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5 Reasons to Avoid Plastic Containers

plastic-containers

By Joshua Corn

The great American novelist Norman Mailer once said, “I sometimes think that there is a malign force loose in the universe that is the social equivalent of cancer, and it’s plastic. It infiltrates everything. It’s metastasis. It gets into every single pore of productive life.” You would think this was a recent quote, something he might have said after the green movement became popular. But no – he said this in 1983, before America’s obsession with everything plastic was even close to reaching its peak. What amazing foresight he had.

Plastic has its role in modern society. It’s an essential part of our cars, computers, mobile phones, children’s toys – and practically most everything we use on a day-to-day basis. But there’s one place where plastic has worn out its welcome – and that’s as a container for the food we eat and the water we drink.

The bottom line is that plastic is made from toxic materials. It’s a known fact that these toxins can leach into whatever they come into contact with. And it’s a known fact that when the compounds that make up plastic are ingested, they damage your body on a cellular level and cause health problems.

The pundits will say that the human body can easily handle the “small” amounts (which the government insultingly likes to call “acceptably safe levels”) of toxins that are ingested from plastic. But I find this excuse to be one of the world’s biggest cop-outs. If the human body wasn’t designed to ingest plastic, then no amount is good. Period.

Here are 5 reasons why you should avoid plastic containers:

1. Toxic compounds in plastic can make you really sick.

It’s typical to suffer from a variety of health problems as you age. But is this just “part of getting older”? Or is this perhaps the result of a toxic overload in the body? It’s common knowledge that illness and disorders such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, heart disease, vision impairment and many others health problems are all on the rise. Could this be in some way associated with the increasing amount of plastic in our lives? Plastic food and beverage containers became popular fairly recently (in the 1970s) and have become ubiquitous in our lives since then. More and more research is proving that toxic compounds found in plastic cause health problems ranging from cancer to infertility.

2. There’s no such thing as a safe plastic.

Plastics that contain the super toxic compound bisphenol A (BPA) have been in the news a lot lately. And for this reason, consumers have been duped into thinking that if a product is “BPA-free” it’s perfectly safe. But this is a lie. Lots of companies have caught on to the fact that they can sell more of a product if it’s labeled as “BPA-free.” But guess what? It may be BPA-free, but in its place, these companies are using BPS, a close cousin of BPA that may be equally as toxic! The bottom line is – you can’t 100% trust that any plastic doesn’t contain compounds that are toxic to your body.

3. Plastics can cause fertility and reproductive problems.

The ability to produce a healthy child is a wondrous miracle and an amazing event in one’s life. But toxic compounds found in plastic could be making this difficult, if not impossible, for millions of people. What was once speculation is now becoming fact as more and more research is proving that this is a very real problem. For example, almost all plastics contain toxic chemicals that have a negative effect on immunity and hormone regulation, both of which directly affect fertility. Specifically, BPA has been found to make it more difficult for women to conceive and to cause increased risk of miscarriages. New research is also showing that toxins found in plastic can cause birth defects and developmental problems in children.

4. Chemicals in plastic can make you fat.

There are lots of reasons why nearly two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese. But one of them may be the vast amounts of plastics our food and beverages come in contact with. After all, America is the world’s largest consumer of disposable plastic containers. Interesting new research published in Environmental Health Perspectives explains that a chemical widely used in plastics, called bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (BADGE), may actually cause stem cells to become fat cells. According to one of the study’s authors, “Exposure to these kinds of chemicals can reprogram your metabolism and make it more likely for you to store calories instead of passing them through.” Have you found that losing weight is next to impossible, despite eating less and exercising more? Perhaps it’s chemicals in plastics that make losing weight harder than it needs to be.

5. Plastics are just terrible for our planet.

Whether you are a hardcore environmentalist or if being “green” is low on your list of priorities, the fact of the matter is that you live on planet Earth, and so will your children and your children’s children. We all have a responsibility to keep the planet has livable as possible. Firstly, plastics are in most cases made from petrochemicals through an energy intensive process that itself creates lots of pollution and toxic discharge. The fact is, every plastic container you use is making the planet less habitable. Also, most plastic in the world is not recycled and usually ends up in landfills, where it degrades very slowly. According to Wikipedia, “Since the 1950s, one billion tons of plastic have been discarded and may persist for hundreds or even thousands of years.”

