How is it possible that stuff found in plastics can actually contribute to your weight gain? It's bad enough that the food stored in those containers can pile on the calories, but now you're telling me that the containers themselves can be fat-producing culprits?
According to Dr. Eddie Fatakhov, a.k.a. Dr. Fat-Off, that's correct because of phthalates, semi volatile organic compounds that are used to make plastics soft and flexible.
Dr. Fat-Off explains that while phthalates are commercially useful, they can easily leach out of plastics, like storage bags and containers, to contaminate our food, water supply, and even the air we breathe.
Here's how the doc explains it:
Phthalates are endocrine disruptors. Your endocrine system is made up a network of glands (thyroid gland, ovaries, etc.) and the hormones (insulin, estrogen, etc.) they produce. These hormones are used to communicate with cells and tissues to regulate many functions – this can result in insulin resistance, obesity and thyroid disease.
Phthalates, once in the body, disrupt the endocrine system in the following negative ways:
They mimic, or partly mimic, our naturally occurring hormones.
When they mimic they bind to our hormone receptors so that our naturally occurring hormones can’t.
This bonding causes our bodies to have irregular physical responses since the hormones that are supposed to attach to our receptors can’t.
Once our natural hormone function is disrupted our bodies can’t regulate our systems efficiently. And so, we can gain weight.
How to avoid phthalates?
To limit phthalate exposure, Dr. Fat-Off advises consumers to think fresh and limit usage of plastic.
Purchase fresh fruit and veggies, preferably organic, and be sure to wash it well before cutting or eating.
Buy intact foods -- by decreasing processing like cutting, changing or repackaging foods, you can decrease some phthalates. Example: Buy a whole chicken vs. chicken tenders.
Store food in glass or paper containers. Glass lasts longer and stands up to more washing than plastic, and eliminates many of the offending phthalates.
Filter your water. While most tap water is safe to drink, there may be a trace of phthalates present that a simple water filter can remove.
Keep plastic out of the microwave, which releases whatever phthalates it contains and transmits them to your food.
Choose plastics wisely. Those with these codes are potentially safe: PET, HDPE, LDPE and POLYPROPYLENE. But, to be completely safe, stick with glass, paper, stainless steel and wood alternatives.
Of course, by limiting our use of plastics for food -- especially plastic bags -- we also can improve our environment. All that stuff can eventually end up in our streams, lakes and the ocean harming wildlife and polluting our water.
For more information, please contact The Center for Internal and Integrative Medicine.
You can also visit www.eddiefatakhovmd.com.