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Toxic Timeout: What is Bisphenol-A (BPA)?

What is BPA?

Bisphenol-A (or BPA) is a synthetic chemical that is used in a range of plastic food and drink packaging, CDs, mobile phone cases, glasses, dental sealants, medical devices and even till receipts! Concern is growing as conditions such as obesity, heart disease, infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and recurrent miscarriage have all been linked to BPA by various scientific studies.

Production of BPA has increased by 500% in the last 30 years, and over 3 billion kgs of BPA are produced every year. It’s no wonder then, that BPA is now found all over the planet. However, this is really bad news! Due to its chemical structure, the bonds that hold BPA in place are not stable. This means it can easily leach into food and drink, rub off on hands and absorb through the skin. Worse still, is that exposure to UV light (the sun), high temperatures (think lunchboxes in the microwave – eek!) and acidic conditions (e.g. in a tin of tomatoes) increases the amount leached.  BPA is so prolific that it’s now found in urine, sweat, breast milk, brain tissue, fat tissue, and even placental tissue!

Why should you avoid it?

Manufacturers making and retailers selling BPA products claim it’s safe to use due to ‘low levels’, however evidence suggests that BPA is harmful at any level.  Lab experiments show BPA is able to transform normal cells into cells of a more cancerous or malignant nature. With particularly concerning results from studies on exposure to BPA in the womb and during early life showing an increased susceptibility to tumours.  As BPA is a synthetic oestrogen (acting as a hormone in the body would), it is able to influence how our genes and cells behave.  Because mammary tissues are primed to respond to oestrogen to develop and grow, they bind more easily with BPA – a significant amount of scientific evidence shows a strong link between BPA and breast cancer.

Obesity, heart disease, infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and recurrent miscarriage are all conditions that have been linked to BPA.  Because of these concerns and growing evidence, BPA was banned in baby bottles and products back in March 2011.  However, it continues to be used in a huge range of other food and drinks packaging.  Many charities such as Breast Cancer UK are rallying the EU Food Safety Authority’s to prohibit use of BPA in all food and drink packaging.

How can you avoid it?

It’s easy to dismiss these concerns and bury your head in the sand, until one of your close friends or family are affected by disease or illness.  Then everything becomes more real and you start to take note.  I’d like to invite you to treat yourself with love and care, and pay attention to the products and plastics you use on a day to day basis.  There are many more brands labelling their lunchboxes etc as ‘BPA free’ which is hugely helpful, so it’s fairly simple to take steps to reduce your exposure.  Plastic containers containing BPA are labelled with the recycling number 7, so be sure to avoid this. If you do need to buy plastics, go for plastics labelled 1, 2, 4 or 5.

To help protect yourself and your family, try to use alternatives such as steel, glass and ceramic.  There are more and more companies making cute products such as water bottles and lunchboxes.  I’ve taken to washing out old jars as storage containers which is great as you can chuck them in the dishwasher too!

One of the main culprits for BPA packaging is water bottles. These are great alternatives:

Brita Water Filter Bottle –  www.brita.co.uk

24Bottles – Stainless Steel with BPA-free plastic caps buy here

24Bottles Tropical Print Stainless Steel Bottles

S’Well Steel Water Bottle – Proceeds of sales go to Unicef buy here

S'well Bottle from Handworks Paperie

I hope you feel inspired to take steps to reduce your exposure to everyday toxins such as BPA 🙂

To your health,

Ruth x

Natural Deodorant: Why I’ve made the switch

As I learn more and more about the chemicals, pollutants and toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis, I pay even more attention to the ingredients in products I use.  I’ve slowly switched what I buy so that almost all the products I use now are natural and organic.  The first switch I made was to natural deodorant, and here’s a bit of information why It’s important to be mindful of what you’re exposing yourself to when it comes to anti-perspirants and deodorants.

One of the most interesting books I’ve read in this area is ‘Slow Death by Rubber Duck’ – It is a really thought-provoking read based on scientific results.  Typically we think of pollution as car fumes and  big rubbish dumps.  However, unfortunately there are many more polluting and toxic substances in everyday items too.  At a recent health expo, I learned a lot talking to the charity Breast Cancer UK.  This charity are are doing some amazing work in bringing greater awareness of the risks of some of these chemicals (among many other important issues).

