Every day our bodies come into contact with hundreds of toxins—many of which are hazardous to human health—which is why taking steps to reduce exposure in our daily lives is so important. Take Bisphenol A, for example. BPA is a chemical used to harden plastics and is still widely used in food packaging. Exposure to BPA has been linked to an array of health conditions, including brain and behavior problems as well as heart problems. Now, two new studies provide even more reason to keep an eye out for BPA.
BPA, Laziness, and Obesity: A Possible Link
Researchers from the University of Missouri recently discovered that mice exposed to BPA in the womb (along with another chemical called ethinyl estradiol) were less physically active, slept more, and had slower metabolisms when compared with those who were not exposed, all of which contribute to obesity and related conditions. Study author Cheryl Rosenfeld and her team worry that because humans come into contact with these chemicals so early and so frequently throughout life, the impact on our physical and mental health may last well into adulthood.
Is BPA on Your Child’s School Menu?
A new study out of Stanford University in California has found that children who eat school meals may be at a higher risk of BPA exposure. Researchers found that most food items available in school cafeterias come pre-packaged in cans, plastic bags, or plastic containers—all common hiding spots for BPA—and depending on what they ate, students who consumed federally funded school meals on a daily basis were more likely to have a higher BPA intake.
“Even a dose of one extra microgram per day could be a big deal,” said lead author Jennifer Hartle, a postdoctoral researcher at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. She stressed the need for more adequate testing with regard to the risks involved with even low levels of BPA, as well as the need for schools to protect kids by limiting exposure whenever possible and offering more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Ever get the feeling that sugar is controlling your brain? Studies show the more sugar we eat, the more our bodies crave it because of the happy feelings it triggers in the brain—which is why it sometimes seems impossible to say no to sweets. But research also tells us that a diet high in sugar is harmful to our health and increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and countless other health problems. Here are five simple tips to help curb sugar cravings throughout the day:
- Stay Satisfied with Protein. Studies show consuming plenty of protein throughout the day—and especially at breakfast—promotes healthy blood sugar levels and helps reduce the desire to eat sweets, especially during the late afternoon danger zone.
- Say No to Sugary Drinks & Diet Sodas. The added sugar in soft drinks, juices, flavored teas, and sports drinks are among the biggest sources of sugar in the American diet, but eliminating them can go a long way toward kicking the habit. And because new research shows artificial sweeteners are just as harmful to the body, experts recommend sticking with purified (filtered) water or sparkling water.
- Try a Piece of Fruit Instead. The natural sugars in fruit are a better alternative to the processed sugars found in pastries, cookies, cakes, and other packaged sweets. Opt for low-sugar fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, and grapefruit, and combine with plain Greek yogurt or a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
- Get Moving! Sometimes the simplest way to put a stop to sugar cravings is to get up and get active so your brain focuses on something else. Grab the dog and head outdoors for a walk, get the laundry or other household chores done, or take a brisk stroll around the office if you’re at work. Remember to drink plenty of purified water daily to support healthy metabolism.
- Don’t Forget the Fiber. When included as part of a balanced diet, fiber has been shown to support weight management because of its natural appetite-suppressing properties.‡ Eating more non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits is one of the best ways to increase your daily fiber intake.
Why worry about the sweet stuff? Americans consume at least 37 teaspoons of sugar daily (including the hidden sugars from starchy carbohydrates)—which is far more than the amount recommended by experts the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association, among others. By taking small steps to curb sugar cravings and reduce our daily intake, we are doing our part to ensure a healthier future for our generation and the next.