You probably already know that fast food shouldn’t make up the bulk of your diet if any at all. High in saturated fats, calories, sugars, and salt while being low in nutrients makes it a questionable option for many. Adding to that there are the challenges of ingredient freshness and even quality ingredients to begin with. But now there’s another reason to be wary of fast food…the chemicals in the food wrappers might be building up in your body as well.
One study found that as many of half of all fast food wrappers contain fluorinated compounds, which can quite easily get into the body by way of transferring on the food. Think hamburgers or cookies. They also found that the compounds were on 20 percent of paper board wrappers like French fry or pizza boxes. Fluorinated compounds have been linked with all kinds of health problems including cancer, thyroid disease, low birth weights, developmental problems in kids, and infertility in women.
Fluorinated compounds are also used in cleaning products, firefighting gear, and nonstick cookware. Not exactly the kind of stuff that you want to be putting in your mouth if you can help it. The problem is that it’s pretty hard to avoid at a fast food restaurant. These differ from the BPA’s that are found in many plastics but have some similar affects on health. Research has found that BPA’s in plastic can leech into food and drink and then be consumed by us along with it. Choosing glass over plastic or cans is one way to get around that issue, as well as avoiding heat with plastic containers since the heat can cause even more of the chemicals to be released.
As far as the fluorinated compounds go, safer alternatives for wrapping food include wax paper and tin foil, but you aren’t likely to find those at the fast food spot. Our options are mostly to avoid fast food as much as possible or to perhaps in the future start getting tested to see whether those chemicals are actually entering our bodies or not.
Now further research on that topic has found a way to track just how perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) travel through the body. This could introduce the possibility of tracking them in humans as well, which could of course help bring about awareness of when we’re overdoing it. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Medicine used radiolaebling techniques to track it and found that they could effectively see the PFAS in various organs within the mice bodies, most specifically in their livers and stomachs.
The logic with studies on mice is that they’re generally comparable to what might be happening in the bodies of humans of well. So perhaps at some point the technology will be available to test us and see where chemicals are hanging out in our bodies as well. Of course the knowledge that its likely that there are chemicals in our body should probably cause some concern whether or not we start actually testing for it. We might as well start trying to reduce the possibilities as much as possible.
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