BPA in Packaging?

Yes, the Packaging Matters!

Sometimes clinical studies are so provocative and clear-cut in their findings, that it stops me in my tracks and absolutely requires sharing!  

Because of obvious issues with ethics, we don’t often get to see the results of fully controlled studies about toxicity. That is, where a blinded portion of the participants consume something that the researchers already know to be toxic.  In this fascinating study, we see clearly demonstrated how even a single intake of BPA (from a beverage can of normal size) can cause a rapid and significant increase in blood pressure.  

We’ve known about the connection between BPA and hypertension for some time. But this study was particularly provocative in showing the magnitude of the effect. I encourage you to click on these links (especially the latter one) and see the data for yourself.

Bottom line: “The study found that when people drank soy milk from a canthe level of BPA in their urine rose dramatically within two hours – and so did their blood pressure. But on days when they drank the exact same beverage from glass bottles, which don’t use BPA linings, there was no significant change in their BPA levels or their blood pressure.”  A very well-designed study.  With clear (and provocative) results.  But even better,  I have a real-life story to share with you about this dynamic (don’t miss it below).

Grocery shopping list on a till roll printout

I’ve written before about the many endocrine disruptors (aka estrogen mimickers) that we encounter in modern society.  This collection of exogenous (or xeno) estrogens can have a dramatic effect on our natural hormone balance (or lack thereof).  

One of most potent and pervasive endocrine disruptors is bisphenol-A (aka BPA), a common ingredients in plastics used to line metal food and beverage cans to prevent corrosion. BPA is also used to make many cash register receipts slippery.  When we hold the receipts, we absorb the BPA.  If we’ve just used hand sanitizer, this effect is significantly greater.  If the can lining includes BPA, it dissolves into the food, and we absorb it during consumption.  Unfortunately not rocket science.  And the cumulative effect can be quite significant. In the face of much negative press about BPA, many manufacturers are turning to other plastics with different (more reassuring?) names that have – unfortunately – the same or worse endocrine-disrupting properties.  

We need a change of packaging!

We can put a lot of effort into eating more whole, natural, unprocessed foods. But it’s important to consider the container too.  

Substances in containers leach into food and beverages, especially with heat and sustained storage. I’ve written before about the importance of containers.  For example, I highly recommend using glass as storage for food, and using a stainless steel or glass water bottle for regular, daily use.  

I do not recommend microwaving in any kind of plastic (a glass bowl topped by a paper towel works just fine). Unless a product certifies its cans are BPA-free, you can safely assume they do include BPA (it’s still an industry-standard practice). Yes, even organic food brands.

Contamination of BPA in the food is also likely to be enhanced in canned acidic foods (e.g. tomatoes or foods including vinegar). Note that all Trader Joe’s store-brand-labelled products are BPA-free.  

Other brands you can trust include Eden Foods. BPA is also included in some plastic cups and plastic wraps, those with the recycling symbol #7.

Now here’s my story….

I worked with a client (Dave) who had made some dramatic changes in his lifestyle in pursuit of lower blood pressure.  His insulin resistance was responding positively, his headaches were gone, his bowel movements were better, he had lost 15 pounds and was feeling much better and more energetic.  BUT Dave’s hypertension was the same. Perhaps even a bit worse. This really brought out the determined scientist in me. We wanted to get to the true root cause of this dynamic in Dave’s body.

Well, it took some serious sleuthing, but we discovered the devil in the detail of Dave’s dietary changes (sorry, couldn’t resist). Dave had given up coffee, which for him was a good thing as he was typically drinking four cups daily. Dave discovered that an excess of caffeine was a key player in his insomnia and higher feelings of anxiety.  

The problem was that Dave traded coffee for seltzer water in a can. About four cans a day. BPA-free cans?  Nope.  When Dave stopped drinking seltzer from a can, his blood pressure finally (slowly) started to come down.  Amazing!

Yes, the packaging matters.

by:Tracy Harrison (www.SchoolAFM.com)

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