated with the chemicals.
Other studies in people and animals have shown that high enough doses of PFAS chemicals like PFOA can affect the immune system and have toxic effects on the liver and other organs. According to a report from Florida, non- cancer effects appear more common and include, increase cholesterol levels, impact hormones, the immune system and fetal and infant developmental effects.
There’s clear evidence that being exposed to high enough levels of PFOS and PFOA is linked to an elevated risk for a number of diseases, and experts say it’s possible that other PFAS chemicals could have similar health effects. Continuous high exposure is what increases the risk the most. What is even more sickening, the federal government still hasn't set limits for PFAS compounds.
Keep in mind, it may be small exposure in fast food or grocery packaging, known as chronic exposure. It is the accumulative effect at play here.
There are newer chemicals on the market. Researches are testing people to see how these will pan out. Wait, what? Sounds like we are the cohort, once again. But, according to the companies who are producing alternatives they are well-studied and safe. Um, no thank you! Sounds like when we woke up and screamed “foul-play” on Bisphenol A (BPA). The companies changed to Bisphenol-S (BPS) and we all think this is safe. Um, no!
Covid-19 and PFAS, A Deadly Combination
PFAS (perfluorinated alkylate substances) are everywhere! Getting them out of the Environemental is not possible. Even the healthiest of the healthiest packaging will contain trace amounts of PFAS. There are substitutes available, however, CR tested 50 products and guess what? They are not so healthy.
One of the newer subset or substitute is erfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA). This has been found to accumulate in the lungs and has been linked to more sever cases of COVID-19. The researchers found;
“Measures of individual exposures to immunotoxic PFASs included short-chain PFBA known to accumulate in the lungs. Elevated plasma-PFBA concentrations were associated with an increased risk of a more severe course of COVID-19. Given the low background exposure levels in this study, the role of exposure to PFASs in COVID-19 needs to be ascertained in populations with elevated exposures.”
According to US Department of Health and Human Services;
“CDC/ATSDR recognizes that exposure to high levels of PFAS may impact the immune system. There is evidence from human and animal studies that PFAS exposure may reduce antibody responses to vaccines and may reduce infectious disease resistance."
According to Toxic Free Future Advocacy Group; many products are made with these compounds, including:
"food packaging, such as microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers;
stain-resistant carpets, rugs, and furniture;
outdoor gear with a “durable water repellent” coating;
aerospace, medical, and automotive applications; and
many specialty items such as firefighting foams, ski wax, and industrial applications."
These chemicals are everywhere and in just about everything and are here to stay messing up our health.
Why do we need talk?
Because I really want you to be the healthiest you can be, not just in this moment, but when you are old! You see, what you eat today, or what it is wrapped in, may not show a cause and an effect today. It will show an accumulative chronic effect later.
Cancer doesn’t happen over night, an autoimmune condition does not happen over night. It is an accumulative effect. These chemicals are a contributing factor.
What you are doing today is going to affect how you feel in the future.
I met with a potential client, who has Crohn’s disease. His diet was terrible, two days of eating a better diet, he felt better. Food is powerful! If he keeps going, eating real whole foods and avoiding as many chemicals as possible, he can reverse numerous side effects of his current condition.
Of course, we are talking about what our food is wrapped in. Food that you purchase in the organic produce section comes in its own package. Whole organic fruits and vegetables will not contain any PFAS, xenoestrogens and other chemicals.
I am keeping this post mainly to food exposure however, this is also a growing concern for children’s toys, baby bottles, toys, appliances and personal care products.
How Can we limit our exposure to PFAS?
Get Your Water Tested
Get your water tested whether it is municipal or well water. Water systems tested in 2013-2015 revealed an estimated six million U.S. residents with drinking water supplies contaminated with PFAS above safety levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A 2018, report drafted by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry suggested more communities may have PFAS levels in their water that are a concern for health. For some, water can be the highest exposure. Not just drinking, but bathing. When these chemicals are heated they are more volatile and steam is an easy way to inhale large amounts of these chemicals, not to mention what is absorbed through the skin.
Invest in a Reverse Osmosis
Once your water has been tested you can either trust what you are drinking out of the tap or, install a reverse osmosis. Whether you live in a building or your home rolls like ours you can get a reverse osmosis. When we had our home, I had the iSpring 7-Stage Reverse Osmosis and I loved it. The water tasted so good! There are different filter stages you can get. I went for this one because the water in Phoenix, Arizona is less than stellar including containing chemicals such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Chromium-6.
This Ispring Reverse Osmosis (picture above) has 7 stages of filtration including a UV light stage for microbes, the other filters remove harmful chemicals and the best part, a pH filter to remineralize the water. It was truly the best reverse osmosis system I have ever had. If I could have fit this under the sink in my Motorcoach, I would have it in there too. But, alas, it is too big!
I did find a company that makes RV reverse osmosis units with different tank and cartridge sizes. We got the 2 gallon tank (pictured above) and it is perfect for shore hookup or boondocking. The company is Weco Filters. The one we got is a mini 3 cartridge (with membrane) reverse osmosis machine. I also found it on Amazon which is super nice for the free shipping and getting it in a couple of days. A friend of mine just purchased the same one off of Amazon for his coach and he loves it!
We have a 3 stage filter system for the whole coach and a filter on the hose outside. Because of this, instead of changing our WECO Mini Reverse Osmosis filters every 3 months, we can go 6 months, sometimes longer. The membrane is changed every two years. We are just coming up on 2 years and will have to see where it is at and then decide if we can get a little more time on it. Although, the filters are quite inexpensive.
For the home, typically the filters are changed every 6 months to a year and the membrane is every 5 years.
Use a shower and bathtub filter
You can also get shower and bath filter systems to help catch some of these chemicals. Weco Filters carries filters for the bath and shower. Amazon has vast array of shower and bath filters from a simple carbon to elaborate remineralizing filters. Like SparkPod, Aqua Earth, AquaBliss, which have different stages of filtration to not only block out the bad stuff but remineralize for better skin and hair.
For the bath, there are bath ball filters such as, Sprite Showers, BB-BN Ball Bath Filter, Organic Cotton Bath Faucet Filter by Santevia, and CuZn Bath Ball Faucet Filter.
Upgrade your dining experience
Food chains use less than stellar ingredients, especially the oil. On the notes, your local restaurants may also be using less than stellar ingredients and packaging. Open Googlemaps and search “organic restaurants”. A ton of healthier option restaurants will pop up. They will not all be organic, however, they will be a 100% step up from fast food chains. Now you get to explore cleaner, fresher food.
Before going to the restaurant, bring a glass container with you for leftovers. You can now get glass dishes with bamboo lids. There are tons to choose from on Amazon from small to large and ones with individualized compartments. I recently purchased these bamboo glass containers with separate compartments to try out in my HotLogic. I love that that I can bring home SAFE leftovers, refrigerate, then pop into my HotLogic to reheat the next day. I can also store food in these and pop them into the freezer. Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, and does not contain any of the forever chemicals. I also leave a glass container in my car, for unplanned nights out.
If you already have glass containers with plastic lids, like I do, I use non-bleached parchment paper to put under the plastic lid. I have been using the brand "If You care" non-bleached, chemical free parchment paper because they really go far to ensure the best healthiest quality parchment paper.
For my round glass dishes, I use "Zenology" unbleached parchment paper rounds. All I can say is one word, GENIUS! They come in every size and are easy to use. I have researched these two companies for parchment paper and they are not using “forever chemicals” to the best of my knowledge.
Pay Attention to the Packaging
Now that you have a better idea of what is lurking in the food products, limit your consumption of canned foods, foods wrapped in styrofoam, microwaved foods such as popcorn (the ultimate worst) and, liners in food. Look for food in glass over plastic.
Now, you are probably thinking, there is no way I am giving up my popcorn. You do not have to. You just need to upgrade what you are eating. Instead of a chemical laden popcorn bag cooked in the microwave, go retro. Go old skool with a popcorn machine. If you like buttered popcorn, go for real organic butter from pastured raised cows or ghee. Voila! Look at you, making yummy buttered popcorn and not a chemical in sight! Pat yourself on the back.
This is just one example of how you can easily upgrade your food choices for the better.
Here is a great trick. When picking a product off of the shelf, grab the one at the back. If the employees are stocking their shelves correctly, the newest is at the back and the oldest product is at the front. It won't protect you from leaching. But, when you add in the lights beaming on the shelves, the newer product is hiding in the back under the cloak of shade. It just means maybe there is less contamination.
Which means, when you get your product home, transfer it from the packaging to a glass dish or jar. Oh, and do not forget to use non-bleached waxed paper or parchment paper if you are using a plastic lid.
Upgrade your protein sources
If you are subscribed to my weekly newsletter, You all know I order my animal and seafood protein through Butcherbox. Not only am I side-stepping harmful antibiotics, toxins and inflammation, I am also not getting styrofoam packaged foods. Seriously, upgrading your animal and ocean protein means, less chemicals altering your physiology leading to disease and cancer. Plus, its fresh, not hanging around in a supermarket under those harsh lights. I also like that Butcherbox is delivered right to my door.
Check out a local Farmers Market. Besides Butcherbox, I also go to local farmers market and chat with the farmer, they are super honest and will tell you up front what they are feeding their animals and how they are raised. I have yet to be handed meat that was stored on styrofoam. Its just a better a choice.
Eat at home, cook at home
Sunday dinners were my favourite when I was kid. We would gather together at grandmas house and enjoy good food and great conversations, well the adults anyway. I was just happy to play with my cousins.
If you are subscribed to my weekly newsletter, (and, if you are not, get on it now), you know I am always sharing a recipe with you. Ok, so a lot of them are using the HotLogic, but, there is method to my obsession! The HotLogic ((use my discount code HEALTHY GUT for an additional 10% off) is a simple way to upgrade your food with minimal effort. Throw all the ingredients into a glass dish (no chemicals), slap on a piece of non-bleached parchment paper (no chemicals) and then the lid (protected from chemicals), plug the HotLogic in- eat when you are ready chemical free!
