I always say that eating great food is just a small part of what makes us healthy and well. We all know about the benefits of getting good sleep, stressing less and moving more, but there is another super important key to longevity and prevention of diseases and that is protecting ourselves from unnecessary exposure to environmental toxins. That’s why this guest post from the two lovely ladies at The Paleoish Princesses is so timely and important. We would need a book to cover all of the toxins we should and could be avoiding, so today’s post focuses on the one we’ve all heard of but perhaps are still a little confused about – BPA. Thanks to Rebecca and Madeleine for writing this comprehensive article and providing so many great tips on how we can make our environment healthier.
“Let Food Be Thy Medicine And Medicine Be Thy Food”
However, WHAT IF the common items we use every day to prepare and store food are making us sick? By now, we are sure most of you have heard claims that bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in hard plastics and the coatings of food and drink cans, is a harmful toxin that should be avoided.
So what is BPA?
BPA is an endocrine disruptor. A developmental, neural, and reproductive toxin that interferes with the production, transportation, function and elimination of natural hormones. BPA mimics one of our natural sex hormones, estrogen, which is responsible for growth-control and repair of nearly every organ and tissue in the body. It has been well documented, that even very small changes in estrogen levels within the body, can have significant effects. Endocrine disruptors affect immune function, behavioural patterns and brain health. BPA has been linked to cancer, impaired immune function, early onset of puberty and infertility, amongst other health concerns, even when exposed to in very small amounts.
Conclusive findings however, have not yet been reported and depending on whom you listen to, BPA may or may not be a cause for concern. However, as Chris Kresser so eloquently stated, “since the history of science is the history of scientists being wrong most of the time”, we choose, like many of you, to reduce our exposure to plastic as much as possible, as there is little downside to doing so. Especially when there are many safer alternatives available to consumers. BPA can be found in a vast and varied number of consumer products, ranging from water and baby bottles, food storage containers and aluminium cans to contact lenses and electronic devices. It is literally found everywhere.
What does this mean for us?
Over the recent years, an increasing body of research has appeared confirming that the chemicals found in the materials that store our food and drink, such as plastic, have the potential to leach into food. Particularly when exposed to heat or if acidic ingredients such as lemons or tomatoes are stored. This means that your delicious leftover Paleo pasta that you have stored in your pretty pink plastic princess lunchbox now comes with a side of BPA (and other potentially toxic products) Ummmm… NO THANK YOU.
Have you ever wondered why foods stored in plastic containers, begin to taste less like food and more like plastic? It’s simply because of this fact. Food particles react with synthetic or metallic ions found in cookware and storage vessels allowing the materials that compose them to leech harmful and toxic chemicals into your food. As a result, many of us are looking for a safe food storage alternatives. Irena has been flooded with questions about this topic and many are wondering about safe drink bottles and lunch box alternatives. So, without further ado here are our top tips.
Before we start, we must say your cooking utensils and food storage containers should be made from inert substances that do not not peel, chip, crack, vaporize, dissolve or harbour bacteria. In our opinion, those made from stable materials such as high quality 304-grade stainless steel, silicone, glass, wood and bamboo are best. Links to the products we recommend can be found at the end of the post.
We hope this information helps the change towards a toxin-free and eco-friendly lifestyle a little easier.
Did you know that your body could survive 40 days without food, but not more than a week without water? For optimal health, it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day, and ensure that this sacred commodity is sans chemicals. We choose to use either GLASS or STAINLESS STEEL water bottles, as they are not only a safe option, but also an eco-friendly one.
- Glass is an easy to clean, inert, non-toxic, non-porous material, and ideal for storing the most important liquid on the earth. Many companies fit their glass bottles with protective sleeves to combat breakage, however they are often a little heavier than other alternatives. However, on the plus side, water stored in glass bottles is of a superior taste.
- Stainless steel is an alloy, meaning it is a mixture of metals. It is primarily made of iron, chromium, nickel and carbon, and is another fantastic alternative to plastic. Stainless steel bottles are generally crafted from food-grade stainless steel, come in variety of sizes and are not lined with plastic coatings. Stainless steel is non-reactive, easy to clean and much more durable than glass.
A word of warning however. Aluminium bottles often disguise themselves as stainless steel, however they are not a healthy option. Aluminium is a soft and highly reactive metal that can leech into food and drink. As a result, aluminium drink bottles are often lined with an enamel or epoxy layer, which can contain BPA and other toxic chemicals. In addition, there are reports of a strong relationship between aluminium toxicity and disease, such as Alzheimer’s.
Why not use BPA free plastic bottles?
This recent article by Chris Kresser will answer all your questions. The short of it is summed up by this quote “a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in July has shown that even BPA-free plastics have chemicals with estrogenic activity, and can cause serious health problems as a result.”
Lunch Boxes and Portable Food Containers:
There is nothing better than a packed lunch. It saves time, money and ensures you do not venture into the company kitchen in search of treats you and your body do not need. Keep blood sugar levels regulated and avoid those hungry diva princess moments by always having an emergency snack pack on hand.
- Stainless steel lunch boxes made from safe, durable food grade stainless steel are a wonderful option. Lunchbots are a reputable brand and have optional section dividers to separate lunch items. They are not leak proof, so it is best for storing snacks, such as cut up fruit, berries, vegetable sticks, sliced meats and nuts.
- Thermal insulated, leak-proof stainless steel food canisters/food jars keep food hot or cold for up to 12 hours are perfect for transporting moist foods such as soups, stews and yoghurt. No plastic comes into contact with your food as they have a 100% food grade stainless interior that doesn’t retain or impart flavours. They are easy to use and fill as they have wide mouths for scooping, filling & pouring. They come in a variety of sizes.
- Reusable sandwich and snack bags are usually made from (but not always) a food-safe cotton fabric, coated with polyurethane. These are a fabulous alternative to your everyday plastic zip locks. Lead, PVC, BPA and phthalate free as well as grease and moisture proof, dishwasher safe and quick-drying. Many are independently tested to meet food safety requirements and to ensure there is no leaching into the food. If you are concerned that polyurethane is a plastic derivative, there are silicon reusable baggie alternatives such as The Complete food bag. Silicone is a synthetic rubber, which contains bonded silicon and oxygen. It is described as chemically inert and stable and therefore does not react with or leach into food. It is non-porous, stain and odour resistant, and does not support bacterial growth, making it a trusted plastic alternative.
- Tempered glass containers offer a shatter resistant, oven, microwave, freezer and top rack dishwasher safe lunch box alternative. Many come with 100% air and liquid tight lids making them the perfect alternative for storing and transporting leftovers that can be heated in a flash.
- Insulated lunch bags keep transporting food at desired temperatures for longer. Look out for those that are PVC, phalate and lead free, as well as those with a removable inside liner for easy clean up. Another handy addition are those that are double lined or come with a pouch for an ice pack.
About the authors
Rebecca and Madeleine are two sisters from Sydney Australia. Rebecca now lives in Norway, with her husband. When she is not cooking, blogging or freezing from the cold, you can find her working as a chiropractor. Madeleine is based in Sydney Australia, studying to be a chiropractor, just like her big sister. When she is not cooking, blogging, or melting from the heat, you can find her working out or studying. If you liked what you read, you can find many more tips, recipes and ideas at www.paleoishprincesses.com, Instagram @paleoishprincesses or Facebook.