What do a take-out pizza, can of corn, a bright green yogurt, a reusable water bottle, and a simple inflatable pool toy have in common? Well, all these have many chemicals or food additives that can be very dangerous for your kids.
In the last few decades, so many chemicals being added to food and many other foods have skyrocketed. Today there are hundreds of plastic types that are being used in so many different ways around the globe. We also add many preservatives to foods to keep them fresh. Chemicals are also added to foods to make them look more natural and appealing. Different types of food packaging are being manufactured to keep food fresh. Chemicals are added to beauty products and lotions to make them look, feel, and smell nice…..and this list goes on and on of the ways we’ve invented over time and used so many harmful chemicals.
Actually it was done for good reasons at the time, but now we’re learning that these very chemicals can be responsible for so many different diseases and ailments.
In fact, a policy statement issued by American Academy of Pediatrics entitled Food Additives and Child Health, people have been warned about all these harms. This statement warns that these chemicals and additives can be worse for kids. They are small, so their actual “dose” of these chemicals ends up being so much higher. Kids put their hands in mouth more often than adults, so they’re like to ingest more of these chemicals. Their body development is still n, so they are more at risk of harm. They are young, so these chemicals get more time to set in more damage.
In particular, this policy statement specifically warns warns about:
- Phthalates. They possess ability to act like hormones and often interfere with male genital development, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity. They are ubiquitous, found not just in garden hoses, plastic packaging, and inflatable toys, but also in several other things like hairsprays, nail polish, lotions, and many fragrances.
- Bisphenols, such as BPA. They act almost like the vital hormone estrogen and may interfere with puberty and fertility. They also cause issues with nervous system and immune system and may increase body fat. You will find them in the lining of soda and food cans, cash register receipts, plastics with the number 3 or 7, among other places. Earlier they were liberally used in sippy cups and plastic baby bottles, but this has now been banned. However, older cups and bottles may still contain them.
- Perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs). They often lead to low-birthweight babies, and many issues with the thyroid, the immune system, and fertility. They are mostly found in cardboard packaging, grease-proof paper, and many commercial household products you use such as nonstick pans and water-repellent fabric, among other places.
- Artificial food colors. Many studies have found them to increase some symptoms in kids who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. They are used in all sorts of food products, but especially the ones marketed for kids.
- Perchlorate. This particular chemical interferes with normal thyroid functioning, and may also disrupt early brain development. You will find it in many dry food packaging-it’s mainly used to reduce static electricity-and in some cases in packaged drinking water.
- Nitrates and nitrites. They have ability to interfere with the thyroid, as well as human blood’s ability to efficiently deliver oxygen to the body. They also increase risk of certain cancers. They are mostly used to enhance the food colors and to increase their shelf life. You will find them in many processed foods, specially some varieties of meats.
So as a parent what are your responsibilities about these food chemicals and additives?
You’ll find these chemicals everywhere these days, and it’s not possible to avoid them completely. Here are few suggestions from AAP:
- Use only frozen or fresh fruits and veggies, and avoid processed meats or take them in moderation, especially during pregnancy.
- Try to avoid plastics with the numbers 3, 8, and 8 on them.
- Heat may cause various plastics to leak phthalates and BPA into foods, it’s better to avoid microwaving beverages and foods in plastic containers. I would also recommend washing plastics with hands rather than using a dishwasher.
- Use more stainless steel and glass instead of plastic.
- It’s best to wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food, and also clean all vegetables and fruits well.
And I have few more ideas to lead a better life:
- Cut back on processed foods and fast foods.
- Avoid canned beverages and foods in general.
- Always read labels. You should know what’s there in the products you’re planning to use.
- Look for soaps, lotions, and various other products that are fragrance-free and are made naturally.
- Think about making some of your home cleaning products yourself at home using organic ingredients. You’ll be amazed to find what some vinegar and soda can do!
My ideas is not to scare you! I just want to inform you so that you can make simple changes because they will go a long way in keeping your kids and families healthier.