Seriously, we need to get back to eating real food! It has been proven, that food wrapped in packages especially fat, salt and acidic leach the PFAS chemicals quicker. What foods could these be? Just about everything on the menu! Research suggests, PFAS levels are higher in those who regularly eat out especially in females.
Covid lockdown should have had us all cooking again. But, unfortunately, because we had a car and tons of drive-thrus, with a wipe of the sweat off our brow, we thwarted the horror.
I believe from looking at the research, our immune system has been attacked, our gut is compromised and we are dealing with the aftermath of ill health, blaming it all on Covid. Seriously, we need to start cooking whole organic, foods that grow from the ground and graze upon it. In other words, less packaged foods and more real food, minimally processed.
I get it, we are all busy, and purchasing a ready cooked meal and popping it into a microwave is quick. Or even quicker, driving up to the drive thru, and spending 15 minutes in a line sucking in exhaust fumes while we pass the time away scrolling through social media.
Seriously, have you stopped to understand what is missing when you eat these types of food? You are not getting what you need to run your body, protect you from disease and cancer!
Autoimmune disease, cancer are preventative if we take a little time now to do the work. If you do not put the right oil and gas and change the filter in your car, it doesn’t run quite as well. We are much the same.
It may seem like a lot of work and in the beginning it may seem like that. But, once you get used to cooking real whole food, you will never go back.
There isn’t a client I have worked with who, after working with me has said “I think I am going back to the way I used to eat.” Not one! I have worked in integrative healing centers in 3 different countries. The running theme; whatever the ailment, the diet and lifestyle was the same. Change the diet and lifestyle, and they all got better to reversing their symptoms and diagnoses for the better.
You have the ability to change. Don’t do it all at once. Start slowly. Look, if you want to learn how to cook from scratch and have left overs for the next day. Make the recipes I share with you. It is quite easy.
My husband and I boondocked for a week in the middle of nowhere. It took me a little prep-work however, my HotLogic did all the work. In my HotLogic MAX Oven I effortlessly cooked at the same time, a whole chicken and beef roast in separate containers. My personal size HotLogic Mini I cooked a pork roast. I made up 3 different salad dressings in left over Kombucha jars. If you are starting to think the HotLogic is the way to check it out and use the discount code HEALTHYGUT on the checkout page for an additional 10% off. I have been using mine for 4 years now.
I made sure we had enough for veggies for salads for the week. I will confess, I forgot to buy some onions. I made pickled onions -these went on everything they were sooooooooo good.
You can easily cook up a batch of potatoes. Leave some boiled whole, mash some up and you can easily reheat in the HotLogic along with a choice beef, pork or chicken. I cooked my asparagus in the HotLogic for our asparagus pickled onion salad, paired it with chicken and it was absolutely delicious. Guess what was not lurking? PFAS! Yippeeee!
We ate like royalty. The salad dressings were out of this world. Way better than any store bought dressing-I promise! The pickled onions were the perfect set of sweet and tangy. And mixing them with asparagus was just delightful. Eating outside every night with the sound of nothing but the Sonoran desert was better than any 5 star dining experience I have done.
We had different fresh veggies and salad dressings throughout the week, alternated our animal protein and we never felt like we were eating the same thing every night. You can do this too. You do not need to boondock in order to eat super healthy and effortlessly.
Detox your way to health
There are things that can be done to help remove some of these chemicals from your body. But, first, you must start by removing the culprits and it starts with the what I have suggested above. Once this is done, then you can start the healing process.
It can take up to a year or longer to release these stored toxins. Sorry, there is no quick fix. You can however, use foods to help in the process. Foods such as chlorella, spirulina, turmeric and Ginger are wonderful cleansing herbs to add to your smoothies and food. Leafy greens (the darker the better), apples and citrus for the pectin, sprouts and beets are wonderful for supporting the liver and its detoxification pathways.
Add lots of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to help feed your microbiota that in turn can keep bacteria at bay that interfere with your liver's ability to detoxify. Fiber also helps bind toxins so they can be eliminated via a great bowel moment!
Drinking quality water is also a super support. It helps to keep the body properly hydrated so that it can perform the necessary functions for proper detoxification and elimination. If you are taking fiber, it is important to get at least 32 ounces of water daily to help with good bowel movements to get the junk out of you.
Sleep is super important. Sleep is what triggers the liver to start cleaning and sorting nutrients from our food intake and eliminating toxins and chemical processing metabolites from the day. Our entire digestive process is in high gear while we are sleeping; building and repairing.
We do not need to worry, but we do need to worry
Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) may be considered forever chemicals however, I believe we can do something about it. We can detoxify these chemicals from our body. But, first we must do some prepwork to get to the point of releasing these toxins. The first is to incorporate the suggestions in the article. The more you can stop bringing the chemicals in your body, the better your body will react at getting the rest out.
We can all get back to basics with our food. What we put in our mouth affects our physiology, our emotions, our frame of mind, and our health. Disease and cancer is preventable. Now that you know how forever chemicals may be affecting your health, what will take for you to do something about it. You have the power to take back our health.
If you need coaching or help in upgrading your diet and lifestyle, I am here for you. Email me or text me and let's get you going on your road to the best life now and in the future!
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