What living creature can eat and thrive on plastic?
Lately, I have been noticing that many people do not pay as much attention to materials that come in contact with food. The reality is these materials can contain toxic chemicals that can affect you and your dog’s health.
There are 37 billion chemical reactions happening in the body every second, and foreign substances can seriously affect you or your dog’s health. Here are the five most common materials you should avoid:
1. Aluminum foil or pots and pans
You may have noticed that many restaurants still use aluminum dishes. They are cheap, light, and conduct heat very well. Many people use aluminum foil in the oven to cover pots and pans or even wrap food in it for cooking or storage.
The problem is that aluminum is a toxic metal that leaches in food, especially when it is exposed to high temperatures or more acidic foods.
Research has shown that aluminum can increase the rates of breast cancer in genetically predisposed women and it accumulates in brain and nerve tissue.Some people also suggest that increased levels of aluminum correlate with the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, but this connection has not been completely confirmed.
Ideally, avoid cooking and packaging food in aluminum, and use glass containers instead.
2. Tin cans
Most people do not think twice about canned food. It has been around for a long time, and it is a convenient method of food preservation. Unfortunately, the protective lacquer finish inside cans contains Bisphenol A (commonly known as BPA), a xenoestrogen - a chemical that imitates estrogen hormones and seriously affects fertility and hormonal balance.
3. Plastic containers
There are many reasons why we should avoid or at least reduce the use of plastic when it comes to food packaging and storage. Bisphenols are one reason, toxic fillers and colorants are another. For example, lead has been found in dog bowls and dog and children's toys made in China.
Unlike natural materials, plastic does not disintegrate easily, and microscopic particles seriously affect the lives of marine animals, from plankton and krill to fish and marine mammals.
One of the most common sources of plastic contamination are water bottles. The easiest solution is to avoid them completely. Ideally, install a home water filtration system and use glass and stainless steel water bottles. If you or your employer purchase water containers for water coolers, switch to companies that use glass containers.
Supplement companies frequently use plastic containers for their products to save money and prevent breakage during transportation. These products remain in contact with the plastic for extended periods of time which results in plastic contamination. This is the main reason why we package our all natural dog supplements in glass (GreenMin, GutSense and SoulFood).
4. Polystyrene (Styrofoam)
This particular type of packaging does not affect dogs as much as people but it is worth mentioning anyway. If you like to order a take out from time to time, you may have noticed that some restaurants still use polystyrene packaging. I see this as a telltale sign that a restaurant cares more about saving money than protecting customers and the environment.
When you see this, I suggest ordering in instead and ideally have a conversation with the restaurant management about more environmentally friendly options. If they resist or do not see styrofoam to be a problem you may want to choose a different restaurant.
Some countries and states have successfully banned polystyrene, however, it is still readily used around the world.
Polystyrene has been labeled as possibly carcinogenic and burning polystyrene releases 51 artificial and mostly toxic chemicals. One of the most dangerous ways of using styrofoam is by putting hot tea or hot coffee in a styrofoam cup.
Interesting point: Research shows that mealworms, the larvae of Mealworm Beetle, can actually survive and thrive by eating styrofoam. The “digested styrofoam” can then be used in gardens as a compost. This is one of the examples that nature is evolving to help to heal our blue planet.
5. Phthalates in dog toys and medical equipment
Phthalates are used in plastic toys and medical supplies, such as IV tubing because they make them more flexible and harder to break.
These substances appear to be hormonal disruptors with anti-androgenic effects. This means it may reduce the ability of males to reproduce. Some phthalates are possibly carcinogenic and others have been connected to asthma and allergies.
We live in a world where avoiding toxic and artificial substances is impossible. However, learning, along with increased awareness can make a significant difference when it comes to protecting your animal friend.
Avoiding the above materials, taking supplements that are packaged in glass (GreenMin, GutSense and SoulFood), and taking your dog through a semi-annual liver cleanse will reduce exposure and eliminate toxins from your dog's body, leading to a longer, healthier, and happier life.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM