You may not be thinking about toxins the next time you change a diaper or put your child down for a nap, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Recent studies show that flame retardant chemicals found commonly in changing table pads, crib mattresses, nursing pillows and even pajamas are highly toxic—especially to developing children—but a new bill could take a giant step toward reducing exposure to these dangerous substances.
United States Senator Charles Schumer recently introduced the Children and Firefighters Protection Act, which would ban the production and sale of children’s products and upholstered furniture made with the top ten most toxic flame retardants: TDCPP, TCEP, TBBPA, decabromodiphenyl ether, antimony trioxide, HBCD, TBPH, TBB, chlorinated paraffins and TCPP. The bill would also require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review the safety of all other chemical flame retardants and ban them if necessary.
Speaking in New York last month, Schumer cited new evidence that exposure to the carcinogenic chemicals in flame retardants has been linked to developmental delays in children as well as a higher risk of hormone disruption and cancer. One study revealed they raised toxin levels in children by up to 23% compared to that of their mothers. And, when those toxins ignite and become airborne, they pose a significant risk to the firefighters who breathe them in.
On top of that, Schumer pointed out that the flame retardants used so often today are not even effective when it comes to preventing fires or slowing down the burn rate once a fire has been ignited.
Many studies point to the health benefits of probiotic supplements, the “friendly” bacteria in the gut that promote a balanced digestive environment and in turn support healthy digestion, regularity and immune function. To find them in our daily diets, we often look to fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and kombucha, but a new study shows the same beneficial microbes can be found in your wine glass.
Researchers from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain recently looked at nearly a dozen strains of bacteria commonly found in wine, including some strains of Lactobacillus (found in yogurt). They discovered that not only could those strains survive exposure to gastric juices and enzymes in our saliva—which can damage bacterial cell walls—but that they did it even better than many commonly used strains.
In addition, the strains of bacteria isolated from wine were shown to be especially good at sticking to the intestinal walls, which means they could help harmful bacteria from entering the gut and potentially damaging our health. One strain in particular (P. pentosaceus CIAL-86) was even able to help protect against harmful E. coli bacteria, the study showed.
However, before you decide that a glass or two of your favorite vintage is all you need to support a healthy, balanced gut, keep in mind that it may not be enough. Much of the good bacteria used in the wine-making process are eliminated during another process called sulfating—during which sulfites are added to help preserve the wine and prevent oxidation. Still, says study author study author Dolores González de Llano, probiotics “could be isolated from wine in order to be commercialized as probiotics, or added to functional foods.”