By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
April 27, 2018
- Another reason eating out is bad for your health
- The many ways you are exposed to phthalates
- Here’s how to slash your toxic load
If you’re trying to eat a healthy diet, dining out can be pretty tricky… especially if you eat out more often than you eat at home.
Healthy sounding soups, salads and flatbreads are often extremely high in sodium. Many of the foods are laden with inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and unhealthy additives. Plus, a lot of menu choices contain a lot more calories than you would expect.
Now there is another threat to take into consideration when dining out.
It turns out that people who frequently eat at restaurants, cafeterias or fast-food joints have phthalate levels nearly 35% higher than people who enjoy meals cooked at home. Cheeseburgers and other sandwiches are particularly rich sources of these chemicals, but only when they are purchased away from home.
Now, if you aren’t familiar with phthalates, they are toxic chemicals that disrupt endocrine function and interfere with hormone production. They’re also associated with all sorts of health problems including breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
This places phthalates clearly in the category of harmful chemicals you want to avoid.
The Many Ways You are Exposed to Phthalates
Your exposure to phthalates isn’t restricted to eating restaurant food. In fact, you probably have phthalate-riddled products spread throughout your house.
They are found in vinyl flooring, household cleaners, air fresheners and other household items. These chemicals are often used in plastic food packaging, where they leech into your food. And, sadly, you probably inadvertently apply phthalates to your body every day through the use of things like shampoo, body wash, deodorants, perfume, lotions, shaving cream and cosmetics.
And here’s something I think you’ll find extremely interesting.
Phthalates have a very short shelf-life…. Less than five hours. Yet, most of the American population has detectible levels of multiple phthalate metabolites in their urine. As a matter of fact, most research consistently shows phthalate exposure in up to 98% of people tested.
This means our exposure to these toxic chemicals is chronic – it’s happening all day long, every single day. We never entirely clear it from our bodies.
Here’s How to Slash Your Toxic Load
In today’s world it’s pretty much impossible to avoid phthalates. However, there are many things you can do to reduce your exposure to them.
At the top of the list, I recommend taking charge of the food you eat. It’s always in your best interests to purchase fresh, organic produce and prepare it at home. Go for a wide variety of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to help decrease your toxic load.
For your proteins, it’s important to recognize that chemicals collect in the fattiest parts of meat. You can cut your exposure to phthalates by investing in lean cuts of grassfed beef, pasture-raised poultry and wild-caught fish and cooking them at home.
(And by the way, when you put your leftovers in the fridge, always opt for glass or stainless steel food containers over plastic ones.)
It’s also a good idea to take a look around your house. There may not be much you can do about your vinyl flooring, but you can take control of the products you use.
In particular, any products that have a fragrance are likely to contain phthalates. In the home, this means things like laundry detergent, dryer sheets, household cleaners and air fresheners. Replace them products that clearly state they are phthalate free.
The same goes for your personal care items. You can check out the labels, and if you see the words “fragrance” or “parfum”, it’s a good bet phthalates are involved. Once again, it’s always best to purchase items labeled phthalate free.
They’ve collected data on thousands of products to help you make sure you’re only buying the safest products for you and your family.
On a final note, I also recommend taking regular saunas, which will allow your body to release phthalates in your sweat. I prefer a low humidity sauna that uses either a wood burning stove or operates on infrared. Be sure to drink a few glasses of water beforehand and afterward to keep you hydrated.
Varshavsky JR, et al. Dietary sources of cumulative phthalates exposure among the U.S. general population in NHANES 2005–2014. Environment International. Available online 29 March 2018.
Hsieh TH, et al. Phthalates induce proliferation and invasiveness of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer through the AhR/HDAC6/c-Myc signaling pathway. FASEB J. 2012 Feb;26(2):778-87.
Stojanoska MM, et al. The influence of phthalates and bisphenol A on the obesity development and glucose metabolism disorders. Endocrine. 2017 Mar;55(3):666-681.
Tsai MJ, et al. The association between phthalate exposure and asthma. Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2012 Jul;28(7 Suppl):S28-36.
Chopra V, et al. Association between phthalates and attention deficit disorder and learning disability in U.S. children, 6–15 years. Environ Res. 2014 Jan; 128: 64–69.
National Research Council (US) Committee on the Health Risks of Phthalates. Phthalates and Cumulative Risk Assessment: The Tasks Ahead. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2008.
Genius SJ, et al. Human Elimination of Phthalate Compounds: Blood, Urine, and Sweat (BUS) Study. The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2012, Article ID 615068, 10 pages, 2012.