Plastics are a major health hazard and have been with us for almost a century. These materials have been building up in the ecosystem and in our bodies for quite some time. Experts believe that as much as 70% of plastics remain unaccounted for and that about 8 million tons of it ends up in the ocean. At the moment, estimates have it that about 150 million tons of plastic is currently in our oceans.
For many years the common belief was that plastics do not break down in the wild. We believed these materials would remain inert for thousands of years, if not forever, and have little effect other than acting as a tripping hazard for turtles. Of course, we know now that while plastics do break down slowly, they actually leach hazardous micro-plastics into the environment. The chief hazards among them are known as endocrine disrupters or BPAs.
BPAs alter the way hormones work in humans and animals, disrupting the way all manner of growth processes and biological systems function. The result is the loss and alteration of sexual function as well as a host of deleterious health effects. Obviously, what we’re talking about are very small particulates of plastics, smaller than 5 millimeters in size. These particles are a significant threat to human and marine life.
They are especially hazardous to humans because we are the first users of plastics, we use them to contain almost everything we eat and drink. No other creatures on Earth have such an intimate relationship with plastic. Even fish, who suffer perhaps more than any other creature due to exposure to plastics do not intake as much plastic as the average person does.
We know that the story of our exposure to BPA is a scary one- but it gets worse. As it turns out, plastic particles that enter our bodies are not eliminated like other foreign invaders. These materials do not trigger immune responses and they tend to stay in the nooks and crannies of the intestines. Worse yet, some of the smallest particulates can work their ways deeper into the body where they are nearly impossible to eliminate.
According to Phillipp Schwable of Wired magazine, a leading researcher on the problem of pervasive plastics working at the Medical University of Vienna said, “Plastics are pervasive in everyday life and humans are exposed to plastics in numerous ways.”
The study took stool samples from people in the US, Japan, the Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Italy, Australia, Finland and the Netherlands. In every single sample- each single, solitary stool sample- contained plastic. The Wired report said; “Every participant’s poop tested positive for plastics, from polyethylene (commonly found in plastic bags) to polypropylene (bottle caps) to polyvinyl chloride (the “PVC” in PVC pipe). In fact, of the ten types of plastic that the researchers screened for, nine were detected. On average, the researchers turned up 20 particles of microplastic per quarter pound of poop.”
Fortunately, there are solutions. You should begin by lowering your exposure and use of plastics. Use reusable fabric shopping bags. Don’t use straws or plastic cups. Always drink off of glass and ceramic plates and cups. Do not use plastic forks and spoons. Keep your own coffee mug in your car so that you don’t have to use the plastic covered ones you get in coffee shops.
Of course, that doesn’t address the plastics in your body, which you need to flush out. The first thing to do is get active. The reason being sedentary is so unhealthy is because it lets toxic materials settle in your body. Just jumping up and down will do the job, but you probably want to do something more entertaining. That’s why we run and go to the gym.
Second, drink room temperature water before breakfast and before bedtime. Make sure you’re not getting that water out of a water bottle. It should be filtered water that you store in a glass or ceramic container.
Improve the quality of your sleep. Digestion is a very energy intensive process. If you’re not sleeping well, you won’t digest well. Your body will have to work hard to get all those nasty bits of plastic out of your gut- which is almost ideal for trapping tiny plastic bits.
Load up on fiber. The only way to scrub out your guts is to eat a lot of fiber.
Finally, don’t be afraid to be a bit of a snob. People in your life might cop attitude with you for cutting out plastic. Remember, you’re too valuable to let them pressure you into eating literal trash.