One of the most well researched and discussed compounds when it comes to breast cancer is Aluminium.  Aluminium salts are used in antiperspirants to block the sweat ducts to stop sweating. Doesn’t that sound pretty dreadful and unnatural in itself when you think about it?

Aluminium is absorbed through the skin, however when applied after shaving 6x the amount can be absorbed, plus as it’s left there all day continuous exposure occurs.  I’ve been shocked to learn that Aluminium containing products are linked to many neurological diseases and illnesses –  most famously Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  We come into contact with 25+ different types of aluminium compounds in products like lipsticks, toothpastes, antacids and vaccinations – pretty scary stuff!

Many health advocates have long supported a ban on the use of these risky compounds in cosmetics and food,  particularly in under-arm antiperspirants. Lukily, there have been some positive developments in this area recently with France, Norway and Germany all concluding that ‘based on current knowledge, aluminium in cosmetic products cannot be considered safe’.  At least some countries seem to have some sense!

As with many chemicals found in products made by huge multinationals, despite many questions and challenges born from concerning results and statistics, these are mostly ignored due to ‘no direct causal link’.  However, a recent scientific review collated the most concerning results such as; 50% of breast cancers in the UK start in the area near the underarm, and aluminium has been found at higher levels in women with breast cancer than those without.  Seems logical to avoid nasty chemical deodorants when you hear stats like these.

Dr Organic Natural Deodorant - The Vegan Edit

Natural Organic Deodorants – Aluminium Free

So most importantly, what can you do to ensure you avoid aluminium whilst staying fresh?  Here are some fabulous websites that offer a range of safe and effective alternatives. Many offer worldwide delivery or free UK delivery.

Green People – https://www.greenpeople.co.uk/

LoveLula.com – https://www.lovelula.com/

Naturismo.com – http://www.naturisimo.com/

MyPure – http://www.mypure.co.uk/

Holland & Barrett – http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/natural-beauty/washing-bathing/deodorant/

I personally use Dr Organic deodorant from Holland & Barrett. The range includes a variety of smells such as rose, lavender, etc

What I found when first switching to natural deodorant is that it does take a week or so to get used to it.  At first you may notice a difference, however its quick and easy get used to and worth the minor inconvenience.  I now find the stench of anti-perspirant products awful and can’t believe how severe and chemically they are.

(In case you’re wondering, Deodorant works by using perfumes to mask the smell and antibiotics to kill bacteria which cause the undesirable odour, vs antiperspirants that work by blocking the sweat ducts).

If you’re not into buying products online, check out your local independent health food store.

I urge you to have a think about the products you come into contact with every day, and whether some unnecessary chemicals can be avoided.

Look after yourself, your body needs to last you a long time, and it’s difficult to get spare parts!
The Vegan Edit - Thanks for reading

Butterfly - The Vegan Edit

Here are some of the studies relating to this article:

Darbre PD (2010) Environmental oestrogens and breast cancer: evidence for combined involvement of dietary, household and cosmetic xenoestrogens. Anticancer Research

Mannello F, Exley C, Darbre PD (2013) Aluminium and breast cancer: sources of exposure, tissue measurements and mechanisms of toxicological actions on breast biology. J. Inorg. Biochem

European Commission Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (2014) Opinion on the safety of aluminium in cosmetic products.

House E, Polwart A, Darbre P, Barr L, Metaxas G, Exley C (2013) The aluminium content of breast tissue taken from women with breast cancer.

