If you thought that the greasy burgers and fries from your favorite fast food chain were damaging your waistline, wait till you hear what the scientists have to say about the packaging that this food usually comes in.
The grease-proof coating that covers the food wrappers or boxes may contain traces of fluorinated compounds which are linked to a host of health problems including cancer and infertility. But that’s not all of it. The same toxic chemicals are also found in our non-stick pans at home which might be increasing our chances of gaining weight instead of losing it!
PFAS and Weight Loss
A new study is showing that not only are the chemicals in food wrappers and nonstick pans linked to serious diseases but they can also cause unnecessary weight gain in women by increasing the perfluoroalkyl substances levels in their bodies.
Researchers used, both, male and female participants in the 2-year study to determine how much weight they would lose by following a healthy meal plan over the course of the trial. When the participants’ perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) levels at the start of the 2-year period were taken into consideration, it was discovered that those with lower levels of the substance in their bodies were less likely to gain the weight back after the diet was over. Even more surprising was the finding that the risk of weight gain was much higher in female participants than in their male counterparts.
Women at a Greater Risk
Researchers explained that the association between high levels of PFAS and risk of weight gain in women was due to the ability of the chemical to react with estrogen – a hormone produced only in female bodies. Moreover, it was discovered that the resting metabolism of people who had higher PFAS levels was lower than normal. This meant that they weren’t able to burn as many calories throughout the day as those with lower concentrations of PFAS.
Researchers say that the study could be a breakthrough in controlling the rising obesity epidemic in the world and helping people maintain their weight after going on a diet. But now that we’ve determined that PFAS could affect our metabolism and our ability to lose weight, it’s important to know what steps we can take to reduce our exposure to them.
Avoid Microwavable Popcorn and Fast Food
Microwavable popcorn packages that we usually buy from the store or the wrappers that our fast food burgers or burritos come in, have been tested positive of fluorine – a PFAS indicator – by a 2017 study.
But wait a minute, why does it matter what chemicals the wrappers are made out of if we’re not even eating them? Apparently, the chemicals can easily seep into the food through the paper and accumulate in our body over time. Let this be yet another compelling reason to steer clear of fast food, but if we really want to eat it, we should take the food out of its packaging as soon as possible to reduce contamination.
Non-Stick Cookware Isn’t Worth the Money
Contrary to popular belief, the reduced-oil meals made using non-stick cookware aren’t that beneficial for our waistline. The surface of these pans and pots is coated with grease-proof film made up of fluorine which seeps into the food we cook on them.
Even though the amount of chemical that your body is exposed to from these pans isn’t as huge as the grease-proof food wrappers, it is still enough to impact your weight and increase your chances of getting cancer.
Check Your Water Supplies
PFAS aren’t just found in food wrappers and non-stick pans, but they might just be in our tap water as well. A 2016 research showed that more than 6 million people in America are getting more PFAS exposure through drinking water than the limit set by Environmental Protection Agency. People living close to factories or industries are at an even greater risk of contamination.
But how do we know if our water is contaminated with harmful chemicals that could potentially be putting our health at risk? We can ask our water supplier or even get a water filter for our home to remove any impurities from our tap water.
Something Fishy in Our Seafood
If we humans, as the smartest species on the planet, can fall victim to PFAS contamination, so can the animals that we eat for food. Researchers have found that seafood has the highest concentrations of PFAS in comparison to other animals due to their habitat which is often polluted with chemicals and waste.
If we can’t avoid seafood altogether, we should choose fish such as salmon or prawns that aren’t as high up on the food chain as the rest.