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Pediatricians, Chemicals and your Health

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Pediatricians recommend avoiding a list of chemicals. Are they missing something?

CNN recently reported on a list of chemicals that pediatricians are now urging parents to avoid. The list includes:

Bisphenol A (BPA) & Phthalates –– Found in plastics (including water bottles and food containers) and other materials, these chemicals are thought to disrupt hormone function. The FDA is still investigating their effects on human health. Avoiding these chemicals is difficult because they are virtually everywhere, since plastics are so ubiquitous, particularly in our food system.

Perchlorates –– These chemicals are also often found in food packaging

Nitrates and Nitrites –– These preservatives are added to meats to help them maintain their color. These have been implicated in certain kinds of cancer, but are still widely used in our food system.  

Dr. Leonardo Trasande is quoted in the CNN article as saying there are, “some striking and surprising concerns about the lack of attention that these chemicals have received by regulatory agencies.” These chemicals, according to experts, can cause thyroid hormone dysfunction, endocrine disruption involving mimicking estrogen and blocking testosterone, brain development problems and increase the risk of obesity. 

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Children are at particular risk for exposure because of how much food they eat pound for pound compared to adults, but these are problems we should all be concerned about. Dr. Trasande went on to note that, “Even at a basic level, we understand that thyroid hormone is not only important for brain development but also heart function, bone function, muscle…practically every organ system is touched by thyroid hormone function.” 

The good news is that the medical community is increasingly paying attention to contaminants found in our food. Dr. Maida Galvez is quoted in the article as saying, “Chemicals used in everyday products need to be rigorously evaluated for their full potential of human health impacts before they are made widely available in the marketplace.” This is certainly a departure from industry, which often seems to lobby against testing their products for safety, or owning up to their faults when their products are proven to be unsafe. 

What Are We Missing?

While it is good that the medical community is paying more attention to these types of contaminants, there are other well-documented contaminants in our food supply that receive much less mainstream attention. Mycotoxins, or fungal poisons, are known by researchers to contaminate parts of our food supply, particularly some of the foods that underpin our industrialized food system. Foods like corn, wheat, soy, and peanuts are at particular risk for being contaminated with the poisons. 

These poisons can have profound effects on our health; some can disrupt the endocrine system, affect hormones, and even cause cancer, among a long list of other health problems. These health problems are not too dissimilar from the problems cited by the doctors above, yet the medical community and regulatory agencies are largely silent on this issue. Of the hundreds of mycotoxins known to exist, only a few are even monitored by regulatory agencies. 

Ultimately, the advice to avoid certain chemicals in our food is incomplete without avoiding these very potent, naturally-occurring chemicals called mycotoxins. This is part of the anti-fungal program laid out in the Kaufmann Diet, which encourages avoiding foods that are likely contaminated with these fungal poisons. 

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