Fast food is definitely one of our more guilty pleasures. It’s delicious, it’s oily, it’s served almost instantly, and it’s usually within any person’s given budget. It’s also no secret that many health care advocates believe that eating too much fast food can be detrimental to your body’s overall wellbeing. However, a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives has found that fast food increases the amount of phthalates in your body, which can disrupt normal hormonal production, among other health issues. Hence, people who ate more fast food had higher levels of phthalates in their urine compared to those who did not regularly eat said meals.
Still wondering how bad phthalates can be? In this post, we’ve outlined what exactly they are, where they come from, and why they can be dangerous to your health.
What are phthalates used for, exactly?
This chemical is classified as a plasticizer, and is used in order to make plastic products more flexible, durable, and transparent. While they may be contained in the plastic material, they are not bonded permanently to it. Phthalates can be released into the environment by various means, such as exposing plastic products to heat. You can be exposed to phthalates either directly (exposure to the product containing the chemical) or indirectly (exposure to any materials that have come into contact with products that contain phthalates).
Where do phthalates come from?
These days, phthalates can be found everywhere. They could be in your make-up, your toiletries, and several items in your house such as cleaning chemicals and organizing materials. Worst of all, they could even be in your food. Phthalates may be found in the packaging that the ingredients were packaged in or on the equipment and utensils used to prepare the final dishes.
How exactly do phthalates affect your hormones?
Phthalates are not called hormone disruptors for no reason. They can disturb the normal functions of your endocrine system, which secrete many helpful hormones. Given the fact that most people eat fast food at least every other day—sometimes even once a day—many are at risk for unwanted and undetected exposure to phthalates.
In recent year, exposure to phthalates have been linked to conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and obesity, among others. They can make you more likely to gain weight because of their negative effects on proxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), which play a role in regulating your metabolism. Phthalates can also reduce the amount of sperm that men can produce.
What can we do about fast food and phthalates?
While it may be a stretch to completely eliminate fast food from your diet, especially on more hectic days, making a conscious effort to switch to homemade food might help you decrease even a bit of your exposure to phthalates. You may not be able to see how the ingredients you buy are processed from start to finish, but by the time they get into your kitchen, you’ll have complete control over how your meal is prepared.