Toxins to Avoid

BPA (Bisphenol-A) – a chemical is used to make clear, hard plastics and resins (such as water bottles and other beverage containers). The resin is used to line metal food cans and bottle tops to prevent botulism. More...

 The problem: High levels of BPA have been shown to lead to obesity, fertility problems, breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, behavioral problems and heart disease. “Recent tests discovered that more than 90% of us have a measurable level of BPA in our bloodstreams and experts say that children who eat several daily servings of canned food (which includes juices, infant formula, as well as fruits and vegetables) can receive a dose of BPA comparable to the levels that caused harm in animal studies.”

What we can do:

  • Reduce exposure by avoiding plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 or no labeling (which may contain PBA)
  • Buy BPA-free products (water bottles, baby bottles, cups, etc.)
  • Switch to stainless steel or aluminum sports water bottles.
  • Don’t expose the plastic containers to heat (i.e., microwave, dishwasher) as it breaks down the plastic over time and PBA can leach into your food.
  • Heat food in glass containers in the microwave.
  • Reduce the amounts of canned foods and switch to fresh or frozen foods.
  • Switch to glass food storage containers.

 Mercury in Fish  Having a variety of fish and shellfish in your diet has many nutritional benefits. They are low in fat, high in protein and contain important Omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, almost all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury.More...

 The problem: Methylmercury is a pollutant found in our oceans and lakes. It gets consumed by algae which in turn gets eaten by small fish and it goes up through the food chain. 

“The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

When mercury gets into our bloodstream, it goes right to our brain and attacks our nervous system. Left untreated it can cause permanent neuropsychiatric brain damage, learning disorders in children, autoimmune disease, and even heart problems.

Symptoms of mercury poisoning:

  • Difficulty thinking and/or concentrating
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Unsteady gait
  • Numbness in fingers and toes
  • As a general rule, fish that are larger and caught when they are older have the most mercury. Salmon, which are usually caught around the age of 3, have some of the lowest levels (plus the highest levels of omega-3s) making them a great choice. Other small, young fish include herrings and sardines. Among the fish with the highest levels are tuna (especially albacore), tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel and shark. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that people eat albacore tuna once a week at most and chunk tuna no more than twice a week. Pregnant women (or those trying to conceive) should avoid high-mercury fish as much as possible.
  • FARMED or ATLANTIC salmon—the most toxic food you can currently eat. If it just says “Salmon,” it is Atlantic and should be avoilded.
    • Freely eat ALASKAN salmon (available fresh only from June until October), canned and frozen Alaskan Salmon available year round.
    • Alaskan/Pacific salmon will ALWAYS be labeled as King (Chinook), Red (Sockeye), or Silver (Coho) Salmon. If that distinction is NOT GIVEN, it is farmed salmon being passed off as Alaskan.
  • other fish with the high mercury content: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tuna, orange roughy, marlin, Chilean bass, lobster, halibut, snapper.
    • Freely eat the fish with the lowest mercury content (Clam, Ocean perch, Alaskan salmon, tilapia, founder, sole, catfish).
  1. Stick to low-mercury fish like American-farmed tilapia instead of swordfish or tuna. Overexposure can cause memory problems, fatigue, and other health issues, and besides, most wild fish stocks are threatened these days. (Looking for an alternative? There’s branzini, the fish you’ve never heard of.)

It is best to minimize the amount of mecury in your diet. 

By following these 3 recommendations for selecting and eating fish or shellfish, women and young children will receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury.

1. Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don’t consume any other fish during that week.

Follow these same recommendations when feeding fish and shellfish to your young child, but serve smaller portions.

More to come