What Are Your Best Solutions?

Like I said earlier, plastics are a nearly unavoidable part of our everyday lives. But there is a big difference between the plastic on your computer and the plastic that may come into contact with your lunch. You don’t eat your computer. The best solution, which is affordable, convenient and really safe is glass and certain types of metal. Here are some great solutions I’ve found. (I am providing links to Amazon.com for your convenience, but you can find these items at many stores.)

  • Break-proof glass water bottles: This glass water bottle has a rubber coating that prevents breakage. It makes water taste amazing! I take mine everywhere I go and it helps me avoid using plastic water bottles.
  • Stainless steel straws: My kids don’t use plastic straws anymore, and instead use these stainless steel straws.
  • Stainless steel containers: Dump your plastic Tupperware and instead go for stainless steel containers. Glass containers are great too, but most of them still have plastic lids.
  • Glass water coolers: If you have a water cooler at your home or office, more and more companies are offering glass containers instead of plastic ones.
  • Alternative to non-stick cookware: The coating on your non-stick cookware may be a type of plastic. Instead choose ceramic cookware or enameled cast iron.

Sneaky Sources of BPA

Even if you remove all plastic from your food and water supply, there are still some sneaky ways that highly toxic BPA can find its way into your life. Here are the most common:

  • Cash register receipts: This usually shocks most people. But if you handle a receipt with your hands, then eat your food with your hands, BPA is getting in your system. Avoid receipts or wash your hands immediately after touching one.
  • The lining of most canned foods. Luckily, we’ve written a buyer’s guide that will help you find the brands that don’t use BPA.
  • Some baby bottles and pacifiers
  • Many toys and other children’s products
  • Some aluminum water bottles (stainless steel is generally safe)
  • Canned soda and beer

You can click here to read my appeal to the U.S Government to ban BPA now!

 

About the Author

Josh CornJoshua Corn is the Editor-in-Chief of the natural health and wellness site, Live in the Now. Josh is a health freedom advocate and veteran of the natural health industry. He has been actively involved in the natural health movement for over 15 years, and has been dedicated to the promotion of health, vitality, longevity and natural living throughout his career. Josh has successfully overcome several personal health challenges through natural means, and believes that sharing information can empower people to take control of their health so they can solve their own problems and live life to its fullest potential. Josh is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Live in the Now. Additionally he serves as CEO of SAN, a company that has been formulating premium dietary supplements since 1995. Josh is currently working on his first book about natural health, and gearing up to launch the Live in the Now radio show. In addition to his work in the natural health field, Josh is an avid outdoorsman, yoga practitioner, animal lover and father of two sons who remind him every day to “live in the now”.

How Sitting Too Long Affects The Body

0ghhby James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D.

Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

One recent study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment with those who logged more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those with greater screen time had:

  • A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
  • About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack

The increased risk was separate from other traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as smoking or high blood pressure.

Sitting in front of the TV isn’t the only concern. Any extended sitting — such as behind a desk at work or behind the wheel — can be harmful. What’s more, spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn’t seem to significantly offset the risk.

Rather, the solution seems to be less sitting and more moving overall. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance.

For example:

  • Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
  • If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.

Better yet, think about ways to walk while you work:

  • Walk laps with your colleagues rather than gathering in a conference room for meetings.
  • Position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen and keyboard on a stand or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk — so that you can be in motion throughout the day.

The impact of movement — even leisurely movement — can be profound. For starters, you’ll burn more calories. This might lead to weight loss and increased energy.

Even better, the muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall — and your health risks increase. When you’re standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action.

Here is a list of our links.

The 10 Most Misleading Food Labels

0ghhBy Healthy Living

1. All Natural 
In theory, the term “all natural” should convey a glowing halo of wholesome goodness, with quality ingredients sourced straight from Mother Nature. In some cases, yes, this absolutely applies (like when we’re talking about asparagus or apples). But far too often, “natural” has less than zero meaning, and the number of lawsuits against food companies proves it. The FDA has yet to define “all natural,” so companies can slap it on anything from potato chips to corn oil, even if preservatives or genetically modified ingredients were used. When in doubt, double check ingredient lists and lean toward using whole ingredients you recognize…like asparagus and apples, no labels necessary.

