We're getting lazy, America.
A new report released by Stanford University found that America is now one of the laziest countries in the world. That's because we have such a low average for steps taken per day.
But it's more than a lack of walking that makes us lazy. We're addicted to convenience. It's apparent in the growth of delivery companies. With the click of a button you can get household items, clothes, groceries, take out, and more delivered right to you so you never have to leave the house.
But that convenience is killing us.
An alarming new study found that convenient, pre-packaged macaroni and cheese contains toxic chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals added to plastic and vinyl to make them more flexible. Because of their structure, they easily leach out of the plastic into whatever the plastic contains, including our food.
I've warned you about phthalates for 10 years... originally publishing a warning about them in my old S&A Health Report (you can read it on our archive, here).
Years of research on the chemicals have linked them to obesity, cancer, and even male sterility.
Worse, the research now indicates that phthalates not only act as hormone disruptors, but trigger chemicals in our bodies that signal inflammation, called cytokines. A 2004 study from Copenhagen found that human cells exposed to phthalates released two cytokines – IL-6 and IL-8. Both of these are key signaling chemicals in the immune system.
Even more alarming than the macaroni and cheese study... another paper published last week in Environmental Research found that men with higher levels of phthalates in their urine had more chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. That's after accounting for the 82% of the subjects who were overweight.
Although it's not a direct-cause paper, the researchers think that the findings point to other studies about cytokines. Remember, heart disease and diabetes come from chronic inflammation... so, too many phthalates makes sense as a contributing factor.
Phthalates are everywhere, so it's hard to avoid them. They appear in products like nail polish, hair spray, deodorants, and fragrance products like perfume and cologne. They're in other plastics too – like adhesives, toys, and car dashboards.
Now they're in our food.
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And it's not just the powdered cheese in boxed macaroni and cheese getting the blame. More than 60% of our daily calories come from ultra-processed food, most of which is in convenient plastic containers. Ultra-processed means it has added flavors, colors, sweeteners, and other additives you wouldn't cook with in your own home.
Phthalates are also in our plastic water bottles. The average number of plastic bottles used per person in the U.S. is 167, annually. In fact, it's a nearly $12 billion business.
Plastic water bottles are a huge waste... and packed with both phthalates and another chemical, BPA. BPA is another hormone disruptor, which I've also warned you about many times.
We know folks who use several plastic water bottles every day. Not only is that a lot of chemicals in your water, but a huge waste of money. At an average of $1.22 per gallon for bottled water, you're paying 300 times the cost of tap water.
That's why I advise using a water filter if you don't like the taste of your tap water. You should only use bottled water in emergencies. I recommend filling non-BPA plastic or aluminum bottles instead.
Although phthalates seem ubiquitous, we can curb some of our exposure. Avoid ultra-processed food (try making your own mac and cheese), ditch the plastic bottles, and don't use hygiene products with "fragrance" on the ingredients list. Often times, the fragrance will contain some form of phthalates. Try to pass on products that list one of the many forms of phthalates (such as dimethyl phthalate or diethyl phthalate) on their ingredient lists.
What We're Reading...
- Did you miss it? Here's our issue all about BPA and BPS hiding in your home.
- Something different: An iceberg the size of Delaware.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
July 18, 2017