Top Tips For Reducing Anxiety

With the recent developments in British politics – not to mention the numerous atrocities overseas and a barmy US election – you’d be forgiven for feeling deflated.  Living in these turbulent times when there is a sense of national despair looming often evokes strong feelings of anxiety or even fear. I don’t know about you, but personally I’ve found it a bit difficult to ‘keep calm and carry on’. Yes, feelings are meant to be felt. They are, after all, a feedback mechanism for letting you know when your perspective of a situation could do with a tweak. However, getting ‘stuck’ or overwhelmed can become a real struggle. To help you shake off those blues and get some mojo back, I’ve shared my list of top tips for reducing anxiety; those things we all need a reminder of when overwhelm takes over…

1. Adopt a Positive Acceptance Mindset
Anxiety largely comes from fear of an imagined future situation (a negative outcome). By accepting these fearful thoughts as the most likely outcome, you position yourself as a helpless bystander. ‘I have no power, I feel helpless’ – these are typical thought responses when your environment seems unreliable and volatile. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. An alternative is to accept the current situation as it is, to allow some space to reflect and take action. By taking action you are simultaneously taking responsibility for yourself and your feelings (taking back control, if you will), and choosing a new positive response. Attention is re-focused on building a positive future, where benefits and opportunities take center stage (rather than fears and anxieties).

2. Find a mantra
Try to catch yourself out and avoid negative self-talk; “What happens if {insert disaster]?” or “I’m so {insert negative}”. These statements focus on what you don’t want to occur. So the saying goes ‘where attention goes, energy flows’. Watch where you’re sending your energy! Find a short, simple, positive mantra to repeat. If you want to be confident, use that word in your affirmation. If you want to be calm, use that word. Use the words that reflect what you want to happen. Be specific, repeat and smile as you do it! E.g. ‘I can handle anything that comes my way’ or ‘I am calm and balanced’.

Elizabeth GIlbert Quote Image Reducing Anxiety

3. Schedule in some quiet time
Breathe Deeply – try a yogic breathing exercise, or simply count your breathes. Practice Yoga – again, hugely stress relieving and calming. Get a massage. Listen to music. Meditate – seriously powerful.  It’s extremely important to stop for a few moments each day to enter into a state of mindfulness and presence. This creates a feeling of being grounded, where the mind is clear and calm.

4. Eat well
Eat lots of super mood foods (nuts, dark green veggies, legumes, berries, citrus). I recommend Maca Root Powder (available online or at your local health food shop). It’s rich in magnesium and iron, and contains tonnes of powerful plant nutrients called phytonutrients. Limit Alcohol, Sugar & Caffeine – to keep your energy and heart rate stable and calm. Keep energy-boosting healthy snacks to hand to avoid emotional eating and energy slumps.

There is a saying in Tibetan: ‘Tragedy should be utilised as a source of strength’. No matter what sort of difficulities, how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster. – Dalai Lama

5. Get more sleep
Often, those with anxiety have trouble sleeping. However, when stressed, the body needs extra sleep and rest. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual for yourself. If you can keep to a regular bed time schedule your body will naturally get used to slowing down at this time. Wind down slowly and take a break from technology a few hours before bed. Design a calming sleep environment, free from noise and distractions. Buy yourself some luxurious, comfortable bedding. Be firm with yourself, tell your subconscious that you will have a deep sleep and wake up feeling rejuvenated.

6. Sweat Often
Exercise Daily – the most powerful anti-depressant! Exercise releases key brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. Set easy daily exercise goals, go for consistency. It’s healthier to go for a 15-20 minute walk everyday than to do a crazy fitness marathon at the weekend.

These pains you feel are messengers, listen to them. – Rumi

7. Get Outdoors
Do your mind/body/spirit a favour and go to the park! Nature is powerful, and exposure to the green outdoors has a huge impact on our wellbeing. A study (2009 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health) found that people who live within 1km of green space experience less depression and anxiety than those living further away. Exposure to nature and fresh air, and increased vitamin D and exercise helps to reduce stress, improve cognition, and improve our memory. There are tonnes of studies detailing the positive impact of nature; schedule a weekend trip to the countryside, or do a few laps of the nearest park.

8. Look for the balance
After a ‘terrible day’ or ‘stressful situation’, a few days/weeks/months down the line we often look back and can see the silver lining. Instead of waiting, look for the balance now. Ask yourself; How can I grow from this? What can I learn? How will this challenge make me stronger? What are the positives? What can I be grateful for?

Elizabeth GIlbert Quote - Tips for Reducing Anxiety

 

Remember: You are what you think. Keep your focus on all those beautiful moments full of love, hope and positivity!

Love Ruth x

P.s. The main quotes are from the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and has this marvellous TED Talk on Creative Genius