2. Zero Trans Fats 
You’d think zero means nothing, nil, nada, right? Think again. There’s a lovely sneaky clause that allows food companies to weasel in up to 0.5 grams of trans fat, and still market it as containing “zero” trans fats. May not sound like a lot, but serving after serving adds up. And when trans fats are clear culprits in raising “bad” cholesterol and lowering “good” cholesterol, that’s a definite problem. So re-read that nutrition label and make sure that “0” really is listed in the trans-fat line, and watch out for red flag words like “hydrogenated” in ingredient lists.

3. Sugar-Free & No Sugar Added 
Knocking sugar out of our diets is something most of us have attempted at one point or another. And yes, it’s a good idea to keep added sugar to a minimum and look to nature-made sources of sweetness. Too bad products claiming they’re sugar-free or have “no sugar added” are generally loaded with non-natural artificial sweeteners or man-made (manipulated) sugar alcohols, which can wreak havoc on a sensitive digestive system. The word “artificial” says it all. Choose the real deal when it comes to sugar or sweeteners (or treats that include them) like honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, and fresh fruit juices and purees…and keep their amounts on the lighter side.

4. High-Protein
Myth: Bulking up on protein will help you get into buff shape and melt away excess fat. Fact: Too much of anything, even if it’s healthy, isn’t always good. Too many calories overall, and you can kiss that buff shape goodbye; too much protein, and your kidneys can go into overdrive. When it comes to food products touting “high-protein,” the source of protein is often from a manipulated, processed form of an ingredient, like soy protein isolate. Most of us get more than enough protein in our diets, so stick with simple sources like fish, eggs, nuts, organic tofu, beans, and quinoa.

5. High-Fiber 
Somewhat like “high-protein,” high-fiber products are often boosted with doses of processed forms of fiber. Added “functional” fibers like chicory root fiber, polydextrose, and oat fiber don’t necessarily have the same impact as naturally occurring fiber in foods, and may cause bloating and gas. Look to fruit, vegetables, seeds, beans, and whole grains for your fiber intake and you’ll hit your recommended 25-35 grams per day without thinking about it, and without the stomach upset.

6. Low-Carb
The fear and loathing of carbohydrates that has taken hold of health-minded individuals has allowed food companies to run rampant with new “low-carb” products like bagels, brownies, muffins, and more. Most of these items however, contain high amounts of artificial sweeteners and/or processed sources of fiber–which isn’t exactly health-minded. The thing with carbs isn’t to demonize them. It’s about eating them in smart quantities and from quality sources. You’ll fill up faster on less, and will be more satisfied and happier.

7. Gluten-Free
This might just be the “health claim” of the moment right now. Food items that are marketed as “gluten-free” are by law void of gluten or wheat, any ingredient that would potentially cause digestive harm to someone with Celiac disease or a severe wheat/gluten allergy. What these products aren’t free of, however, are calories, and they often contain quite a lot of them. If you don’t have a specific condition, like Celiac, going gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose weight. That said, lowering the amount of gluten or wheat you consume may increase your energy levels or help you feel better digestively, but keep an eye on how much gluten-free bread, cookies, cakes, and chips you eat. Just because they’re sans gluten, that doesn’t give you license to eat with abandon. Look for healthy carbohydrates that are naturally gluten-free, like rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, and quinoa.

8. Organic
Grabbing an “organic” item in the grocery store doesn’t mean you’ve hit a pot of calorie-free gold. Organic cheese puffs, ice cream, and chocolate-creme cookies do not a balanced diet make. Organic is defined as any item with at least 95 percent organic ingredients–no hormones, genetically modified ingredients, additives, antibiotics, or radiation. But aim to focus your “organic” attention on items that should appear in your diet frequently, like grains, fruits and vegetables, specifically those with permeable skins.

