Ok, before we get started, this is not some new fad or magic drink that claims weight loss in 10 days. What we are talking about here is the removal of plastics and coated containers to store foods and quench your thirst.
Bisphenol A, or more commonly BPA, is a synthetic compound that is used to make many plastic containers, thermal receipt paper, and even sports equipment. BPA increases the lifespan of plastic and makes it more durable; but at what cost? BPA has hormone like properties that alter your body’s natural chemistry. Phthalates are also added to plastics to increases flexibility and longevity, but they also pose a threat to imbalance hormones. The first gland, we find, to exhibit dysfunction is the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped endocrine gland located at the base of the neck. It controls body temperature, metabolism, aids in sugar control, energy, and mental clarity. The thyroid primarily secretes thyroid hormones, T4 (thyroxine) and, at lesser amounts, T3 (triiodothyronine). T4 circulates to different organs such as the liver, kidneys and lungs to be converted into more T3. This is very important because T3 has 5x the metabolic activity as T4 and we can now start to understand what true holistic medicine is all about—looking at the entire body. On a side note the “4” and “3” in the thyroid hormones represents the amount of iodine molecules, so its essential we take in adequate amounts of iodine to form thyroid hormone. The importance of iodine is for another article .
Now back to BPA…A study done at UC Berkley revealed, “for each doubling of BPA levels in some women, researchers found a corresponding decrease in one type of thyroid hormone known as T4.”1 Without proper levels of T4 we can never get the conversion to T3 thus leaving our metabolism slowed. Another study measured the amount of BPA in 3370 adolescents and compared it to their physical stature. They found a strong association between the presence of BPA and increase in body fat and weight to height ratio. This is very important as we start to see a drastic increase in child obesity. Is BPA the only problem? No, the over consumption of highly processed, nutrient poor food substances is; but that is for another article as well.2
It is extremely important for females of child-bearing age or those who may already be pregnant to get a complete evaluation of the thyroid and its function. New England Journal of Medicine published a study; 48 untreated, hypothyroid mothers and their children were followed for 7 years. I.Q scores were ran and resulted in an average of 7 points lower than those born of women with “normal” thyroid function.3
So we will just buy BPA and phthalate free, right? Wrong! BPA and phthalates are not only used to make the plastic bottles but is also used as a coating in aluminum cans, shampoos, perfumes, carpeting, and even your car. We recommend purchasing glass containers to store your foods especially if your going to microwave/heat them up. Increasing temperature in these types of plastic containers releases more of the chemicals into your foods.
Next month, we will talk about stress on the body can effect the way you feel by altering cortisol levels and increase Reverse T3! Remember, stress can be anything from physical (an injury or disease) to emotional to the above mentioned chemicals and how they negatively effect your physiology.
We are very lucky in the field of Functional Medicine with the current labs we have available to the public. Tests that were unreachable (either financially or unavailable to the public) can now be incorporated into your diagnostic work-up. If you think your body is accumulating BPA, phthalates, or any other harmful chemicals, a simple non-invasive urine test can be performed. Ask your Doctor or contact our office to find out more info!
2.”Bisphenol A and Chronic Risk Factors in US Children”
3. Haddow, James E. M.D., et. al. “Maternal Thyroid Deficiency during Pregnancy and Subsequent Neuropsychological Development of the Child,” New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 341:549-555, August 19, 1999 Number 8