I have a bit of a thing about chemicals and how they may affect both male and female fertility, according to more and more research. This latest study links premature ovarian failure with chemicals called PCBs (Poly Chlorinated Bisphenyls) and phthalates. PCBs (Poly Chlorinated Bisphenyls) are found in fatty animal products. One of the worst foods for containing high levels of PCBs is fish, especially farmed, oily fish like salmon and tuna. Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics flexible, and the more worn a product is (eg a plastic bottle) the more they leach out into the food or drink. Fatty animal foods may contain high levels, and perfumes, skin care, nail polish, hairspray and lipstick are also common sources, as well as cleaning products.
Another big culprit is BpA (Bisphenol A), a plastics chemical, which affects female fertility and male & female sexual organ health.
In fact studies are consistently showing that these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, aka gender benders, affecting everything from sperm production, IVF failure, earlier menopause and problems in pregnancy. Several years ago BpA was removed from babies’ bottles as it was known then that they were a risk to hormonal health. And yet every day we are all swigging out of plastic bottles, storing food in plastic boxes, wrapping it in plastic and cooking ready meals in plastic trays.
And just when you thought you had got rid of all your plastic and are BpA free, you may not be if you eat any canned food, because tins are lined in plastic. Check out this article from the Independent.
So what can you do to minimise exposure to environmental chemicals?
- Buy lean, organic or free-range animal products, and don’t eat the fat on meat or chicken skin.
- Buy organic dairy products, which should just contain fewer chemicals, and stick to low fat unless otherwise advised.
- Eat a more vegetarian diet including pulses and quinoa. Try and do this two days a week.
- Avoid tinned foods where possible; dry pulses like lentils and split peas can be cooked without soaking and Sainsbury’s have pulses and tomatoes in cartons or use passata from glass jars. Tuna can be bought in glass (but not too much of this as it also contains mercury) and sweet corn can be frozen. Make homemade soup or buy from cartons.
- Eat wild, not farmed fish. Avoid cheap sushi which will be made with farmed fish laced with chemicals used in the farming.
- Don’t microwave or dishwasher plastic; this wears it out more quickly and don’t heat food in plastic.
- Don’t buy water in plastic bottles, or if you do don’t re-use the bottle too many times and don’t leave it in the sun as both these accelerate the leaching of chemicals into water. There are several BpA- and phthalate-free bottles on the market. The Bobble bottle is good because it has a filter in the lid so you just fill it from the tap. Camelbac sports bottles are Bpa free and Alladin bottles are very pretty! However, there is some concern that all plastics have hormonal activity, so out of everything glass may be the best option, and you can re-use it.
- Use glass storage boxes.
- Robert Dyas sell BpA-free containers. Ziploc bags do not contain BpA but I cannot find a supplier in the UK. Use greaseproof paper to wrap foods especially fatty ones like cheese.
- Look for organic skincare and make-up brands. John Lewis sells an organic make-up range called INIKA and I like Green People who make organic skin care and make-up products. The Soil Association can enlighten you about labeling on beauty products and this blog is useful too.