The below international “chasing arrow” symbols are located on all plastic containers and products. It is there to be able to identify the type of plastics used in the manufacturing process. But what does each one mean and how can you identify which ones are safe for your health?
What The Numbers And Abbreviations Mean
#1 – PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): PET plastics are one of the most common type of plastics used around the world. Most water and fizzy drink bottles are made from PET plastics. It is manufactured for single use only and repeated use can cause leaching of the plastic into the fluid. Bacteria also thrives in PET environments.
#2 – HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene): HDPE is a rigid type of plastic that is commonly used to make the containers for detergents and cleaning products. It is also used for milk containers and toys.
#3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): PVC is one of the softer and malleable plastics. It is commonly used in processed food packaging, olive oil bottles, teething rings and for many technology products such as computer cables.
#4 – LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene): LDPE plastics are used in bread packaging, different squeezable bottles and many different shrink wrap products.
#5 – PP (Polypropylene): PP plastics are very tough and lightweight. PP is commonly used in manufacturing nappies, butter and yoghurt containers, plastic bottle tops and even rope.
#6 – PS (Polystyrene): PS is very lightweight and cheap to manufacture. It is used in egg cartons, disposable cutlery, disposable drinking cups and even as insulation in the home.
#7 – Other (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN): BPA is the one plastic that receives more attention and concern than all the others. BPA can easily leach into fluids and foods and because it is a xenoestrogen it can disrupt many of the endocrine and hormone functions in the body. It is used to make a wide variety of food containers and water bottles. It is also commonly used to line tin cans.
Which Plastics Are Harmful To Your Health?
From all the studies we have to date, it is highly advisable to stay away from numbers 3 and 7. There has been lots of studies over the last 15-20 years that have looked at the health impacts of BPA’s, but the one that has generated most attention has been this one. The study was published in the Journal of The American Medical Association and heavily linked BPA plastics to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and inflamed livers.
While I would absolutely advise limiting your exposure to all of these plastics (not always possible, I know), it appears that numbers 2 and 5 are slightly safer than the other (less leaching), but you should still definitely avoid microwaving foods that are contained in these plastics.
Back in the 90’s a controversial study was published that suggested that men’s sperm counts had significantly declined over the previous 50 years (see below graph). Could this possibly be true? It certainly seemed plausible given that the number of IVF treatments has been going up year on year.
For over 20 years this was a source of great speculation and debate. Then in 2013 a conclusive study provided some startling answers. Thousands of men were studied over a period of nearly 20 years and they found that there was a drop of approx. 30% in men’s sperm counts (see below graph). Wowzers!
While this obviously directly affects conception rates, it also represents an even greater problem for a man’s overall long term health. A recent study of over 40,000 men has shown that sperm quality maybe directly linked to a man’s overall mortality. Poor sperm quality has also been shown to be directly linked to a child’s long term health prospects. It makes perfect sense really. What would happen if you built a house on poor foundations?
So we know we have a growing problem but what could the cause be? Well lots of studies have concentrated on diet and sperm quality. We know that men who consume more saturated fats have lower counts. We also know that men who consume more omega-3 and less omega-6 had a much better sperm quality, with dramatically fewer sperm defects. The University of California, Los Angeles proved this by giving men (with a poor quality of sperm) 20 walnuts a day for 12 weeks. After just 12 weeks the quality of sperm was greatly improved.
But it’s not just the healthy fats that improved sperm quality in these experimeents. Walnuts also contain other essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And this study showed that men who consumed higher quantities of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants had sperm with the greatest “genetic integrity”. But why is this?
Well it’s quite simple really. Some of these essential nutrients are found in higher concentrations in the testicles. For example, you will have approximately eight to ten times more vitamin C in your testicles than in the rest of your body. This is because Vitamin C and other essential nutrients protect sperm from free radical damage. Without this, sperm is easily damaged. So it’s no wonder that when men consume fewer essential nutrients their sperm count and quality is significantly impacted.
So if you want to give your children the greatest fighting chance of a long and healthy life……eat lots of fruits and vegetables, consume less dairy and meat and increase your intake of omega-3.
Either intentionally or unintentionally most of will take our health for granted. It isn’t until illness takes hold that health comes to the forefront of our minds.
When oil is running low in your car you will get a warning light. You probably wouldn’t ignore this. Below are some of the body’s warning lights that all too often we overlook. You do this at your own risk. Keep driving a car low on oil and you will run into serious problems. Ignore some of the below symptoms and you will more than likely run into more serious health problems at some point in the future. Address the issues now!
Having a busy and active life can certainly be draining and tiring. This can of course be exacerbated with a poor night’s sleep. But if you regularly suffer from fatigue then it could be your body’s way of telling you that there may be an underlying condition that needs addressing. Ignoring these symptoms will only make it worse. Would you ignore the engine rattling in your car? I doubt it, so why ignore warning signs from your body.
So if you constantly suffer from fatigue then seriously look at dietary changes. Start by avoiding processed foods, excess alcohol and processed sugars.
You Have Very Irregular Bowel Movements
In my recent article: Why Stool Size Matters, you may recall that smaller irregular bowel movements dramatically increase your chances of developing all types of stomach, intestine and bowel cancers.
You should have one good bowel movement every day. When this doesn’t happen toxins are able to build up in the intestines and bowels and potentially enter the blood stream (not good!).
Again, this is a sure sign that you need to make dietary modifications. Increase the amount of fibre in your diet (at least 35 grams a day) and also remove all processed and junk foods.
