How are BPA and weight gain related? Can BPA really cause you to put on weight in all the wrong places? Or is this just silly hearsay from know-it-all self-styled health experts?
Let’s see if there’s a reason to be skeptical about BPA and its effects on hormones and weight..
The mainstream press will often make headlines out of the newest One Simple Thing that means easy weight loss for all..
We all know that’s horse hockey – weight loss is a complex undertaking with lots of moving parts. That said, incorporating a few small details into your general routine can help make your basic eat-right-and-exercise-more approach more effective.
For example, BPAs.
BPA stands for bisphenol A. It’s a chemical we’ve been using since the 1960s to stabilize plastics and resins – like the ones used in take-out containers and plastic water bottles. You might have heard about them a few years back when new research confirmed suspicions that they could lead to a range of health problems. Among these are a variety of factors that can make it harder for you to lose weight.
1. BPA Weight Gain Due To Insulin
A recent study by Angel Nadal of Miguel Hernandez University in Spain found that BPAs trigger your body to release nearly double the insulin they would if eating foods from a container with no BPAs. This leads to all of the same insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and potential type II diabetes development as any other factor that causes routine insulin rushes.
To make things worse, BPA is an endocrine disruptor, specifically disrupting the neural circuits that regulate feeding. It limits your ability to feel full, which means you’ll eat more even when you don’t need to.
Put together, this means you eat more than you normally would and your pancreas responds as if you’d eaten about twice that much. If you still needed more reasons to quit drinking soda out of plastic bottles…now you have it. That sort of insulin double-whammy is seriously bad news.
2. BPA And Hormonal Weight Gain
According to information at MayoClinic.com, BPAs can impact several chemicals involved with brain function, and may increase your risks for several kinds of cancer. More immediately, they can impact your body’s levels of two hormones key to successful weight loss.
BPA is a synthetic estrogen, meaning putting it in your body has the same impact as injecting natural estrogen or increasing your estrogen intake. Estrogen stimulates the body to keep weight on, and to gain weight. It’s one of the reasons women’s bodies have adipose tissue – that extra layer of fat not normally found on men.
BPA lowers testosterone production. Low testosterone increases buildup of fat, especially in the midsection which has been linked to heightened risk for type II diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. It can also reduce your energy and motivation, making it harder for you to want to exercise or expend the effort required to eat well.
3. Common Sources of BPA
The most common places you might get some BPA in your food are things you’ve probably already heard about: plastic food containers, plastic takeout containers, , plastic cookware, baby bottles made of hard, clear plastics and pre-mixed infant formula. Pretty much anything with a #7 plastic label in the little recycling triangle.
But that’s just the tip of the BPA iceberg. Look here at the hidden sources of BPA that could be lurking in your kitchen right now:
· Canned goods, which are often lined with BPA plastics
· Paper receipts printed via heat transfer, which can transfer the BPA directly through your skin
· Dental sealants. Ask your dentist for BPA-free alternatives
· Plastic wrap and any other workaday plastic utility in your kitchen. Use parchment and wooden implements instead
· Coffee pots. These are especially bad because you’ll be heating them. See also: hot pots
· CDs and DVDs, as if you needed another reason to switch to digital media this year
· Fast food, which gets saturated with BPAs during ingredient production, shipping, storage and cooking
Be especially careful with any plastic you have to heat up, since heat increases the volatility of the plastic’s chemical makeup and increases how much BPA is released.
4. How to Unecessary Weight Gain Due To BPA
Given the list you just read, it’s reasonable to despair at ever avoiding BPAs enough to prevent them from wreaking havoc with your weight loss mojo. Luckily, you can observe a few basic practices to limit your exposure. They’re not exactly easy, but they aren’t any harder than other things you’re already doing to limit your weight gain.
Avoid plastics when you can by using glass, stainless steel and porcelain for your dishes, containers and appliances. Swap out plastic wrap for glass jars, parchment paper and aluminum foil. Store food in glass, and make your coffee or tea in a glass French press or steel kettle.
Choose safer plastics when you can’t avoid plastic altogether by finding the #2, #4 and #5 labels on the container. These are BPA-free (though still carry some other problems associated with plastic containers). #7 is the worst offender, and #3 also has enough BPAs to be an issue.
Bring your own BPA-free bottle or mug to work and play to avoid using disposable plastic cups that could contain BPAs. It’s also good for the environment, so this one’s a win-win.
Buy fresh produce instead of canned. If it’s off-season or otherwise hard to get, opt for frozen foods stored in cardboard. Plastic pouches of frozen foods are a reasonable second choice.
Don’t use hand sanitizer if you’re handling objects that may contain BPAs. They increase how much you absorb through your skin. Most often, this means not using the hand sanny station you find at the check out stand in some higher-end stores.
The bad news is that BPAs can sabotage your efforts toward slimming down and shaping up. The worse news is they’re pretty much everywhere. The good news is that a few basic practices will help you avoid the worst and most common.
Like all worthwhile weight loss advice, this isn’t a simple fix or one-hit wonder. It’s one more weapon in the war against your waistline, to use along with all the others.