9. Fat-Free
“Free” isn’t always a bargain. Fat-free items are typically full of empty, unfulfilling calories and may leave you hungry. Surprising as it may be, we need fat (the healthy kind) in order to fill up. Fat-free products often leave eaters scrambling for other foods because they’re just not satisfied. Healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats and omega-6 and omega-3 fats help lower cholesterol and heart disease risk, and they delay signs of aging and mental decline, and help boost mood. Choose excellent sources like olive oil, nuts and nut butters, avocado, flaxseeds, and coconuts

10. Omega 3’s
By no means are we aiming to slam amazing-for-you heart-healthy omega-3 fats. What we are trying to call out are all the excessive claims on products with “added” omegas, from tortilla chips to eggs and yogurt. If it doesn’t come inherently from nature, it’s still unclear how our bodies will respond and metabolize it. And if you’ve got a tortilla chip rich in omega-3s thanks to whole flaxseeds, unfortunately, you’re not getting very far. Flaxseeds need to be ground in order to reap all the benefits. Look for naturally occurring omega-3 fat sources like avocado, ground flaxseed, walnuts and other nuts, and olive oil.

 

Here is a list of our links.

Dangerous Chemicals in Fast Food

10aakkBy: Nadia Haris

With your busy lifestyle and constant demands on your time, it may seem easy to pull into your local fast food restaurant for a quick meal on-the-go. However, fast foods are rich in fat and sodium that can lead to health problems. The University of Maryland Medical Center warns that they also contain high amounts of chemicals that add flavor, color and texture and help to keep them fresh longer. The chemicals are added when these foods are processed, packaged and prepared. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that although food additives are considered safe in minimal amounts, eating too much fast food and other foods that contain these chemicals can lead to harmful effects.

Trans Fats

You may have noticed that fries from fast food chains are typically crisp and have a characteristic taste and texture. This is because they are usually fried in trans fats, which are also used in commercially prepared doughnuts, cookies, chicken nuggets, pizza and other foods. Trans fat is also called partially hydrogenated oil because it is produced by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, which gives it a longer shelf-life, according to MayoClinic.com. Fast food restaurants use trans fats because they keep foods fresh longer and give them a less greasy feel. However, the American Heart Association warns that trans fats can lead to diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. 

Nitrite Salts

Fast foods keep their fresh taste, smell and color longer because they contain added chemicals, such as nitrite salts, that help to preserve them. Nitrite salts are used in processed meat, bacon, corned beef, smoked fish, ham and sausages. Although this chemical and other preservatives help to prevent bacterial contamination such as botulism, they can also cause harmful effects. Research published in the “International Journal of Cancer” reports that people who eat processed meats and other foods with these preservative are more likely to develop stomach cancers. The American Cancer Society warns that eating food preservatives can also increase your risk of cancers in the digestive tract.

Saccharin

Fast foods are typically super-sized with your choice of a large sugary soft drink. These beverages as well as many fruit juices, jellies, donuts, canned fruits and other foods contain an artificial sweetener called saccharin. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reviewed animal studies that showed that consuming saccharin may increase the risk of cancers of the bladder, ovaries, uterus, blood vessels and skin. Although this study was carried out on animals, saccharin may have similar harmful effects on people.

Butter Flavor

Most fast food restaurants and movie theaters have a familiar aroma of butter. This is usually due to a buttered-flavored chemical called diacetyl, which is also found in microwave popcorn, margarine, snack foods, baked goods and candies, giving them an appetizing smell and buttery taste. However, The American Chemical Society reports that diacetyl may be associated with harmful effects on the lungs and changes in the brain that can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Food Coloring

The brightly colored pies, candies, ice cream, sundae syrup, soft drinks, cheeses, sandwich meats and sausages sold at many fast food outlets contain chemical food dyes and coloring agents. These chemicals give them long-lasting color that makes these foods appear more appealing and appetizing. A review of studies published in the “International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health” reports that many of these chemicals are byproducts of coal tar and other chemicals that can increase the risk of certain cancers.

 

Here is a list of our links.

