What is BPA and why should you avoid it?

In our previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of a holistic approach to health and wellness. As you know, there are many practices you need to adopt in your lifestyle apart from healthy eating and exercising to attain a state of complete wellness. One of them is minimizing your exposure to toxins in the environment. Unfortunately, we live in a sea of toxins today. Everyone is exposed to chemicals even in the most common products or places you come across every day. These can harm your health in ways you wouldn’t imagine. 

One widely found substance, but certainly unseen to the eye, is BPA, or bisphenol A. This is a chemical that we have been warned about in recent years. Following numerous studies, health experts strongly advise that you completely avoid contact and exposure to BPA due to its dangers to health.

Now, how is BPA a commonly found chemical? Where is it found?

The number one culprit is the various types of plastics used for packaging and storing food and drinks. BPA is widely found in plastic drink bottles, food storage containers, various food and drink packaging and in the lining of food cans. It is also present in personal care products like shampoos and moisturisers. Everyday products like water bottles, for instance, are made using polycarbonate plastics in which BPA is found to be a key component.

Is BPA-free safer?

One important thing you need to know is that, even if many plastics and packages have a ‘BPA-free’ label, it is highly likely that manufacturers have substituted another chemical in place of BPA. One is called BPS, which has been found to be just as harmful as BPA itself. The BPA (or BPS) present in these products:  bottles, containers etc can leach into its contents, food or drink, and get into our systems causing health problems. This is why you should pay attention, not just to the contents of packaged food and ingredients you buy at the store, but to the packaging as well.

What are the health risks?

Exposure to BPA can have many harmful effects on your health. This is the reason you need to avoid such products completely and switch to safer alternatives. BPA is bad for your brain and can affect your mental health, too. In adults, it can affect blood pressure, cause heart complications and contribute to developing type 2 Diabetes owing to increased levels of insulin resistance in your body. It has been linked to prostate and breast cancer, ADHD and early puberty in girls. Exposure to BPA is believed to be a contributing factor to obesity and is also believed to affect women by playing a role in conditions like PCOS and fertility problems. Another concern is that early exposure of BPA on growing foetuses, young infants and children is that it can affect many of their growth and development aspects.

What are the safer alternatives?

Avoiding plastics is one thing you can do to minimize your health risks from BPA and its other similar counterpart chemicals. Whether it is a type of food, beverage, or personal care product that you wish to purchase, make sure you opt for the pure and natural products (if organic, even better). Preferably look for glass or stainless-steel drink bottles and glass food storage containers such as Pyrex instead of plastic containers. Avoid any kind of plastic wraps/packages that contact food where possible. Never heat food or put hot food in plastic as it can leach chemicals into the food or drink. When it comes to babies and infants, preferably breastfeed them for as long as possible, and when bottle feeding, use glass bottles and containers for feeding, preparing, and storing. Dental fillings can contain BPA too so check with your dentist for whether BPA-free sealants are available.