Many of us want to start the new year with a clean slate in our eating habits and at home. We know the detox basics: avoid stocking up on faux foods, switch out household cleaners for something less, well, chemically enhanced, and the like.
But there’s a blind spot in many a fit and healthy woman’s detox efforts and, according to integrative physician Jeffrey Morrison, MD, it’s what your food’s stashed in.
“People have gotten in the habit of using plastic containers to store their food,” Dr. Morrison says. “But we’re now becoming more aware of how plastic containers leach into food and cause health problems,” he says, referring to concerns over BPA and others.
While scientific studies haven’t established a direct cause-and-effect relationship between increased cancer risk and frequent sipping or eating from plastic straws or containers specifically, says Dr. Morrison, when there are such easy alternatives available, why take the chance?
Here’s how to take action:
1. Swap out all the plastic containers storing your leftovers for what Dr. Morrison calls “good old-fashioned glass ones.” It’s not just charmingly retro, and, frankly, easier on the eyes; it’s an investment in long term health.
“The problems with plastics are phthalates and parabens,” Morrison says. “They interact with [the body’s] estrogen receptors and stimulate them. They increase the risk for estrogen-related cancers, which include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.” (A rubber-topped dish, if it’s not touching the food, is probably fine, he says. Time to go shopping for cute glass Pyrex sets?)
At home in your fridge, “you should have glass bottles with a lid that can be latched,” Dr. Morrison says. (He bought his at the Container Store, but says something as simple as an empty, washed bottle that used to hold, say, olive oil would work).
3. Or at least go BPA-free. Dr. Morrison says BPA-free options are absolutely a better alternative to traditional plastic, so if you’ve got a favorite water bottle or container that fits the bill, carry on! But he also warns that the problems with plastic aren’t just health-related; there are environmental concerns, too. “I don’t like plastics not just because of the potential health effects, but because I know plastics are not recyclable,” he says. “We try to recycle them, but there’s a huge problem with plastic accumulating in our oceans.”
4. Pack your lunch in glass or paper. Instead of plastic containers, consider a mason jar lunch (or follow Morrison’s lead—he has a glass set with silicone tops that snap down). If glass is too heavy for you to schlep around, channel your inner grade-schooler and pack lunch in wax or parchment paper, then toss it in a brown paper bag.
For more information, visit www.morrisonhealth.com
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