What Top Life Coaches Are Doing from 6 to 8 A.M

Wakeup-SunriseBy Jane Bianchi, REDBOOK

Ease into waking up 
Does your alarm clock honking at a nearly eardrum-shattering volume really make you want to get out of bed? Chances are, it has you shoving your pillow over your head and hitting the snooze button. Newsflash: There’s a less traumatic way to rise and shine. “I wake up to soothing music or nature sounds that gradually intensify,” says Lev Natan, a life coach at The Medicine Tree Center in New York’s Hudson Valley. “I make a playlist. The first song might be a gentle flute tune, the trickle of a stream, or the ‘om’ chant. The second song might be more energizing, such as rhythmic drumming.” Banish the default iPhone alarm that greets you at 7 a.m., and scroll through other options – or consider shelling out the 99 cents for a more soothing tone. 

Ask yourself one question 
As soon as you wake up, assess how you feel about life in the context of the day ahead. Then put your answer on a scale from one – “life is miserable” – to 10 – “I love my life!” This strategy works well for Samantha Sutton, a life coach with the Handel Group in New York City. “If my score is an eight or lower, I schedule a call with a trusted friend so I can vent and get advice,” she says. “If my score is a nine or 10, I sit still for 30 seconds and cherish the feeling.” 

Remind yourself what you need this year 
Each January, Janet Harvey, a life coach in Edmonds, WA, comes up with a few two-word “intention statements,” and writes each on an index card. It’s not too late to set your intentions for 2013, so go ahead and make like it’s New Year’s. Harvey uses “abundant balance” to remind herself that it’s okay to decline to some requests and “harmonious pause” helps her remember to take a time-out and go for a walk outside whenever she feels frustrated. Each morning, she goes over her intention statements and journals how she’ll put them into practice that day. 

Look at a vision board 
Jairek Robbins, the San Diego-based life coach behind Jairek Robbins Companies, keeps and regularly updates a vision board, and stares at for one minute each morning. The bulletin board contains magazine tear-outs and Web print-outs of phrases, photos, and illustrations that signify what he hopes to achieve in life. “It has pictures of places that I want to visit, like Machu Picchu and Mount Kilimanjaro, and numbers that represent business goals, such as how many people I want to help this year,” he says. Whether yours involves thumbtacks or lives on Pinterest, stay focused on your goals with a collection of the words and images that inspire you. 

Nourish yourself 
“My 17-year-old daughter Alex and I have a routine,” says Jennifer Voss, a certified Martha Beck life coach in Knoxville, TN. “We can’t start the day without making and drinking a green smoothie for breakfast. The beverage is physically and mentally rejuvenating, and the morning tradition helps us make time for each other and bond emotionally.” Her magical mixture includes almond milk, spinach, kale, and fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. Whatever you choose to sip – or nosh on – first thing, follow Voss’ lead and carve out time to connect with your family and your health first thing. 

Get centered 
“The most important thing that I do each morning is meditate,” says Janice Lewis, president of JaniceTime, a Chicago-based life coaching business. “At the moment, I’m using an audio-guided meditation by Susie Mantell called Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace that I downloaded onto my iPod.” Each morning, she lies on her living room couch, crosses her arms on her chest, palms down, and then takes slow, deep breaths while listening to the instructions for at least 30 minutes. Even if you can’t spare that much time, a few moments of quiet-time can be incredibly beneficial. 

Read a stimulating book 
Are you an early riser? Debra Hickok, the life coach behind Boston-based Featherstone, gets up before her family, goes to her office, shuts the door, and relishes the sweet silence. There, she sits in a cushioned chair facing the window and reads philosophical teachings or reflective poetry for five to 10 minutes. “I love The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, which has a one-page passage dedicated to every day of the year,” she says. Her other favorites include works by Eckhart Tolle, Brené Brown, Rumi, and Pema Chodron. “They inspire me and provide a mental focus for my day.” 

Dissect your daily goals 
How often do you accomplish everything on your daily to-do list? If your answer – like many of ours – is “never,” then try this tip from Susan Fox, a life coach with A.I.M. High Coaching in the Bay Area. “Each morning, I break large projects that I’m working on into bite-sized, achievable daily goals,” she says. Instead of writing something vague on her daily calendar, like “handle marketing plan,” she’ll jot down something more specific, such as “edit final version of marketing email and send it to 10 people” – and then pencil it into a particular time slot. 

 

Here is a list of our links.

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