Regular Cracked Lips
Cracked lips can often be caused by environmental factors such as wind and too much sun exposure. Another common cause is dehydration – so ensure you are getting enough daily fluids.
If you have chapped lips on a regular basis then the cause is most likely a nutritional deficiency. It maybe that you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet or that your levels of zinc, iron and B-Complex vitamins are low. Good sources of these vitamins and minerals are leafy green vegetables, broccoli and red peppers.
You Always Catch Bugs
Everyone will catch the occasional bug. But if you find that that you are regularly coming down with the latest seasonal bug then you have a clear indication that you have a poorly functioning immune system.
A diet full of fruits and vegetables (aim for at least 9 portions a day) will help address the issue (they will give you lots of vitamin C and vitamin E). They will help build your body’s defences against such bugs.
You Get Regular Skin Breakouts
Skin breakouts (especially acne) are a common occurrence in adults and also a sign that your immune system is struggling.
To fix the problem consume lots of fruit of vegetables each day, remove dairy from your diet (a common cause of acne), increase your intake of healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) and ensure you are adequately hydrated.
Your urine is one of your main indicators to how hydrated you are and whether your organs are experiencing any problems or issues.
The below is a great tool for helping you spot any underlying health conditions.
Meat glue (or transglutaminase) is a naturally occurring enzyme that is used by the meat industry to glue smaller pieces of meat together. This enables them to cut the amount of waste and make more money. It is used in all meat types from poultry to fish. The problem we have today is that we generally do not know how much of this is being used in the products we are buying as the manufacturers are not overly forthcoming in releasing these details. The other main issue we have is that we generally don’t know how safe the substance is (especially after being heated).
For well over 40 years the primary source of manufactured transglutaminase was from guinea pigs livers. Cheaper manufacturing methods have now made it a fairly common ingredient in many meat products. Manufacturers love the enzyme/glue concoction as it enables them to use scraps of carcasses that they wouldn’t normally use. They can now use ligaments and tendons and add them to other meat cuts…. and we the consumers are none the wiser. These reconstituted meats have come under lots of scrutiny from regulatory authorities around the world as meat glue allows deadly microbes to grow at a very fast rate.
Meat glue can also cause a host of issues for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. It appears to trigger a similar autoimmune reaction to that of gluten, which can have disastrous consequences for some people.
So my advice is to only buy organic meat cuts and avoid reconstituted meats completely.
Acid reflux is a common condition that occurs when stomach acid leaks into the oesophagus and causes inflammation. Common symptoms associated with the condition are heartburn, difficulty swallowing and pain in the digestive tract. Long term acid reflux can lead to cancer (adenocarcinoma) if preventative measures are not taken.
The rates of acid reflux have grown exponentially over the last 40 years. Western diets cause 1 in 4 people to suffer weekly bouts of the disease compared to less than 5% of people on the Asian continent. This is the clearest indication that diet is the single most important factor when preventing and reversing the disease.
For example, we have known for a long time that high fat diets equals high rates of acid reflux whereas diets high in fruits, vegetables and fibre equals low rates of the disease (well over 50 leading studies over the last 30 years have demonstrated this). Further studies have also shown that when one consumes high amounts of fat the sphincter at the top of the stomach (the flap that prevents acid entering the oesophagus) becomes over relaxed allowing acid to lurk up into the oesophagus and start causing problems. Eggs are a prime eggsample of this (see what I did there!). They increase cholecystokinin, a hormone in the body that can relax the sphincter.
We also know that people who eat more red meats have dramatically higher rates of adenocarcinoma (cancer in the oesophagus), and people who eat lots of poultry tend to get higher rates of cancer in the upper stomach area. Those who consume higher intakes of nuts, beans, seeds, fruits and vegetables and legumes have dramatically fewer rates of all cancers located in the digestive tract.
Whatever way you look at it, acid reflux is far more common than it should be, and it can be prevented and reversed by dietary intervention. Yet for some reason we spend millions of pounds annually on antacid tablets, proton-pump inhibitors and H2-receptor antagonists. All have been shown to increase pneumonia, heart disease, diabetes, bone fractures and many other nutritional deficiencies in the body. So why take the risk?
Eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds and legumes! Simples!
Tips To Prevent & Reverse Acid Reflux
1. Eat your food slowly – Ensure you chew your food properly before swallowing. Your stomach will produce more acid if you swallow larger pieces of food. 2. Don’t drink too much with meals – a full stomach will put more pressure on the oesophageal sphincter and therefore allow more acid to leak. 3. Lose weight – If you are overweight you have double the chances of suffering from reflux. Weight loss will dramatically improve your symptoms. 4. Reduce the fat in your diet – High fat meals relax the oesophageal sphincter and also cause your body to produce excess stomach acid. 5. Trigger Foods – Everyone is different, but ensure you keep an eye out for food that exacerbate your symptoms. You will then know what foods to avoid. 6. Avoid lying down after meals – It is important that you avoid lying down for at least 2 hours after your meal. This will give your body time to digest the food and prevent foods and acids leaking. 7. Wear Loose fitting clothes – If you wear tight-fitting clothes around your mid-section it will put pressure on your stomach and cause your symptoms to worsen 8. Apple cider vinegar – Add 2/3 teaspoons to a glass of water and drink before meals or whenever you experience heartburn. It works a treat!
Countless leading studies have revealed that organic produce is both healthier and more nutritious for the body. But what would happen if you switched from pesticide laden foods to organic for just two weeks?
Well this theory was put to the test. A family from Sweden changed their normal weekly produce to organic for two weeks. Everything was monitored by the The Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
The results were startling. And if this doesn’t convince you to go organic then nothing will!