In the last article, we discussed the dangers of phthalates and why we should avoid them. In order to eliminate them, we should focus on the worst offenders first. Being aware of the food we eat and what we drink can help to safeguard us against these dangers.
Phthalates in Food
We can ingest Phthalates through what we eat and drink. Roughly half of our phthalate exposure is from our diets, even without including water. Foods that are high in fat generally have higher levels of phthalates, which seem to bind preferentially to fatty cells. Commercial food producers often use phthalates in their pesticides and fertilizers, while certified organic foods do not permit the use of phthalate-containing pesticides or fertilizers.
So, opt for organic, grass fed meat whenever possible. Avoid dairy products that are not certified organic, as phthalates levels are particularly high in them. We should practice this anyway, as many dairy products in the US are from cows treated with BGH or rBGH which may elevate cancer risk.
When reheating food, don’t use plastic containers. Heat may speed up the leeching of phthalates into the food. If possible, look for meat that is wrapped in paper as opposed to plastic, and store food in glass containers. You can find glass containers for food storage off online. I also save glass containers such as pickle jars for food storage. They’re free, though a bit less convenient when getting food in or out.
Tap water may contain phthalates and other estrogen disruptors due to a multitude of sources leaching into the water supply. These may include but is not limited to industrial waste, pesticides, fertilizer, birth control medication and other pharmaceuticals, DEHP from the water pipe infrastructure, and many hygiene products. Using a water purifier may remove most of the phthalates in your drinking water. For years I’ve used a Berkey filter for all my drinking and cooking water needs. They’ve been shown to be capable of removing pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and even pathogens and viruses.
Avoid using plastic bottles as much as possible, unless they’re specifically BPA free. Whenever using plastic products, avoid objects with recycling codes 3 and 7, and look for those with codes 1, 2, and 5. Codes 3 and 7 signify the presence of phthalates. The only plastic bottles I own are shaker bottles for mixing fitness supplements, but otherwise I always use glasses and mugs. If you’re a coffee drinker, I’d suggest using a brewing process that doesn’t expose hot water to plastic. Heat may increase the leech rate of phthalates into the water that you’re putting in your body. I’ve used a stainless steel percolator and find it to be nearly as convenient as conventional brewers. You could also opt for a french press.
1) “To what extent are people exposed to phthalates?” (2008). <http://ec.europa.eu/health/opinions/en/phthalates-school-supplies/l-3/4-exposure-people-phthalates.htm>
2) “Report on Public Health Aspects of the Use of Bovine Somatotrophin.” Food Safety: From the Farm to the Fork. 1999-03-15. <http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scv/out19_en.htm>